Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Our last day!

Friday was our last official day without meat. For dinner we had Potato Pancakes from...you guessed it...the More With Less Cookbook. Here is the recipe:

Combine in a bowl:
2 1/2 c. grated raw potato (about 3 medium)
1 t. salt
dash pepper
2 eggs
2 T. flour
1 T. finely chopped onion
Drop by spoonfuls into a lightly oiled hot skillet. Fry until brown on one side, then turn and brown on other side. Good served with syrup, ketchup, or cheese sauce.

These past 10 days have actually been really great. It has made us realize that though we enjoy meat, we could seriously cut back and not feel like we are missing anything. I think we are going to try eating meat-free meals at least 3 times a week. Since Friday I have had a little bit of ground beef in a lasagna on Saturday night and some chicken last night. We do have to do better about cutting back dairy. This is really hard for us. We love cheese! We'll have to keep working on it.

Coconut Rice

On Thursday night our main dish was Coconut Rice from the More with Less Cookbook. As you can probably tell, it has become my favorite cookbook.

Coconut Rice:
Heat in heavy saucepan:
2 T. oil or margarine
1/2 c. chopped onion
2-3 whole cloves
2-3 cinnamon sticks
2-3 bay leaves
Fry until onions are lightly browned.
1/4 t. ground saffron or tumeric
1/4 t. salt
Fry a few seconds.
1 c. rice
2 c. coconut milk
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook 30 minutes. If desired, whole spices may be removed before serving and a few raisins, cashews or walnuts added.

This was yummy! It didn't have quite as much flavor as I would have thought with all the spices, but it was really good. I think I would add the raisins and cashews if I would make it again.

Lemony Spinach-Rice Soup

Sorry that we got way behind on our blogging. I have a few days to catch up on. We are finished with our vegetarian diet but I want to post some of the recipes we used so I will post a few blogs tonight. On Tuesday night I made Lemony Spinach-Rice Soup from this cookbook called "Creative Everyday Cooking". The soup is based on Greek avgolemono - egg and lemon soup. Here is the recipe:

6 c. chicken broth
1 c. water
2/3 c. raw rice
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 lb. fresh spinach or
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen
chopped spinach, thawed
2 eggs
6 T. lemon juice

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the rice and some pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, stem the spinach and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. If using thawed frozen spinach, drain well and squeeze out any excess moisture. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. After the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, remove about 1/4 c. of the hot broth and whisk it into the beaten egg. Beat the warmed egg mixture into the hot soup. Add the spinach and lemon juice and cook the soup over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes; do not allow the soup to simmer or the egg will curdle. Serve the soup hot. (Serves 6)

This soup was okay. I'm not sure I would make it again, but it was a good way to use up the spinach we had that was about to go bad. We had the leftovers on Wednesday night.

Monday, March 31, 2008

International Yummies!

Today we had an Indian lunch and a Thai dinner. It was a yummy day!

Lunch ~ Indian Spiced Whole Wheat Couscous with Yogurt Chutney

Couscous (from recipezaar.com)
2 1/4 c. vegetable stock
1 tsp. olive oil
1-2 T. dried onions
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
3/4 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. garam masala or allspice
1/2 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper
1 c. whole wheat couscous
1 (14 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Bring veg. stock, olive oil and spices to a boil. Add couscous & chickpeas; cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 7-8 minutes

Yogurt Chutney
Blend 2 c. chilled yogurt; 3/4 c. grated coconut; 1 T. sugar or sweetened condensed milk; a few raisins, cashews, or walnuts. Serve as a side dish or dessert with curry meal.

For lunch we were looking for a way to use a big thing of plain yogurt that was going out of date today. We found the yogurt chutney recipe in the More With Less cookbook and since it said it was good with a curry dish we pulled out one of our favorite recipes. We make the Indian Spiced Couscous all the time because it is quick, simple and really tasty.

