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Friday, May 28, 2010

So you want to DIY do you?

Okay, enough boasting about all of my self-made breads/treats/snacks.  I promised that I would share some recipes so here it goes:

Granola Recipe


3 cups Rolled Oats (not quick oats)
3/4 cup Almonds (slivered or whole)
1 cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 Tbs Wheat Germ
1/2 Tbs Cinnamon
2 Tbs Olive Oil

STIR...

Then add 1/2 cup or Pure Maple Syrup and 1 cup of dried fruit (your choice, I use cranberries and apricots typically)

Spread it all onto a baking sheet and bake @ 325 for 30-45 minutes. Stir 2-3 times while it is cooking.

Voila! Store in a jar or air tight container.


Cracker Recipe:

1 cup Rolled Oats
1 cup Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1/2 cup Butter
1/2 cup Sour Cream or Yogurt

Combing dry ingredients.  Add butter and sour cream (or yogurt) to the dry ingredients.  Roll as thinly as possible on a lightly floured surface.  Cut into squares (or rectangles, triangles, your choice).  Arrange on an ungreased baking sheet and pierce with a fork in several places.  Bake in 350 oven for 10-12 minutes.

You can freeze these or store them in an air-tight container.
(No picture of these because they get eaten before I ever get a chance - seriously!)

Easy "Artisan" Bread

Do you enjoy fresh bread (who doesn't)?  Would you like to have the ability to bake up a small loaf to enjoy each night at dinner?  Well, now you can, and here's how:

In a large bowl, combine 6 cups of flour (6 and 1/2 of you are using US flour)... long story, but just trust me, with 1 1/2 Tbs. of instant yeast and 1 1/2 Tbs of salt.  Add 3 cups of water that is at 100 F (try to get the temperature as close as possible to this number).

Then, simply mix it all up in the bowl and cover with saran wrap for 2 hours - leave it in a non-drafty area of your house. 

After 2 hours has passed, you have two choices: 1) Make bread now or 2) Make bread later.

If you decide to save the dough and make it later, you can store it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 9 days.  When you are ready to make a loaf (or two or three or four), simply take out the dough, and divide it into however many loaves you want to make.  This recipe will make 4 small round loaves - with one loaf being the ideal size to serve with a dinner for four.  I usually make two loaves at a time on a cookie sheet and put the rest in the fridge.  To make the loaves, simply form 1/4 of the dough into a round loaf, and, using a small amount of flour - work it in just until it is no longer sticky.  Let the loaf rest on a greased baking tray, covered with a tea towel for 40 minutes prior to baking.  Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 degrees.  After 40 minutes has passed, slice the top of each loaf with a serrated knife (about 1/2 inch depth) and spray with water.  Put the bread in the oven for 10 minutes, spraying the loaves 2-3 more times with the water.  After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 375 and allow the bread to cook for 15-20 minutes more - it will depend on your oven. 

Serve warm from the oven or save it for toast in the morning.  Oh, and the dough in the fridge actually gets better with age, just remember to cook it within the 9-day time frame.

Happy baking and just let me know if you have any questions!

Marebare xoxo

Monday, May 24, 2010

A confession...

I planted about 70 trees this weekend... well, I didn't but my husband and father-in-law did (under my close supervision).. but in any case, do you think that this is going to offset all of the 'bad' things that I am about to admit to???  You decide, I guess.

You see, I began this project with the 'simple' objective of saving money.  From there, I seemed to have plunged into the rabbit hole of eco-living and as a result, great, great, life changes have begun to take hold.  For instance, in the past week or so, I have been reluctant to consume any meat... in other words, I am well on my way to complete vegetarianism... and yet, it feels completely normal and not that big of a stretch at all.  I have also become an  'eco-diva' and if you are a male, please skip to the next paragraph to avoid any unnecessary details of women's menstruation... For those of you who are still reading, I have become a new user of the 'diva cup' - a synthetic device that you insert to 'catch' all of the 'stuff' each month and thus avoid using any paper/plastic products to deal with the monthly curse... I am also using cloth pads to deal with the in-between days.  This has been a huge step for me, and yet, so far, a wonderful one.  And yes, I do feel like an 'eco-diva', which makes it all the more worthwhile!

