Monthly Archives: September 2010

Question(s) of the Day

Why do I do what I do? (Be it a job, full time mothering, a professional association we belong to, volunteering, etc.).

Is it working for me?

How would the world change if each of us asked ourselves this question upon rising every day, and were willing to be brutally honest. If you found something wasn’t working, what changes would you begin to make in your life, to maximize your happiness each day?

Gone fishin'

I’d love to hear from you~!


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October Reader Challenge

We pass for what we are – Emerson

Challenge of the month….

Who are you and what do you value, based solely on how you spend your time and money?

I could make a long list of my personal values and priorities. These include spending quality time with my son, adventure, freedom, financial independence, personal development, good health, having time to be creative, building community, giving to others, eating a vegan diet, and so forth.

However, if I examine the last 7 days I spent here on earth, I might find that my activities fail to reflect my values. Or they may exceed my values! In other words, I may find that I spent a lot more time watching television than engaging with my teenager.

My son and I at a friend's spectacular wedding.

October’s challenge is to conduct a personal time-study over a one week period. Estimate the hours you spent doing various activities. Include everything from working, housecleaning, exercise, shopping, watching television, and paying bills, to playing with your kids, surfing the net, and eating out. Are you spending time doing those things you enjoy and value most? No matter what they are? If you LOVE Monday night football on your flat screen television, then knock yourself out..enjoy it! But if you work 40 hours at a job you hate in order to have purchased that $4,000 television, you might want to re-think it…

Think about how you spent your money over the last week, too. Where’d it all go? Did you spend money on eating out or cooking, cable television or a gym membership, on yourself or your family, on art supplies or books? How you spend your money tells you a lot about your living values, not just who you strive to be. Did you spend much more on debt that you’d like to admit? I know I did!

Who are you today? What did you learn about yourself by taking this personal inventory? Please share your experiences in the comments section of this post. And check out our challenge page to see why you should participate!

Look for my next blog, where I begin to share my own personal inventory around…yikes…money!


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Being, not Buying

As our blog has evolved from crafts, to food politics, to recipes, to weekend activities, the underlying theme remains, “How to have fun (and learn and grow) on a budget”. A theme prompted both by the necessity of our economic situations, as well as a desire to consume less, and to find alternative ways to entertain ourselves (and learn and grow), while also being creative (and apparently writing run-on sentences!).

So, you ask, “How DO you keep yourselves entertained, growing and laughing on a near-zero budget?” Well, my friends, let me give you some examples.

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m obsessed with Frida Kahlo. So, despite my Gringa appearance, I took advantage of Noel’s Mexican heritage to transform us into Frida and Diego for Halloween last year. Ironically, all she had to do was put on some clothes from her own closet, and a sun hat from mine (ah, my adorable Diego)…And sad to say, my entire costume was also in my closet….except for the fabulous red skirt purchased at the “Bargain Boutique”, a thrift store where I used to buy my doll clothes when I was 11, with babysitting money!

Play dress-up!  It's free

Noel tends to be the idea person, like, “Let’s make aviator hats out of Goodwill clothing!”, while I am good at executing and directing our projects, “Honey, you cut, I’ll stitch”. And in the case of this blog, she set it up and I seem to be the sole authoress, which makes her vulnerable to my posting unflattering pictures of her, but I digress.

Simply put, we’re a great team.

So what have I learned from our year of adventures thus far?

Did you know that the library has lots of fine DVDs, including documentaries, foreign films, and major releases? I mean, whoever tires of seeing Barton Fink or Pulp Fiction? Music of all genres can also be found at the library. Oh, and books, yes books…I’ve made it my mission to reduce the number of book boxes I’ll need to pack for the next move. Having learned to delay gratification just a bit, I now borrow nearly all the books I read from the library (Noel taught me how to navigate the on-line library system, and most books can be ordered and/or placed on hold, if I’m just willing to wait a bit). The Seattle library system often has great speakers. Again, all this for free (or at least prepaid by our tax dollars at work)!

Forget the gym membership. Just learn how to cook. Listen, Mexican dishes are hard to make from scratch (our grammas didn’t need to go to the gym…they hand-kneaded their own masa, after grinding the corn into meal), but it’s well worth the time and effort. And if you think of it as a fun project, in and of itself, then you’ll enjoy more than just the end product!

