Thursday, April 30, 2009

Involving our children...

"The power of God is present at all places, even in the tiniest leaf... God is currently and personally present in the wilderness, in the garden, and in the field."
Martin Luther

So i am slowly trying to discover ways that make sense for our family to help in taking care of our environment and ourselves.  There are so many things we can all do and it can very often feel overwhelming and cause us to feel guilty.  But I believe what is important is to educate ourselves (as we have time) and to implement what works for our individual families.  With three children, 3 and under, my husband and i are all about simplicity.  I truly do not want anything in my home that i don't really need, so much less to take care of and worry about (good reason to freecycle or provide a borrow/trade system, which i hope we can do through this blog).  And i am all about taking things slowly, one thing at a time.  This allows me to spend more time with my family enjoying simple things, like literally smelling the roses (or lilacs!).  Excuse me if i am sounding silly!  But i would love to talk about what we all do to teach our children about how we can take care of the earth and how we can better take care of our bodies.  As i have stated earlier we have started out very simply... first with recycling.   On our recycling trash can in our house, isabella and i cut out a recycling symbol and pictures of items that can be recycled and taped them on.  I printed them off of the internet and the pictures were actually geared toward children.  Because she was part of the process she has taken ownership of it and teaches fiona which items she can recycle by looking at the pictures on the trash can.  We have also enjoyed teaching them where their food comes from.  In the summer we go to the farmer's market every saturday to pick up our CSA share.  This gives us the opportunity to discuss each fruit and vegetable and where it came from, in addition to all of the other products at the market.  It is a lot of fun!  If you are not familiar with a CSA (community supported agriculture) check out  CSA's give you an opportunity to buy a share of a local farm and receive those crops each week.  They literally dig them up that morning and bring them into "town" to you.  This way you can eat seasonally, locally and most often organically.  Is there anything better?  Well i guess if you grow it all in your backyard...  which will never happen with me.  Except for an herb garden and the occasional tomato plant i have no clue.  

So now that i have gone on and on I would love to hear what you all do!

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

My husband Jason and I came up with this bread recipe. We usually make our bread in a machine but I believe this can be made in the oven as well. If you like seeds and other grains in your bread, perhaps you'll like this. Also, you may have to tweak it to your liking.

6 tablespoons of honey
1.5 cups of water
4 cups of whole wheat flour (we prefer to use whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour)
2 tablespoons powdered milk
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
4 tablespoons of 10 grain cereal (we use bob's red mill)
1 tablespoon of wheat germ
2 teaspoons of yeast

When our machine beeps we add 3 tablespoons of sunflower seeds and 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds.

We also use Soule Mama's recipe for WHO Bread and alternate between the two recipes. That recipe can be found here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

doctor needed

does anyone know of a good doctor in the westerville area...or close to...that you would recommend?

Monday, April 27, 2009


I've been experimenting with different bread recipes, mostly whole grain.  Does anyone have any good recipes?  Has anyone tried making a sprouted grain bread?

All Natural Sprays and Soap Recipes

Sometimes a gardener needs to take it up a notch with pest control, but resist the temptation to buy chemical pesticides from the nursery or home improvement store. Try the following recipes as go-to formulas for knocking out all kinds of unwanted visitors. I'm crossposting this to the CV Garden Blog

All Natural Insecticide Soap -
The soap in this recipe gets into the skin of the insect, causing dehydration and then extermination. Be careful not to add too much soap or you risk harming your plants. It is particularly helpful for soft bodied insects. Also, use a biodegradable liquid soap such as Dr. Bronners Liquid Castile Soap. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid soap and 1 quart water. Combine these ingredients then use in a spray bottle as needed. Add this recipe to others for to boost it’s effectiveness.

All Purpose Pesticide Spray -
Gather together some strong scented roots and spices such as cayenne, horseradish, ginger, garlic, onions, mint, rhubarb and anything else you can think of. Boil these in enough water to cover them and let the mixture sit overnight to marinate. Strain it out, put it in a spray bottle with some All Natural Insecticide Soap (see above) and you are good to go. This will keep for several weeks unless frozen.

variation - Instead of using all of the other herbs, simply use 1-2 heads of garlic. Deer and rabbits in particular are repelled by this.

Caffeine Spray
While human tend to enjoy the little jittery burst of energy that comes from caffeine insects on the other hand will do well to repel insects - particularly aphids. Gather any or all of the following herbs: yarrow, tansy, pennyroyal, thyme, lavender, rue, catnip and artemisia. Mix at least a cup of this herbal mixture with 2 tbsp used coffee grounds and 2 cups of water. All this to marinade for at least 24 hours before straining and placing into a spray bottle. This can keep for several weeks

Friday, April 24, 2009

Granola Bars

So my husband, Ron, and i have been trying to avoid as many processed foods as possible.  We are doing this in part out of financial necessity (so far everything we have made has come way under the cost of the product in the store even with using quality ingredients), part because we believe it is important to eat whole foods and truly because i don't understand what half of the items are listed as ingredients!  It has been pretty challenging because when the kids want a snack i need to have prepared something ahead of time.  I also need to keep up of the bread baking so there is always toast for breakfast.  And for those of you that know me well, this is quite a challenge.  Frankly i just started cooking in the last couple of years.  So all of this to say, if anyone has any advice or recipes i would love to hear them.  

