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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I survived!

No, I haven't been hibernating for the past three weeks... although that wouldn't have been a bad way to spend the month of December.  The real reason for my silence can be summed up with a phrase my mom used to say: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"


Well, I am here to say that I was wrong, for the most part anyways.  And yes, believe it or not, I can be wrong sometimes, just don't tell my husband okay?  You see Christmas of 2009 was what plunged me into the depths of such despair as to provoke me to do something drastic.  You know, drastic, like starting a blog (enter sarcastic tone here).  Seriously though, I was feeling so frustrated with the fact that consumerism was taking over our lives that it managed to plunge me further into my depression... for real.  Despite the fact that the past three weeks have been filled with a sense of foreboding and a dash of dread, I am happy to say that we made it through this Christmas with my emotional sensibilities still in tact - although I did go straight to bed on Christmas at 8 pm and sleep until 10 am the next morning... Yup, it is the 28th of December and I am feeling a-okay.... even after enduring five (yes FIVE) Christmases, straight through from December 22 until December 26. 


How could you be stressed out waking up to this guy everyday!?
To what do I credit my survival?  My friends and family of course!  These are the following strategies that seemed to work at keeping things under control this year (and I share these here because other people have shared similar Christmas anxieties with me):

  • My family decided on a spending limit of $50 per person.  Now, I am not exactly certain that my parents kept to this as strictly as I had hoped, but they did turn it down a few notches for sure, which was noticeable and much appreciated!
  • For my gifts, I either made or purchased handmade gifts almost exclusively.  Some exceptions included edible gifts or gifts of 'experiences': concert tickets, a dinner out, etc.  For the gifts that weren't handmade (a few Children's books), I purchased them at a local business.  The biggest benefit of this strategy?  NO MALLS!  (Which are the scourge of society in my humble opinion)
  • As for the gifts that we received, I am feeling very grateful... most of Chephren's gifts were books and/or puzzles, two things that I really have no problem with (educational toys RULE!).  Chephren also received a handmade touque (thanks Gigi!) and a few beautifully made knit items including a sweater from Ecuador and a touque from Nepal.  Cool!  
  • Remembering that the best gifts at Christmas are FREE, well, mostly free anyway!  Cross-country skiing with my parents on Christmas day has been a long-standing tradition and one that I cherish greatly... Other favorites include: My mom's Christmas letters to each of us (I will share some of my letter in a future post because it pertains to the blog).  She writes them every year and we mount them on the fridge to read daily until the next Christmas comes around.  They are always my favorite gift by far.  Spending time with our families (all four of them!), and speaking of family, it was especially fun to watch Chephren 'prepare' for Santa's arrival and come bouncing out in the morning to find the present that he asked for... a donut!  
  • Tobogganing in Fairmont
  • Finally, we did something that we should really do every year when things get a little 'crazy' before Christmas: LEAVE!  We went on a relaxing holiday for a week to the mountains in the 2nd week of December just to chill out, play in the snow and teach Chephren to ski.  It was such a great holiday!

Next up on the horizon is New Years, my favorite holiday of the year by far!  For me, New Years represents the ultimate time to reflect on the past year's triumphs, failures, trials and tribulations.  2010 has been such a positive year of growth for me in so many ways and yet I feel that I have so far yet to go on my journey. 

As for the Marebare Necessities blog?  I have had many inquiries as to its fate in 19 days when the year is up... All I have to say is you will have to stay tuned to find out!

Happy Holidays to each and every one of you and THANK YOU for your support, ideas, feedback and best wishes throughout the past year!

Marebare xoxo




Friday, December 3, 2010

Livin' La Vida LOCAL

I never thought that I would EVER think of using, referring to, or quoting a Ricky Martin song lyric (gag!), but when I think of Living Local... this silly song persistently pops into my head.  Now if you are stuck with this powerful association too (I hope so... insert evil laugh here), don't fret, it is for a good cause.  My entry today is about a new-to-me program that has been launched in Edmonton called Eat Local First.  For the past few weeks I have been ordering food from this site, including 'The Good Food Box': an assortment of 8-12 fresh, locally produced vegetables that are out-of-this-world amazing!  Eat Local First/The Good Food Box are part of the Live Local Alberta initiative, which encourages Albertans to eat local, shop local and dine local... definitely a program that 'Marebare' can get behind (ahem, see the above statement in my banner). 

