A 5 Minute Meal

I let the ‘green’ take over lately. It’s certainly gotten me to be far less lazy….and yet lazier.

I decided in December to start watching my diet more. I cut out a lot of processed foods (quite expensive when you think about it). To keep me going, I got a few healthy eating books from the library (broke = get free things).

I decided to start incorporating green juices into my diet. I’m not buying a juicer; they are expensive, they take up a bunch of counter space, and are a pain to clean. Pass. So what can a newly minted juicer wannabe to do? Smoothies.

Now I can have a filling meal and not cook. I don’t plan on taking this very far. I certainly won’t be documenting my green smoothie fasts or tell you that spirulina takes delicious. I will tell you that I already own a blender and having dinner ready in 5 minutes is super exciting.

Blending the veggies means that you get to have all the fiber, thus the full feeling. I warn you: If you decide you feel deprived by drinking a meal, you will be unsatisfied and find solid foods to eat. Just like it is vital to victory for any goal or task to push through and believe you can make it, any doubt you are satisfied will kill that fullness. If you tell yourself you can’t do something, you are totally right. You can’t. Not with that attitude.

Now that you have decided to give green smoothies a try, you accept that it is weird to drink a meal but it won’t kill you, and you have your blender in hand I can help you make this even easier.

(There’s the laziness kicking in!)

Your Perfect Smoothie recipe: 

1. Start with the liquid. Add 1 cup of water/nut milk/coffee/tea/fresh fruit juice <–don’t buy juice, like, ever again. That’s just sugar. Use this only if you do not have diabetes, pre-diabetes, or any other liquid option really.

2. Add veggies, at least 1 cup. A few sources I’ve read suggest 3 veggies to 1 fruit. It balances the flavor, keeps the sugar and calories down, and keeps flavors from getting too weird. Some of my faves include 1/2 an avocado to make it creamy, 1/2 a cucumber for a refreshing lightness, a big handful of leafy greens – you can’t taste ’em unless you focus really hard, a few stalks of celery…Really put what you have in. Don’t do broccoli because that would be a weird texture, but try the stems. Mix and match. Try organic if possible, wash them well if not.

3. Add fruit, at least a serving. Frozen berries are real winners, as are frozen bananas, green apples, and any in season fruit. If you use citrus, don’t toss it in rind and all. That will be too bitter. Just juice it.

4. Fancy stuff: 1-2 Tbsp. Want it thick and creamy, more like a milkshake? Add almond butter. Want it just a little thicker? Put 1tsp of chia seeds in 1/4c water and it will turn into a superfood gel. Need it sweeter? Hold back and use just a little cinnamon, local honey, cacao/carob, agave, vanilla, or even cut up seedless dates.

Blend, baby, blend. Play with what you use, find more recipes on the internet, get excited! Now you have a healthy 5 minute meal option when cooking seems impossible. While this is a great way to get tons more veggies in your diet, don’t try to live off these. You need a varied diet and enough calories.

Advertisements

It’s Just A Calendar

As 2014 winds down, the stress to end the year with a bang builds. Which party to go to? What will I wear? Will my crush be there? What am I going to drink?

As I’ve mentioned throughout this year, one of the easiest and most elegant solutions for our problems is to simply opt out. I decided this morning that I am staying in, alone, for tonight. And I’m surprisingly happy about this decision.

What better way to save money, trumpet my laziness, and refuse to buy into the wastefulness of this annual celebration?

I am letting go of the idea that I need to celebrate things just because a calendar or tradition says so. Traditionally speaking, I ought to be married by now and tending to my husband, 2.5 children, and our picket fenced house. Depending on what and whose tradition that is.

We buck so many traditions with each new generation, yet some slip through the cracks. I’m not going to blow $100 to get trashed in 6 inch heels and spend tomorrow miserable and making unrealistic promises to myself. That would be setting myself up for failure.

Now, before you dismiss this option because you are young, hot, lonely, or just want to party, know that I am not simply watching TV until I fall asleep.

I refuse to treat today like an extraordinary day. But how am I celebrating? I am hopping into my pjs and reflecting, organizing, planning. I have many things to work on and I will no longer be limited by the calendar for when I can do that. The fact that I view today as just a Wednesday is important. I’m not starting a new year/life/me with fanfare. I’m just gonna do. And when I feel like I’m not going in the right direction, I’ll sit down on another ordinary day and reflect, organize, plan again.

This is how I’m changing. My choice to improve myself will not start with a gun shot. Life is not a race, it should not be timed.

So after I spend an evening eating my favorite food (pizza) in my favorite sweatpants drinking my favorite tea I’m going to wake up prepared for each new day ahead of me. I’m going to have goals, steps for those goals, motivation points. I’m going to tell some friends and ask for encouragement. And I’m not doing it just today. If I find I’ve failed at what I set up for myself I’ll just sit down some other Wednesday and get back on track.

By removing the external push and making it a personal, internal effort I know I’m showing myself that it’s not tradition that is pushing me to do this, but my personal choice and reflections.

This year I’m starting the year exactly how I want the whole year to be: focused on my well being. And I can do it by living up to my broke, lazy, and green standard I hold myself to.

Thank you for living this year with me, I look forward to life with you next year! Happy New Year!

The Holidays, Unplugged

I’m sure you are torn between all the sweet deals going on in stores and online to make all that Christmas/Hanukkah loot seem a bit cheaper and the whole buy-nothing-make-something movement.

