Saturday, February 27, 2010

Indy Farmers Market Dates - Hamilton County

Thinking spring? Hamilton County's announced its farmers market dates for 2010:
Check out the full details here. I've been to all but the Westfield market, and they are all worth the visit.

Know of other markets opening up this spring? Post the details and links below!

GPB: The Great Purge

Today at the Green Phone Booth, I'm sharing my successes and frustrations in trying to get my home organized. Visit to share your tips and wish me success!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Winter Motivation: APLS Carnival Roundup

Whether it's the grey skies, the formidable temperatures and road conditions or dearth of motivational checkpoints, winter has a way of damping the best of our intentions.

Maybe that's why we had a smaller group chiming in on ways to remotivate yourself in the winter months.

Yet a small force of APLS bloggers shared their tips and successes in staying green in the winter months. For many, it's a time to change focus and turn to planning and evaluation.

Earlier this month, I wrote about my personal challenges in staying motivated in the winter months, and how I'm working to overcome them. "Not every moment of our lives is - or should be - about doing. Sometimes we need a little quietness in our lives."

Over at Compost Happens, we're reminded that winter can be a good time to plan for the future. Without the distractions of outside chores, we can focus on improving things indoors. "Cabin fever might not be curable, but making space on the basement shelves or purging the excess from a closet feels productive."

Meanwhile, in Colorado, Kellie at the Greenhab has caught spring fever. Her home has been busy planning for gardens and summer camps, flirting with new recipes in cookbooks and trying new things she'd might have not done had it not been frigid inside. "My showers may be longer and hotter than they are in the summer months and I may drive more often than walking, but there are just as many sustainable things to do inside during these dark days of winter that will pull us through to the inevitable days of spring," she writes.

Steph at Greening Families turns her thoughts to the home office. "When I am racing a deadline, I sometimes have a hard time maintaining my motivation for green habits, especially the ones that take a little extra time. " My favorite tip - though for a motivation of an entirely different manner - is conserving through keeping those office supplies out of the reach of eager fingers. Can't tell you how many sheets of work papers have been scrawled on lately by wannabe writers.

Erin at the Green Phone Booth writes how it's time to focus on the positive. Remember that old adage about "smile, and the happiness will follow?" She points out it's the same with any positive change. Focus on the positive, and more good ideas will flow. So start today by listing all of the changes you've made in the recent months. "Yes, the winter is dreary, the root vegetables endless. Yes, the long, gravelly path to sustainability is the road less traveled. But, look how much we have done!" she writes.

While we had a quiet month this month, I hope you join us for March's topic. Visit the APLS Carnival site for the March's topic. If you're interested in hosting for our spring or summer season, e-mail me at goinggreenmama at gmail dot com.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Baking snow

Laura Ingalls Wilder, I ain't.

Sewing more than a seam or button doesn't happen here. My baking endeavors are here and there. And I bristle at the first sign of snow.

But the other day, when we were once again blessed with a lot of snow, we opted for an unusual afternoon activity. Making "sugar snow."

For those of you not well-versed in the Little House books, a wintertime treat was taking the maple syrup, boiling and pouring over fresh snow until it hardens into a candylike consistency.

The Hungry Reader describes how it was done:

Our favorite moment comes when Laura and her cousins scoop up big plates of snow
and Grandma pours a ribbon of steaming syrup onto each one. The syrup hardens
into candy, which is devoured immediately. The children go back for again and
again another helping, for "maple sugar never hurt anybody."

I figured how hard could it be to recreate? I had a recipe in a cookbook I'd been meaning to explore, and decided there was no better time than now to play a little.

If I was a smart woman, I would have followed more conventional instructions. Maybe even used a candy thermometer. But no, in my arrogance, I poured syrup into a measuring cup and stuck it in the microwave.

All good until the first round boiled over, leaving a sticky mess in its wake.

The second round was more contained, but clearly didn't get hot enough. Still, I pulled out a bowl filled with snow from our backyard, poured the hot syrup over it, and ended up with a taffy-like consistency.

The kids were intrigued, though weren't pleased that the candy was nearly permanently stuck to their teeth.

Still, the experience was an interesting one. "We're baking snow!" my daughter declared to her dad.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thinking green when it's all white

While the red branches of our blueberry bushes make a gorgeous contrast against the snow, I admit that I'm too the point that I feel like winter has won.

I miss seeing the ground. I miss not slipping and falling in my work parking lot. I miss being able to go outside without 17 layers of clothes and my parka on.

And while I want to see "green" outside, I admit I struggle to think it.

The fact I've battled bugs and exhaustion for three months (whether it's parenting, stress or health remains to be resolved) doesn't help. I stare at the grocery ads, wondering what I quickly can do to make it through the week. I shelve out for mac and cheese microwavable bowls because it's a good deal (and thankfully could cash in when I was barely able to stand). I go through roll after roll of paper towels while cleaning up after my suddenly clutzier older child and my toddler's tantrums. And I wonder, as I'm lugging bags of bottles, cans and newspapers home from the office in the snow, what am I thinking?

While I've admittedly cut back on my green adventures for now, another season awaits. Sometimes we can't put our whole effort into everything. And this is one of those times.

Not every moment of our lives is - or should be - about doing. Sometimes we need a little quietness in our lives. I was reminded that today by a friend of mine, and while she was talking of her faith, the same concept applies. No matter what the aspect of our lives, we cannot keep going at 100 miles an hour. We have to rest. We have to recharge. We have to reflect.

