The Weekend Foodening

Sometimes I am reminded – forcefully – why having roommates is frustrating. After an hour of cleaning, my kitchen was finally ready for ME to use it.

Getting into the groove in my newly cleaned kitchen, I made the base of dinner ahead of time. Tonight, instead of blowing money on restaurant mark ups, we’re making our own pizza! I made the dough and am bringing red onions and bell peppers as topping options(you do you, let me do me), two friends are providing the sauce and cheese. I used The Pioneer Woman’s pizza dough recipe. Simple, quick, and always good. I can make this in 5 minutes flat now.

Then I went on to make a cucumber and red onion salad that is out of the world. 5 minutes of chopping, 5 minutes of measuring (or eyeballing) and mixing, 20 minutes of sitting for the magical flavor meld….and scene. Today I added a dash of rice vinegar and a sprinkling of black sesame seeds for an exotic touch.

Finally, my coup d’cuisine of the day was a kitchen sink fritatta. I was reminded that roommates are worth it when I went through the fridge and found a few veggies that needed to be used or tossed today. We have a policy that if something is on its last legs and you find it, you get it. Today was a haul! I found some shriveled, sad tater tots. I thought a tater tot omelet sounded like the best idea I could have had today. Then a yellow bell pepper, a jalapeno, and a roma tomato came into my possession.

My kitchen sink fritatta came together as follows (don’t forget to compost scraps!):

finely chop: 1/4 red onion and 1 jalapeno into slivers

dice: 1 bell pepper, 1 tomato

thinly slice: 1 small potato

include: fistful leafy greens (like kale or mustard greens), leftover tater tots, 8 eggs, spices

Preheat the oven to 350*. Warm up a cast iron skillet, add a glug of olive oil, and cook the potato slices until soft. Toss on kale and cooked until it was bright green. Dump in all veggies and cook for 5 minutes, stirring. Mix your favorite spices into the eggs and whisk. I used cumin, garlic powder, cajun seasoning, paprika, pepper, cayenne. Dump the eggs on top and set in the oven for 20 minutes. Pull out and let cool a bit.

You can use any leftover veggie. The best part about fritattas are that they can be any flavor profile and are even ‘low carb’ compared to a quiche – which is just a fritatta with a crust.

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Electronics Giveth And Taketh Away: Facebook And Ingress

I have generally had trouble finding a good topic to write about because the little things I do (or don’t do) to save money, help the planet, and keep my butt where it’s planted are so innocuous.

This week, though, I’ve made some small changes that have been more noticeable differences in my life than usual. Both involve changes in my relationship with digital media.

The first change I made this last week was Facebook related. I decided that instead of agonizing over unfriending someone (Would they notice? Be upset? What if we accidentally reconnect? What if I need them for something in the future?) I began to unfollow them.

I began unfollowing people when I didn’t remember why we were Facebook friends, when they posted too frequently, when I realized I wasn’t that close to them and didn’t need to know all aspects of their daily lives. I also began unliking many pages I wasn’t interested in anymore.

Now, quite frankly, my newsfeed is boring. I already know what’s going on in my everyday friends’ lives so I don’t feel such a tugging ‘need’ to keep up virtually. You could be extreme and quit it altogether. I’m not quite there yet.

Now I’m free and more mentally removed from the social media tether, I want to go out more! I’ve been to the library once this week and will definitely be returning a finished book next week. I also hope to get back into exercising since my back is feeling much better.

What kind of exercise? I’m not going to go crazy or push myself. A back injury is serious, no matter how slight. So I’m walking more and the game Ingress is helping.

Ingress has been around for about two years, but it’s new to me. It’s a virtual reality game  you play by walking. The game involves a futuristic looking version of Google maps and you hack portals and use alien energy….the point of the game is to go out and explore your area. Portals are usually churches, old buildings, historical sites, points of interest, etc. You can submit your own. If you aren’t motivated on your own to get out and walk, a game with points and enemies might be the kick you need.

