Simple Summer Living

Summer is in full swing.

My breakfasts are full of local berries,

IMG_7326

and my little urban yard brings a plethora of goodies. It’s pretty amazing what can fit in a small space when you fill it to the brim!   It’s certainly not a garden of perfect little rows, but it is producing a lot and no space is lost.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Buttermilk Ramp Biscuits

Have you spotted ramps while roaming through the forest or at your farmers’ market this year?  They’re fun to cook with and fun to harvest.

We’re nearing the end of ramp season, but there’s still time to try this delicious recipe!  Someone special recommended a version of it several months ago, and I was excited to finally have ramps around so that I could try it.  It’s a great way to taste the season! Continue reading

Homemade Yogurt in a Crockpot – Four Steps

Yogurt is an excellent way to promote proper functioning of your digestive system. As long as you’re eating yogurt that has live active cultures, it contains probiotics (aka beneficial bacteria) that help to balance the microflora in your gut.  This makes digestion easier and helps keep your system moving regularly.

Making your own yogurt ensures that you know where your milk came from, and also reduces your reliance on continually buying hundreds of little yogurt containers.  By knowing where your milk comes from, you can be sure to choose milk from grass-fed cows.  Not only are grass-fed cows generally living a higher-quality, free-ranging life where they are eating what they should be naturally (i.e. grass and not corn or soy which also increases your exposure to GMOs), but grass-fed cows also produce milk that is more nutritionally dense.   For example, most grass-fed cow milk contains nearly 5x more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an unsaturated fat that may help with heart health and assist with weight loss. Continue reading

Embracing Winter While Finding the Spirit of Spring

I hear a lot of people bemoan winter weather, but I try to avoid complaining about it.  Winter is just another season, the wheel of the year will turn again just as quickly as it always does.

I find it better to embrace the gifts of winter.   I allow myself to sleep a bit more knowing that in the days before electricity people were certainly getting a lot more dreaming in this time of year.  Why did we decide that we always have to go, go, go?  The colder, darker days also allow me to find joy in the ample time to read, sew, journal, and dream of plans for the future.  This extra inward-focused time will quickly pass when spring comes! Continue reading

Clean it Green: Laundry Detergent

We recently went to a Sustainability Symposium at the Botanical Gardens. It was a day filled with a variety of lectures related to the impacts of climate change in Northeast Ohio, gardening, and green living.

One of the lectures discussed green cleaning products.  At one point, the presenter showed a picture of what it looks like in the cupboards underneath the sink in a “green” home — lots of cloth rags, vinegar, baking soda, and maybe some borax or washing soda.  She then asked, “How many of you have cupboards that look like this?”

I was one of very few people that raised a hand.  Hmm…I guess there’s still a lot of educational work to be done!  Continue reading

Tips for a Greener Valentine’s Day

To be honest, I haven’t liked Valentine’s day much since middle school.  It was all fun and games with our shoe boxes and egalitarian distribution of Care Bears cards in elementary school, but then came the carnation sale.  Rather than a friendly gesture to celebrate a holiday, the carnation sale was really more of a contest between the three prettiest girls to see who would receive the most flowers.

While most of us sent one or two flowers to friends these girls were walking around with their 47 carnations leaving the rest of us awkward 12-year-olds with bruised egos.  The remainder of us “normal” girls sat at our desks, heads lifted eagerly each time one of the carnation messengers entered the room with the goods.  Nope, it’s for her yet again. Great.

And then when I was 13, my boyfriend gave me a box of chocolates (which really isn’t my favorite thing anyway) wrapped in paper made up of 2 inch scraps of all the letters and cards I had written to him.  I spent a lot of time on those notes – why in the world would he cut them into pieces as a gift??

Despite my less-than-perfect relationship with middle school Valentine’s days, the holiday continues on, and now I’m more concerned by the amount of waste and needless spending that the holiday promotes.  Why can’t we just be kind and giving to our loved ones on a regular basis?

However, I had an interesting request from a lovely reader recently asking what would make a good Valentine’s Day gift for someone who is interested in sustainability and reducing their consumption. Really, it’s a great question that more people should be discussing!

Here are my recommendations. Continue reading

Sprout It Out

The weather remains snowy and cold, but there are fresh things growing indoors!

Sprouts are a wonderful way to introduce a fresh, healthy food to your winter diet.  And certainly, if you are aiming to eat a low-carbon diet that incorporates lots of local foods, sprouts are an ideal way to continue eating fresh through the winter months.

They’re also really good for you! The most common types of sprouting seeds (mixes of radish, alfalfa, clover, broccoli, legumes) are rich in nutrition containing:

  • Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K
  • Minerals such as phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and calcium
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Folate
  • Protein
  • Antioxidants
  • Chlorophyll Continue reading

Buttermilk Corn Muffins

Local cornmeal. Local flour.  What should be local buttermilk (but instead is an attempt to use up a gifted half-bottle).  What do you get?

Buttermilk corn muffins! Continue reading

Experimental Earthen Painting

I don’t know anything that draws as many people from different backgrounds, generations, and skill sets as permaculture.  People from all walks of life are waking up to realize that our current culture is destructive and unsustainable.  It’s wonderful to be in presence of people who are interested in and excited about creating the alternatives!

Yesterday, I had another opportunity to be in a group of peraculture-type people as we met to play around with Earth-based painting techniques.  We were working in a gorgeous old apartment building built in the early 1900s.  Through years of wear and tear, some of the units are in better shape than others, and we were practicing in one that is being completely redone.

So why were we playing around with Earth-based painting?  Continue reading

Be Well Tea for Cold & Flu

It seems that colds and flu are really starting to affect people this winter.  I’m hearing stories left and right about people who are ill.

The first step to prevent illness is always to eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and to avoid unnecessary stress.  And even if you are exposed to germs or are living the busy go-go-go life, you can often still prevent illness by enhancing your white blood cell count with echinacea, or by using the healing and preventative power of honey and onions.

Unfortunately, there is still a risk that we or our loved ones will come down with a full-fledged illness.

On the bright side, there are many herbal remedies that have been passed down for centuries to help us get better more quickly.

One is this “Be Well” tea that helps to aid in relaxation, hydration, and in producing a mild perspiration that can assist in reducing a fever.  Continue reading