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Environmental Awareness

3 Oct

Several things have been running through my mind lately — from lessening my daughter’s exposure to environmental toxins to wasting less food.

When I pack my daughter’s school lunch, I use the same reusable containers everyday to cut down on waste.  And I found other great tips on lunch boxes from NRDC’s This Green Life.

I give leftover food to our dogs instead of throwing it away (except for dangerous foods for them like grapes, chocolate and avocado).

Today’s breakfast is chicken, salmon and cobb salad and for dinner they get broccoli, carrots and noodles. It is estimated that 40% of the food we produce in America goes uneaten.   That is a lot of waste.

We have also been eating more locally-grown, organic foods from our farmer’s market or local supermarket. That way we lower our carbon footprint and reduce our exposure to pesticides.

To avoid exposure to BPA, I rarely buy food in cans.  And there are other easy ways to lessen BPA exposure.

I have also been supporting a local, small business, Redbread,  who makes their own breads and jams (and the most delicious cookies!). Follow them on Instagram — @redbread.  Or on their twitter feed.

And now to end with a feeling of hope that came over me today just from reading two tweets!

One from Ian Somerhalder that simply said:

“In Wholes Foods’ parking lot- EVERY SINGLE PERSON has their own recyclable bags to shop with-it’s happening.We’re finally getting it;)”

And the other from 350.org that said: “Grassroots pressure is making it much harder for Enbridge to get away with pushing tar sands on Michigan.”

As Ian said, we’re finally getting it.  We are rising up and doing what needs to be done to help our planet. This gives me hope!

“BUY LOCAL” CHALLENGE

3 Sep

My family did a “buy local” challenge where the goal was to spend money only on local items for a day.

We bought several items made or grown in Malibu and Los Angeles and the balance came from Northern California.

For breakfast we had organic strawberries from the Thorne Family Farm in Malibu and organic blueberries, blackberries and raspberries from Driscoll’s in Watsonville. Yogurt from Brown Cow Farm in Antioch, bread from La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles and butter from Sierra Nevada Cheese Company in Willows.

So far so good!

Except mid-day, I realized there is no local coffee!  Hot water with honey was not quite an adequate substitute for caffeine!

Dinner was the highlight of the day.  Organic, sustainably farmed chicken from Petaluma Poultry and vegetables from One Gun Ranch in Malibu — cooked with Malibu olive oil.  And to drink — a delicious Semler cabernet sauvignon.

A great end to “local day” was sleeping outside on the deck under the stars with the fresh air on our faces.

Wildflowers in Malibu

29 Jul

When our daughter was very young, we would go on dog walks with her and our 3 German Shepherds in the hills of Malibu.

To encourage her to walk longer distances, we started learning the names of all the wildflowers.  At the time, her favorite colors were red and yellow. So I printed a book for her (on an old letterpress printer) of all the red and yellow flowers we saw on these daily walks. Here are some of her favorites.

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Deerweed — her very favorite flower — has spiky branches filled with tiny red and yellow flowers.

Charlotte also found the Bush Monkey Flower intriguing. If pollen is deposited inside its petals, they will close. But if fooled, its petals will open again. You can try playing this game with a pin and some patience.

Indian Paintbrush does not grow as abundantly as other flowers so it was always a thrilling surprise to find it on our walks.

Charlotte loved saying Big Gum Plant.  And she loved touching its sticky yellow flowers.

Charlotte believed that these Golden Stars were magic wands for fairies.

Red-Stem Filaree will always have a special place in our hearts.  Even before Charlotte was born, we discovered its needle-sharp corkscrew seed — one of nature’s most stunning creations.

I hope to someday print the other books I would like to do in this series — one with all the white wildflowers and one with all the purple flowers.

Biking in Italy

16 Jul

Charlotte and I just got back from a 7-day bike trip in Northern Italy! We started in the small town of Mantova, staying in a beautiful hotel, Ca delle Erbe and we ended the trip in the spectacular city of Venice!

There were 13 of us plus others from the US and Europe (Switzerland, Norway and England).  We had some ups and downs along the way (my mother liked to say Charlotte had a “crash” course in bike riding) but we had a lot of fun and laughed a lot — especially at dinner each night on the boat after riding our bikes 40-50 kilometers!

And we were definitely inspired by the good food! We all loved a mediterranean barley salad so here is my version:

Cook 1 cup of pearl barley in 3 cups of chicken broth for about 50 minutes. Toss in chopped tomatoes, persian cucumbers, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, pinenuts and olive oil.  Olives would be another good addition.  Or some basil pesto.

Mother’s Day cards

25 Apr

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It’s time to make Mother’s Day cards!  My daughter and her friend had a great time using a kit I found at Paper Source. They could still make them by hand but the kit gave them an extra touch of creativity.  And they both made beautiful cards that they can give to their mothers (me!), grandmothers, sisters….Image

Healthy Desserts

1 Apr

The word healthy and desserts don’t always go together but here are 2 recipes that taste good and are healthy too!

One is from The Family Dinner website and one from the Progressive Pioneer blog — both of these sites are great resources for healthy food.  And these 2 recipes are easy enough for your kids to help make them too.

In the recipe from The Family Dinner website, I used almonds instead of cashews because I love almonds in dessert.  I did add a little honey when I made it.  And next time, I would try adding dates.  I think that would be a good addition.  I used it on top of a mixture of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries.  And added a few pomegranate seeds on top for some extra color!

http://thefamilydinnerbook.com/in-the-kitchen/2012/03/29/whipped-cashew-cream/

From Progressive Pioneer, I made these lemon bars on Valentine’s Day for a brunch and they are excellent.  Not too sweet and delicious. One of my favorite desserts ever.

http://www.plantoeat.com/blog/2012/02/healthy-lemon-bars/

 

My next challenge is to find a healthy chocolate dessert!  Will report back soon with a couple great recipes.

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The Dinner Hour

21 Mar

The dreaded thought arrives each day at 4 pm: what’s for dinner??

Recently, I was given a copy of Laurie David’s The Family Dinner cookbook.  And now that dreaded thought of “what’s for dinner?” is something to look forward to each day!

The cookbook has easy recipes but more important, it is full of games, stories and ideas for helping bring your family together during dinnertime.

Tonight I bought chicken meatloaf, my daughter, Charlotte, and I put together a “make your own” salad bar and she also made fruit and yogurt parfaits for dessert. And while Charlotte set the table, my husband played Adele on the piano as entertainment. All of this made dinner fun and no longer a chore!

Based on suggestions from the cookbook, one night we listened to classical music.  Another night I bought little presents for everyone.  Some nights we simply lit candles. Tonight we each read a favorite poem and talked about their meanings and why we liked them. My husband chose Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll, my daughter read Le Loup et L’Agneau, a french fable, and I read a poem by Rimbaud.  Which all led into a pretty serious discussion about what things make us happy in life.

So while every family dinner is not perfect, we have a better appreciation of how important it is to each of us to reconnect after our busy days. Thank you to The Family Dinner!

Charlotte preparing the salad bar!

Charlotte setting the table!