Friday, July 29, 2011

Moving Tip #9: Keep Eating or Donate it

Got canned or non-perishable food in the pantry that's been there since you're last move?  Decide if you really are going to eat what's in your pantry or make a donation pile to donate to a food drive, either way, the more you get rid of the less you have to move.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Moving Tip #8: Green Cleaning

photo source
My other favourite step next to packing is cleaning (I know, I must be nuts).  When I do clean my home I especially now always look for environmentally-friendly cleaning products to use.

There are so many great green brands today but be careful to make sure that if they say they are "green" or safe for the environment or safe even for your own health, make sure they really are!

Read the label carefully or do some research online before you go shopping for your cleaning supplies.  Just a few brands you can look for and try ...

Better yet, you can just make your own green (and safe cleaning products using items and ingredients you probably already have at home.

I think that will be a good project to start once my green cleaners start to run out.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Moving Tip #7: Pack Tetris-style

Come moving day try to make good use of your space; it starts with the packing of boxes to loading them on the truck and even unloading in your new space afterward.

I personally don't mind packing, in fact, truth be told, I kind of love it! I find it relaxing and exciting because for one I'm going through everything and cleaning it out and two it will lead to something new and hopefully great! Either way, moving can be an exciting change.

Packing the truck can be annoying and frustrating but Tetris really was my best game as a kid, so I can take those tricks I learned and apply it to loading the truck.

 When unloading everything into your new home try to put every box in the room that the stuff inside will eventually go in.  Makes sense right? Not unless you didn't label your boxes.

Moving Tip #7.1: Label your boxes!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Moving Tip #6: Save Money Moving

Why not ask some good friends to help out on moving day instead of hiring movers.  It's a good deal really, you get to hang out with them and save money and in exchange you can buy everyone pizza and cold beers - especially nice after a long day of moving!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Moving Tip #5: Sell or Donate What you Don't Need

Photo Source
For me, going through and donating my stuff has been an on-going project for the last couple of years.  It feels great to reduce what you have to only what you really need or want to keep as a keepsake.

Getting ready for a move can be a perfect time to go through and get rid of stuff if you feel like you have too much of it.  You can decide what to keep, donate or find a creative use for (which I try to also do).

Getting rid of stuff before you move will also make moving easier, obviously because you will have less to move.

Donating is a great option for your unwanted items but you could also try a garage sale or selling your stuff on eBay or Craigslist.

Throwing out unwanted items is always my last resort, especially these days, when there are so many other environmentally friendly options.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Moving Tip #4: Less is Better

Photo Source
You would think that this would be obvious, but we are a society that really seems to love stuff and is encouraged to always buy more and more stuff that it can be quite difficult to not accumulate so much of it even though it really is best not to.

Less is better for the planet and really, for our state of mind. Plus the less stuff you have to move, the less energy and gas you will be burning and the more grateful your helping friends will probably be.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Moving Tip #3: Newspaper Works, then Recycle it

It's like Art! Photo Source
I find it surprising that people would actually purchase packaging when preparing their house or apartment move but then again, I've never really owned anything that I care so much about that if it broke I would be devastated.  I try not to get too attached to my material things and I often remind myself that certain things can be replaced.

So, when packing dishes or glass try to avoid or cut back on bubble wrap (especially since it is plastic) and try using newspaper instead. You can even try using old towels as packing material, especially to help separate dishes or glasses from each other.

Towels would be heavier then newspaper but they work well.  I used towels that I already had to pack anyway so there you go, kill two nerds with one stone.  The best part of newspaper, it's free (using fliers or local papers), it's everywhere and available and it is recyclable!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Moving Tip #2: Reuse as Many Boxes as Needed

photo source
Sure it would be nice to have a bunch of perfectly shaped, perfectly clean, perfectly new moving boxes but what the heck for!?  I mean, our stuff isn't all the same size and we general clean as we unpack so I say, go to the curb, liquor store or anywhere else you can find used boxes to re-use.

The best thing about living in a building right now is there is never a shortage of boxes.  Nearly every other weekend there is someone moving or buying new stuff and tossing their over-sized boxes, it makes a person obsessed with boxes really, especially when moving.

I think Seinfeld put it best in his act:

When You're moving your whole world becomes boxes. That's all you think about is boxes. Boxes, where are there boxes? You just wander down the street going in and out of stores. Are there boxes here? Have you seen any boxes? I mean it's all you think about. You can't even talk to people because you can't concentrate. Shut up I'm looking for boxes. Just after a while you become like really into it you can smell them. You walk into a store. There's boxes here. Don't tell me you don't have boxes. Dammit, I can SMELL them. I'm like I'm obsessed. I love the smell of cardboard in the morning. You could be at a funeral. Everyone is mourning, crying around you, and your looking at the casket. That's a nice box Does anyone know where that guy got that box? When he's done with it do you think I could get that? it's got some nice handles on it. And that's what death is really. It's the last big move of your life. The hearse is like the van. The pale bearers are your close friends the only ones you could ask to help you with a big move like that and the casket is that great perfect box you've been waiting for your whole life. The only problem is, once you find it you're in it. 