Now, thanks to these two small (and free!) changes  I’m even happier living in the moment.

Life and Literary Journeys: Free!

I hit up my library on Monday after work and have spent the last three days living this wonderful routine:

Wake up, go to work, read on my lunch break, more work, go home, make dinner, clean up, throw on pj’s, grab some water, close my door, and read for hours. I even have some nice chocolate and crappy boxed wine to enjoy along my literary journey.

This is the week I put the brakes on my life and really got a better look at myself and where I am on my life journey.

I cooked dinner, made bread, drank wine, shut off my computer, and enjoyed the hell out of my me time. I’ve been reading nonfiction, young adult (I refuse to call it a guilty pleasure as I feel no guilt about that), fantasy. I have business, linguistic, and comedic books in my stacks of books.

I have three stacks of books I want to get through: library, borrowed from friends, mine I haven’t read and want to decide if I want to keep or not.

I had been feeling stuck and didn’t want to pamper myself with expensive spa treatments or pricey dinners. So I hit my personal reset button. I let a lot build, so it may take me all week of ignoring my friends and staying in. That’s not a bad thing.

Free movies, free books…library is a word that means heaven. If reading is not your tool to unwind, no problem. There are many free activities out there away from a screen to cultivate a little more personal joy in your life. Take a day to do that, I’m sure it’s been a while.

Relax. The world isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. 🙂

Bottles and Jugs and Ideas, Oh My!

I started this site to not only be an outlet for my creative green juices, but to also practice becoming familiar with WordPress. I handle all the website work for my company.

We have a wonderful SEO guru, though, to guide me through the process of tapping directly into the minds and veins of potential customers. Her work makes my efforts to hook total strangers easier. Business to business sales are not easy.

My guru knows what’s up, this is her job – her bread-and-butter – and she is good at what she does. But I must admit that my favorite part of our meetings are when we get off track and talk about our green and natural tendencies. We usually enjoy a solid ten minutes of green geeking out at the end of our meetings. Just like me, green living is a great side interest for her.

She is not paying me to tell anyone about this, she just gives me free samples and lets her goods speak for themselves. Her line, Nola Essentials, will be launching in October. I have liked everything so far and will have to review them for y’all sometime.

But back to our conversation! She emptied a bottle of Perrier and informed me that the mouth is a standard size. Thanks to her, I now know (and can share!), that it is the easiest thing in the world to make an adorable soap dispenser out of ‘garbage’.

upcycling, upcycled soap pump, homemade soap dispenser, recycling, kitchen hack, broke lazy but green, BLBG

My guru is web savvy, a clever upcycler, and a good photographer. What can’t she do?

I just finished a moisturizer that used a pump, so I don’t even have to go out and buy a pump!

I also mentioned that my attempt at no ‘poo failed, I started using Dr. Bronner’s. My real issue is that I want to stop using plastic, that was why I was so excited to make my own. Now I’m back to buying shampoos in plastic bottles. I chose Dr. Bronner’s because I can travel with the smaller size I bought, and buy the large jugs to minimize impact. But still, what to do with those jugs as they add up?

Our brainstorming session resulted in some ideas: cutting off the top and turning them into plant pots; poking holes in the lids, filling them with water and placing them upside down to water your plants long term; cutting the handles off to create scoops….there are so many ideas out there! Rethink how to reuse your bottles and jugs!

Your Finances

You know why you’re lazy and all corners of the internet will tell you why you should go green. Do you know why you are broke, though?

Do you even know how broke you are?

Take a moment and write out your income. Then write out your savings, if you have one. Next, list your debts. Finally, categorize your monthly expenses – necessities versus fun, fixed versus varied – which ever way gets you to clearly see what your finances are trying to tell you.

Knowing how broke you are and why are the first steps in not being so broke.

Now, how to deal with being broke? You can go green by buying less. You can borrow, make, swap for something you need….if you are sure you really need it.