For dinner we had pan fried tofu over rice with a spicy peanut sauce. We also make this Thai dish a lot, but we normally use chicken intead of tofu. I have to say that I didn't miss the chicken at all and neither did Brent. Maybe we could become vegetarians after all :) Vegan however is really tough. We were much stricter on our dairy intake the first few days, but it seems like it keeps sneaking its way in (though we did have yogurt for lunch it was only because it would have wasted otherwise). It is good though, we are definitely eating/drinking way less dairy than we normally do. It was a big part of our diet.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Asparagus Soup

Tonight's vegetarian recipe is for Asparagus Soup from the cookbook Simply in Season:

1 lb. asparagus
Cut off tip ends and blanch until tender, 3-5 minutes. Drain (saving the water for some of the broth) and set aside asparagus tips. Chop the spears, peeling the tough ends first if needed.

2 c. water or broth
1 med. potato (peeled and chopped)
1 sm. onion (chopped; optional)
1 stalk celery or celery leaves (chopped; optional)
Cook with chopped asparagus spears until soft, 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly and puree until smooth. Return to heat.

2 c. broth
1 c. dry milk powder
2 T. flour
salt and pepper to taste
Blend separately. Add to soup and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens slightly.

1/2 c. plain yogurt
Drain yogurt slightly through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Place a dab of yogurt in each bowl and pour hot soup over it. Garnish with the reserved asparagus tops.

We both agreed that this soup was delicious. Actually I should say the three of us...baby girl really loved it too!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Did you turn off your lights tonight?

Tonight at 8 p.m. Brent and I turned off all our lights, unplugged our appliances and lit candles throughout the house. I know what you're thinking...a bit of romance after the baby is down for the night...nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Well, not exactly...even though the glow of candlelight provided a nice ambiance. We participated in Earth Hour, where from 8-9 PM people were encouraged to turn off their lights as a statement that more needs to be done to cut down on our energy usage. Last year's Earth Hour, which happened only in Sydney, Australia, had the effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for an hour. Since this year's event was global, I'm sure it had a much larger impact. We had fun talking in the candlelight. It felt very peaceful. If you missed tonight's event you could always do your own Earth Hour any night.

I didn't post a recipe last night because I ate at my parents. They were having chicken and sausage, so I made myself a salad and had some mashed potatoes. Brent was out at Messiah for a Youth Pastor conference and took two students out for dinner (part of the job ;) and did very well getting a portabello something or another...but then he said had some chicken wings later that night. I told him he had to start the 10 days over. I think he thought I was joking.

Tonight for dinner we had grilled asparagus and red peppers and a baked potato. Not so much a recipe...just a little olive oil, salt and a grill. The grilled asparagus in particular was soooo yummy! I find that I am not missing meat that much. I find it much harder to limit my dairy. I miss cheese! I did have a dot of butter on my potato and boy did it taste good. It is nice to cut back on the things you overindulge on because it makes it so much better when you can have them.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Last Night's Meal

Sorry! I forgot to post our dinner recipe last night. Here it is from the More With Less Cookbook:

Honey Baked Lentils
Combine in a dutch oven or saucepan:
1 lb. (2 1/3 c.) lentils
1 sm. bay leaf
5 c. water
2 t. salt
Bring to a boil. Cover tightly and reduce heat. Simmer 30 minutes. Do no drain. Discard bay leaf. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine separately and add to lentils:
1 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. powdered ginger
1 T. soy sauce
1/2 c. chopped onions
1 c. water
Cut in 1" pieces:
4 slices bacon
Stir most of the bacon into lentils and sprinkle remainder on top.
Pour over all:
1/3 c. honey
Cover tightly. Bake 1 hour. Uncover last 10 minutes to brown bacon.

We have had this dish once before and loved it so we thought we would try it again minus the bacon. I have to say that the bacon does add something to the dish, but it was still quite good without it. We had a salad with carrots, croutons and Newman's Own Light Honey Mustard Dressing. I did miss the cheese I normally cover my salad with but of course this was much healthier and the dressing was really flavorful. I probably should have made some rice to go on the side but I was lazy. Okay, now I'm off to find lentil-free recipe for dinner tonight. I need to branch out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Daniel Diet

For the next 10 days Brent and I are going vegetarian. We have decided to cut out all meat from our diet and also seriously cut back on other animal products such as milk and eggs. Why eat vegetarian? There are lots of reasons people decide to abstain from eating meat, but for one, by eating plants rather than animals it consumes less of the world's resources. I'm not saying we are becoming vegetarians but we have been trying to incorporate more meat free meals into our meal planning. Each night I'll post the recipe for dinner and we will tell you what we thought of it.

