Changing my world, one step at a time

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day Three...going green

This post is going to be quick and dirty I'm afraid. I'm going to make my way to bed after this and I may not get up at all tomorrow. I've been forcing myself to get through the days and get everything (even on a reduced schedule) done but I'm feeling pretty finished and fried. So I may just keep my pajamas on and stay in bed all day tomorrow.

On to today's green news:

7. I brought a timer upstairs and told everyone that it must be set for 10 minutes before they even turn the water on in the shower. No excuses and no exceptions. There are people in this house who take showers that are 20-30 minutes long!! What a waste of energy and water.

8.I'm replacing our incandescents with CFL bulbs as they burn out. I went on a mission today trying to find some that would work in our dining room chandelier. It took me awhile...2 different stores and 3 returns but I finally found some that fit at Loblaws.

That's all for today folks.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day Two...going green

Continuing on with our green changes I made a few more today.

4.I got rid of the ripped, still moldy no-matter-how-many times I wash it, PVC filled plastic shower liner. I resurrected the terry cloth shower curtain that I had tucked away and put that up instead. more toxic fumes in the shower!
5. I've got 1 1/2 rolls of paper towels left. In the interest of making those last as long as possible and hopefulle not buying anymore I cut up a bunch of older stuff to make cleaning cloths. Then I cleaned out the space under the sink and reorganized it to make room for the basket full of cloths. I don't know how well this one is going to go over with the husband and the kids, but they aren't the ones who launder the darn towels there!

6.I'm going no 'poo for the duration of this project!! Everytime I say this to someone their reaction makes me giggle. Needless to say it's not what they think it is. I've gone NO SHAMPOO people. Ahem!
In the perrier bottle is what I will be washing my hair with: baking soda and water. I mixed 2 Tbs. of baking soda with 2 cups of very warm water and shook to dissolve the baking soda. I used about 1/2 of the bottle in the shower today. After I rinsed really well (important since you don't want to leave a gritty residue behind) with water I used the second bottle. It contains about 1/4 apple cider vinegar and 3/4 water. To this I added a few drops of lavender and rosemary essential oils. It helped me to smell less like a salad :) I used about 1/3 of the bottle.
The results were good this time around. My hair looks and feels clean and is soft. Supposedly the first week or so of doing this you can end up with greasy hair but after that your hair adjusts and looks and feels good. Time will tell. I'll keep you all posted!
We ate dinner early tonight because there is an Elder Blessing Ceremony tonight at the Beaverpond. I'm hoping I won't be too tired to go. So I just made quick sweet potato fries (oven roasted) and fresh tomato sandwiches. Summer is so sweet...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day One...going green

The first day of going green went okay. I set a few tasks for myself and did them all.

1. No more paper napkins: Since our cat had been using the cloth napkin basket to sleep in there was no way those napkins could be used without some TLC. So they all had to be washed and a drawer had to be cleared out where they could be kept without fear of cats. LOL

2. No more grocery bag collecting: I actually do own cloth bags I just always forget them either in the car or at the house. Except at Costco because they don't have any plastic bags...but today I actually remembered. And I put the bags back in the car so they don't get left at home.

3. Compost: We have a compost bucket under the sink. We have a compost bin in the back yard and Ottawa has a green bin program. Do we remember to compost? No we don't. So I put a sign up above the sink and I'll put one up above the garbage too. Hopefully this will help jog some memories :)

While the carnivores in the house had BBQ'd steak I cooked up some meatless beef strips (that's the actual name. The boys had a good giggle let me tell you!) along with onion, garlic, red pepper and mushrooms. For the sides we had stir fried summer squash, roasted beets and turnips and mashed potatoes with vegetarian gravy. First real meal I've had in a few days. So very, very good.

See you all tomorrow!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ready, set...we're going green

We're getting geared up for our next 21 day project: Going Green. When we were looking at our list of 25 or so project ideas we wanted to choose one that would tie in to the Vegan Cleanse and going green certainly fit the bill.