I was waiting to promote this program until I had sufficiently sampled the 'goods' and now that I have (we have ordered from there for 3 weeks in a row now), and for what it's worth, I am more than happy to get behind their products.  Of course I took some photos of the 'real thing' so that you could see for yourself:

This week's Good Food Box
 
Is your mouth watering yet?


Now for the downside (yes, of course there is a downside).  This program delivers to Edmonton/Sherwood Park addresses for a small fee, however, given that I live so far from town, I have to take the drive into the city each week to pick up my order.  Don't get me wrong, it is well worth it, however I would really like to get a group together from Stony Plain/Spruce Grove/Parkland County who are all interested in buying some of the goods from this organization (they sell more than just produce).  This way, we could take turns picking up the week's orders and reduce our impact by driving less as a group.  If you are interested and live in this area, PLEASE contact me!  If there is interest, I will set up a group on facebook for us to communicate on...

Finally, one of the things that I LOVE about the Good Food Box (aside from the amazing quality of the produce), is the fact that it forces us to 'think outside the box' (pardon the pun) in terms of cooking.  We are forced to use what we have and so far have come up with some really different and delicious recipes.  Trent and I both love a challenge in the kitchen so it has worked out really well.  (A further incentive for all of you interested in partaking... we could share recipes!)



I know that you're not supposed to play with your food, but I couldn't resist!
Happy shopping/cooking/eating!
Marebare

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oh Yes I DID!


Told ya that I was going to.  Oh, and btw, that is apparently not a fig tree but a ficus (hence the lack of fruit prodcution, duh!).

Happy holidays :)

Marebare xoxo

Thursday, November 18, 2010

... and then it rolled away...

The ball I mean.  I dropped it and it is now rolling away.  I wonder if I can catch it?  Ok, enough with the metaphors.  What I am referring to is the fact that I had a brain fart.  Thankfully, one of my readers (thank you Cindy) was kind enough to awaken me from my holiday stupor, but alas, it was too late.  As such, I regret to inform you that I am sending out Christmas cards again this year.  (By too late, I mean that they have already been ordered - we send out the picture-card kind).  This is something that we have always done and I didn't even think of it as 'cheating'.  Never mind the fact that they are expensive and TERRIBLE for the environment.  I am such an avid lover of the snail-mail postal system (who doesn't like to get friendly mail, right Tess?) that I didn't even think about the effect that sending out cards in a mass mail-out would have. 

So, my bad.   This got me thinking though... what other 'traditions' was I about to just 'do' without thinking?  One of them is the Christmas Tree.  Now, I love a good Christmas tree: the lights, the smell, the sparkling decorations, I mean, they are a really powerful symbol of the season.  We have always made an effort to buy a local tree (sometimes even taking a half-dead one off our land that was crowding another healthy tree).   Let's just say that I am NOT above a Charlie Brown tree, in fact, I prefer them.

See?  This was Christmas 2006

Anyway, I am committed to making up for my card flub and as such, I have been researching the greenest option for a tree this year.  Here are the choices:
  1. Buy a fake tree (no, no never.  They are bad for the environment, they're made of PVC, and they are expensive)
  2. Take down another Charlie Brown tree on the farm.
  3. Source out a locally grown organic tree farm (there are tons of them out by where I live, and these are apparently a pretty green option b/c they provide housing for birds and clean the air while they are alive and then get replaced by 2-3 more seedlings when they are cut down and sold).  One more thing about this option, if you go this way, it is important to consider the disposal of it... landfills = NOT GREEN, composting, mulching, or sinking it into a local pond = GREEN.  And I am not making this stuff up.  Check it out at: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2004/12/how_to_pick_a_g.php
  4. Go treeless (GASP!)
After careful consideration (not really, it was more like, 'Trent, we're going treeless this year', followed by a 'sweet')... oops, I gave the answer away.  Yup, we picked option #4 and have decided to convert our beloved fig tree into a Christmas tree.  I'll post pics as soon as I get it 'decorated'. 

