Friday, January 23, 2015

12 days without Chocolate (and a few other things) [RECIPES]

Last night a group of friends came over for a craft party. One of my friend brought a bag of chocolate covered pretzels—my weakness, I thought…that salty sweet, and a treat I didn’t have to buy myself. I had peeked at the packaging and saw sugar as the second ingredient, confirming that these were out of line with my 2015 goal to cut out processed sugar. Then, despite a few attempts of my brain trying to rationalize it being okay to have “a few,” deep down I knew better, and soon the feelings quieted. The test of my willpower to stick with my resolutions wasn’t complete, however. Most of my decision was made because sugar, chocolate and anything with flour, like pretzels, aren’t a part of my 12 day cleanse.  
Craftin' it out

Like countless American’s across the country, I started my new year with a vow to “be healthier.” My twenty year old self would roll her eyes (just like some of my friends and family do) at this resolution, stating that I’m already really healthy. “So what, you’re just eating vegetables now? Are you on the rabbit diet?” they might tease. But the truth is, there are endless improvements you can make to your diet, lifestyle and exercise regimen to feel better about yourself. Honestly, there are a LOT of different diets and lifestyles that you can practice at to find which one fits you. I should have also rolled my eyes because “be healthier” is a pretty crappy resolution in terms of measurability of success.

To achieve my more specific goals (which I won’t outline here), I started the Wild Rose Herbal D-Tox: a little cleanse in a box that I had done before. Compared to the Master Cleanse I did in 2011, in which I had nothing but spicy lemonade for 9 days (didn’t quite make it to 10), this one is a breeze. I mean, getting to actually chew food is a huge step up, but getting to chew food that I enjoy is cake. I like that the small D-tox guide reminds us that “this is how most of the world eats. And to them, this would be a feast.” This is a gentle way of saying not to bitch about not getting to eat bananas or cottage cheese.

What was mostly appealing about this diet, other than the easy instructions (6 pills at breakfast and dinner with some liquid herbal extract) was that it’s very similar to my general plant-based diet. By cutting out the extra flours and yeasts, I hope to negate some of the sugar and creams I gorged on during the holidays (if only it were that easy).

The results during this detox were a lot more evident than what I remember from my previous run. I didn’t exactly take it easy like they recommended, doing long workouts each day. I did take a few more rest days than I normally would but that’s also ‘cause I’ve been working out harder and longer than usual. I noticed getting light headed more than usual, but attributed that to not drinking enough water. The guide reminds us that during any detox you should drink more water than usual (although I generally drink a lot). I definitely felt some other symptoms of a detox- fatigue, swelling of glands, white-coated tongue. I even started my period. All of these things, as I’ve learned from various sources over the years, are signs of the body releasing toxins. It felt good knowing those things were being pushed from my fat cells (where many toxins are stored), but it always makes me wonder just what’s hiding in there.

The biggest successes are my change in cravings. I’ve read in countless diet plans about people who start drinking juices every morning or switch to a plant based diet and finally cut out sugars and now they’re actually craving fruits and vegetables. I always thought this was sort of a crock… I mean, you can want fruits and veggies, but you’ll still know how good a chocolate covered ice cream sandwich is, right? Well, I can officially say that I understand now. Without sugar or bread as an option for starches, I began to think of an apple with tahini as key lime pie, or an avocado drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper as a delicious creamy treat. I’m still working on tapping into what my body truly craves…but eating simpler is a way to focus on that, while meeting my ultimate goal of cutting out processed sugar.
Shortly after I began my 12 day d-tox, my partner began his own shift in diet. Going back to a specific diet that he tried a few months ago, Amil is phasing into a lot of fasts, simple meals and cleanses. I won’t give it all away on here, because I won’t do it justice, but if you want more information (and I highly encourage you to check it out), then you go his blog(which I hoped would be up and running by the time I published this, but it's check back?).
Seeing Amil’s simple diet next to mine, the cabbage tacos, vegan potatoes au gratin, and salads I was eating looked very complex—I felt like a fat kid in acandy store. As I reached for salt and pepper to spice my meal, and looked longingly at the nutritional yeast (nooch), I would think about how many hours it had been since Amil last ate, and be thankful I was about to shove anything in my mouth, let alone a full meal.

With him embarking on his own dietary journey, I’ve found myself lonely in my meal creating (but PROUD that I was even doing meal creating, since he’s usually the chef!). So I thought I would share some of my goodies with you.
Here are some of my favorite d-tox friendly recipes that I’m sure to try again—even when not on the d-tox.