Tonight's meal came from the cookbook "Extending the Table":
Dhal (India)
Fry in 2 T. oil until golden brown:
1 onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. ground tumeric
1 1/2 t. round cumin
1 t. ginger root, finely grated (optional)
1/4 t. ground cardamom (optional)
1 c. dried lentils or split peas (if using split peas, soak overnight)
3 c. hot water
1 t. salt or to taste

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove cover and simmer over very low heat, stirring frequently, about 20 more minutes, until lentils are mushy and thick, about the consistency of refried beans. Garnish with onions, thinly sliced and browned, or a squeeze of lemon. Serve with rice.

We each had a small bowl with rice and Dhal and found it to be very filling. We also had some raw carrots on the side. Brent said the Dhal was a little dry and I'm not sure that he loved the recipe, but he did like it. I personally really liked it. I would definitely make this again.

Why 10 days of eating vegetarian? We were inspired by Daniel 1. Give it a read. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel%201&version=31

A Thrifty Gal's Dilemma

For the most part buying things second hand is no big deal. I used to shop thrift stores and yard sales all the time anyway. I didn't buy second hand so I could decrease my ecological footprint, I did it because I was cheap! I truly used to think that being a good steward of my money meant spending as little as possible. I became really good at being cheap. I spent hours clipping coupons and looking over deals in circulars to plan my grocery shopping trip. If something wasn't on sale I didn't buy it unless I absolutely needed it. I've realized more recently that this is not the way to be a good steward. Sure, I am saving my money, but at whose expense? I could save $5 by buying the cheapest coffee, but what about the coffee farmers that receive an unfair wage for their labor? I could buy an $8 shirt from Walmart, but where was it made...a sweatshop perhaps? Is it worth for me to save a few bucks at the expense of those that already poor?

A couple times this week that cheap side of me tried to take away my better judgement. The other day I went to Staples to buy Turbo Tax. We decided that this would be a necessary purchase since we are truly are totally clueless when it comes to doing our taxes, especially since there are some crazy things because Brent is a pastor. The people at H&R Block were pretty stumped last year, so we figured we wouldn't do so well on our own. Anyway, there was a deal going that with the purchase of Turbo Tax you could get some other computer software for only $10. There was a photo software that I had really wanted to get last year but it was too expensive. Here it was for only $10! I was really tempted to just get it and not tell anyone. Very tempting, but I resisted.

A little while ago I could have gotten a baby carrier that normally costs anywhere from $40-$100 for only $15. The only problem was that it was new. I couldn't even get a carrier of this style second hand for that cheap. Ugh! That was really hard to pass up.

Today I got a coupon in the mail for $10 off a purchase of $10 at Fashion Bug. Now this one is sticky. Part of me really wants to justify using it...I could get something for free after all! For some reason though, it feels like using it would be going against the spirit of this year. Then again, I did get a free water ice at Rita's on Thursday! Maybe I'm contradicting myself. Sometimes it can be a little tricky navigating this year and we just kind of have to feel our way. What would you do?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Brent to the rescue...again :)

Okay, so this is another post about food. Sorry, but Brent and I are foodies.

So the other night Brent and I were both feeling really tired an neither of us felt like cooking diner. We both decided that it would be a great night to use on of our sacred gift cards. We chose a local eatery that we had a gift card for and decided that we both wanted buffalo chicken cheese steaks with cheese fries. Before we decided no more takeout and no more eating out we had been getting takeout or eating out at least once a week. Like I said we both love food (not hard to tell when you meet us) and not getting takeout and eating out has been one of the biggest challenges of our year so far (I know...boo hoo...poor babies). We were so excited about these chicken cheese steaks! So, Brent calls the restaurant and guess what?! They have gone out of business and a new restaurant has taken its place ~ and no, they do not accept their predecessor's gift cards. We went from major excitement to being majorly disappointed.