The tradition tides are turning... Do you think that this make up for the Christmas cards?

Marebare

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To Scrooge or Not to Scrooge... that is the question!

My denial is officially over.  After spending the first part of the month soaking up the sun, followed directly by a long weekend with my husband home, things are back to 'normal' around here.  And by normal I mean that it is a blustery freezing cold day outside (probably somewhere around -20 or -25 with the windchill) and the roads are icy and dangerous all over again... YAY WINTER! 


Actually, it's not so bad.  I am sitting in front of a warm fire, editing pictures from our trip and drinking a nice warm cup of tea while Chephren naps.  So, I guess winter isn't the worst thing in the world.  If I am being honest, the real reason that I am feeling jaded today has to do with Christmas... the holiday that started it all (no pun intended). 

If you recall (you probably don't so I will remind you), last Christmas was a crisis-like experience for me... one that drove me to starting this project actually.  For years now I have struggled with the extreme excess that is often associated with this holiday and of course, all of the WASTE that it generates.  Plus, it is often back-breakingly expensive.  Anyway, I won't rant about it too much here (I don't want to seem too scroogy), but I will tell you that my family has come up with a solution that pretty much no one except my dad and I are happy with (I think that this means that we are taking some serious liberties by calling it a 'solution', but anyway, it's what we're doing!)
Not me by the way, but she is accurately depicting my previous Christmas emotions!

Our previous tradition involved opening stockings (often filled with a heck of a lot more than toothpaste and mandarin oranges), followed by a huge breakfast, followed by you guessed it, more presents.  The whole ordeal would take us all morning and often into the early afternoon.  The end result was bags and bags (and bags) of garbage and each of us leaving with a clothesbasket (or bigger) filled with new things.  Now, I don't want to sound ungrateful, but don't you think that this is a bit excessive?  My husband and I are independent adults (I was going to say mature, but who am I kidding?), who really don't NEED anything anymore.  In fact, everyone in my family is an adult now (except for Chephren, but he doesn't need that much stuff either), and I would venture to say that not one of us needs that much new stuff.
Not our presents really, but you get the idea

So, this year we are holding it to stockings alone, with a spending limit of $50 on each person.  My own personal rule is no new stuff, but handmade stuff is okay (but I guess you saw that one coming didn't you). 

So, while it is not the perfect solution for me, nor is everyone else particularly fond of the new rules, it is what we are going with for now.  I get that change is hard, but I am convinced that this one is a change for the better.  I just hope that my family can ride this one out with/for me and stick to the rules!  And people wonder why I like Halloween so much better...

This was this past Halloween: Momma and Baby Dragon/Dinosaurs


Here is to the start of a new (and reformed) holiday season!

Marebare

(PS: If you have similar stories/suggestions/strategies to share, I'd love to hear them!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

All good things must come to an end...

One of the biggest challenges of 'living with less' has been cutting back on travelling.  Last year, I took 11 holidays (yes 11... after all, my little guy could still travel for free, so I was practically making money, right?).  So, besides our summer in the bush (NOT a holiday, trust me), we hadn't taken a single trip this year, until now.  If you haven't been following me on Twitter (with the exception of two people, no one is, so I know you're not), you might not know that we (the man, the boy and I) spent the past week in Phoenix.  Why Phoenix you say?  Well, simply, we lucked out and had a free place to stay... plus, Cheph could still fly for free b/c he wasn't yet two... on one of the flights anyways.  So, again, I am going with the argument that we practically made money on this trip.  We have had an awesome time staying at my dad/stepmom's place (which is luxury at its finest) and took in the best sights that Phoenix had to offer for a family of three.  We took Cheph to the zoo for his 2nd birthday, went to visit Trent's mom who is down here too, had a friend in from Tucson, had my mom come for a visit, had some more Canadian friends in from Palm Springs, went to a kiddie amusement park and last but certainly not least we hit the Children's Museum in Phoenix (which, let it be said, is NOT to be missed... even if you aren't yet parents).

