‘Tis in Season Challenge

To help me aid in my weight loss, I downloaded an app called Lose It!. It’s your usual food and exercise log and also taps into the “Health” app included on iOS where it records your daily steps. This app also features Challenges.

Today I joined a challenge called “‘Tis in Season”. The person who logs the most vegetables before the end of June wins. Yes, I did join late, but I feel like that will only help me get further ahead!

Because of this, I went to the store today and bought tons of veggies. I’m so excited to snack on carrots and peppers and celery and much more. I’ve already taken simple carbohydrates out of my diet and have eliminated most “unnatural” ingredients. Whatever I put in my body, 95% of the time I know exactly what is in it.

So for dinner tonight, I made salmon and mashed cauliflower. Unfortunately, I devoured it before I took a photo. Still, I’d love to share the recipe!

For the salmon, I keep it pretty simple:

Preheat ove to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Season salmon with Himalayan pink salt, cayenne pepper, dill, and lemon. I use lemon slices but lemon juice will work too.

Bake salmon for 20-25 minutes.

Mashed Cauliflower:

Cut 1 head of cauliflower into small florets. Chop as much garlic as you want, I love garlic so I used 4-5 cloves.

Boil water or stock and add florets, garlic, and rosemary. Boil until florets are fork tender.

Drain the cauliflower, return to the pan or place in a blender. Add your choice of cheese and about a tablespoon of butter. Blend, or use a hand mixer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Such a super simple, delicious, and healthy dinner! I highly recommend you try it out. I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Love and peace,

Stephanie

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Apartment Homesteading

Part of living more simply is self sufficiency – Growing and hunting your own food, composting, recycling, reusing, etc. When most people think of self sufficiency, glamorous images of farmhouses on acres and acres of land drift into their minds. The exact opposite of city living. But, most people don’t realize that there are steps one can take to start a more self sufficient lifestyle, even if they live somewhere as small as an apartment.

I have lived in Wilmington about a year now, and while it’s not my favorite place in the world, I have done more to increase my self sufficiency here than anywhere else I’ve lived. I live in a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment and have already started making the steps and learning skills I’m going to need when I finally do get my dream farmhouse on acres and acres of land!

So what can you do to start a more self sufficient lifestyle today? Here are six simple changes to make:

1. Porch or windowsill garden. I got lucky and my apartment came with a sizable porch. So I have cherokee purple tomatoes, cayenne peppers, strawberries, thyme, basil, rosemary, lavender, and dill growing a couple feet from my front door! Even if you don’t have a large porch, many plants can still grow wonderfully in pots. My neighbors are even garnering and small orange tree, right in a pot! If you only have a windowsill, herbs are so easy to grow, and will save you money. Fresh herbs from the grocery store can be very expensive! They’re almost $5 here at the local grocery store.

2. Composting. This one may be a bit tricky for an apartment, but it’s not impossible! In a well ventilated receptacle, begin composting eggshells, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, and fruit and veggie scraps. This will help your garden, too.

3. Rain bucket. Summers in Wilmington mean brutal storms, so I have a bucket set up on the edge of my porch to collect rainwater. I use it to water my plants!

4. Canning. This is a skill I have not learned yet, but canning in your apartment is totally doable! Research the best way for your living situation, and start preserving your porch harvests!

5. Utilizing local farms and farmer’s markets. Even in cities, sometimes farmland is just a drive away, and farms sometimes sell their goods right from their land! And if not, most cities have a farmers market where you can get fresh, organic produce, eggs, dairy honey, and meat, and you’ll also be supporting local farmers! It’s a win win!

6. Recycling. In my apartment, bottled water is a no-no. But on a recent trip to a farther away beach, I forgot my water bottle and was dying, so I had to buy some at the one gas station during the long drive. While I initially felt bad, I realized I could continue using the bottle afterward. I poked multiple holes in the lid and now I use it as a watering can! Reuse and recycle constantly. I have three bins for plastic, aluminum, and glass that I regularly take to the recycling center.

Here are some shots from my porch:

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Rosemary, Lavender, Thyme, and Spearmint

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Strawberries!

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Basil, Goji Berry, Dill and Peppers

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Closeup of my peppers

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Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

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Eggshells are really good for tomato plants!

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This is my recycling area. It’s a bit cluttered right now but we have aluminum, plastic and glass.

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And my rain collector. It’s empty now, we have a heatwave going on and I’m keeping my plants hydrated, but a storm is probably on it’s way! They usually are.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend! If you’re in my neck of the woods, please stay hydrated and don’t stay out in the sun too long. Be safe!

 

Coughing and Sneezing

I’m usually late for things. I didn’t watch Lost until well after it was over, and I STILL haven’t finished the Harry Potter series (I know).

So, with all that in mind, my body decided to wait until March to bless me with a truly not wonderful sinus infection.