I decided it wasn't even worth making diner that I would just go hungry. I was no longer in the mood for eating. Brent however made the best of the situation (after a bit of pouting). He whipped up the most delicious faux takeout meal that I have ever had. You honestly would not be able to tell the difference. He made buffalo chicken cheese steaks and mozzarella fries as you can see from the picture. I wish you could have tasted them. And yes, we ate every last bite! Now off to find a good diet...

*sigh* I really got a keeper! Who needs takeout now?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Solid like an Oak

Helloooooo! La-la-la (You know, like how they said it on Seinfeld),
Anyway, it's Brent again. I'm supposed to blog about our (perhaps) hardest trial to date in this year of no newness.
Last Monday we went (for free of course) to the Philly Flower Show. I know...most of you are thinking "How could you handle that sort of frivolity and excitement?? It is almost too much fun to contain in one convention center!!!" Well, somehow we managed it. For four hours...four long, colorful, flowery hours. But that is not the trial that I'm writing about.

Our real trial began after we left the convention center and traveled across the street to the Reading Terminal Market. If you have never been there I will sum it up for you...it is nothing but A HUGE indoor market filled with every type of incredible food that you could ever imagine. The smells make you want to weep...seriously.

So there we were...having just walked around for four hours straight looking at flowers. Don and Kathy (who went with us) decided to get something to eat for dinner and we went along. After all, we were prepared! We had...water...and...smushed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yum Yum.

So Don and Kathy say something like, "Why don't we buy some food for you. It can be for pastors appreciation month that we missed or Christmas or something"

We said no. And we were both very pleased that we had that sort of strength.

Then Don and Kathy got their food. Don got a bacon and bleu cheese burger and fries. A huge, thick, juicy, mouth watering burger with 4 pieces of crisp bacon and a mound of bleu cheese as think as the burger was!!!!!!! Kathy got crispy fish and chips... and they smelled amazing. A huge mound of fries and 5 large fish fillets in crunchy breading.

And again they asked if they could buy us something.

Again we said no. We just ate our smushed PB&J sandwiches.

So, why do I tell you this story? It is not to pat ourselves on the back. (Though I am really proud of how well we did)
I tell this because THAT is the hardest thing we have to face. And honestly...that isn't hard at all!!!!!!! We had food. We had something to drink.

How many people around the world don't have any of that? There are people all over the world that don't have water let alone food to eat.

And our big trial is that we couldn't order a burger????? Kinda seems puny in comparison right?

That is why I'm glad that we are doing this for a year. It isn't really the challenge...it's reminding us of the tons and tons of things that we do have...things that we usually take for granted.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Hero *sigh*

Brent is my hero. First of all he is incredibly romantic. We had to get a little creative for Valentine's Day last week because of course we couldn't buy each other gifts, or even cards for that matter. Last year for Valentine's Day he got me truffles from a real upscale chocolatier but this year was so much better! This year he made me chocolates! So sweet of him...literally!

He made buckeyes, mounds and chocolate truffles dusted in powdered sugar and cocoa. As you can see, I couldn't even wait to take a picture before downing two of them. The were so yummy!

He also make me a beautiful card with a rose on the front that he carved out with his knife. It is the best card I have ever gotten...so much better than Hallmark!

He is also my hero because he fixed my electronic pencil sharpener. This broke my last year of teaching but I was hoping it might be salvaged, so I held onto it. I tried to fix it but couldn't and old Missy might have gone out to buy a new one, but new Missy...well new Missy made her husband to fix it for her :). And he did...*swoon* I love that guy!

While I'm talking about Valentine's Day I want to show you the cute slippers Baby Girl wore on V-Day. They are made out of a recycled wool sweater...actually the same one the pants she is wearing (which are much too big) are made out of. When wool is lanolized it can be used as a cloth diaper cover. I bought a couple of wool sweaters at the thrift store to try to sew some more pants/diaper covers for her. If I ever get around to making them I will post pictures. Some day when I get really adventurous I would really like to knit some longies for her (that's what they call them in the cloth diapering world). Someday I'll stop piling up the crafts I want to do and actually do them!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Craving a burger...