Now Maddie is away for the week, she'll be back on Saturday so I'll be flying solo for the first bit on this one :)

I've read (or am reading and highlighting!) some books in preparation for this:

-No Impact Man by Colin Beavan
-Better off by Eric Brende
-Sleeping Naked is Green by Vanessa Farquharson
-Do it Gorgeously by Sophie Uliano
-Go Green, Get Lean by Kate Geagan
-Happy Go Local by Linsly Donnelly
-Go Green, Save Green by Nancy Sleeth

Each week will have a different focus. I'm trying to get as many changes done in the 21 days as possible but don't want to work myself into the ground or drive myself crazy. Trying not to do too much is especially important at the moment as my neuro symptoms continue to get worse. But there is some good news on that front...I'm getting my MRI done on Tuesday and see the neurologist on September 1st. So we are all crossing fingers, toes and eyes over here that I might finally get some answers and solutions.

So, back to the weekly focus. At the moment, I think I'll divide the time like this:

1. Home and special events
2. Transportation and entertainment
3. Food and sabbath days (in whatever context works for you)

I'm really excited about this. There is so much more we can do in this area. I'm hoping we can make some changes that really stick.

Now as a follow up on the cleanse...I've allowed myself to backslide a bit this week. Not good in more ways than one. I've drank Diet Coke (more than once), ate cheese and used butter (more than once) and ate homemade chocolate chip cookies (and threw up, but you didn't really need to know that did you?!). As a result I'm bloated, mucousy and have less energy. I'm looking at the new project date tomorrow as a perfect time to reboot my diet and get back on track.

I'll keep you posted!!


btw...If you have any book or DVD suggestions or any ideas I'd love to hear about them! Please leave a comment, they all get read :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Announcing our next project

This was the dough for my pizza...everybody else had the regular white dough. I tweaked my regular dough recipe to come up with this. Mine was a mixture of whole wheat flour, a small amount of all purpose flour and a 1/4 cup of ground flax. Instead of sugar I used agave nectar when I proofed the yeast. It took a much longer rising time than my white dough. If anyone is interested in the recipe let me know and I'll post if in full.

I parbaked the dough then topped it with a sauce that I made out of my canned tomato puree, minced garlic, salt and basil. I layered green and red pepper, red onion, mushrooms, sliced yellow and red tomatoes. Then a mixture of mozzarella and dayia "mozzarella" cheese and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning. I had to use the two cheeses because I truly can't handle the dayia or any other "cheese" alone (other than the vegan cheese slices). But if I mix it with regular cheese, well it's not so bad then ;) I'm hoping to slowly get more accustomed to the vegan cheeses.

After baking in a 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, this was the result. Perfect, colourful, healthy, delicious totally homemade vegetarian pizza.

This beautiful flower represents our new 21 day project...
Starting on August 23, 2010 Maddie and I will be Going Green!! We are really looking forward to this new project beginning!
I'll post this weekend about this new project and continue to update you about ongoing aspects of the vegan cleanse.
Much peace, love and happiness

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I can't believe we made it!!!

Well we've made it. And I feel that I came through much improved. Maddie wrote an excellent summary of her experiences and now it's my turn.

These are my lovely anniversary flowers that I received yesterday. I love fresh flowers and wish I could have them in my house all the time. Unfortunately, that's kind of cost prohibitive.

This was my lunch today. Leftover vegan pad thai with baked tofu and extra vegetables. So yummy! Even the next day it was delicious.

Homemade raspberry and lemon iced tea sweetened with a bit of agave nectar. I've discovered the most refreshing summer beverage ever :)

Dinner was good and I held true to the promise I've made to myself; no longer gluten free but mostly caffeine and sugar free and of course, mostly vegan. Vegan is the goal but I'm willing to accept an occasional lapse into vegetarianism. The meal I ate reflected this perfectly. Local corn on the cob, tomatoes and cucumbers. A veggie dog with a vegan "cheese" slice on a normal bun. I made two potato salads. A normal one with eggs for the masses and in mine I added steamed green beans and diced red peppers to the potatoes. Of course, I substituted vegenaise instead of mayo in mine.