-- Jerry Seinfeld

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Moving Tip #1: Eat Everything in your Fridge

When moving it is often easier to move less stuff (well, obviously) and that especially includes food.   There is one thing I hate moving most and that's refrigerator food!  So the solution? Eat everything you possibly can in your fridge, from your cupboards, where ever, a few weeks prior to moving.  This means, avoiding grocery buying if possible and getting creative in the kitchen!

I got creative this week with left over cooked brown rice, my garlic scape pest, tomatoes, and frozen phyllo dough that has been in my freezer for longer then I'd like to admit. The dough wasn't gluten-free unfortunately but there wasn't much and I don't like to waste food if I can avoid it. 

Fortunately, the end result tasted quite good, here are the steps, moreorless:

1. I mixed about 2 cups of rice with about 1/4 cup of pesto.

2. I chopped the three tomatoes and threw them in the mix and made sure to give everything a good stir.

3. Preheated the oven to about 350F. Sprayed a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray and created the phyllo cups with the thawed out dough. No need to be a perfectionist here, just cutting the dough out into pieces and forming the cups in the tin will do.

4. Then scooped about a tablespoon into each cup and baked for about 10-12 minutes.

5. Done.  That was dinner and delicious!

I wonder what other creative concoctions I'll come up with this week, stay tuned ...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Urban Garden Update: Orange

Lettuce, I love you and I want to eat you but you look way too pretty to cut down just yet.

I guess I am waiting to see just how big this bunch can get!

We have colour! (other then green of course) One of our tomatoes is turning orange, it's very exciting.

Just 67 more colour changes to go! That's right, at last count, we had 67 tomatoes growing.
Eek! It's salsa time soon.

Our strawberry plant is spreading like wild fire, I love it! No strawberries since the last couple that grew but I see many, many strawberries in the future.

Kale Cupid - I have paired and re-potted my kale plants.  Grow my pretties, grow!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Plastic is Just so Bad: A Reminder Why

Every now and then it is good to have a reminder of why reducing our use of plastic waste is so very important.  I often need this reminder myself.  As we go about our daily lives, easily caught up in our own little worlds, it can become easy to forget these important lessons we are learning.

It's fantastic videos like these, this one created by, that make reminding us clear and simple.  They remind us of the steps we need to take in order to protect this great earth.

To learn more about the Save my Oceans Campaign visit their website where you can track your carbon footprint, read up on some important tips and take action to reduce your waste.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Close Encounters of a Natural Kind

Maple Leaves

Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense) ... it is creepy.

Chicory -- official name: Cichorium intybus

I believe a type of Cockleburs, ha! Cockleburs ...
My Scarlet, the harlot

Hawk's-Beard (Crepis), that's a cool name.

Tree bark mushrooms

Moss and dead leaves.  To me it was art.

Daisy Fleabane or, really cute mini daisies ... that are also weeds.


This lovely Clover flower has a friend. I could not find any 4-leaf clovers.

Very purple and pretty Pasture Roses.

Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Bee Chicory flower.

Wild raspberries look delicious.

Wild mushrooms ... maybe not as delicious?

Scarlet in the meadow.

 A pretty flower which I do not know the name of.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Garlic Scapes

Fresh organic garlic scapes
Picked up these lovely garlic scapes and oyster mushrooms (pictured below) at The Cutting Veg Farm last weekend and made some delicious garlic scape pesto which complimented my oyster mushroom noodle dish for lunch.

Fresh organic Oyster Mushrooms

Soba noodles with sauteed oyster mushrooms and garlic scape pesto

Garlic Scape Pesto

I got the original recipe online but now I can't remember where, I did make a few adjustments however but it has quite a strong garlic taste overall.  It is great with pasta or noodle dishes or works well as a spread.  My guess it keeps for about a week or so, so best made for parties.

1.5 cups scapes, rough chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh basil
1 cup packed fresh organic spinach
1/3 cup cashews
Juice from 1 organic lemon
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Pepper to taste (optional)
1 tsp agave nectar

Mix all ingredients well in a food processor, until smooth.  Add as much olive oil as you prefer to give it a creamy consistency but not too creamy that it is runny (can add more or less then 1/2 cup).

Makes about 1.5 cups


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Thing About Vegan Burgers is ...