Ok...it has been awhile since our last post so we'll try to make up for it this week. So, now that we can't eat out or get takeout or stop at convenient stores we have to be a lot more prepared when we hit the road. We took a trip up to NY to visit Brent's mom while she was recovering from a major surgery. For the trip up we had our travel mugs with hot coffee leftover from the church lunch and our "new" used Kleen Kanteens that I bought from someone on diaperswappers.com. I had a few snacks, but we were still pretty full from lunch so I wasn't really worried about needing them. We drank our coffee, sipped our water and snacked on the chocolate. At one point I had to pee which rarely happens on road trips, and I had to go into the rest stop. As I walked by the travel shop at the rest area I had a fleeting desire for combos and a new magazine, but I resisted. In the car we talked a lot and sang along to the radio. At one point when I looked back baby girl had her hands over her ears. I guess she didn't appreciate Mommy and Daddy's vocalizations. Anyway, it was a fun trip up!

On the way back however, we were not as prepared. There was no hot coffee, we forgot to fill up our water bottles and all the chocolate was gone! We ate an early lunch and were hungry so we snacked on bran crackers. Brent tried to chip away at the leftover water that had frozen in water bottle. I had to pee again! I don't know what was wrong with me. My parents gave me the nickname camel bladder because I can go on a 10 hour trip and never have to go. We stopped at a Burger King so I could go....bad idea! After stopping there I couldn't get the smell of burgers out of my head. I wanted one so bad! Brent started getting burger fever also. We had a major craving. So, we normally would have picked up value meals at the Burger King or ordered in from The Perk when we got home. Of course we couldn't do that so we made some burgers when we got home and put baby girl to bed. We made the burgers with bleu cheese and bacon....mmm yum! Now it wasn't a Whopper and it wasn't a Carousel Burger but it was good and satisfied the craving.

We have to constantly be prepared when we are in the car so we don't cave to temptation. I'm going to try make yummy treats when we are making long car trips like the one to NY. We both have to remember to fill our water bottles! Next time maybe I'll also have to find a way to sneak along some burgers...just in case!

Friday, January 25, 2008

What to do...

Okay, I think this is our first big, tough decision. My mom has been talking about going on a family cruise for a long time and now she has found one she wants to do. The only problem is that it is October 2008. She really wants the whole family to go but how is this going to fly with our year of simple living? Ugh! Why couldn't it be 3 months later? The thing that stinks is that it is such a good deal and a good time because everyone is still in the country (my brothers and their wives would both like to go overseas soon). This may be one of the last chances we would get to do something like this...maybe ever. I hate to be a disappointment to my family because we are only ones not going. But going just feels like cheating...big time. I think I have to feel out my mom. It is one thing to disappoint her. I can handle that. It's another thing to have her be mad at me. I know, I'm weak.

I think my parents are going to be the hardest thing about this year. I love them but they keep trying to take us out to eat or buy us things because they know we are not allowed to buy it for ourselves. That's not the point! They are so wonderful and generous and just don't want to see us suffering, but we are not suffering and we are doing this so that we can grow. I know, I know...it must be soooo tough to have parents like that. I consider myself very lucky and blessed. I am so thankful for the generosity of my parents. Sometimes they are just too generous though!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Making the Switch to Cloth

Slowly but surely our family has been switching from disposable paper products to reusable cloth products. It all started with cloth diapers. After I attended a seminar at the Mennonite Conference in San Jose this past summer I felt convicted about the waste we were creating in our household. I knew the biggest source of waste at the time were the disposable diapers we were using. I started doing research and was surprised to find a sizable community of people out there cloth diapering their children. I was also surprised by how cloth diapering has evolved since when our parents diapered us. I was amazed to see how easy and fun cloth diapering could be. Now tell me that this diaper isn't adorable! Where can you find a 'sposie like it?