I get it. Really, I do.

I’m tempted to simply jump on the give experiences not material goods wagon, but I also really want the nice backpack I asked my mom and brother to get me. So I have a solution that will be perfect for whoever reads this:

Do what makes you Happy.

If shopping for everyone on your list makes you and your wallet sob in fear, don’t. Buy cheaper things, buy group gifts for families, or hop on the buy-nothing train. If you feel stupid giving the dry ingredients for brownies in a cute mason jar or candle holders made of tuna cans and clothes pins or coupons for you babysit or wash their car for free, don’t.

As your broke and green lady, I don’t want to buy stuff. As your lazy pal, I don’t wanna make stuff.

So when I found a pricey dress my mom loved, my brother and I split it. For my extended family? They know it is expensive to fly home and are glad to see me once a year. I emphasize that I am the gift. [Insert winning smile]

My friends and I don’t do Christmas gifts unless something really catches an eye and screams your name. Then it’s cheap and it’s clear there is no expected gift in return. We treat each other by taking each other out when it’s out birthday, when we celebrate life events, when we’re a little flush with cash and buy an extra round.  That is what makes us all happy without any pressure.

If it makes you happy to one up your uncle in giving your grandma a cool gift, fine. If that January credit card bill stings through April and you’ve forgotten why by Valentine’s Day…are you really happy?

Joy to the world. Peace on Earth. You are part of this world, you are a citizen of this earth. You deserve joy and peace as well. The first year you let your consumer facade crumble a little may be scary and you may be tempted to feel disappointed in yourself. Don’t. Once you’ve lowered that artificial bar (that no one but you set up in the first place) next year will be easier. Maybe even happier.

You deserve a gift too. Why not just make yourself happy?

I love My Mom

My mom will be in town this week, so I am struggling to think of anything but what we’ll be doing. Everything in moderation, including moderation. Therefore, this weekend I will not be living cheaply, nor will I be lazing about, though I can still make this a green-ish visit.

We will have no car, relying on public transit. I’ll still be choosing vegetarian meals. And I think it is rather green to be taking advantage of all our community offers: our City Park, a few museums, paddle boats on the lake, people watching through downtown.

I’m looking forward to eating all I want, too. I will certainly be hella broke after this whole weekend. It will be worth it. Living far from my family means I rarely get to see them and it is usually an all day travel nightmare (let’s not even mention airplane pollution).

I’m equally excited for a few days off of work. It’s been one of those weeks and is looking like it will be one of those quarters around here. You know what I’m talking about – when you are so tightly wound you feel like snapping, nothing you do seems good enough, you are eventually so worried and anxious and paralyzed that you start doing worse at work. I need a way to unwind.

Some people unwind by shopping, drinking, eating poorly, among many other vices. I often sleep. I am prone to depression and have been battling a recent bout. When I’m depressed, stressed, anxious, or generally upset I often overeat then sleep. I sleep often and too long, I shut down.

I’m grateful that my mom’s visit is timed to give me a more positive way to unwind. I love my family and am excited to share these experiences. Family will be my anti-depressant this weekend and all the fun stuff I’d let pass otherwise will be exciting to experience.

I’m committed to making lifestyle changes to benefit the earth and its inhabitants. It’s easy to forget to make small changes that benefit me first and foremost. Becoming aware of my feelings and making proactive efforts to work through them is the nicest thing I can do for myself. Lately I’ve been uptight, short, and letting it all slide. My mom’s impending visit and my increased awareness (and support of a few chosen friends) will help me make it through this.

Thank you for reading through this post. It means a lot to me and I hope you remember to put yourself first once in a while too. We both deserve it.

Credit Cards and My New Favorite Book

I went over my budget recently and realized that food is my weakness.

I’m not exactly buying fancy, Whole Foods groceries here. It’s the little, insidious things that really start to add up. I’ll tell my friends no when they ask about dinner or drinks…then I usually cave about half the time. And spend what my mind has already decided I won’t spend.

Why is it so easy? Plastics make it possible.

I keep my credit card purchases within a payable range, I pay mine off every month. I know I’m very lucky that I can do that, but I realize I’m also borrowing against the freedom of my future for instant gratification.

So I cut up my credit card.

Well, I stuck it through the shredder at work. And I’m not calling for a replacement until I need to buy a plane ticket home for Christmas.

I really thought it would be freeing. It is. It is also scary as hell. Credit cards are a great security blanket. “Just in case things are a bit more expensive.” “Just in case we go a little wild.” “Just in case I find something I like.” That ‘Just In Case’ security blanket is slowly draining my wallet….and perversely I’m often thankful for that!

I’m tired of making a budget and not sticking to it. I’m tired of living in fear of going out. When I go out, I have what is in my bank account or cash. This works for me because the day my paycheck arrives in my account I pay any bill that will be due before the next paycheck. I do this IMMEDIATELY.

So how am I enjoying my frightening financial freedom? I’m walking more, playing Ingress. I’m reading many free library books.

I wait to pronounce judgement on a book until after I’ve read it. Then I am offering a fully informed position. Not this book!

I’m currently reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I am inspired. I have actually laughed out loud several times. Each time I pick up this book I can’t decide if I want to homestead or just make one of her incredible recipes (if it’s in season).

I love gardening even though I’m not good at it yet. I love being outdoors more than the bugs who feast upon me. I may ask for this for Christmas so I can stay inspired year round.

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.