Vegan burgers don't generally hold together very well while eating them.  Especially since there is no egg, which works well as a binding agent, it can be tough to find or make a good vegan burger that doesn't crumble when you eat it!  My black bean burger were a good exception, I had finally found a recipe that makes tasty burgers that don't completely fall apart.

Normally I like to try and make my own vegan burgers but in cases when I can not, I like to eat Yves Garden Vegetable Patties., which are not only delicious but don't fall apart.

Another vegan burger eating solution: eat them in pieces and not in a bread bun. I cut the burger into quarters and enjoyed it with dragon sauce over a salad of greens, red cabbage and carrots on top of steamed jasmine rice.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Day at The Cutting Veg Farm

Yesterday I had a wonderful opportunity to volunteer at The Cutting Veg Organic Farm with a very nice group of folks.  Start time, 6:30am - not so nice, especially since I had to be up and out of the house by 5:30am - ouch!

That is a farmer's life after all, up early before the sun, that is the best time to work on the land before it gets too hot.  Fortunately for us it was a cloudy day, still hot but with many sun breaks so it wasn't too bad.  The work was hard the body but satisfying.  You truly feel like you've put in a good days work that deserves some R&R afterward.

One of the stinkier jobs - composting.  It involved shoveling the compost into the wagon to spread over the soon-to-be new vegetable crops.

This was a real treat! There was a man on the farm growing and selling organic oyster mushrooms.  It was so interesting and weird to see how they grow!

Another very lovely treat and something I had not seen or eaten before - garlic scapes!  These beauties were my favourite thing to pick mostly because they were simple to pick and smelled wonderful.  They have a milder taste and are great for stir-fries or can be eaten raw.

Where salad greens grow, row by row, so do weeds!  This is definitely one of the bigger problems with organic farming, because it doesn't use any chemicals or pesticides there are usually more weeds to deal with and remove.  I learned this first-hand, weeding the Swiss chard beds.

Another task I rather enjoyed was tearing apart hay bails (pictured below) to mulch the winter squash beds (pictured above).

We gather, after a good, hard days work! I look forward to it all again next weekend.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vegan and Thriving

When changing one's eating habits, in the beginning, buying a variety of new cook books can but exciting but a bit overwhelming.  Especially when you have so many that before you realize it you are barely using them.

For this reason I try to keep most of my recipes online but I keep a core of vegan cook books that I always go back to.  One of these books is Brendan Brazier's The Thrive Diet.

I often get caught up using just one or two books or just a handful of the same recipes that I have to remind myself to go back and explore the recipes already sitting on my shelf, including some old favourites.  Like this simple, yet so delicious yam (or sweet potato) oven fries recipe (p. 243, The Thrive Diet):

Garlic Oregano Yam Oven Fries
 Makes 2 servings.

2 medium yams, chopped into wedges or sticks
2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
2 tbsp coarsely chopped pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1.5 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tbsp basil
Sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 300F. Toss everything together in a bowl, mixing well to coat all the wedges, using your hands directly in the bowl works best.  Spread the yams evenly on a non-stick cooking sheet (or use parchment paper) and bake for about 35 minutes.  Cook them for another 5-10 minutes if you prefer them crispy.

Add some organic ketchup or BBQ sauce and enjoy!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Another Beautiful Day at the Market

I have tried very hard to make visiting the Farmer's Market a weekly tradition, usually occurring on weekends and almost always on Saturdays.  However, many busy weekends full of festivals, events and family and friend gatherings has kept me away from the market for some weekends - not that I am complaining - but it was wonderful treat to spend a long morning at the Brickworks Farmer's Market today.

Traditionally, I like to eat breakfast at the market - a baked good and/or a sandwich with a coffee but with my challenging diet choices (vegan, gluten-free, organic, etc.) it can sometimes be difficult to find something I can eat at the market.  Though, with everything being so fresh, local and organic it can be difficult to resist some of the fine non-vegan food available.

Today, however, I lucked out! I stopped by Hearty Catering's table and was happy to purchase a vegan and gluten-free fresh burrito! A little pricier then I like to spend on breakfast but well work it.  It was filling, flavourful and delicious.

My next and quite possibly most favourite stops at the market was Alli’s Fresh Baked Goods table (find her and her happy hubby at 1738 St. Clair West). Available are some of the best fresh baked breads, including gluten-free and vegan options but she is really best known for her cinnamon buns!

There I enjoyed a vegan/gluten-free brownie but I usually love to buy her nature cookies, hearty, healthy and yummy!

Ms. Scarlet had a marvelous time as well.  She not only got a 2-hour walk/run in but had the opportunity to scour the market grounds for food.  That is one happy puppy!
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