Trust me, I never thought I'd be cloth diapering. I just imagined the pins and the plastic pants and I was like, no way! Hardly anyone diapers like that anymore. If you have a little one in diapers just consider cloth. Not only do you save money (not at first, but over time) but it can also be a lot of fun! Do a little research and you will see that a lot has changed. My favorite website at the time is diaperswappers.com where you can buy/sell/trade diapers and also finds all kinds of information about cloth diapering and parenting in general.

Switching to cloth diapers kind of launched my current passion for living more sustainably. I have a long way to go, but here are some of the other switches I have made.

Paper towels: Instead of reaching for paper towels for clean ups I got all my rags together in a bin and I got into the habit of reaching for them instead.

Feminine Products: This may be TMI especially for those of the male persuasion, but I decided that since I was using cloth for my baby, why not use cloth for myself. I looked into it and actually found something called the Diva Cup which I mainly use. It definitely takes some time getting used and is not as easy as a tampon in some ways, but it's not too bad either and worth it for not making waste. I do also have a couple of cloth pads. I know this is going a little too far for some people, but what did women do before disposables were invented? I'm not saying that all advances are bad things, but when they are creating so much waste we need to rethink what we are doing.

Napkins: I was going to make my own now that I have my mom's sewing machine up and running, but my mom had a ton of them and gave me a whole stack to get me started!

Still working on...

Tissues: We haven't made the switch to handkerchiefs yet, but I see that in the near future (we'll still keep some Kleenex on hand for guests).

Probably not in our future...

Family cloth: I'm just not sure I could do this, and I'm pretty darn sure that Brent wouldn't. I think this is were we draw the line. I'm not quite ready to give up toilet paper. You'll be happy to know though that the toilet paper I am buying is made of recycled paper and is whitened without chlorine bleach.

Just even making one of these switches is helping reduce waste, so I encourage you to give it a shot!

Monday, January 21, 2008

My Turn

Hello, this is Brent. It's about time that I wrote a blog about how this whole experience is going for me.
To be honest, so far things are pretty easy. I mean, I miss the flexibility of being able to buy whatever we want but on the other hand, life gets boring when you have to rely on money to do anything. Last night we were both tired and realized that in the past that meant that we would order out and maybe rent a movie. But now both of those options are off limits! So instead we made some really good honey almond chicken and watched (To my chagrin) Little Women.
So, maybe after this year I will not be quite as good at playing "Scene It" but I will be a much better cook. (Probably more healthy too)
I do miss comic books (I'm now three weeks behind...someone please tell me what's happening to Spiderman!) but I have discovered that the local library is building it's comic book and Manga collection. In fact, I am thinking about donating some of my old comic trades to promote the spirit of donating! (Really I just want them to get more books because I will read all the ones they have in a few months)

We have only been doing this whole "no new stuff" thing for a month but the thing that has stood out to me is that Americans tend to pay for entertainment. What do you normally do for free? There isn't much. You pay for almost any concert, movie, play, round of golf, bowling...you name it.

So our challenge this year is going to be finding fun things that are free. And unfortunately they are few and far between! People could spend a lot less money if there were things to do that didn't involve money. More concerts in the park and parades and plays...in Albany where I grew up there was a play in the park every summer. They were good ones too, musicals like Camelot and lots of Shakespeare. There were seats that you could pay for but then there was a whole hill above them that you could sit on for free. It was always packed and always a lot of fun to go see.

That is the type of thing that we need more of. Then we wouldn't have to drop $30 every time we wanted to have fun.

So we will search for free fun things to do, and then maybe we can tell other people about them!
We will keep you posted.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

no 'poo

No, I'm not constipated. I'm doing a hair experiment. I haven't used shampoo (or as I will refer to it here, 'poo) since December 31st. I plan on continuing my no 'poo experiment for a total of 6 weeks, so that means I will be able to shampoo again on February 12th. That is of course if I want to. Why am I doing this experiment? Well mainly it's because I have an addiction to shampoo. Before this I was a once a day 'pooer. I could barely make a day and a half before I felt greasy and yucky. And I knew that I was only making things worse by continuing to shampoo everyday. See when you shampoo, you strip your hair of its natural oils (yay for no grease). The only problem is that because you are stripping your hair of these oils, your body compensates by making more oils. And when you shampoo every day, your body goes into overproduction of these oils and therefore you feel like you need to shampoo everyday. It's a vicious cycle. Well, I'm breaking the cycle!