And finally...I made dessert to celebrate my newfound way of eating and making it through the 21 days. Chocolate brownies. Vegan with just a smidge of fat. A little evaporated cane juice to sweeten. Moist and oh, so chocolatey :)
Check her site out...every one of this woman's recipes sound great. This one sure is a keeper!!
I'm proud of myself for doing this. It may not seem that large but for me the sense of accomplishment is huge. For these 21 days I not only focused on getting the garbage out of my diet but also adding so many good things. And those good things aren't only related to food. Exercising (as I can) six days a week. Doing something that brings me joy, every day. Nurturing myself in ways I didn't take the time for before. And discovering how much I love to be creative in the kitchen! How important colour has become in my meals...
Even though my health has deteriorated in some ways, in others there has been some improvement. There has been improvement in my energy levels as well. I feel more in tune with myself, nature, spirit and the world. For all of this I am grateful. The journey has been so very worthwhile.
As we move on to another 21 day project, Maddie and I will each be taking aspects of the cleanse with us. I will occasionally still be posting about meals and food related discoveries.
I'll be back here on Thursday to announce our next project which will begin on August 23rd....
See you then!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 21...The Last Day

My mom has gone out for dinner with Steve because it's their wedding anniversary today. Today in particular, was not eventful. I woke up at nine in the morning but didn't leave bed until about 2, because I was reading. So when I woke up, I fixed myself a classic tomato and avocado sandwhich, and sliced a peach. Around 5:30, when mom left I made dinner for everyone. I forgot to take a picture, but it was good nonetheless. I made tacos. Refried beans for me, and ground beef for everyone else.

Other than that nothing happened. But this particular post isn't about today. It's about the past 21 days.

People keep asking me "how do I feel" and stuff like that, but I don't really feel any different. I know thats not exciting and what your expecting to hear, but I don't feel energetic, or healthy. I feel like I always have. That doesn't necessarily mean that I don't feel energetic or healthy, but it I don't feel an added bonus. Today, I didn't wake up and feel like "YAY! It's my last day!" nor did I feel all "Boohoo, it's the last day." This whole experience has yes, given me something to do, and changed how I felt about eating animals but my personal changes and whatever? The same. You should probably ask my mom how she feels about it, because I think that she feels different, healthwise.

I've decided to become vegetarian because a) If I could do this, and have no trouble, then being veg is only going to be easier and b) I've changed my views on eating animals.

Did you know that chickens are genetically modified to grow faster and weigh more? They are also put in rooms where they turn the lights and heat up and down to make the chicken think that it's spring so that they'll lay more eggs. They're also put in "battery" cages where they have about 1 square foot to live. And did you know that "downer" animals, (animals who cannot walk on their own) are usually just left alone to die? How cruel is that?

What does any of this have to do with the vegan cleanse? You're thinking. Well, the cleanse sparked an interest in this type of thing because for one, I wanted to know why people chose to become vegan in the first place. Then, because I began to watch shows and movies like 100 mile challenge, and No Impact Man, and they mentioned stuff like this alot. I was watching Oprah with mom and it kept showing clips from Food Inc. and that really got me interested. Plus I began flipping through the book Eating Animals.

Anyway, in the end of this whole 21 days, I've decided to be vegetarian. Vegan is a bit too much for me; but the thought of eating meat kind of grosses me out now. I guess I just got so used to...well, not eating meat.

Well, it's been a fun 21 days and keep reading for the next project (but I'm going to keep my mouth shut about what it is ;] )!

-Maddie :3

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day Twenty

Breakfast, lunch and dinner...that's about all today amounted to. With massive thunderstorms and great deluges of rain I really didn't want to go out anywhere. And with the pain in my body increasing as the day wore on the "didn't want to" quickly turned into couldn't have if I tried.

I managed 15 minutes of gentle yoga this morning and that's about all I have to say about this day other than to talk about food and a couple of other things.

The components of my breakfast nice and early this morning. Cooked steel-cut oats and raisins with cinnamon in the bowl and on the cutting board: a diced granny smith apple, a handful of blueberries and a few chopped walnuts.

Put together and topped with some soy milk. By far, the perfect breakfast for such a cool and rainy Sunday morning.