Really review every purchase. Did you buy coffee just that one time to treat yourself, or did you block out the three times you ran out quick for coffee because you were late or tired? Be honest with yourself about your finances, no one else out there is.

Buying less is good for you and the earth. What about the economy? Well, if the economy runs only because you buy plastic crap and junk food on a whim, I’m worried succeeding isn’t really success then.

I’m one of those people who can’t quite see how to trim my expenses anymore. I don’t own a car, can’t move to a cheaper place yet (if I can find one). I don’t shop for fun, buy stuff online, or eat out much. I cook and shop in bulk. At some point you can’t cut anymore. At that point, if you are still in dire straights, it’s time to up your income. Besides getting a new, better paying job (as if those were just lying around) dog walking, event food servers, working in a cafe or grocery store can all be part-time gigs. Yes, working 50+ hours a week can suck. So does living in uncertainty from paycheck to paycheck.

The detour to obvious suggestions may not have been necessary, but being aware that there are options out there is.

First things first, know how deep the hole is before you try to climb out. The best place to start is at the beginning. When you get overwhelmed, go for a walk. That is always free.

“Smile, breathe and go slowly”. – Thich Nhat Hanh

Take A Walk

Got a problem on your mind? Feeling angry or restless? Ate too much? Worried? Sad? Bored?

Go take a walk.

Seriously, it will help you physically and mentally more than you can imagine. An aimless after dinner stroll helps with the digestion. An afternoon saunter will get you outdoors and enjoying the summer while you can. (Didn’t you wish for it all winter? Don’t hang out on the computer.)

A quick morning walk can help you wake up and sort through your thoughts and plan your day. Maybe you can get a few errands done too.

Don’t just take your dog around the block. Fido just might appreciate a languid excursion around the park for once instead of a quick walk until he does his deed and you can turn around and hurry home.

Go enjoy today. Enjoy this moment. You have the time right now. You are alive right now.

Take a walk.

Bike For Better Butts and Budgets

I do not own a car and have never owned a car. Now, when I was growing up in rural Minnesota I needed a car to drive across state lines to go to school. Waking up so early SUCKED.

Now I live in a city. This city does not have public transportation worth mentioning. Yeah we have buses….that run whenever they feel like. I’m not waiting an hour just for a mile long bus ride.

So how do I get around? Grocery shop? Live a full and fun life?

I bike and walk. I find that since I live near my friends, most don’t mind driving a few blocks out of the way to get me for a night out. I certainly don’t mind going home early with them. I do have to be careful to avoid rides with the party animals unless I know I can get a ride home with someone who properly appreciates going to bed by midnight, even on weekends.

*Don’t judge. I also love naps. Sleep, like water, is the absolute cheapest way to live a healthier lifestyle. Get plenty of both.*

I will admit, I have spent the last decade shaping my life around not having a car. I can walk to my job in 20 minutes. I can walk or bike to any friend’s house in 5-45 minutes. My neighborhood has two grocery stores across the street from each other a 15 minute walk away. That walk feels crazy long if I’m lugging liquids, but I cut soda/juice from my diet. I shop once a week to grab only what I can carry, I plan my meals ahead.

I own rain boots and many umbrellas. I will be investing in a waterproof canvas pack soon. Rain guards on your bike will save you from most splashes. Rain, shine, heat, humidity, dark…I can make it through anything as long as I prepare.

My real secret? Don’t give yourself an out. For me, that’s not owning a car. If I don’t go out on my own, I generally don’t go out. Maybe you can refuse to use your car on weekends? After work? For any reason but work? Examine your lifestyle, accept that you can change, and make the change worth it. You will save money on gas and maintenance, get fit by moving more, and may change your diet once you realize that produce isn’t heavy, but pounds of meat and boxes of TV dinners are.

A Blender, A Banana, and a Coffee Can Walk Into Your House

I rarely want ice cream and when I do, I never want to embark on an odyssey to the grocery store.