Carob-dusted Roasted Almonds
  1.     Put a couple handfuls of almonds on a baking pan and roast at 200() for about 30 minutes, checking once in a while to ensure they don’t burn.
  2.      Once golden and just a *little* steamy, take out of the oven and pour hot almonds in a bowl. Cover almonds with a few drizzles of coconut oil (if your oil has hardened put it in the warm oven for a few minutes). Finally, put a tablespoon or two of carob powder (like cocoa but sweeter and without caffeine) in the bowl.
  3.      Stir um up! Mix like hell, then let them cool down and store for a sweet (yet sugar free) treat. Then lick the bowl- don’t let all that extra carob/coconutty goodness go to waste!

Chick-pea Salad (Inspired by the sisters at Sketch-free eating)
  1. Cook 2 cups (1 cup dry) chick peas until soft. I like to sprout mine for a few days beforehand. 
  2. While beans are cookin' chop 1 stick of celery, 1/2 a red onion, and some pecans. 
  3. When beans are done, mash them up to desired consistency. I like it kind of chunky. 
  4. Add the chopped ingredients (plus anything else on hand you want to get rid of)
  5. In a jar, mix 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup tahini, 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon Braggs liquid amino's, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, and juice from 1 lemon. Pour on salad and mix. Add salt, pepper, smoked paprika and red pepper flakes to taste.

I put it on a bed of kale and topped with avocado. 

Meatless taco salad/Cabbage Tacos.
Inspired by one of my favorite salads growing up, and by the abundance of grains and beans in my pantry, I put together this little salad:
·         2 cups cooked barley
·         2 cups cooked black beans
·         1 10oz bag of corn (lightly roasted on the stove with some Mexican spices)
·         1 cup chopped carrot tops
·         5 green onions sliced from end to end
·         1 shredded carrot
·         ¼ cup olive oil with salt and pepper
·         1 lime, squeezed
I mixed it all up and enjoyed! For days! It was great cold, and I took it with me whenever I knew I’d have to eat out (at a meeting) and wouldn’t find any food (like at the pizza place my book club convened). 

I also tried it hot in Cabbage Tacos.
  1.     In a medium pan, sautee 2 thinly sliced bell peppers with oil of choice ( I used grapeseed). After they start getting tender, add a sliced onion. Continue cooking until tender, adding preferred spices ( I used cumin, chipotle powder, salt, pepper and cayenne).
  2.      When the onions start to caramelize (usually you can tell this because they’re translucent, but with all the spices I put on, they just looked golden) take the pepper mixture off the pan and put on a couple scoops of the previously mentioned salad. Squeeze on some lemon juice and cook until warmed.
  3.     Pour salad on a large leaf of red cabbage, top with peppers and mash on some avocado. Enjoy!

I reinvented it yet a third time (yes there was a lot and by this time I was eatin’ it by myself) by making a sort of taco salad.
1.       Heat leftover peppers and salad in a pan on the stove. Add extra seasoning as necessary +.5 tablespoon of oil. Crack an egg over the mixture and stir until cooked.
2.       While that’s heating, finely chop some greens of your choice. I used kale and beet greens, but it’d be fine with romaine or iceberg if that’s your preference (though it’s too white to be considered a green by my book).
3.       Put the heated stuff on the green stuff and top with an avocado. Mix and mash then shovel it in (to your mouth).

Bean dip (adapted from Poratos au gratin recipe in The Vegan Stoner Cookbook)
  1.      Cook up about two cups of soaked white beans.
  2.      Mash beans with 3 gloves chopped garlic, ½ cup coconut milk ½ cup rice milke, ¼ cup tahini, mustard powder to taste, and a little thyme.
  3.      Spread into a pan and bake at 250 for 10-15 minutes, until light brown on top.
  4.      Use it as a dip with your favorite veggies. I love mine with slices of bell pepper.

Black Bean Pasta with Lima Bean “alfredo”
One day while I was at the gym, I had a craving for oily noodles. Wheat is not recommended on the cleanse, nor is any flours, so you’d think that would pasta…however, I happened to have a bag of black bean pasta, made not from flour but from just black beans, sitting in the pantry from Amil’s co-op days. Instead of just drizzling it with oil I decided to use the lima beans that I had been soaking for two days.
                Lima Bean alfredo- 

White beans on black beans with some cabbage on the side. And I was surprisingly non-gassy!