Here are some photo highlights of the trip...



Baby Gibbon

Parrots enjoying the sun



Cheph's favorite - the carousel

Who could say no to those eyes?


Lion fish!

Have you ever seen someone so ramped up about bubbles?

Gymnastics lesson in Phoenix!

Another carousel ride... really not hard to make this kid happy!

Children's museum, part of the huge climber structure

Upcycled decorations (ok, art)

More upcycling, these are drums
We have really had a great (and inexpensive) trip to the desert... but, all good things must come to an end and we head home tomorrow.  Back to the land of the deep freeze.  Goodbye shorts and tanktops, I will miss you.

Yours remotely,
Marebare


 



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Groupon Junkie

I have never been into coupons... in fact, I even hate the thought of coupons... and gift certificates.  I mean, they are great in principle, but do you know how many of those things I carry around in my wallet that never get used?  I usually only discover them when I switch to a new wallet which is every 3 or 4 years, and by then the coupons or gift certificates are expired, or worse, the store that sold them is out of business!  There are some exceptions to this rule of course.  For instance, there are certain companies that I frequent regularly (or used to anyway) from which I would gladly accept a gift certificate or coupon (hint: starts with an S and ends with a TARBUCKS)...  I also like gift certificates for things that I can buy on-line, like music from iTunes.  You just load up your account and 'bam!' you can buy new music right then or you can save it for later. (Oh, and if you would like to send me gift certificates for either of the above, I would be happy to accept!!!)

All joking aside, yesterday I made yet another exception to my no coupon rule... yup, Groupon.  Now, I don't completely live with my head in the sand, and I had heard of Groupon before yesterday, however I just figured that it was mostly coupons for material goods that I have vowed not to purchase, so what the heck would I want with those?  It turns out that Groupon also has coupons for restaurants, coffee shops, activities and yesterday they featured a coupn for my very favorite consignment clothing shop: Caprice West.  I must give a heartfelt thankyou and a round of applause to my peeps (yes, I just used the word peeps) out there who messaged me to let me know about this great opportunity, especially to my dear friend who even purchased one for me as a gift (you know who you are!)  The deal yesterday was to spend $25 and get $50 worth of goods at Caprice West.  Can you say STELLAR DEAL?  Especially when everything in that store is a bargain to begin with!  And that is not even the best part... you can actually download an app for your iPhone that allows the store to scan the coupon on your phone so you don't even have to drag around a piece of paper in your wallet (I knew I bought that thing for a good reason). 

Is it bad that I went to sleep dreaming of what today's Groupon deal would be?

Happy saving!

Marebare xoxo

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Some things are worth the extra money

It all started when air canada lost my bag... I know, you're shocked right?  Well they did.  I was flying home from Halifax into Calgary for our friends Tess and Loic's wedding.  More than slightly panicked, (all I had to wear were my grubby plane clothes remember?) I spent most of the night before the wedding on the phone with some lady in India who had no idea where my bag went (and, let's be honest, why should she, she's in INDIA!?)

Anyway, before full-on panic took over my brain, I remembered that I had booked my flight with my visa and thankfully, our visa plan covers some expenses if/(aka WHEN) the airline loses your bag.  They informed me that I had up to $500 to spend on 'the bare necessities'.  All of a sudden, my misfortune had turned into a wonderously fortunate event and I got to purchase some NEW CLOTHES!  Yahoo!  First stop?  MEC - whereupon I proceeded to purchase THE BEST PAIR OF UNDERWEAR THAT I HAVE EVER OWNED.
(This is totally me btw... ha, ha... YEAH RIGHT!)  However, I would like to thank this hot model for making them look even more appealing than I could ever put into words...

They are Patagonia underwear and sell for a whopping $22/pair at MEC, but they are TOTALLY WORTH THE MONEY!  I now have 5 pairs of them, and each of them still look and feel as they did on the glorious day(s) that I purchased them. 

