Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Morning Bike Ride

Now that Spring is really here (not "spring a-la-winter"), I'm starting to incorporate a morning bike ride. I like the gym - we used to belong to one. But we've decided to spend our money on other priorities during the warmer months. Besides, I think the fresh air does me some good, especially when I'm indoors at my office job all day.

Office life during Spring & Summer: no bueno.

I got the bike last year via a barter and have been enjoying it ever since. Luckily, we live near a lake that I can zip around in about 20 - 30 minutes. Here are a few pictures from the other morning:

Here's another view:Lest you presume I live in a wooded wonderland, here's a reality check. The bridge I have to cross is jammed with traffic during rush hour:

Oh well. I cross it as fast as I can.

Want to learn more about making your exercise routine more green? Read more here and here.

I liked belonging to a gym - we'll join again someday. But for now I'll enjoy the fresh morning air while I can take advantage of these precious warm days!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Week 39 - Bean Challenge: 1 Dinner a Week

I'm picking up the bean challenge gauntlet again. I've recently missed several weeks of bean-centric dinners. Oddly enough, no complaints from the family about lack of beans.

You can make this dinner pretty fast: Black Bean & Corn Salad with Butternut Squash Ravioli.

First complaint was from daughter: "I don't like ravioli!"
Second complaint from son: "This ravioli is yucky!"
In the ravioli's defense, it was pretty good. I'm guessing they weren't into the nutmeg that was listed in the ingredients.

You can't please everybody.

Here's the Black Bean & Corn Salad recipe. I made a kid's version without red pepper & garlic & onions. That would have sent them over the edge.

Try it slightly chilled, with lettuce and topped with Avocado. Sorry, I don't measure, so my recipe is a bit vague.

Black Bean & Corn Salad
(Adult Version)

Thawed Frozen Corn
Black Beans (if canned, rinsed & drained)
Fresh Garlic to taste
Purple Onion, finely diced
Red Bell Pepper, chopped
Fresh cherry tomatoes
Red Wine Vinegar
Olive Oil
Fresh Parsley
Salt & Pepper to taste

My husband said to me, "I really admire you. You know the kids won't like it, but you keep trying anyhow."

I think he was trying to be nice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

3 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

April 22nd is Earth Day. Here are 3 simple ways to celebrate!

  • Turn off the lights during the day on April 22nd and rely on the sun for your light. Give the planet a rest. This tip compliments of my 5 year-old. (Did I mention I like her preschool?)

  • Eat vegetarian for a day. Vegetarian diets use fewer resources from the earth. Be adventurous! Try a vegetarian meal that you've never tried before.

  • Take a few minutes to find out where to recycle old batteries, instead of throwing them in the trash.

Any other ideas? How will you celebrate?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I must have seafood on the brain today. Last night, I watched Deadliest Catch for the first time ever. Fascinating – it’s easy to see why fishers have the number one deadliest job in America.

Which leads me to my next seafood point – usually I bring my lunch to work, but today I decided eat in the cafeteria. A rare treat - if you consider eating in your workplace cafeteria a “treat”. Pan-fried tilapia with wasabi sauce was on the menu.  I love fish.  I certainly don't eat enough of it these days.

Which leads me to my final seafood point: Do you know about You can download their 2009 pocket guide that can “help you choose ocean-friendly seafood wherever you live or travel”. Just print it (or access via mobile), put it in your wallet and refer to it the next time you are eating seafood. The guide classifies seafood as: Best Choices, Good Alternatives, & Avoid.

By the way, tilapia (farmed) is classified as a “Best Choice”. I didn’t know that before; it’s good information to have.  And if you're sushi inclined (I'm not...I wish I was cooler), enjoy the sushi guide.  Bon appetit! 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Motivation: Lacking, Gaining, Jury Still Out

Since our family is nearing a state of potential transition (husband's job search is picking up lately), change is in the air. I'm distracted - my motivation on different efforts is waxing and waning. Here are some things I've been thinking about lately.

Motivation: Subject 1 - "Lacking"

Bean Challenge Update: The most recent bean dinner was polenta and black bean patties. This was the general recipe:
1/2 tube of polenta
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 egg
bread crumbs
Diced red pepper, onions, sauteed
Salt & Pepper to taste
other seasonings, if you wish

Make patty shapes and pan fry.

Interesting flavor...but not quite a home run!

As you may know from a previous post, I'm not exactly keeping up with my weekly full-steam-ahead bean challenge approach. I still eat beans often - lately it's been opening a quality can filled with the organic variety, rinsing them off, and putting them in a salad for lunch. I love them, I really do. But the predictable objections from my daughter and the (hidden) disappointment from my husband that these bean dinners create is NOT motivating. So, dear family - a little more support please!

Motivation: Subject 2 - "Gaining"
We Joined a Co-op
We paid $75 recently a joined a co-op. The $75 makes us an owner/investor, so we get some benefits, such as:
  • a 10% discount once per quarter
  • a refund of profits based on our purchases for the year
  • a vote on co-op issues (not exactly sure what comes up - should be interesting)
Another one of our 2009 goals accomplished. The co-op is shiny, new, big, and not too far from my neighborhood. A nice surprise - my receipt states at the bottom the percentage of local goods that I purchased during that trip. My first trip - 27% was local. What a great motivator to increase the percentage. Truly - if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it!

Motivation: Subject 3 - "The Jury's Still Out"
Mapquest - How much will that trip cost me?
Have you see Mapquest's little button that allows you to calculate the cost of a trip, based on your specific car's MPG?

After getting driving directions, click the "fuel costs" button and it will let you calculate based on your best MPG guess.

Or get more specific when you create an AOL account (AOL...why? I don't know - they're snoopy). It will base the cost on the specific car info (year/make/model) you enter.

This could be a motivator if you're trying to save fuel AND money. I know I was recently horrified to learn the monthly gas cost of my husband's potentially long commute. I'm OK with being scared - I prefer to be fully informed.

How about you? Motivated or distracted?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cul-De-Sac Commune?

It was just a matter of time before I wrote about communes. Driving home today I heard this story on NPR: A Social Experiment: Communes in Cul-De-Sacs. The belief is living communally is an idea that is too good to waste. Commune is defined simply as 'a community where resources are shared'. Some of the main points of this story are:
  • You don't have to buy stuff in order to be "green" (a Prius or a flourescent lightbulb)
  • Stay at home and share - you don't have to leave your neighborhood to start a commune
  • Everyone can save time and resources by sharing with your friends and neighbors

Here's the organization Wanna Start a Commune? and their pamphlet on how to start one. I love looking at the plans of these 'culdesac commune' pilot projects in Los Angeles - especially the Salsa Dancing Lessons area (and don't forget Rodent Control).

In case you're wondering, you don't have to be a hippie to live in a commune (according to the FAQs)

I like it. What do you think?