  1. Cook beans until soft. 
  2. In the mean time, heat ¼ cup of oil in a pan and saute a couple cloves of garlic. 
  3. When the beans are done, put them in a blender/food processor with the garlic and oil and 1 cup of alternative milk (I used organic sprouted rice milk because that’s what was on sale the last time I went to the co-op, but I wished I had a thicker one like oat, soy or hemp milk. I considered opening a can of coconut milk, but the rice milk turned out fine). 
  4. Blend until creamy. Pour into a pan with spices of choice. I used salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. And a little thyme. I added a little arrowroot powder to offset the thinness of the milk, but then poured a little water in to the blender to rinse out what was left and dumped that into the pan. 
  5. 'Alfredo' in pan. It looked pretty convincing. And a lot more appealing to me than 3 kinds of dairy.
  6. Cook black bean pasta according to package. Scoop white onto black and enjoy. I had mine with a little salad. 

With the 12 day d-tox behind me, I’m going to continue to eat a sugar-free, dairy free diet whilst slowly adding in flours and yeasts. I’ve been craving my nooch (nutritional yeast)!

I had a nice realization at the beginning- what takes 12 days of focus to remove can be undone with a single bite, in a single moment, so I'm definitely going to stay focused on this. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

I have a Dream...

This august will mark 52 years since MLK gave his historic speech beginning with, “I have a dream.”
On this day of his remembrance, I wonder what you would dream, if you could imagine a somewhat feasible positive change to our humanity.

Of course, we’d all like to live in a place of world peace, where the military budget wasn’t greater than the budget for almost everything else combined (see below)  and where we could make a living watching cat videos…but the dream that’s been floating through my head is altogether different.

I dream of a society where everyone works part time. I know. Random? But before you respond with, “Well yeah, that’d be great, but how could I…” let me try to answer those questions from the perspective of a big chair in my little house.

First I should explain that this is stemming from my personal experience of being a (kind of) part time employee of various organizations. I do work very full time (over 100hours a week) for a few weeks a year, but I also work less than 20hours for a number of weeks.

So let’s get to it- why is part time work part of my American dream? What benefits could there be in that?

1)      Working less means having more time to spend on the things you care about. So instead of working 10 hours a week just to pay for Johnny’s babysitter…you could cut the time and babysit Johnny yourself. Now when you reminisce about how those “years fly by,” you’ll have more memories of them to look back on.
Or- if you like to travel: remember that adage that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey? But you only have 5 days off from work so you have to fly there and back to maximize your time. If you worked part time (depending on how that part divides up), you could take a bus or a train and actually see the points between you and your destination. Or go rouge and rideshare.

2)      Less money made means living a thriftier lifestyle. So you don’t have the money to buy that $5.00 2oz bag of Kale Chips that you just love? Then make them yourself. Or heck- you could grow them with all the time you have. I’m not saying everyone should become a farmer (but we do need some people to at least hold on to the profession), but there is something special about connecting with the food you eat in a slow way. Actually cutting up potatoes and cooking them in the oven rather than driving past a window of a funky smelling building and getting handed some greasy potatoes in a little paper carton is more fulfilling in many ways.
Beyond finding crafty ways to meet your basic needs, there’s always room for DIY in other ways. I don’t buy shampoo because I have time to make it. As a result, I know what’s in my hair products and I get to take ownership of my healthy hair. Why spend $4.00 on a crappy card that says something in pretty cursive that you would never actually say? When we’re not so sucked up in making money to pay for such things, we can make them ourselves.

3)      You can work more by working less! (?) Now I’ve never had a full-time 9-5 sort of job…especially one where you sit down and stare at a computer all day, so I’m doing a little imagining here, but I imagine that you don’t spend the entire 8 hours of work actually doing work.
And I’m not saying that you should still be asked to meet the same quotas in half the time. After all, with the money they save from paying you half, they can hire another person to work just as efficiently (there you go, I figured out the job problem! Thank me later, Obama).   
Despite all this, I think if you really love your job enough to want to work more than 20 hours—then put that time into your job, be compensated for it.

In sum—ever since I heard the phrase paradigm shift, I hoped I would live to witness a world-wide shift toward my personal views (don’t we all?). Actually, I think our world is pretty screwed if we don’t start at least over analyzing decisions like I do…but I digress. I’ve read a lot about the problems with the world- mass slaughtering of species we don’t even know exist yet, deforesting, genocide, relatively low rates of happiness in developed countries… and often find myself day dreaming of a world without those problems. While I don’t think one thing could change them all, I was surprised when I realized how much positive could come out of people working less. I don’t know how this change would come about, but it’s some food for thought.