Lucky for me, The Internet knows a lot. One thing The Internet told me is that you can make (vegan) ice cream out of bananas. I can hear you already: “But I don’t want banana flavored ice cream!” “It won’t have the same texture!” “Healthy food tastes like crap!”

If that’s you, I want you to sit there quietly in your wrongness. You’ll never know until you try and I have tried for you. And now I have ‘ice cream’ way more often than before. Slice up a banana per person (2 if this is your dinner), set on a plate, put in the freezer for an hour, stick in food processor, and don’t lick the blades when it is all done. They are sharp.

Food processor or blender, it will take about 5 minutes and some scraping. But it will magically turn from frozen crumbles to creamy goodness right quick. The flavor is so mild. If you are worried about having the banana flavor ruin everything add a few drops of vanilla extract. Toss in some fresh fruit. Add some cocoa powder. The sky is the limit!

Now that you have ice cream, cleaning up sounds like a waste of time. Before it melts, you can have that blender of food processor cleaned up. Simply squirt a drop of soap in, fill half way with water, and run on the highest setting for 30 seconds. Take apart, rinse, and there should be nothing left to scrub!

What to do with those banana peels leftover? Stick ’em in your composter! I have no compost at home, I have to take it to a friend’s house and drop it over her fence. No biggie, but where to store the smelly stuff? I took a plastic coffee can – the kind with the ‘sealed’ top – drilled a few small holes in the top and hot glued a carbon filter to the inside of the lid. Make sure the filter covers the holes. I got my filter at a pet store, people use them for kitty litter boxes. Shake it every other day and empty it when it is full or weekly.

There you have it, an easy Saturday project with a sweet reward when you are done. 🙂

Cheap, easy, green.

Guess I Just Have to Be Even Lazier

It has been over two weeks since my last post. I wanted to make it a post a week. To me that is the perfect amount of lazy-yet-committed.

Unfortunately, I hurt my back working out last week (good form is imperative!) and I haven’t been able to focus well lately. This is just a super short shout out to remind you and me and the internet that I’m still alive. I don’t have to tell the NSA because they already knew.

I’ll be back next week with a cleaning tip, a fast recipe, and the easiest DIY compost container you can have in your house. Short tidbits seem manageable.

Stay healthy, my broke-lazy-green friends!

A BLBG Workout

I’ll admit it: I pay money to exercise.

Not all of my exercise requires money. I don’t own a car so I walk and bike everywhere, saving so much money in the meantime. If it is less than a mile (12 standard city blocks is pretty close to a mile), why drive? I make it a point to pick up a manageable amount of groceries once a week – saving more money by planning ahead – and walk there and back. If you hate carrying heavy stuff in those reusable canvas bags I’m sure you are using, try bringing a backpack along.

Since I’m obviously so fit from all my walking and biking and eating well, why would I pay to workout? Motivation helps me establish a routine.

It’s one thing to be active, it’s another thing to work out. I am active, but for the longest time I hated working out. Paying for miserable, smelly gyms that I ended up ignoring was never an option. I don’t throw money away. And I was lazy and never got that far anyway.

Then, a friend introduced me to her new workout routine, boot camp. It was relatively cheap, outdoors, involved almost no equipment, and actually gave my friend results she was proud of. She never worked out before. Now? I’m trying to keep up with her.

While it may not be for everyone, I think more people ought to give high intensity interval training (HIIT) a try. Don’t be put off by the name.

We do warm ups (each move for 30 seconds, do two rounds for a total of 6 minutes): jog in place, high knees, butt kicks, side to side heisman, 1-2-3 shuffle knee up, and high mountain climbers – which are high knees and clawing at the sky.

We do 10 moves total – 40 seconds on, 20 seconds off. 1 minute 20 second break after move #5,  2 minute 20 second break after #10. Then we repeat twice more. Here are some suggestions. Follow these up with some stretches and you will feel quite good about getting fit without buying exercise equipment or inhaling the lingering desperation and self-loathing often found clogging a gym’s atmosphere.

Feel free to add any more moves you want, change it up. What moves really work for you?