Now for my confession time... while I am using 'cloth diapers' for myself (essentially), you would think that I would still be employing this same technique with my son, now 18 months old.  The truth is... (GROWL), that I (and my mother-in-law) invested a significant amount of time and money to keep my child in cloth diapers from the time he was born.  Actually, to begin with, it was a wild success, as I found that the cloth diapers did a far better job at catching the 'stuff' than the disposables.  I was a huge advocate and user of the cloth system until Chephren turned about 9 months old... when all hell broke lose in my 'system'.  You see, all of a sudden, my son started to just REEK of urine.  I am talking about the ultimate YUCK of stenches here.  He would pee one little pee and just STINK!  It was not cool.  So, I started to do some research... I washed and boiled and washed and boiled those diapers... but it turns out that the problem could not be fixed.  The problem?  Our high efficiency washing machine!!! (Which we received as a gift from my parents in order to wash cloth diapers more easily - how ironic!).  The truth is that high efficiency machines aren't great for cloth diapers b/c they don't use enough water, thus causing a build-up of ammonia in the diapers that can't be washed out.  Needless to say, I was friggin' devastated... and I still am.  And now, my son has been in disposables for as long as he was in cloth diapers.  AHHHHHHHHHHH!  My heart hurts with every one of those things that I throw in the trash.

There... I have outed myself.  I am SO not perfect, even though I wish that I could be.  I share this information with you, my readers, because I think that there is an important message here.  Focus on what you CAN do, and not what you can't.  Despite my 'diaper crisis', I have still managed to make important changes in my family's life that will benefit the earth, the environment, and our health. 

All the best to you and yours... and thanks for listening!

Marebare xoxo

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Return to 'Dirtbag' Life

Any of you who have heard the term 'Dirtbag Climber' will automatically be able to conjure up images of what the past week was like for me.  You see, long before we lived in 'the big house', or had 'the big yard' or even the 'big bank account' (which really isn't so big), Trent and I spent a significant amount of time living out of tents, vans, trailers, etc.  The world at large was our 'yard' so to speak and our bank account was nearly empty much of the time... and we have never been happier!  Well, maybe not 'never', but it was a pretty rad time in both of our lives. 

I spent my holidays surrounded by other 'dirtbaggers', a lot of old friends and some new, and it reminded me that I need to return to even simpler times and embrace 'the dirtbagger' in me.  We camped in a spectacular campground, right on the beach, and awoke each morning to a cacophany of birds and a pristinely calm lake.  Each morning we had an amazing feast for breakfast, and lounged around drinking strong coffee until it was time to depart for the crag.  After a full day of hiking and climbing (and exhausting this unfit body of mine), we met back in the parking lot for 'happy hour'.  At night we had amazing dinners, campfires, sung to the guitar and laughed with each other until we cried.  Sounds perfect doesn't it?  It pretty much was. 

But while I had a blast climbing, partying, camping and joking with some wonderful people, the real eye opener for me was my ability to return to my yoga and meditation practice.  I used to be heavily involved with these spiritual practices prior to my son's birth, but in the past 18 months, I just haven't been able to find the time to indulge in these practices regularly.  I was shocked at how easily and naturally they came back - especially the meditation part, and I am on a new mission to make space in my busy life for this extremely important side of myself. 

As for my pact to 'live with less' - I pretty much stuck to my guns, as it was a fairly easy thing to do when you are surrounded by people who believe in the same life principles.  I ate mostly vegetarian food and spent very little money (other than the wine that a bought directly from the wineries - but I think that this is in line with my goals, right?)