I’m not sure who you are out there in reader-land, but you probably aren’t convinced. In any case, working part time has worked great for me. It’s allowed me time to travel, spend with family, and be creative/crafty…and I still enough money saved for a rainy day.

Happy MLK day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Treasure Hunting

Ever since writing about the relative ease of our modern world, I’ve begun noticing, with pride, all the little things I work at. Anyone who has watched an episode of Antiques Road Show or driven down a freeway and counted the number of Storage places has probably, at least vaguely, concluded that we as Americans have a lot of crap. I remember being told when I was younger that I should “figure out what to collect,” because everybody collected something. My mother collected glass salt containers for a while, and little glass antique dolls. My grandma had bread plates, and my grandpa has Santas, everything eagle, and anything Longhorn related. For my dad it's old books and for my brother…just about anything eccentrically historical…although he has a collection of car air fresheners solely because of me.
Following that advice, I had a number of my own collections. I collected posters, which I plastered all over the walls and ceiling of my room. I collected antique alcohol bottles (so I would have something to look for when the family went antiquing), incense, CD’s, snow globes and music boxes, and Elvis memorabilia. And Chevelle memorabilia, although they were just coming about, and I kind of created their memorabilia. I had all of these things, and packed most of them up when my parents made the big move to “downsize” while I was in college. It wasn’t until this last year, before my big move in the u-hall, that I really put thought into how silly it all is.

Maybe it was all those episodes of Antiques Road Show I would watch with my parents, but it became evident to me that a lot of people had a lot of stuff, and most of it, despite being potentially worth money, was completely useless. With that realization, and a couple years of practicing moving only the things I “needed,” I realized that the boxes of snow globes and Elvis items weren’t going to help me live the life I desire. In fact, all they would do is weigh me down (literally). So I took advantage of the time I had for the hassle, and sold almost everything I could that wouldn’t be useful for me in the new house. After all, I didn’t collect snow globes because I cherished them. Yes, most of them had significant sentimental value attributed to who gave them to me or where I got them, but those memories will live on without the item…or at least with pictures of the item. What really spurned these piles of belongings was a want to discover, or to treasure hunt (at last, she gets to the point of this long-winded blog).

When I go grocery shopping, I find myself hunting down the items on sale, trying to combine coupons with deals, or reinvent my salad plan with the vegetables from the discount box. This is my new way of treasure hunting. When I desire an appliance, like a new blender, or a liquid measuring cup… I know that I can live without it because I have already, so I put it on my “thrift wishes list” and poke around the local thrift stores whenever I pass by them. We have one that’s in walking distance from my office, and it’s not uncommon for me to go in there about once a week, scan the usual places and buy a small piece of fabric and a just-right-sized Tupperware, or a seasonal CD and a new sunhat.
Another favorite place for treasure hunting: book stores, and libraries especially. I have the layout of my library down pat, and make a trip there at least once a week. After scanning the books up front on display, I meander to the DVD's to see if anything catches my eye, then pass by the seasonal display and the audio books, looking briefly as I walk to the used magazines. My library does this great thing where they allow people to donate old magazines, and other people to take them. This is where I find my collage gems. Then I head over to my favorite aisle of non-fiction, containing the 500's and any and everything sciencey. Each week I'm set up to find at least one fun discovery. And it's all free! 

I enjoy the thrill of this type of treasure hunting so much that I’m always surprised to see aisles and aisles of brand new items at conventional stores. I do realize that we can’t all buy second hand, because there wouldn’t be any first hand items to donate…but I also realize that a LOT more of us could switch to thrifting, and there would still be plenty. These days I collect jobs, money, and bulk food items, the way I did those other things growing up. I get more of a thrill watching the number in my bank account rise than I did squeezing a new snow globe on my shelf.

I just read a fascinating book called The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, about a boy (William Kamkwamba) in Africa who can’t afford schooling after a tragic famine swept the country, and resorts to tinkering with scraps and self-teaching from the library. I think the theme of the book could be a quote from an African blogger:

“Africans bend what little they have to their will every day. Using Creativity they overcome African’s challenges. Where the world sees trash, Africa recycles. Where the world sees junk, Africa sees rebirth. "

William's Windmill

 At my book club discussion of the book, we talked a lot about the inventiveness of the author, due to the lack of resources in his country at that time. But what they lacked in rain and political accountability, they possessed in junk at the scrap yard.