This was lunch (which I ate in bed and watching the Simpsons). I let my husband have a few nibbles :)

Cucumber, red pepper and carrots from the farmer's market. A handful of organic tortilla chips. A dollop of tofu ranch dip, hummus and guacamole. And finally a sliced perfectly ripe peach. Colourful and delicious...Colour is becoming more and more important to me as I cook and put together meals. I think it's being around all that fresh produce weekly at the market.

There's no dinner pics because I just ended up taking some of our veg bolognese out of the freezer and having it on top of quinoa spaghetti with a side salad of market greens. Nothing too exciting and a picture you've already seen before.

I moved on from "Enlightenment for Idiots" to "The Blue Bistro" by Elin Hilderbrand. Another light read but interesting because it's set in Nantucket (someday...sigh), the food descriptions are marvelous and one of the characters has health issues. So new purse book to read :)
This is the pile where I got the new book. It's my "books to read" pile. Generally I go through at least 2 or 3 books a week but these books have been piling up for months. My concentration and focus haven't been great so i haven't been reading much :(
I'm still working my way through "Eating Animals". It's very good but very, very heavy. Tough to read. It's going to take me some time to make my way through it.
Well, one more day...and the cleanse will be over! I won't be posting tomorrow because it's my wedding anniversary. My husband and I will be going out for Thai food. I checked the menu and there are quite a few vegetarian/vegan options. So I'll leave tomorrow's posting to Maddie. She's making dinner anyway. I'll be back to post on Tuesday...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day Nineteen

Another summer's day has drifted past...It was such a beautiful day today. It's hard not to feel inspired when mother nature is displaying such glorious splendour!!!

So I made a great smoothie to start the day. For this one I put in a ton of blueberries, a wee bit of kale, ground flax, soymilk and 1/2 a frozen banana. So very, very yummy!

After my daughter got up and had some breakfast, we headed out the door and drove off to...

The Garlic Festival in Carp! It was packed and you could enjoy the smell of garlic wafting all the way out to the parking area. At least I could, Maddie says she couldn't...but I think she has a stuffed nose ;)
We saw this beautiful porcelain pottery. It's by Glenn Dunning of Embrun Pottery. He can be found at There you'll find info on his store in Embrun, directions and beautiful photos of his pieces. They are microwave, dishwasher and oven safe. I've already put in a request for Christmas. The dishes are truly lovely and functional.

Maddie and I had these great baked potato wedges for lunch. They were nicely seasoned and I resisted the garlic dip. I had to dig deep for the strength to not succumb but I managed.

We ran into this beautiful display of summer squash. Who knew there where so many different varieties. I bought some of the bi-coloured variety and a couple of the delicata squash, along with the usual zuchinni and yellow squash. Can you tell how much I love it?

These are elderberries. Maddie has seen some recipes calling for elderberries and neither one of us had any idea what they were or what they even looked like. Well, lo and behold we found someone at the market who was selling them. He patiently answered all of our questions about the berries and what could be done with them. I think he found our naivete quite charming :) After speaking to him we decided to make a tiny batch of jelly with them. We'll keep you posted on how it turns out.

This was our dinner tonight. The colorful cauliflower that I roasted the other day, baked tofu in tomato sauce, sauteed swiss chard and garlic and the piece de resistance: steamed rainbow carrots with agave syrup and earth balance. So colorful and quite good.

After dinner I finished up some canning. This pot is the result of 2 baskets of tomatoes; skinned, seeded, pureed in the food processor and cooked down. The kitchen smelled like Italy. I'm going to ask my Dad to give me any of his extra tomatoes so I can continue the process.
btw...yesterday my extra for the day yesterday was going to the movies and today I read outside.
Now I am going to watch some more of the 100 mile challenge. This is something that I would love to can find out more or watch for yourself at

Friday, August 13, 2010

Day Eighteen

I did the blueberry jam test drive this morning for breakfast and man, was it ever good :) Perefectly jelled with enough chunks of blueberries to make it taste like summer! I tried the recipe again this morning but substituted strawberries that I had in the freezer. We'll see how this batch turns out.