So, yeah, some things are worth the money... after all, who wants the hot firefighters/paramedics to find some nasty old, stained, ripped cotton undies when they rip your clothes from your burning/sick/bleeding/tortured body?

Okay, okay, that last bit wasn't called for, I was just taking some liberties with the infamous motherly phrase "never leave the house in dirty or torn underwear"... (well that's what my mom taught me anyways)

Go get some, you know you want to!

xoxo Marebare

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pick Yer Battles

So, after being inspired by Amy over at '100 Changes for the Better' I have been trying to make my own '100 Changes'.  So, a few weeks ago I started unplugging some of the appliances that weren't in use in order to stop them from drawing extra power (even when they're off).  All was going fine as I quietly continued to unplug everything in sight, until last night my husband asked me about it. 

T: "Why do you unplug the coffee maker every day?"
M: "Oh, to help cut down on power usage."
T: (after near-fainting, pulling his hands through his hair - classic stressed-out Trent manoever by the way, and gesturing towards the sky at his higher-power, who, I am sure would be on my side about this issue, but anyways...) "You're kidding right?"
M: "Nope."
T: (more incredulous gesturing, and then, composing himself) "Well, I would appreciate it if you would stop it okay?"

Now, I am reknowned for my inability to function in the mornings, especially before my coffee, which, he kindly makes for me every morning and often brings me a cup just to get me out of bed... think Folger's commercial (don't worry, we don't drink Folgers).... So I ask you... is this really worth the fight? 

Sorry earth, we are letting him have this one...

Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win. ~ Jonathan Kozol

Ciao!

Marebare xoxo

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Washing Machine RAGE

Get out your pen and paper and write Norwex a thank you letter RIGHT NOW!  You can tell them that I sent you.  That company single-handedly managed to save you from the RANT of the century about my HE washing machine and how much I hate it.  You see, prior to today, and said Norwex intervention, my laundry machine was a fetid, useless, pile of scrap metal that was about to get ANNIHILATED WITH A SLEDGE HAMMER!!!!!  I have mentioned this washing machine before, by the way, in my 'diaper tale of woe'... needless to say, my washer hasn't made it up to me yet.


(someone has more guts than me apparently)

So, this is what happened... (all of you HE'ers out there, take note)...

I don't do that much laundry... that is, as long as I can help it.  This means that my machine sits for maybe weeks on end until I finally get up the motivation to do something about the overflowing clothes hampers.  All was fine and dandy (or so I thought), until I started going to hot yoga classes on a regular basis.  Now, if you have been to a hot yoga class before, you would know that you come out of there a disheveled, sweaty mess, hence I tend to use a clean towel for each class that I attend.  Again, all was well... and then... it happened.  There I am down-dogging it up and I get a wiff of something nasty... like... mold or something.  And, down I go into my chatarunga and GASP!  It is MY TOWEL THAT SMELLS LIKE MOLD!!!  (In case you may have missed it, I REALLY hate mold and everything that comes with it... blame a really serious allergy to it and a near-death-causing lung infection to the stuff and you would likely feel as strongly about the stuff too).  Surprisingly, I managed to finish the class, despite the fact that I flat-out refused to use the stinky towel and my mat turned into a slip-n-slide... (those were fun back in the day though weren't they?).


Drama aside, I came home, stuck my head into my washing machine and I almost vomited... the culprit was revealed.  Being the diligent consumer that I am, I checked my washing machine manual for clues and guess what, they ADMIT that this might be a problem and that you should do X, Y and Z to fix the problem.  So, I did do X, Y, Z and even E, F, G... but to no avail.  After seriously considering putting the thing up on freecycle and trying to buy a top-loading one, I decided to try one last thing... let's call it 'N' (ha!).  You guessed it, Norwex makes a laundry detergent.  I used 1/2 tsp per load for a few washes and the machine is back to 'new' again.  You heard me, the moldy smell vanished!


All hail Norwex!!!  The washing machine is saved! (For now!)

Marebare xoxo

P.S.  No, I don't sell Norwex, but I might start!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

N-N-N-NETFLIX!