I have to say, I thought I was going to want to lock myself in my house after a couple of days for the remainder of the six weeks, but it's not as bad as I thought. Mainly because I still get to have a BS/ACV fix once or twice a week. I'll explain in a bit. But you tell me...how does my hair look after 17 days of no 'poo?

I know it's hard to believe I'm not a grease ball after 17 days but my hair feels great. But that is mainly due to the BS/ACV. That stands for Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar. Every four days or so I make a paste of baking soda (1 T. of BS with some water) and then rub that on my scalp. After about 1 minute I rinse it out and then dilute about 2 T. of apple cider vinegar in water and then pour that over the ends of my hair. I let it soak for a minute and then rinse my whole head really well. Sure, I smell a bit like fish 'n' chips for a little while, but the smell dissipates pretty quickly. This works just as good, if not better than shampoo and conditioner and it's way cheaper! My hair feels so soft after I do this. Anyway, if you feel up to the no 'poo challenge, there is all kinds of info out there. You'd be surprised by how many people out there are no 'pooers. Just google no 'poo and give it a shot.

On the hair theme, I just cut Brent's hair and kind of made a boo boo on one of the side burns. See the pic...I mean it's not horrible, but I definitely went into the sideburn too much when I was trimming around the ear.

I've been cutting his hair for a long time now and I have to say that I think I generally do a pretty good job. I don't think I did quite so good a job this time, but I blame the clippers. They are acting funny, which is not good because if they go sometime this year we can't get new ones! The thing that stinks about today's society is that hardly anyone fixes anything anymore, they just throw it away and get something new. I understand why. Often times it costs just as much and maybe more to get something repaired as it does to just buy it new. Why repair the old thing when you can buy something brand new for just as much? We live in such a throw away society. Like if these clippers did break, where would I even take them to get them fixed? It's kind of annoying. Anyway, I just hope they last us a year or that we can find someone to fix them.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Our First Week

Well week one is done. It has certainly been interesting and challenging in a lot of ways. I keep thinking of all the things I wish I had bought before the new year started. There are a lot of things that would have been useful to have. Like I really wish I had bought those Wrap-N-Mats so that I wouldn't have to buy sandwich bags. Brent sees sandwich bags as like groceries, but I don't see it the same way. Do we have to have something to put our sandwiches into? Yes. Does it have to be a sandwich bag? No. I told him I would start saving the containers our food came in to use instead of Ziploc bags or Saran wrap. He wasn't too keen on the idea. I understand why though. I tend to be a pack-rat and save every little thing thinking that somewhere down the road I'll be able to use it (think toilet paper tubes and film canisters piling up). He has had to deal with this inability to throw things out for over 3 years now. He has helped me learn to throw away (though I prefer to recycle or give away) a lot more than I used to and I'm sure he is just having nightmares that I will start stockpiling again.

I also wish I had gotten a Kleen Kanteen because now that we can't stop at convenience stores for drinks I'm going to try to make sure I am more diligent about bring a water bottle with me in case I get thirsty. We only have one Nalgene, so I would have liked to have another water bottle. Oh well, there are always thrift stores!

It's funny...as I am driving along I find myself mourning the loss of being able to go out to eat. Every eatery I see I'm like, oh I wish I could just get some coffee or a little snack. It's quite sad really. I've never seen so many restaurants as I do now. It's like the "you want what you can't have" thing. I remember when I was pregnant Brent and I were eating on the patio and I turned to him and said, "I could really use a smoke." I don't smoke, but just knowing that I couldn't made me want to really bad.

