Thursday, April 8, 2010

Three "Green" Books for Kids

I am obsessed with books, and I think children should be too. Books are a great way to educate children and to engage them in conversations about important issues. Not all children's books are mythical stories about princesses and dragons. In fact, I recently found three books that introduce children to conversation. As a green lifestyle supporter, I believe that it is never too early to introduce children to eco-friendly habits. Tonight at bedtime, share one of these stories with your children and inspire the next generation of tree huggers.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Instead of Easter Eggs, I'm Dying Coffee Cakes: Blueberry Coffee Cake Recipe

Baker Beware - Equipment Needed: 3 bowls, old clothes, and plastic gloves

Ingredients for Topping:

1/2 cup All Purpose Flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup cold butter (this is awkard but trust the recipe)

Ingredients for Batter:

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsps baking powder (not to be confused with baking soda)

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

P.S. - for newbies, tsp means teaspoon not tablespoon... I've learnt this the hard way


1) If using frozen blueberries, thaw in warm water.

2) Make topping: combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon in small bowl. Add butter to mixture until crumbly. Set out of reach of small children, animals, and hungry husbands.

3) Make batter: In a medium size bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In large bowl, combine sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk. (The trick is to remember if you just added flour or if you just added milk).

4) Using clean hands, mix blueberries into the batter. Beware, your hands may be temporarily stained purple and the batter will no longer be tan.

5) Pour into greased and floured baking pan and sprinkle topping over batter.

6) Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes. Let cool before serving.

7) Share with family and friends. Feel free to enhance the nutrional value with ice cream or whipped cream.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Couscous, Silence, and Photographs

For the last few months, I have been reading the Happiness Project and have been trying to make my life more pleasurable. This month's challenge is to improve my work life. One of the pieces of advice engraved in the black and white text is to add more novelty and challenge to my day. I have always been a huge fan of trying new things and learning new skills, so I was excited to add this challenge to my to-do list. Accomplishing a difficult task or experiencing something new is invigorating, so the other night, I decided to try a new food I have always been curious about: Couscous. I had seen the food featured in recipes I have ripped out of magazines, but I had never actually bought it. While picking up milk and bananas at the local grocery store this week, I discovered couscous with mushrooms that cooked in five minutes. I was a little spectacle of the "five minute" ploy, but the dish was very easy to prepare. It may even be easier than my old stand by: brown rice. After savoring the delicious dish, I have decided to add this to my list of groceries to always have on hand.

Yesterday, work was torture, and I was feeling particularly stressed out. Since the weather was decent, I decided to walk around the park to clear my head. Normally, I stick my purple ear-buds into my ears before beginning my walk, but I had accidentally left my ipod at home. Strangely, it was the first time I had walked without music in a long time, and the silence gave the walk a different tone. I relished the sound of children laughing and of the gravel under my feet. I heard sirens, a donkey, and a gentle rustle of leaves. The new playlist was more relaxing and beautiful than the typical drums and guitars I listen to. While my ipod is helpful when I am trying to get my heart pumping, the natural melody is now my preferred soundtrack for relaxing walks.

This weekend I plan on starting a new project inspired by a tip I read in a magazine. The article suggested scrapbooking an ordinary week instead of a special occasion. While special occasions - holidays, weddings, vacations - are precious, the little moments are what add up over time and help create our identity. Starting tomorrow, I am going to photograph the ordinary parts of my day - my morning coffee, my attempts at exercise, my mountains of homework - and to collect the mementos of an ordinary day - grocery receipts, movie stubs, junk mail. Twenty, maybe even fifty years from now, I will be able to look back and share with the younger generation what life was like in 2010.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Green Easter

Many of us practice good habits such as healthy eating, exercising, and recycling on normal days but allow ourselves to slip on special occasions. I, however, believe that special occasions give us an opportunity to share our good habits with our family and friends. Instead of pigging out and sitting on the couch, we can bring healhty dishes to holiday dinners and take a walk with our family after eating. Healthy living isn't just about taking care of ourselves; it is about taking our of our loved ones, and the best way to teach our loved ones healthy habits is to lead by example. This goes for all of our lifestyle choices including being eco-conscious. Instead of giving gifts that jeopardize our family's health and our planet's cleanliness, give a gift that will last a lifetime; teach your children, your spouse, even your friends healthy living habits. For some great "green" Easter gift ideas, check out my article on building a "green" Easter basket.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Food Revolution

Everyone needs to watch this show. End of Story.

Friday, March 19, 2010

How to Become a Morning Person

Earlier this week, I fell in love with an AM yoga video, and I vowed to start doing it every morning before work. Well, my commitment lasted two days (the two days that I didn't have to go to work). I set my alarm clock an hour early every morning, but end up ending the snooze button for an hour before I have to get ready for work. I can't seem to figure out how to get myself out of bed. Every morning I slack on my routine, I feel guilty and lazy. I thought that the pleasure of yoga and my desire to feel relaxed and energized would be motivation enough, but apparently, my body prefers sleep. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to become a better morning person?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Power of AM Yoga

Most days, my mornings are hectic. I hit the snooze button more times than I can count on both hands, I rush around to leave on time and usually end up forgetting something, and I have no energy until I drink at least 16 ounces of coffee. I have always longed to be one of those women who rise an hour early, fit in a kickass workout, and skip around all day because they are filled with tons of energy. I have read countless articles convincing me of the benefits of working out in the morning, but every time I attempt to set my alarm clock an hour earlier, my bed always wins. There is nothing appealing about a treadmill or aerobic video first thing in the morning; in fact, a perfect morning allows extra time to just sit and drink my coffee without moving. On a quest to improve my health and to de-stress my life, I roamed the fitness aisle at Walmart this weekend, and I discovered an intriguing workout video: AM Yoga. At first I was spectacle of any video with the words AM, but I have always enjoyed the relaxing benefits of yoga. For 10 bucks, I figured I could always do the video at night if the morning routine didn't work out. After spending my money, I had to figure out how to convince myself to actually put the video in the DVD player. Since I am not a fan of waking up earlier than necessary, I decided the best way to get in the habit was to take advantage of my current spring break schedule and to do the video on mornings I could wake up at my normal time; I figured if I enjoyed the workout enough, I would want to wake up earlier on a normal day to fit it in. This morning, I did the first workout on the DVD, and I was instantly hooked. In just 20 minutes, I felt relaxed and energized. While at work, I was actually in a good mood and felt invigorated. One small change to my morning routine improved all aspects of my day: I felt more optimistic and at ease with the world, I could relax at work instead of fidgeting in my seat to move around, I had energy to burn even after a long work day, and best of all, I actually had the energy to enjoy a wonderful evening with my boyfriend instead of falling asleep on the couch after dinner. Hopefully, I can continue this new routine by waking up a earlier hour after day.