William’s story is a tale of treasure hunting in the most rewarding way. How many people search stores to find another piece to their collection, and nobody hears about it…save a few close friends or relatives. But William’s search through his scrap yard for a motor…a wire… auto grease…turned him into an international hero with a New York Best Seller. I’m not saying that rigging a half working toaster that you bought at a thrift store with some scraps you’d otherwise throw away is book worthy (although I’d certainly blog about such an adventure), but it’s that sort of creativity, ingenuity and rebellion against buying a new toaster that is going to feel truly fulfilling.

We also talked a bit about how to make this sort of scrappiness acceptable here in America. A recent workshop that has taken our environmental educator community by storm is making totes out of drip tape that would otherwise be piled in landfills. Being crafty, especially with recycled material, is trending right now, but I’m hoping it takes even more of a surge. In the meantime, I’m going to continue collecting my mesh bags and twist ties for an up-cycled idea I’m excited to test out.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

If you choose not to decide...

I haven't spent this much time in a Verizon Wireless since I tried to figure out how "forest people" can get internet from a "little magic box." Unsurprisingly that time, the workers gave me funny looks and shamed me for dropping their new iphone 5 on the floor, but I more or less got what I came for.
This last month I've been frequenting wireless stories for two reasons. Firstly because Amil wanted a new phone, and secondly because I decided that it's time for me to convert from my beloved "dumb phone" to a more intelligent, useful one.

The decision to transition to a smartphone has come with much hesitation. I've been proud of my long battery life, ability to disconnect and be present when others are staring at screens, and of not requiring any new resources for a phone I've had for a couple years. Nevertheless, I've caught myself calling friends and family for directions, or begging friends to look up an answer to end an argument. Since Amil got his new phone, I've used it to check my e-mail and deposit checks, and listened enviously as he talks about all the podcasts he's listened to while doing work around the property. So often I've longed for some story to listen to while I weed and rake, and it seemed that dream was as easy as transitioning to a smart phone.
But if only it were that easy. hah!

I was very fond of Amil's new droid. The camera was much better than my trusty dusty Powershot. The speakers weren't great but they did the job. But mostly, the programs were navigable, the apps were endless, and so were the possibilities, it seemed. The more I used his, the more I wanted my own, with my own passwords saved and my own apps. Since we don't have internet in the house, it was nice having it in the palm of my hands without having to walk to a coffee shop or down the road.
What I didn't want, however, was a brand new phone. Having committed to not buy new for almost two years now (making only a few exceptions), I couldn't let myself buy a new phone, with newly extracted precious metals and petroleum resources.
The first thing I found on my search was the Fair Phone. The fair phone had everything I wanted ethically, and almost everything I wanted from an OS. But the more I read about it, the more I realized that this search was going to be complicated. The phone seemed to be made in Europe somewhere...and was so popular that they were actually out of phones and unsure of when they'd make enough to fill the back orders. Even if I did get my hands on one for the pretty price of 310 pounds, I wasn't sure how to connect it to a US carrier. Not to mention that I couldn't budget that much for a phone, knowing my history of dropping, cracking, spilling and my out-of-doors lifestyle.
So, having my heart fulfilled by the fact that there IS an ethically, environmentally friendly made phone out there, although out of my reach, I began to search elsewhere.
I decided to wait until I came home to ask my family about their phones and plans, and inquire about our family plan. In the meantime, I dropped my phone again and again until it eventually ceased to come back to life. Even without a phone, I was determined to do my research and not find something new.
Once back at home I received all kinds of advice. I learned I was no longer attached to a family plan with Verizon, so that made the search more endless and therefore more complicated. I could search for any phone and any plan I wanted, but with that kind of possibility, I didn't even know where to begin.
I searched for lists of "most eco-friendly phones," and saw some lists (though mostly outdated). The prime advice was to use a reused phone or just stick with your old one, unless it's broken like mine was. In the past I've always just used friend's old phones, which has allowed me some very interesting and very free varieties. I was hopeful at getting my dad's old phone, but the more I looked at it, I began to agree that it is a little outdated, and just like Amil's, it's just not MY phone...something for me to use and customize. I'm looking for a device that will supplement my professional and creative work and that I'll hopefully have for a long time. The list also mentioned Samsung and Nokia for using reused and repurposed materials, as well as the LG Enact.

My mother had taken my usual route and gotten a phone from her sister, and is using Consumer Cellular, a pay as you go plan. I looked on their website and stopped by target to look at the phones, when I was told, "I'm surprised there's any phones left this close to the retirement center." Hmm. That statement just punctuated what I was realizing. It's a great plan for people who don't use their phone much but want a smart phone for some things. But since I'm attempting to transition to using my phone for work a lot more, I would need something more. Even though mom's $20/month bills sounded good.