The crazy thing is that even under our new rule of not going out to eat, somehow Brent managed to eat out 4 times last week, and one of those times I was with him. It all fell under our exceptions, but still! That's just crazy! He went out once with the Elders for a breakfast meeting, once with the lead Pastor for a lunch meeting, once with a student from church (this was actually dinner and a movie, but he didn't have to pay for either) and then we both went out with my parents and my Grammy (used a one of our gift certificates). We're really off to a great start! As I said earlier, this will be harder for Brent because sometimes for work he will have to blur the lines. He didn't initiate any of those meetings/outings and it is hard to say no, especially to a student when that is what his job is mostly about...connecting with the kids. I didn't really want to go out to eat with my parents because I felt guilty going out so soon into our experiment, but they wanted to spend time with us and my Mom didn't want to cook which I totally understand after a hard week at work. I would have offered to cook but I hadn't been grocery shopping recently so I didn't have much food in the house. I really hated to have to use our precious gift certificates so soon but I didn't want my parents to feel like they had to pay for us out of pity for our situation.

I just have to learn to be even more prepared. First of all, I have to keep my house clean and food stocked so that if people ask us out to eat we could suggest that they come over to eat instead. I'm such a planner and don't do well with having to throw a meal together at the last minute, but I have to learn to get over my pride and not care if I put together the perfect meal. Brent said that for some of his meetings he might be able to suggest that they brown bag it or I could cook nice meal and send it in with him to share. Anway, this blog is getting a little long so I'll write more later. We'll get the hang of this eventually!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Year of Simplicity

This year our family is going to attempt to live more simply. We wanted to do more than just say that we are going to try to buy fewer things or order take-out less (we've said it before but not followed through), so we've decided to draw up a contract of sorts for ourselves. Here is what this year is going to look like:
We will not be purchasing any new things with these few exceptions:
-Necessary Toiletries (things like soap and toothpaste...not things like make-up or cologne)
-Home Care/Car Parts where it wouldn't make sense to purchase used (such as a water heater or an air filter)
-Underwear & Socks

Included with not purchasing new things, we will not be spending money on things like:
-Take-out food/eating at restaurants
-Convenience food/drinks (Wawa taking the main hit on this one)
-Entertainment (movies, concerts, amusement parks, etc.)

With that in mind, Brent (Being a Youth Pastor) may need to make some exceptions because of his job. This decision to live more simply is a family decision and we don't want it to affect how he does his job. Things such as high school play tickets, entrance fees for sports events, dining out for a meeting, buying a rubber chicken for a youth group game, etc. fall under this category.

Because we do need some time to spend together, we are allowing ourselves to use gift certificates that we already have. This will allow us to go out to eat every once in a while with the gift certificates people have so generously given us.

We have decided, finally, that we will suspend these rules if they may in any way hurt our Christian witness or offend someone. We're not sure how exactly that might happen, but we wanted to be open to the possibility. We don't want to be sticklers just for the sake of saying we held to our rules 100%.

This year is about teaching ourselves how to live a more simple life, to not buy into our materialistic culture, and to awaken our creativity. Ultimately we want to glorify God by trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle. In addition we will try to do other things to simplify such as buying local and organic when we can.

We are excited to face the challenges the year will bring. We have to keep reminding ourselves that even though this year will be hard for us in a lot of ways, we are still living an extravagant lifestyle by most of the world's standards. We will have plenty to eat, more clothes than we need, a warm home...in short we will not be suffering in any way. I do not want this blog to be a place where we boast about all the great things we are doing, but rather it be a place to journal our experience and dialogue with you, the reader.....where we can record the ups and downs of the year and also ask for advice when needed. We invite you to challenge and encourage us.

On this blog site, I (Missy) will write my entries in GREEN. (Like right now)

Brent (Hi!) will write in BLUE.

So when you see the blue, it is me (Brent). Not that anyone will read this anyway, but at least we will know who wrote what.

I will say that, though I am very excited about this year and the challenges and joys it holds, I feel that this experiment will be more difficult for me. Missy is more gifted at being generous and charitable than I am. And also I like stuff...a lot. But I am excited to begin this journey as a way to bring our lives into step with how Christ would want us to live. So pray for us!

We'll write more about ourselves later, but for now...wish us luck!