I have been checking out granola bar recipes, everything from Alton Brown to Mother Earth News and most all are fairly the same.  I ended up using the recipe from Mother Earth News as a guideline.  Obviously you can really play around with these recipes.  By the way if you have never made granola bars they are super easy and take very little time!

Homemade Granola Bars (adapted from Mother Earth News)

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut (this is key to amazing flavor)
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup slivered almonds
4 TB butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar (organic) (i've also seen recipes use part molasses, part maple syrup)
1/2 cup honey
1 cup raisins
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread oats, coconut, seeds, wheat germ, and almonds on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, heat the butter, brown sugar and honey in small pan, allowing it to simmer until the oat mixture is ready to come out of the oven.  When the oat mixture is ready, stir in the raisins.  Remove honey mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Pour the hot mixture on the oat mixture and stir until all the dry ingredients are covered.  Press the granola firmly into the bottom of a greased 8"x 8" pan and place back in the oven for 20 minutes.  (this pan will make thick one inch bars, if you want thinner use a larger pan)  When you remove the granola from the oven, allow it to cool slightly before cutting into squares.  (don't be worried if it is a little crumbly, it will set up)  Allow to cool completely before removing from pan.

Gingered Oatmeal Muffins

I just made a yummy muffin recipe this morning for friends that i thought i would share.  I have two whole grain cookbooks that i am in love with... King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking and Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Baking Book.  This is from King Arthur:

Gingered Oatmeal Muffins

Muffin Batter
1 c. (4oz.) white whole wheat flour
1/2 c. (1 5/8 oz.) oat flour (if you don't have, just grind up oats)
3/4 c. (2 5/8 oz.) old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 c. (5 5/8 oz.) packed light brown sugar (i used less and used raw organic brown sugar)
1 TB baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. plus 2 TB (9 oz.) milk
1/4 c. (1 3/4 oz.) vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter (go for good organic butter)
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. (3 1/4 oz.) diced crystallized ginger

Topping (optional)
2 TB (7/8 oz.) raw sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger (i used more, i love ginger!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Either grease muffin tin or use papers.
Stir together flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  In separate bowl, beat together milk, butter, eggs and vanilla.  Gently stir the wet into the dry, mixing only to blend.  Stir in crystallized ginger.  Then make the topping by just stirring together.
Scoop the batter into the pan.  Sprinkle muffins with topping.  Bake until golden brown about 20 minutes.  Allow to cool in pan for about 5 minutes then turn onto a rack to finish cooling.

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


we are going to start composting in the next month or so.  we have always wanted to but have just never gotten around to it.  i have looked at plans for compost bins because we want to build our own.  does anyone have any suggestions?  has anyone built their own?  we bought a new house last spring and have a huge yard (shady) with absolutely no landscaping and horrible grass so we are beginning from scratch.  we are going to have to wait until next year to garden but i would like to begin composting immediately.   i am very new to this so i would love any suggestions.  funny though because my mom always had a nice big compost pile in our backyard.

random thoughts for Earth Day (be-lated)

I have never blogged before so I hope this finds it's way to the right place...For those of you that are residents of Columbus, you can go to and apply for a membership. It is free and you are recognized by the city as someone who is committed to making changes in your household, etc to help our enviroment. It is really neat, it also lists businesses and restaurants that have committed as well. It gives you lists of ideas to choose from that you promise to change, i.e., we have wrapped our water heater in a blanket, reduced water intake in our toilets, but there are many other ideas as well and you can also suggest ideas too.
Some small things I have also done in my household is switching to cloth napkins to reduce waste (you can reuse them through the day or even a couple of days of if they don't get too dirty) and my husband takes the bus to work when he can. I am always open for new ideas too!
By the way, since yesterday was Earth Day I found a website called and you can sign up to stop random catalogs being mailed to you. It is also free.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I first read about this recipe from the Duggar family a few years ago when their tv show first came on but have only recently attempted to make it. Now that I have though, I have no intentions of ever not making my own! It's very easy to make, ridiculously inexpensive, the scents are customizable to whatever you like (or omit oils altogether), and I've noticed no performance difference at all!

you will need:
a bar of naptha fels
1 cup oxiclean (or washing soda)
1/2 cup borax
4-5 drops of preferred essential oil like orange, peppermint, or tea tree oil (optional)

first i got a bar of naptha fels. i thought it would be hard to find since i had never heard of it but nope, it was perched right on the top shelf in the detergent aisle.

i popped it into the food processor and grated it into the tiniest of bits.

then add the cup of oxiclean

& then the borax and tea tree oil. i love tea tree oil. it is antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal - it's so multipurpose i put it in almost every homemade cleaning product i use! just don't drink it :) i've also recently started using peppermint oil for like towels and such. the scent is inviggorating! and more calming oils on things like sheets and what not.

this recipe makes about 3 cups of detergent but you only need about 1-2 tbsp per load of laundry. i've been using it about 2 months now and i see no difference in performance from this homemade detergent and the conventionally made kind. i highly recommend grating the soap up as tiny as you can. the first batches i made, i was a little lax about making the soap bits teeny tiny and it left a small amount of residue. also this recipe is really low sud so i bet it would be just fine in a HE washer

Happy Earth Day!

So there is still time...  North Star is giving away free veggie burgers today in honor of Earth Day!

I am trying a granola bar recipe tonight and if it turns out i would love to share it tomorrow.  If anyone has a good recipe please share.  I am combining a few recipes tonight.