Tag Archive | "Organic"

enjoying the holidays

This post was a goodie from last year.  Since today is December 1st, and most of you have already started shopping, decorating, and have a never ending to-do list I though I’d remind you of some of the lessons I learned from Lori Rivas last year.  Enjoy!   :)

I’ve always loved the Christmas season.

Burl Ives and Amy Grant sing the Christmas song track in my mind. I handmade Christmas cards for everyone in my 8th grade class; decorated a box of gingerbread men for each class in 9th grade. Ask my college buddies — upon returning from Thanksgiving break, my dorm room was fully decked out with ornaments and tinsel. I collect Christmas albums like others gather trinkets. Our everyday dishes feature Christmas trees. I am a little bit of a Christmas nut, and yet, visit my house – no outside lights, no trinkets, no fresh cut tree. Trust me, the decorations are under-whelming.

Are you enjoying this holiday season? Are you filled with joy and cheer and goodwill?

Or are you overbooked, stressed and irritable?

Is this what December feels like to you? I get tense and agitated just watching this commercial. Who wants to celebrate the holidays like that?

You could just sit and chill, relax, enjoy your family, reflect on the meaning of the holidays, pick and choose those activities which are meaningful and enjoyable to you.

Because your family and friends want you, not all those holiday accouterments.

I think that we get sucked into all the shopping and decorations and festivities and parties because, heck, the holidays only come around once a year, and we think that if we don’t take advantage of the fun now, today, then we’ll miss out for a whole ‘nother year.

But, guess what? Every day of your life, every moment, only comes around once in your lifetime.

Do you want to spend the poignant moments of December stressed and spread thin, or do you want to enjoy the company of loved ones, and build relationships with your children and family?

So, pare down. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. The only holidays “musts” are those which you impose upon yourself.

Be comfortable having folks over to your house “as is.” Seriously. Do you want to re-enforce a Martha Stewart standard of perfection on your friends, or would you rather be real with your friends, sharing life and love, dirty laundry and all?

And those gifts – all those holiday sales are just a manipulative marketing plan to sell you more stuff. Check out this recent article from the Los Angeles Times.

Chill, my friend. Enjoy the wonder of Christmas. Eat a cookie, drink some eggnog, listen to some holiday music and celebrate the joy of the season.

Black Dog Ginger Cookies

a healthier adaption

These cookies are an annual favorite at our house.

1/2 c. coarsely chopped fresh ginger

1 1/2 cups safflower oil

3 cups Sucanat, plus 1 cup for rolling dropped cookie dough

3/4 c fair trade organic molasses

3 free range eggs

1 1/2 t. Celtic sea salt

1 T cinnamon

5 1/4 t. baking soda

3/4 t. ground cloves

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

3 1/2 cups almond flour

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Mix fresh ginger with 1/2 cup of oil in a food processor until well minced.

In a large mixing bowl, blend 3 cups of the Sucanat, molasses and eggs.

Strain the mixed ginger/oil mixture, reserving the liquid (unless you like a
really spicy cookie, then leave the ginger in the oil). Add this liquid,
plus the remaining cup of oil to the egg mixture and blend until smooth.

In a separate bowl, mix together the salt, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves and flour.

Add the dry mix to the wet mix and blend well.

Either line your cookie sheets with parchment paper, or grease with butter.

Scoop the cookie dough by teaspoonfuls and roll in the reserved cup of Sucanat.

Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the tops crack and the cookies are flat.

Makes about 8 dozen cookies.


Lori Rivas, organic homeschooling mama to 4 great kids

photo credits:
Photo by Weslie and Chelsey Totten
ginger cookies image from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/ginger-cookies-recipe/index.html

Posted in Organic MomsComments (0)

the circle of life

Sing it…I know you want to sing it.

Did you catch the gardening bug from my last post?

Did you enter to win some of my seeds? I know that Miz Heather B. entered the contest, cuz she WON! I’ll send you the seeds this week, missy!

Guess what…there’s MORE!

I have MORE organic gardening tips!

Organic gardening is more than just growing from organic seeds. To optimize produce nutrients, you must also garden in organic soil. There are books and studies and tests and scientific data on developing the perfect soil, but, as I said before, I am a gardening hobbyist…I only play at gardening. So, if you are looking for the latest and greatest, guaranteed perfect soil recommendations, you can just stop reading now. Because I know nothing of such things.

What I DO know is that gardening soil must be vibrant, and alive…it must have nutrients and minerals…it must be a welcome environment for worms and fungi and bacteria and any number of small and microscopic creatures, all of which can d.i.e. under chemical assault.

Enter: composting

Composting is a form of recycling, in which plant material is allowed to decay back into soil. Most composters have a designated bin, and, again, there are classes, and studies, and formulas, and paraphernalia to establish a successful compost heap.

I don’t have the space for a compost heap. I am not interested in the classes. I don’t want to spend money on more stuff.

I bury my raw, organic produce clippings straight into the ground.