The days are getting shorter... the nights are getting colder... and that means one thing for my husband and I: movie-time!  As you probably know, we don't have satellite or cable hooked up to our TV, so historically, we have either purchased TV series on DVD or rented movies to get us through those long, cold winter nights.  This year however, things are going to be a little different.  Not wanting to break the rules, we haven't bought any of our favorite series on DVD and while we have rented a few movies, we find it a bit of a pain given how far we live from town... plus, our DVD player is broken.


At first, we decided to download (and purchase) a few shows from iTunes... man those things are expensive, plus they take up a ton of space on your comupter and take for-e-ver to download.  In case you were wondering, I find this to be within my 'rules' because it doesn't involve the purchase of a physical 'product', therefore I think it fits more within the category of an 'experience'.  Same goes for music.  That being said... I am still a bit of a cheap-o, and as I said, those things are really expensive!  So, we have come up with a new solution: Netflix!

For those of you who don't know, Netflix is a website that streams a wide variety of movies, documentaries and TV shows (oh, and streaming = no waiting!).  You can sign up for a one month free trial and then pay only $8.99 per month thereafter.  In case you didn't do the math, that is less than renting two movies... at least it is where I come from.  Sooo, we have decided to give it a shot.  The best part is that there are a TON of independent films, documentaries, foreign films, etc. which is right up my alley!  (and NO, I am not being sponsored by Netflix to talk in such a positive light about them!)

So, if you haven't done so already, sign up for netflix!  At least for the one-month trial.  And when you do, check out 'Who Killed the Electric Car'... it is a documentary about the rise (and FALL) of the electric car in America.  It is an absolutely fascinating show (although it is quite disheartening...but, you won't be surprised to learn of big buisness/political corruption now will you?)

Happy movie watching!

Marebare xoxo

PS... if you know of any related documentaries that I should check out let me know.  If you are so inclined, I would also be happy to post full reviews of any of these movies on here as well.

Friday, October 1, 2010

'C' is for Commune

Those of you who had the privilege of watching Sesame Street back in the early 80's should get the above reference ('C' is for Cookie, it's good enough for me), and if not, well, you must not have a two-year-old in which to re-live your old childhood memories!


But seriously, this post came to life in my mind as I drifted off to a peaceful sleep last night (well, as peaceful as it could be with a Cookie Monster song playing in my head!).  Normally I go to sleep fretting and worrying about all of the stuff I have to get done the next day and it takes a real concerted effort to get my brain to SLOW DOWN!  This was not the case last night as I happily thought of the fact that my mom and I would be spending the day together tomorrow (now today).  As a stay-at-home mom (which I love, don't get me wrong), it is an absolutely wonderful experience to have the opportunity to spend the day with another adult and share in the responsibilities of daily living/child rearing, etc.  Thus brings me to my point about the commune...

You see, I have a thing for communes.  My parents, my husband and I have a pseudo-communal living situation, and I can't overstate how truly amazing and beneficial this is for all of us.  Unfortunately, I am the only one who is able to stay home all of the time, as my mom, dad and husband all work out of the home, but how great would it be if we were all able to work a lot less and spend more of our time together doing work/living around the farm?  I know, I was born in the wrong time!  And, please, don't get all women's lib on me... I am not saying women should stay home and be barefoot in the kitchen, I am saying we should ALL work less, play more and spend more of our time doing the things that are REALLY important: growing our own food, taking care of our land, spending time with each other, etc. 

Here is another example: my girlfriend just had a second baby, and her first baby is only 18 months old.  While she is extremely grateful and fortunate to have two beautiful, healthy children, she is also feeling somewhat overwhelmed as you can well imagine.  She came for a visit this week and I couldn't help but think... This would be soooo much better for all of us if she lived next door and we could spend our days together helping each other out; holding babies, playing with toddlers, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc.  I have no idea why our society has moved to the point where we don't rely on each other AT ALL for things like this, but I think that it is terribly isolating and wrong.  Historically, there are many communities and cultures who have thrived while living the mentality that 'it takes a community to raise a child'... and I couldn't agree more. 
(This is not my friend btw)

Anyone want to move out to my commune?  I am officially accepting applications.