So these recent weeks, while I've been passing the environmental buck, I've been taking baby steps to plan and consider the coming spring and summer. I've been researching how we can make the most of gardening in our small lot, from companion gardening to making the most of our seasons. I've been trying to rework the contents of our home, like reorganizing my children's closets, really looking at our hand-me-downs, and offering to charity what we truly cannot use. No child needs 15 shirts.
And, most importantly, I'm being forced to finally listen to my body and recharge myself. I hope you are able to do the same.
This is my contribution to the February APLS carnival on Winter Motivation. It’s not too late to join us! E-mail your posts to goinggreenmama at gmail dot com by Feb. 22. We’ll post the highlights here on Feb. 24.

GPB: Wierd neighbor

Today I'm blogging over at the Green Phone Booth about how sometimes we don't always see eye-to-eye about green living.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sick day (OK, week)

I am a lousy hostess.

For hosting a carnival this month, I'm defunct on posting my own thoughts. I promise to do so once the kids stop coughing and my head stops swimming.

Wishing you all a good week!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter motivation?

If there were no winter, spring would not be as grand.

That sign I passed on the way to work this morning was far too true. But frankly, I’m tired of waiting. For me, it’s tough to stay motivated on things in the winter months.

Single-digit temps and tricky roads make it challenging to get to our winter farmers market to get what’s left of the seasonal produce.

Stacks of garden catalogs and seed packets lie in wait for the snow to melt and the ground to unfreeze. Here in Indiana, we often have to wait until May to plant.

Longer commutes from snow-packed roads mean we tend to slack on the eating, too, relying on a diet too often of boxed macaroni and cheese and more processed foods so that we can just feed the hungry kids.

Spring seems too far away. So how do you stay motivated?

Join us for the February APLS Carnival on staying motivated in the winter months. It’s not too late to join us! E-mail your posts to goinggreenmama at gmail dot com by Feb. 22. We’ll post the highlights here on Feb. 24.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kindergarten readiness: A colorful problem?

We've recently come to terms that we're soon to be parents of a kindergartener. We had our first school visit this month, and talked with the teachers about kindergarten readiness skills. Knowing colors was up on the list.

That evening, I sorted through the mail and got the first of my seed packages. As usual, I dabbled in the heirloom varieties and those that were more unusually colored than others. After all, the multicolored beans were a hit last year. I realized, then, that we may have a problem on our hands.

What color are beans?
Yellow. Or purple.

What color is a cauliflower?
Purple. Or orange.

What color are tomatoes?
Gold. Orange. White.

What color is kolhrabi?

Oh, who am I kidding? Most kids don't know what kolhrabi is!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snow day

Friday afternoon, we began to get the first of what would be about 9 inches of snow. Not much when you consider what was to hit the D.C. area, but it was one of the biggest snowfalls of the year.

When weather hits, you have a few choices.

1. Panic. Join hundreds of your closest friends at the grocery store (as if you couldn't make it 24 hours otherwise!). Fall to concerns that it may be slick (hint: it's that way when it rains, too) and drive home from work early.

2. Go with the ride and enjoy the beauty of the day.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Egg rolls for Chinese New Year

Feb. 14 rings in the Year of the Tiger, and what better way to celebrate than making your own Chinese dinner!

Why make your own? No waiting in lines, no take out trash, you can adjust the recipes for your tastes - and frankly, it's a lot of fun to make. In my weekly post on the Green Phone Booth, I share some ideas on just how easy it is: including our family favorite "Chicken in a pot," white rice and stir-fried mushrooms.

In the meantime, here's a family recipe for egg rolls from a friend. Enjoy!

Egg Rolls
1 head cabbage
2 carrots
1 can drained bean sprouts
1 bunch green onions

Sautee vegetables with soy sauce and sesame oil.

Brown 1 pound ground beef, adding soy sauce to taste. Mix with vegetables. Wrap mix in 2 packages of egg roll wrappers. (Tuck in the corners and use water to "seal" the edges so the filler doesn't come out during frying.)

Fry egg rolls in vegetable oil 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Looking for other recipes to try? Here are some tried-and-true ones that our family enjoys:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lessons learned from the pantry challenge

Like a lot of people, I flirted with the idea from the eating from the pantry/freezer challenge in January. Was I consistent? Hardly so. But it's the thought that counts.

Here's what I learned from a month-long attempt to clean house:

A menu plan should be in the works. Too many evenings were spent glaring at our pantry, which seems to house more boxes of tea, pasta and random items (coconut milk, anyone?) than anything else. We have a number of family favorites. We just need to be a bit more organized in it beyond getting what's on sale, and then splurging on everything that goes with it.

Eating simply doesn't have to cost a lot. As I learned from our birthday experience, baking a cake from scratch is not more difficult or costly than buying the pre-made mixes or frostings. It's a bit messier, but that just makes it fun.

Old food is wasted food. Yes, you realize that with wilted produce or spoiled milk, but the same effect can happen in the freezer. We wound up tossing out several frozen dinners we'd bought for work lunches but had long ago forgotten about, only to find them freezer burnt months (years?) later. Making a rotation schedule will be on the to-do list after the freezer is finally defrosted.

A little creativity can go a long way. We stumbled on a few good surprises like shitake mushroom pilaf just by tossing what we had on hand into a pan.

Restocking should be done with a plan. While buying things because they're on sale is great, we're going to be a little smarter moving forward as to what canned products in particular we'll use faster and which ones we should just hold on. Unless, of course, I can talk my family into a diet of red beans and peaches.

For those of you who dived in, what did you get from this experience?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Have your cake and see it too

Because I got a few e-mails and posts wanting to see photos of my cake job, here's what a little icing (and a bad photoshopping job to remove a name) can do:

Luckily everyone - the birthday boy included - knew what it was!