Think of vegetable clippings as solid sunshine: a plant converted all that sunshine into something edible, tangible, solid. Doesn’t it seem wasteful to throw away solid sunshine?

Besides, you already paid for the produce. Just because you aren’t going to eat the carrot tops doesn’t mean that carrot greens are trash: raw produce clippings are chock full of nutrients and cellulose, which are vital to soil health.

Why buy a bag of organic soil when you are throwing away organic produce clippings? Talk about paying for something twice.

I keep a large bowl on my kitchen counter, and throughout the day, the bowl gets filled with apples cores, banana peels, onion skins, carrot tops, even egg shell. When the bowl is full (read: overflowing onto the counter), I bury it somewhere in the yard. Then worms and other creatures move in, and within 2 months, break down the compost into beautiful, dark, organic soil.

Parts of my yard that previously would not grow anything, now overflow with vibrant plants. I’ve even harvested potatoes and beets from my compost!

Plus, see the extra thing you are doing here? Recycling. Reducing your waste. Less trash is going to the dump. How can you go wrong? Check out this site for some inspiration.

Perfect French Fries

4-5 organic potatoes
olive oil
Celtic sea salt

Pre-heat oven to 350*F.
Cut potatoes into 1/2″ strips. Toss with enough olive oil to lightly
coat. Spread potatoes evenly on baking sheet, single layer only.
Sprinkle with Celtic sea salt.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven, turn with a spatula, and return to oven.
Bake for another 10 minutes.
Remove from oven, turn with a spatula, and return to oven.
Bake for another 7-8 minutes, until cooked through and crispy.

My family does the happy dance when I make these French fries, saying these
fries are the best, ever!

PS For the brave of heart, check out this article.

Lori Rivas, organic homeschooling mama to 4 great kids

Posted in FMFK Blog Team, Organic MomsComments (2)

my life is messy

My life is messy.

Lest you think otherwise, because I am so witty and eloquent with my words, let me re-assure you that, indeed, my life is messy.

My house is messy.

My relationships are messy.

My family is messy.

My thoughts are messy.

My spiritual life is messy.

My physical body is messy.

My finances are messy.

My diet is messy.

My morality is messy.

In short, I am a mess.

Oh sure, I do a fairly decent job of presenting a good front. I look like I have it all together. I think about things, I have high aspirations, I read, I homeschool, I write, I am a community activist, I love my husband and he loves me, my kids are a delight.

All this goodness is in spite of my messy self.

Allow me to walk you through my day, backwards:

Currently, I am watching videos and drinking a glass of red wine, while my husband is tucking in the younger two.

*I* am not putting the younger kids to bed because I am irritable and it shows. Thus, the wine.

Before the wine, I ate a big bowl of roasted potatoes and vegetables, heavy on the starch, light on greens, lest you think better of me. Sure, it was all organic. Sure, I made it from scratch for today’s lunch. But did I need to eat a bowl of cold potatoes at 9PM? Um, no. Again, messy.

When I returned home from running errands, my girl looked very sick, and said she had the worst headache ever. My husband said he had just given her ibuprofen. I asked, logically, since it was 6PM, “has she eaten dinner?” No, came his reply. “Did she eat lunch?” …same answer. Lastly, I ask my dear, sweet, patient, saint of a husband, “what did she eat for breakfast?” He couldn’t remember. Well, ladies, you can guess that at this point, out comes the bitchy wife, and I am rolling my eyes all the way to China, and sighing until my lungs ache for breath, while I FEED my daughter.

I wasn’t very nice, and my husband graciously avoided me for a bit.

Let’s see…what else…

I went to Starbucks and had a slice of lemon pound cake and a double espresso. With two sugar packets. And a buttload of half and half. That was lunch.

The morning was filled with complaining about housework, being short with my kids, sarcastic about a relative, self-righteous about my opinions, and so on.

What could prompt such a seemingly awful day? For starters, I slept until 9AM and lounged in bed while my husband got up with the younger kids. Plus, my husband brought me tea in bed. Plus he pawed at me, expressing his never ending desire to love and enjoy me.

Yup. Pretty crappy beginning of the day. No wonder I was a crab and made life miserable for my loved ones (insert sarcastic face here).

I share this all to let you know that I struggle. I am fully human. I may have this opportunity to publish my thoughts, to wax poetic about the virtues of organic living, which may give the impression that my life is neatly packaged, but I have *SO* not arrived.

I am one woman, one mom, trying to make sense of this crazy world, hoping to make amends for my mistakes, praying for mercy, and clinging to hope for my dear life.

Life isn’t like a book. Life isn’t logical or sensible or orderly. Life is a mess most of the time.
And theology must be lived out in the midst of that mess.
– Chuck Colson, from his book Loving God

Roasted Potatoes

4-5 red or Russet potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes
1 bell pepper (any color), finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
handful of fresh herbs, chopped (rosemary, thyme, or another hearty herb)
3T olive oil (approximate)
Celtic sea salt

Preheat oven to 425*F.