I’ve become a blog junkie, be it raw foods, vegetarian sites, spirituality, art, social activism. All free, 24/7, educational, and entertaining. I even found a really great “silly art” on-line class that I’m currently taking…$25 for four weeks, and 30 innovative assignments…I’m having a ball! (See side bar for some of my latest assignments).

Eating simple is not necessarily less expensive, although it’s a lot of fun, you’ll feel great, and it’s a creative endeavor, in the face of all the processed food that’s out there. Eating raw is expensive, believe it or not, and really time-consuming, if you want to eat anything other than salads and fruits. I for one, did not lose any weight on the 90% raw diet, which may be attributable to the pounds of nuts, seeds, raw oils, raw butters, and avocados which I decided had to be a mainstay of my diet. Oh, and raw cheese. Delish! All that said, eating raw moved me more in the direction of vegan eating (no meat, next to no dairy), and I feel good about that. AND I still incorporate as much raw food into my diet as possible (around 50%) to help those digestive enzymes, to keep my digestion in good working order, and to obtain unparalleled nutrition not found in cooked and processed foods.

The Olympic Game Farm (safari) was worth every dollar of the $20 we spent on admission. Both terrifying and hilarious at the same time, but cheaper than parachuting or sky-diving.

Yes, we really do use the silly cloth sandwich bags that we made out of fabric remnants in the back of my closet.

Baking homemade pies with blackberries hand-picked on the hiking trail is both extremely rewarding and delicious! The trick? Lots of sugar and lemon zest!

Enter local contests! It’s free and very fun!

Vancouver, B.C. is an even better city to visit when you have a free hotel voucher.

Swimming at Lake Washington is free, and exhilarating, on the 3 days a year that it’s possible, with inclement Seattle weather. Fortunately, on the one year anniversary of the day Noel and I met at Lake Washington, we had the annual heat wave, and so spent it at Madison Park, basking in the sun and bobbing on our floaties, reminiscing about the last year’s adventures.


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Today’s inexpensive, stay-at-home, rainy-day activity? Making tamales from scratch. Now we know why our grandmothers didn’t need to go the gym. Cooking was their workout! After a few tips from Noel’s gramma on the telephone (remember our chile rellenos?) we commenced our project.

We made vegetarian tamales; the filling was a mix of sauteed corn, cilantro, diced red peppers, diced green tomatoes (from my own garden), onion, cumin, salt, and salsa verde. I put some green olives in mine, which I’d had years ago, and loved.

Enjoy the show….! They were delicious…so delicious we forgot to take final photos….I’ll shoot some when we have leftovers tomorrow, promise! Jack even joined us for a masa spreading lesson, and agreed they were quite good!

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Ever feed a buffalo?

….We did!

Looking for something really unique to do? Drive up to Sequim and go to the Olympic Wild Game Farm to feed a buffalo. And a zebra. And a Tibetan Yak or two! And a white deer. Maybe an elk.

What a blast…I haven’t laughed so much in a long time…scary as all get-out to have a humongous beast stick its entire head inside your car window to eat out of your hand. And quite forcefully, I might add. Bison have very long tongues! And very wet mouths. At one point, two Tibetan Yaks teamed up to block us from driving through a narrow gate, until they were satiated.

I know, it’s still sort of like a zoo, and I can’t really justify it if you are against zoos in general, but if it makes you feel better (it did, me)…it’s really an animal refuge for sick and aging animals who couldn’t make it in the wild. There, see how much better you feel?

Enjoy our pics.


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A silly little luxury

When I go to the movies, I usually bring my own sea salt in a little baggy – yes, I’m a salt snob…I hate iodized salt!

On a short getaway to Vancouver a few weeks ago, I came across this little gizmo in a funky, cluttered curiosity shop in the Gaslight district. This little salt grinder is only 3″ tall, and is perfect for stashing in my purse for a trip to the movies (and for dining in restaurants, I might add!).

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White Bean Dip

This looks delicious! A great vegan meal to be sure…

Roasted Yellow Pepper and White Bean Dip
(my version of the FoodiePrints Dip)

1 can of white beans (Or if you are soaking your beans, one very large handful of dried)
1 yellow bell pepper, roasted, skin removed
1/3 cup cashews, roasted
1/3 cup canola oil
Espelette Pepper
Juice of half a lemon
2 cloves of garlic
Siracha to taste
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
(I also added some leftover smoked tomato compote from last night and it was heavenly!!!)

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