Sunday, January 10, 2010

WASTE NOT, REUSE, REPURPOSE, RECYCLE...

Some ramblings on this topic...


While on the treadmill this morning, I noticed one of the gym's televisions sporting a bar graph displaying that America's unemployment statistics are still at about 10%. I have friends who have lost jobs, and know of many other cyber friends who are struggling financially.

The Green movement is so appealing. I helped my older son construct a pamphlet earlier this school year on the billions of water bottles that do not end up being recycled, but rather clog our landfill instead. I hope that people are beginning to "wake up" to the reality of (and the enormity of) the waste in our country. We are a "disposable" nation.

Perhaps it is too big a stretch, but with our nation's economy being the way it is and the necessity of living with less, it is my hope that we become more aware of how MUCH we waste (money, time, food, disposable containers, etc). If everyone improved a little in this regard, our planet would be happier.

What I am writing here are just my own little thoughts that have been building up over the past year or so....a gradual AWARENESS of how wasteful I have been and a slow REFORM of my ways. For example, a year or more ago, if I had a disposable recyclable container while out and about with no recycling container to throw it into, I would likely have simply thrown it in the trash. Now I hang onto it until I can toss it in the proper recycling container. If I had a bunch of potato peelings, I would throw them into the trash. Now I throw them on our mulch pile. And I am more careful with money and food. I save leftover food and transform it into something else. I have nicknamed my husband "The Sweep," because he will take anything leftover for lunch, which also helps us prevent wastefulness and helps with the food budget.

Recently, some of our planting beds died because we had to have our house fumigated (termites were munching through the house in a severe way). Once we cleared the beds out, we began transplanting bushes and plants from overgrown areas, and filled in with some very simple flowers from the Home Depot that cost no more than $20, including mulch. Today I repotted some of my indoor plants, reusing a couple of my old topiary frames I had, so I can recreate these beautiful things on my own. I even made my own window washing solution today with water and vinegar, using a spray bottle from a former life. I know these are just little things, but little things do add up.

My husband harvested about 10 oranges from our tree in the backyard this afternoon (one of which is pictured above) and we got to thinking about growing more of our own produce. Believe me, we have a TINY, SoCal-sized backyard....so it may be difficult to accomplish this, but I think we will give it a try.

The amount of packaging and cardboard used for convenience foods is mind-boggling to me lately. When you stop and think about it all....it is enormous. People sure eat a lot and then we throw the containers away. I might be sounding a bit "granola" here, but I am beginning to understand more completely how much more healthy it is to cook from scratch (no preservatives and fewer containers) and how much less expensive it is to buy in bulk from bins.

So for now, I see that I am on some kind of road to a displeasure with excess. Too much waste, too much stuff, too much fat, too much disregard for the bigger picture. I am not sure where the road will necessarily go from here, but so far, it appears I am on a track that can only help.

Steph.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

PLAN B












I think about Plan B a lot. Life is Plan B....Plan B is what happens to you while you are desperately working on Plan A. Marilu Henner puts this well: "The key to your life is how you deal with Plan B. You can aim for Plan A. You can arrange for Plan A. But "Plan B" is what actually happens to you. It's your resilience in being able to roll with the punches and move on to Plan B that really makes your life."




Though they might seem trivial and unimportant, here are a few blessings in my current life that have resulted from Plan B:




PLAN B currently has me going to LA Fitness INSTEAD of the beautiful Sports Club/LA, which is further from home. The Blessing in this is that, as a result of this change, I have lost 15 pounds because I am now at a gym consistently.


PLAN B is living in a cookie-cutter late 1970's and quite architecturally boring house INSTEAD of my dream cottage with all it's unique vintage charm and of course, an ocean view. The Blessing of this has been that our affordable house has enabled me to work part-time so that I can be home more with our kids. We have also been able to afford home improvements and changes that we might otherwise not have. I have grown to appreciate all that the house has done for my family...shelter, comfort, a nice location, safety, and even some beauty here and there. :)


PLAN B was a different Junior High School for my younger son, when I sadly realized that the award-winning neighborhood school would not be a good fit for him. The Blessing was that he took a risk, auditioned for the School of the Arts, and was accepted into the Visual Arts Conservatory, where he has been thriving and is surrounded by creative souls.


PLAN B is thinking of options for my precious older son that might not include Plan A, which is sending him off to attend a 4 year college. PLAN B is putting my own agenda and selfish goals aside for my child and being happy that he is happy. I've come a long way on this one!!!


I thank God for Plan B. B is for BLESSINGS.


Steph.






Sunday, January 3, 2010

Healthy Cookies





With my goal of improving the family's nutrition in mind, I have begun, slowly, to creep some alterations and adaptations in amoungst the usual. Am I STEALTH or what? :)
Today I decided to start with something easily devoured in my home....cookies! I chose a typical, traditional peanut butter cookie recipe and replaced the white flour with 100% whole wheat flour, used egg whites for the egg, and replaced the peanut butter and sugars with organic versions of the same. Once I had tasted the dough, I decided that it needed a little oomph and added about a cup of chocolate chips. Voila!
More later,
Steph.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010





HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Christmas was a nice celebration for me this year. My husband, kids and I attended an evening church service at Saddleback Church on Christmas Eve, followed by a very fun dinner out at the Olde Shipe, a British style restaurant and pub which was fabulously decorated for the occasion (complete with party favors). The food was a bit unusual for the kids since it is completely authentic, but they enjoyed it almost as much as my husband and I. Following a relaxed Christmas at our home the next day, we drove to northern California to see my parents and sisters and then went on to lovely Carmel for 2 very short days. It was absolutely gorgeous there. While in NorCal, I had lunch with two of my very dear high school friends. More of that needs to happen! :)

But on to the New Year and a new decade! My goals for this year are Nutrition, Organization and FUN. These are family goals. I cannot say how nice it is to not have this looming New Year's Resolution hanging over my head of "I need to lose X pounds....blah, blah." This year I am in good shape in that department (YAY), although I have to be very careful since I have this annoying love of baking. :) When I reach my goal weight (should be soon) I need to post what I have done to achieve this feat. :) I am always encouraged when I read about how someone has lost weight, particularly when they are in the over 40 category!

Yesterday we took the tree and all the Christmas decorations down and I just got on a roll and started moving and rearranging furniture. I have NEVER liked my living room furniture, color scheme or art very much, having inherited quite a bit of it from Rich's family, and the room is a bit awkward with a piano taking over precious wall space. Our house is a very open concept (leaving little privacy or silence) but, what it lacks in coziness it makes up for in visual freedom and expansiveness. By the end of yesterday, I had coerced my husband into moving some art and shopped the house for new accessories and viola! A change was made. I will post pictures later. It's not hugely exciting, but it doesn't take much for me to get excited about "house stuff."

Once the living room looked vastly improved (having spent not one dime!), I set about replanting one of the flower beds in the front, where some flowers and small bushes had died when we had our house tented 2 weeks ago. For 35 bucks and a lot of elbow grease, I transplanted some other items, and added to them and it now looks so much happier. I am convinced that gardening can make one feel like a miracle worker at times.

I also made homemade turkey soup yesterday. I don't know how I fit that in! Finally, my husband took me to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie and for coffee. We both really enjoyed it. Robert Downey Jr is amazing in the role!

So that is my New Year update. I hope to write more this year, although doing it as a daily task seems a bit daunting, particularly when I have psychological reports, mental health referrals and counseling goals and planning to attend to. But I do love it. Other than my love for people (especially those of the nice, kind variety), some loves that have been constant for me are cycling, dogs, music, decorating, gardening, and..........writing.

HAPPY 2010!

Steph.

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