Late in the morning we went out to the Beaverpond for a forest walk. We didn't get too far in (a slow 15-20 minutes) before I had to turn around but still, at least it was nice and cool in there. It makes me kind of sad though when I think of the shape I used to be in and how I could do whatever I wanted (pain free). Sorry to seem so morose but I think I've really overdone it the last couple of days and I'm just exhausted.

After our walk Maddie and I went to the movies to see "Eat Pray Love". I know a lot of reviewers haven't been that kind but I really enjoyed it. It was visually stunning, Julia Roberts shined in the roll of Liz Gilbert and I thought it stayed quite true to the book. Maddie, for some reason, likes this photo of us in the theater but I don't. It's probably because she's wearing makeup and I'm not :)

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE avocados!!! They are so good for you and so delicious but mostly they are so beautiful!! Look at that could anyone resist?

This was dinner. Veggie nachos and our first real try with Daiya "cheese". I put black beans, fresh pico de gallo, diced red pepper and the aforementioned cheese on the chips before baking them in a hot oven for a few minutes. The cheese only kind of melted. And it tasted...okay. Not bad but just okay. At least it wasn't horrible like that other stuff we had in the first week! Alongside the nachos I served some guacamole, tofutti "sour cream" and more pico de gallo.
Now I realize that it's only 6:40 but I'm taking myself off to bed. I must be getting old!
Love and peace my friends

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day Seventeen

Whew! Today was a long and busy day but it did start off on a high note because I actually slept until 6:30 this morning. What a treat! Now I'm praying that it happens again tonight. Wish me luck :)

I did something different with my smoothie this morning. I mixed frozen banana and mango, a fresh peach, some soy yogurt, a bit of water and a big spoonful of ground flax seed. It made a nice change from the usual berry and banana.

After breakfast I got to work on the jam making. These are the ingredients I used along with about 4 1/2 cups of blueberries. I mixed it all in the pot: the blueberries, 1 cup of the unsweetened not from concentrate apple juice, 3/4 cup of agave nectar and the package of no-sugar pectin.

As it boiled I crushed the fruit slightly. Once it reached a hard boil I let it go without stirring for about 4 minutes. Then I took it off the heat, stirred it and let it sit for 5 or 6 minutes. When I canned the jars I had them in the water bath for 7 minutes. I made two batches for a total of eight jars.

Maddie's breakfast, heavy on the fruit and easy on the waffle. For lunch she was out with a friend and had a french fry from New York fries.. She checked and they use non-hyrogenated vegetable oil for their fries. I was pretty proud of her for checking.

The finished product. The jars look really pretty and they've all jelled and the lids have all "popped". I'll let you know how it tastes. Hopefully good :)

While I was on a roll I did a few other cooking projects before I cleaned the kitchen. I had some broccoli that was reaching it's end days and I didn't want to waste it. So I steamed it briefly and put it together with this vegan "cheese" sauce that I came up with.
***Vegan "cheese" sauce
I mixed 1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill baking flour (or regular, unbleached all purpose) with 1/4 cup nutrional yeast flakes and 1/4 cup vegan "parmesan cheese" with a little bit of water. Then I added more water (1 to 1 1/2 cups) and cooked it on medium, stirring it all the time until it was the right consistency. I made mine pretty thick. Add 1 Tbs. of melted earth balance spread and a smidge of cayenne and pepper. Since I had the Daiya "cheddar cheese" I tossed a large sprinkle of that in as well.
I liked it. As long as you're not expecting conventional cheese sauce the flavour is good and the texture is right. After mixing this with the broccoli I let it cool and then stored it in the feezer.

I didn't want the pretty purple cauliflower to spoil either so I roasted it, along with another funky head of cauliflower. These I stored in the fridge to have with dinner on Saturday.

Messing around with art supplies was on my to do list today as my fun thing to do. Please don't laugh at my poor little peach. I'm awfully proud of it, since I haven't picked up any kind of art supplies in a good 7 or 8 years at least...I know my perspective is a bit off, my shading isn't great and I know that I could truly go on and on about everything that is wrong with this sketch but I really ENJOYED doing it. And after all, isn't that the point? I also think that I should get points for posting the darn thing on this blog :)

I did my yoga and went for my massage today :)
Then I went to the doctor's :(
Then I cooked dinner.