Since starting my search, I began to notice all sorts of cell phone plans and advertisements on TV and online (I'm still creeped out that ads know what you're looking for and target that). T Mobile's data roll-over commercials caught my eye, as did Sprint's "cut your phone bill in half" plan. I searched through my wish-list of "eco-friendly phones" on Craigslist and eBay, but soon decided not to buy a used phone that way. There's simply no way to tell for sure if it's "unlocked" or how well it works, and most of the prices were just as expensive or often more than buying a phone with a plan. The trouble was going to be finding one used, pre-owned or refurbished. I looked at Verizon and AT&T, but the used phones they had that I liked were out of stock, or there were other minor complications.

The most help I found was from the cell phone search at I was able to put in all the things I'm looking for and compare plans side by side. The first on the list was from a program called Givmobile that gives 8% of your cell phone bill to charity. This sounded as good as the fair phone, and plans started at $25.00 a month. But quickly I saw that it only used 2G, and there were some other flaws.
The next cheapest was TextNow Wireless, which takes advantage of abundant WiFi for most calling and texting, and only uses 3G and 4G from the spring network when wifi isn't available. I've been curious to find a program that works on Wifi, and this one is right in my price range. On top of that, there's a Samsung cellphone for only $100, with the plan, which you pay month to month. I'm waiting to hear back about getting my phone number transferred, but I'm seriously looking into TextNow.
I'll keep you posted in a few weeks when I've settled onto something.

Friday, January 2, 2015

It ain't easy bein' green...

Avoiding social activities because the commute weighs too heavy on your gas-mileage obsessed brain; carrying all your groceries in your hands, pockets and on your head (and then realizing the keys are at the bottom of your pocket when you get to the car, or bicycle) because you forgot your canvas bags; watching people gorge on smoked meats and homemade mac n' cheese while you nibble your "rabbit food" which only consists of onions and cabbage because the hosts didn't know there would be a vegetarian at the party; or hand-grinding food for months because you didn't want to buy electric kitchen tools and hadn't found a hand-powered one at an antique store yet (and you didn't want to buy that one you keep watching on ebay because of the shipping costs and impact on the environment)... of COURSE it's not easy being "green," but I think it's a heck of a lot more fun.

I really immersed myself into my old lifestyle since coming home for the holidays. I've sat around watching the big screen TV and playing Wii, enjoyed the warm fires and the heater set up to 8 degrees warmer than in my house. I've also had my share of traditional foods- like "green jello" and broccoli rice casserole, even though neither align with my usual eating ethics. I even went shopping at a mall and got a brand new pair of jeans (that fit soooo well!). But while I've allowed myself to give in to all these old habits, reaping the benefits of family camaraderie and comfort foods and feelings, one thing has been nagging me. It's all so easy. Which makes it kind of boring.

Most of the things I participated in either started as or still are a method of acquiring something conveniently. My family works hard, raising kids, working 8:00-5:00, volunteering for family or organizations, and 'keepin' up with the Joneses' in a sense. There is a clear generational trend toward that lifestyle. Almost all of the family I have seen for the holidays have chosen that (work, kids, house) as their challenge.

Personally, none of that interests me...mostly because of my obsession with the Earth. I don't want kids of my own, a big ol' house to clean, or a job that I dread going to. (When my dad was advising my brother on job recently, he said "it's work you're not supposed to like it!" Which is a bit ironic because he recently left the job he hated and is now in one where he at least finds some pleasure. But I had to sit back and smile to myself because while I don't have a 9-5 job that I can leave behind at the end of the day, I find my work exciting and it does actually pay the bills). My chosen challenge is to be "green."

When looking at a recipe for a holiday treat before Christmas, that nagging thought came up. "you just dump in sugar, butter and milk? THAT's the treat?" It seemed too easy. After years of substituting various non-animal derived 'healthy' fats for sugar, butter and milk, it seemed lie cheating to just go for it. I don't want to just run errands. I want to analyze the most efficient routes from point A to B with all my errands on the way, and bike to the closest ones. I want to put on sweaters and jump around rather than turn on the heater, and read stories, write plays and do puzzles rather than watch TV. I'm glad it ain't easy bein' green, or I might get bored with it. But I'm totally up to the challenge. And you get to experience all the challenges with me. :-p