Unfortunately (and I guess fortunately), I didn't take any pictures on this trip - at ALL (which is highly unlike me, but I was just DONE and not feeling creative at all).  My amazing friend Jody did though, and when she sends me some pics, I will be sure to share them.  The above pics are: Trent and I with one of the VW vans we lived in... for about a year or so, and the other is a photo of me at a yoga teacher training in Mexico.

Here's to a return to simpler times!!! 

Cheers, 

Marebare xoxo


Monday, May 10, 2010

Even Bloggers Need Vacations!

I have been busy all week preparing for my vacation, which starts in about 5 minutes from now.  I am leaving my son and hubby at home for a week of much needed rest, relaxation, and time OUTSIDE with some friends! 

Sorry for the blogging hiatus, but I will be back at it next week (Monday the 17th)... stay tuned until then!

CHEERS!

Marebare

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mind over Matter (aka Tofu)

Trent and I had an interesting 'debate' yesterday... about tofu of all things.  You see, a few years ago, I was really struggling with my health and I took it upon myself to try to remedy the situation through lifestyle choices.  Out of desperation, I decided to become a vegan literally overnight and tofu was thrust into my life in a big way.  I didn't like it.  At ALL.  I tried, really I did, but I just couldn't wrap my head around it.  As such, I only lasted about six months living as a vegan before I gave up.  I did feel quite a bit better during that time though.  Anyway, as you know from my previous blog entries, I am reducing my meat intake as both a cost-saving and an eco-strategy in my project.  This time around however, I am finding that I really, sincerely, LOVE tofu.  I especially love it curried, or smoked, or BBQ'd.  It is just delicious.  Seriously.

While my son is open to the tofu idea (and loves it), my husband is totally disgusted with the idea.  He has tried it whenever I've cooked it, but he refuses to like it.  I say 'refuses' because we determined in our debate yesterday that the power of the mind can (and likely does) affect which foods we find tasty.  Trent thinks that I have 'decided' to like tofu this time around because I believe so strongly in its benefits (saving money, saving the environment, good for my health, etc.).  Contrarily, I think that he has 'decided' to hate it... just out of principle.  Why does tofu have such a bad rap anyway?  I will admit that if it isn't prepared correctly it can be a bit of a mushy disaster, but so can a lot of other foods... Anyway, if you haven't tried tofu in a while, give it another shot, and with an OPEN mind this time.  The environment, your body and your wallet will thank you!

Happy cooking!

Marebare

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Grow-op update

From Seedlings...


To Saplings... (is that what they're called?)

And for a more 'complete' view (for you Jaime)


You can't really tell, but they are under a grow light and also in front of a south-facing window.  The only thing that I have moved outside so far is the broccoli (which likes the cold and is doing just fine so far)... although we have snow forecasted so we'll see what the next week brings. 

Other than growing things, I haven't been up to very much lately.  One of our dogs died somewhat unexpectedly on Thursday and I was the one to 'find her' before she passed on.  I sat with her while she died and it really shook me up.  After having a few days to reflect on the experience, I am finding that I am feeling a lot more at peace.  I know that she is out of pain now that she is at rest. 

Onto a lighter topic, I have been enjoying a lot of family time as of late.  My brother Ben is staying with us for a few weeks before he heads on to Germany.  He just graduated from University in Ottawa and is home for at least part of the summer.  He is famous for keeping me on my toes and not much as changed since the last time he stayed with us a few summers ago.  In theme with 'living with less' he let me cut his hair this morning, followed quickly by my husband and somewhat grudgingly by my dad.  The best part?  My dad let me cut his hair into a MULLET!  It is awesome!  He is telling me that he'll keep it at least until Monday (and go to work with it) and as such, he is my new hero.  It is pretty hard to feel sorry for yourself when there's a mullet in the house!  You gotta love my family!

Happy weekend everyone!

Marebare xoxo