I made meat chili for everyone else and a veggie chili for Maddie and I. In ours I put canned diced tomatoes, canned kidney beans, 1/2 package of Yves ground "meat", sauteed mushrooms and garlic and carrots. Then I added a handful of corn, a little kale and some chili powder. Let it cook until it was a beautiful dark sienna.
On the side I served a salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette and...are you ready? I figured out how to make cornbread vegan free!!

Much excitement and happy dancing in the kitchen. I didn't want to use a recipe that was untried so I figured I'd come up with my own. Smart ?!?! It could have been a real kitchen catastrophe. Luckily it wasn't.
***Vegan Cornbread
Set the oven at 425 degrees
Oil a 8X11" glass pan (that's what I used)
2 1/2 Tbs. ground flax seed and 3 Tbs. water. Set aside.
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 cups Bob's Red Mill baking flour or unbleached all purpose flour if you eat gluten :)
2 Tbs. baking powder
1 Tbs. salt
2 cups unseetened soy or rice milk
The soaked flaxmeal
1/4 to 1/2 cup applesauce (I used 1/2 cup and it really didn't taste like apples.
Blend until smooth, then stir in:
3 Tbs melted earth balance and 4 tbs. olive oil.
Bake in the prepared pan for 2o-25 minutes, depending on your oven. It should be a light brown on top and a toothpick should could out clean.
Now I'm going to take an epsom salts bath and going to bed.
Sweet dreams everyone

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day Sixteen

Now that we're almost done day 16 it's really hitting home that we've just about made it through. In 5 more days we'll be done!! Mostly it feels as though this project has taken on a life of it's own. We seem to be sliding along pretty easily on momentum. Instead of giving you a run down of all three meals that we ate today, I thought I'd do something a little different. Let's talk about....books!!

The book on the left is my daily inspirational reading at the moment "Be the Change you want to See in the World" by Julie Fisher-McGarry. Some days give you information, others have you read an inspirational quote, on others you might find a recipe to try or an anectode from the author's life. I'm really enjoying it. I keep it on my desk, by my laptop in the kitchen. That way it's the first thing I reach for when I come downstairs in the morning. The book on the right is what I call my "purse book". It's the book that I keep in my purse just in case I get stuck waiting somewhere for more than two minutes. The book is good but not so in-depth that it requires steady reading. It's funny though, which is nice just in case I'm getting aggravated waiting in line behind the person with a million coupons who drops them all over the know?

This is my current read. Well, I'm actually only eleven pages in so I can't really give any kind of review at this point, but I've heard all sorts of great things about this book and have been looking forward to reading it.

This is the vegetarian/vegan cookbook section of my library. Now holding pride of place in the kitchen (not in the hallway with the rest of the cookbooks). A few of these were borrowed...thanks Melanie and I will get them back to you, promise! I had quite a few before this started but I have added a few others. I'll keep you updated on which ones I like best as I use them more.

This is our animal companion. Her name is...ahem, cat or kitty if we're feeling cute :) She's a year and a half old and she kind of landed in our laps. She's also an elegant egyptain princess. I swear she had to have been one in a former life, she's got the attitude and everything. And she is so very, very elegant! Here kitty and I are playing peek-a-boo.

And here's Maddie getting some kitty love.

The one excitement we had today (food wise) was this beautiful, extravagant, bodacious cauliflower! When I saw it at the farmer's market I had to pick it up, since I had never seen a prettier cauliflower in all my life!

So I cut some up and served it with red pepper strips and broccoli. I made an herb dip to go with it using Tofutti sour cream, which I actually quite liked...thank goodness because I was getting kind of worried that I wouldn't find anything that was palatable.

I served it with GF bread spread with earth balance and a lovely leek and potato soup. I did walk (slowly) for 45 minutes today so I'm on track with that. I was supposed to watch a sunset tonight but as I've been awake since 3:17 this morning I watched the sunrise instead. I also got some supplies because I'm going to attempt an agave sweetened blueberry jam. Hopefully tomorrow :)
Wishing everyone well