Food for thought...

Marebare xoxo :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Anyone want a goat?

One thing that I have realized over the past 9 months is that it is allll good, until you run out of time (and/or energy).  Such was and is the case for me this summer/fall.  As you know, I spent the summer as a trailer dweller in the woods, and now that I am home again, work and let's face it, life, is back in full swing.  So, I ask you this... who the heck has time to make gifts (or find suitable items that were previously-loved).  I might be cheap, but I really don't want my friends, family and those who have been generous with me to feel slighted.  Alas, I also don't want the landfills to continually be loaded with junk/packaging/overpriced goods that I purchased in order to try to give someone the warm-and-fuzzies.  So, if you are busy (and really, who isn't, this post is for you!)

My modified strategy involves spending my hard-earned cashola on 'experiences' that I feel others might enjoy... We have taken my son to a few children's shows for example, and he absolutely loved them!  I feel way better about that than buying him a new toy that he may or not not play with and that may or may not be loaded with toxins... (I won't rant here, there is enough consumerism rage here for another post entirely)
Anyway, other ideas include: spa treatments, 'favor cards' (kind of like an IOU), theatre tickets, iTunes gift cards, or, my personal favorite as of late, donating to a charity in that persons name.  There is an absolutely wonderful charity of this sort that is Canadian-based called 'Plan'.  How it works is you go on their site, choose a gift that reminds you of the person you would like to honor and they will send that person either a card by mail or an e-card with a message from you.  One of the best parts of this program is that there is a really wide range of prices - you can spend as little as $10, with up to 11 of their 'gifts of hope' priced under $50.  Examples include: mango trees, school supplies, at-home birthing supplies, baby chicks, rabbits, seeds, pigs, goats, etc.

Now, I know what you're thinking... Maren, you are such a SUCKER!  Well, you might be right, I am and always have been a person who chooses to see the positives, and I tend to trust in the goodness of mankind... I know, I know... it is very naive of me.  However, for all of you skeptics out there... here is a movie trailer for a film made by another purchaser of 'gifts of hope' (goats in particular) who got to thinking... Hmmm, where's my goat?  I wonder if it made it to where it was supposed to go?  The film will be airing tonight on the CBC's documentary channel... for those of you who have Canadian digital cable (not me), you should check it out!


To give, or not to give, isn't really the question... the reality is that you should give... just figure out a way to do it with meaning, good intentions and above all, kindness to each other and the earth!

Marebare xoxo

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Christmas Come Early (and more tales of zucchini)

I have a zucchini update for you, but I am so SICK of talking about, thinking about, dreaming about and eating the darned stuff that it will have to wait...

I would much rather fill you in on the events (or rather THE event) of the past weekend.  We are fortunate in the community that I live in to have something called a 'Little Monsters Swap Meet', which is basically a huge garage sale that focuses mainly on all things babies and kids.  Moms from the community (and a few businesses) can rent tables and sell or swap their kids hand-me-downs with other moms, dads and kids in the community.  This is a HUGE event in our community, and each time people line up from a ridiculously early hour in order to get in first and get the best deals.  This time around, my friend Carla had rented a table and as such, I went to help her out.  The best part?  As a seller you get first dibs on all of the good stuff!  Before the doors had even opened, I had stocked up for all of my son's birthday and Christmas gifts!  I bought him a bouncy house, a huge stack of books, a chalkboard easel, a ride-em motorbike, a shake 'em race car set, some puzzles and a tool bench with a ton of tools... all for about $200!!!!  (The bouncy house alone is worth that purchased new).  I know, I know, I probably went a little bit crazy, but I sure don't get opportunities like this very often.  Most of the toys are now hidden away in my house for birthdays, Christmas, and rainy days to come.  Given my disdain for all things packaged and expensive, it really was like Christmas for ME!  Thanks to Amanda and Amanda for putting on such a wonderful event!

And now, (sigh), back to the zucchini...