On a baking sheet, toss potatoes, bell peppers, onions and herbs with olive oil, until all veggies are lightly coated. Spread evenly on the baking sheet — it should be one layer, only. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove pan, and mix veggies on baking sheet. Return to oven, and bake another 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.

Adjust seasonings, and enjoy!

Lori Rivas, organic homeschooling mama to 4 great kids

photo credits:
messy lady image from: http://www.picturesof.net/pages/100608-004190-954053.html
roasted potatoes from: http://dietrecipesblog.com/2008/07/25/spicy-roasted-potatoes-recipe-177-calories/

Posted in FMFK Blog Team, Organic MomsComments (11)

no toothpaste, no cavities

Yep. That’s right. No toothpaste in our house. And no cavities, either.

Hasn’t always been this way, though. We used toothpaste in the past, gobs of it…I would buy tubes of it, on sale, by the dozen.

My kids also used to have cavities. Gobs of them. At every 6 month visit, there would be another dental cary to drill and fill.  Same story of all four kids. As young as two years old, even, my kids had cavities. My daughter had a tooth pulled when she was six.

Yes, we brushed our kids teeth. Yes, we flossed our kids teeth. No, we did not dine on pure sugar. No, we did not even keep soda in the house.

Our diet was pretty typical, I think, though with a slant towards plenty of fresh produce. Cold cereal for breakfast (not the sugary kind, mostly plain, puffed wheat or brown rice). Sandwiches, fruit and milk for lunch (whole wheat bread, not the white stuff). Homemade dinner, with fast food about once a week. Sugary snacks in moderation. You get the idea. Pretty typical. Seemed fairly healthy.

But those darn cavities would show up at every dental check-up. I hated that, and felt like a mom failure. What had I missed?

The dentist said we were doing all the right things, but she suggested that we switch to the SoniCare toothbrush. Which we did. That was an investment.

Then I did some general Google searching on tooth care. Did you know that:

– brushing is what cleans teeth, not the toothpaste?
– toothpaste is full of chemicals
– the benefits of fluoride are controversial
– cavities are holes made by bacteria
– bacteria feeds on sugar

I reasoned I could manage oral hygiene without the chemicals, so with my dentist’s blessing, we put the kibosh on toothpaste.

We also cut out all processed sugar. All of it. There is no processed sugar in my house. No sugar = no food for bacteria = a clean mouth.

Before you think that we are Spartans, let me reassure you that we do eat sweet treats. We have weekly Sunday sundaes; we have chocolate cake (or brownies). We eat pancakes and waffles, both with syrup. I make muffins and cobblers and more. We are not a sweet-deprived family.

We just don’t use processed sugars. We use Sucanat. And raw honey. And pure, Grade B maple syrup. All organic, by the way.

So, what is the difference?

Sucanat, for example, is dehydrated juice from the sugar cane. No processing, just drying, so that the end product retains all the minerals and fiber from the original plant. Do you know why white sugar is white? Not only is the sugar cane juice processed and filtered, but it is also bleached, just like your laundry.

Sucanat has a light molasses flavor, which especially compliments chocolate desserts. I use Sucanat 1:1 in any recipe that calls for sugar.

But getting back to the dentist….

Before we stopped toothpaste, and before we eliminated processed sugars, one of my children had a small cavity between two molars — not big enough to drill out, but enough for the dentist to watch.

At our first six month check-up post toothpaste, no cavities.

A year later, no cavities.

Eighteen months later, still no cavities.

Two years later, you guessed it, no cavities.

This is monumental for us, given that my kids routinely had cavities at every six month dentist appointment, while using toothpaste and eating refined sugars in moderation.

I’ll even add that my teeth no longer have a layer of sticky, morning gunk. My breath is fresher. Can you imagine fresh breath without minty toothpaste? It’s true.

But the real kicker? You know that cavity that the dentist was watching?

It died. The bacteria had no food on which to thrive. The tooth is regenerating itself.

Which toothpaste can claim that?

Recipe for clean teeth and fresh breath

– brush 2x/day with SoniCare toothbrush (no toothpaste)
– floss daily with Desert Essence floss, with tea tree oil
– for fuzzy teeth, dip toothbrush in a pinch of Celtic sea salt, and brush (no more than 1x/week)
– mouth wash to be used, as needed: mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water, swish in mouth for as long as you can, spit out, and rinse with water. This mouthwash must be made as needed, since the hydrogen peroxide deteriorates when exposed to light.

Lori Rivas, organic homeschooling mama to 4 great kids

photo credits
kids brushing teeth from: jamesrouts.wordpress.com/
toothpaste warning from: examiner.com/x-10728-Twin-Cities-Water-Examiner~y2009m5d30-Top-Ten-Worst-Contaminants-in-Minneapolis-Tap-Water
Spongebob from: neatsolutions.com/ProductsBooks/BeholdNoCavaties.html
smiling shark from: futureupdate.wordpress.com/2009/08/04/performing-shark-kills-trainer-at-sea-world/
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Posted in FMFK Blog Team, News, Organic MomsComments (11)

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