The good news is that after literally putting zucchini in our meals 2-3 times per day, we have finally started to make progress on 'the pile'...


The bad news is that I can hardly stand the thought of putting another bite of it in my mouth... in any form! 
On the other hand, there have been some real winners, so to speak, throughout this contest. 
First there was the zucchini balls...

Those were delicious, especially served with tzatziki on the side...
Then there was the crab stuffed zucchini...

It was also delicious...

I have one more recipe to make for the official contest (Moussaka - don't worry Linds, I will get there!) and then I am freezing whatever is left! 

I have just one more thing to share... last night I invented a perfect way to use up veggies in your fridge... carrots, onions, potatoes and you guessed it... zucchini!  I called it 'Hidden Zucchini Curry' and I just have to share: (there are no amounts b/c I just don't cook that way!)

-Ground Chicken
-Garlic Salt
-Garlic
-Pepper

Saute the above until chicken cooked through

-Carrots and Zucchini: about 4 cups after they've been through the food processor
-1/2 cup onion
-Olive Oil
-Salt
-Potatoes, diced, about 3
-Potato flour
-Chicken broth - 2 cups
-Curry paste
-1 can coconut milk

-Saute carrots, zucchini and onions in olive oil and salt. Add potatoes. Add flour until thickened. Add broth steadily to make a roux. Add curry paste and then coconut milk. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. Add chicken and serve topped with raisins and plain yogurt over rice.

Your husband and kids will never guess just how many veggies you managed to sneak in there!  That is a Marebare guarantee!

Whew!  That is enough outta this girl.  Happy cooking!

Marebare

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oh C'MON!

I know that the last thing that you were probably expecting from me was to see two posts in one day, however, something is happening in my household that is worth mentioning.... drum roll please... are you ready for it?  THE TECHNOLOGY GODS ARE OUT TO GET ME!!!!

And, no, I am not exaggerating which is why a fully caps-locked statement is absolutely called for in this instance.  In my recent past, here are the list of appliances in my home that have kicked the proverbial bucket:
  • My laptop (but you already knew that)
  • Our cordless house phones

  • 2 vacuum cleaners (yes, that includes our spare).  One of them was actually shooting dirt OUT, I think that you can figure out which one by the picture.

  • 2 VCR's (including the one that I dug out of storage at my mom's last night that ate two VHS tapes today, including Chephren's favorite one and a library one!!!)
  • 1 DVD player


You can understand my frustration, especially given the fact that the last four bullets happened this weekend!!! 

So what is happening here?  This my fine friends is a perfect example of planned obsolescence, a topic recently written about in the book Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America.  I haven't read it yet, but I plan to check it out soon (that is, if the library will let me check anything out after I wrecked their VHS tape).

Let me know if you have read it and of course, feel free to share your own stories of technological distress! 

Happy Monday (hope yours is going better than mine!)

Marebare

Zucchini Update

Thank you to those loyal readers who have taken pity on my zucchini problem and sent me their delicious zucchini recipes.  I have decided that those of you who have submitted recipes are likely gardeners as well and completely understand the urgency of the situation. 

That being said, I spent much of Friday in the kitchen trying to use up the 'schwarzenegger'-sized squashes... (love the visual by the way Rebecca!)  First up was a crustless zucchini quiche, submitted by The Almighty Beckster (aka Rebecca).
 


















Next up was a chocolate courgette cake courtesy of Mrs. Green.  Who knew that the Brits use the much-cooler-sounding word 'courgette' rather than zucchini?  Personally, I love it, and the only thing that would make it even better for me would be to hear it pronounced in a British accent!  On the other hand, I am pretty sure that I can't pull it off, so I will continue to call them zucchini...



Both were delicious, we enjoyed the quiche for breakfast on Saturday morning (and my husband even like it, and he hates green stuff of any kind!) and I brought the cake to a party on Friday night...

You will have to wait until the contest is over in order to see who the winner is... Speaking of the contest,
I still have quite a few of the 'green monsters' left, so hop to it!


Thanks again to those who have participated so far... I wait with bated breath for the next round of recipes!

Adios for now!

Marebare