It’s day three of coughing and sneezing and even more gross symptoms. I try very hard not to take pills (I will if I need antibiotics or if a symptom gets so bad I can’t work or function, but if I can get through it without them, I’ll get through it.) Day three has been a little kinder to me. I’ve been healing and feeling much better, and here’s why.

I’ve been using Apple Cidar Vinegar and cayenne pepper to my advantage. Mix 1-2 teaspoons of ACV with warm water, as a couple dashes of cayenne, a squeeze of lemon, and either raw honey, 100% maple syrup, or some stevia to take the edge off. It will definitely help to clear out those sinuses!

The other thing I’ve been using is what I call “Spicy Health Soup”. My boyfriend came up with it. It’s pretty simple, really, just use organic chicken or vegetable broth, an entire globe of chopped garlic (a globe is the whole head, cloves are the individual pieces), an entire onion, some chopped carrots, celery, and any kind of spicy pepper you want. We used habanero, but its up to you! Add in healing herbs like rosemary, bring to a boil, boil for about five minutes, lower the heat and let it sit for about thirty minutes so the flavors all come together.

Serve and let the healing begin! It’s good the keep a tissue box nearby, cause both the soup and the drink can and will make your nose run., which is half the point. The other half is that these recipes are chock full of antioxidants and ingredients full of healing power.

Be well!

Yumday – Breaking Bread

I had such dreams for today. Such wild, unattainable dreams. I wanted to get up, work out, organize the whole apartment, and create a Yumday post fit for kings.

Well, we can’t always get what we want, can we?

I got up, realized my Yumday prep last night didn’t work, did some research, began to fix it, worked out, Justin left for work, began more Yumday prep, began multitasking, ruined my kitchen, Justin came home from work early and made food that I gave into, we got tired, took a nap, and…well…now I’m here.

Some days, things just happen. Am I right?

So…I’m going to save some Yumday for tomorrow. But still report on the one thing I did do today.

Today I attempted baking my own bread in my crock pot. I already feel like a failure at it, even though I didn’t fail, because it’s not organic and probably not eco friendly…but I made it anyway because I’m out of bread and the few dollars I do have I’d rather spend on gas to get to work.

I followed the basic directions from Home Ready Home and tweaked it a little bit because I didn’t have everything needed – like sugar, and parchment paper. So I didn’t use sugar, and used aluminum foil instead. I know, I’ve read some pretty shady things about aluminum foil, but it’s all I had and until next month my budget is as slim as a razor.

So after mixing and kneading and hating myself and then consoling myself, I plopped my ball of dough into the crockpot and waited. And waited. And waited. And checked. And attempted to use my old camera instead of my phone. And waited.

This was my result:

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I had to broil it after I took it out of the crock pot because the crust wasn’t very brown on the top.

So I cautiously cut a slice – It was a little bit crumbly – and topped it with some adzuki beans (more on adzuki tomorrow).

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And I took a bite.

It’s actually pretty delicious. It tastes like bread. It tastes…homemade. It doesn’t taste commercially made or mass produced, and even though it’s not organic (and soon all my bread will be – once I get my budget straight!), I’m glad I decided to try my hand at baking bread. This will not be the last time. Next time, I may incorporate rosemary and thyme.

This is my tweaked recipe:

 1 (0.25 ounce) package OR 2 ¼ Teaspoons Active Dry Yeast

1 ¼ Cups warm (not hot) water

½ Tablespoon salt

1 Tablespoon shortening

3 Cups unbleached bread flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water, and let stand for ten minutes to proof. Proofing is basically making sure the yeast is good. If there are little bubbles in the water after ten minutes, you’re fine! If not, the dough won’t rise.

Stir in salt and shortening, mixing until dissolved.

Stir in flour, small amounts at a time. Once all the flour is in, knead dough for about five minutes. If it’s still too sticky, add some more flour. Wait until the dough no longer stick to the sides of the bowl you’re working in.

Line crock pot with parchment paper (I used aluminum foil but try to use parchment paper) and turn on high. Roll dough into a ball and place in crock pot. Cover, and let stand.

Cooking times may vary. The original recipe called four about two hours, and mine took about four. Keep a thermometer ready, and wait until it reads between 180 – 200.

Take the bread out, and broil if needed to brown up the crust.

And that’s it! Enjoy your homemade crock pot bread.

I hope everyone had a good weekend! Much love ❤

I’m still here!

I promise I haven’t forgotten about my blog – I’ve just been really busy trying to organize my life and money. I haven’t had much time to record everything I’ve been doing, but I’ll report in now!

My porch garden is still small but after a few tribulations, it seems to be growing well. My basil is shooting up like a kid having a growth spurt, and my thyme and rosemary are as fragrant as ever!

I’m trying to use less paper towels and more washable rags/sponges. Sure, it takes extra time but trees are more important than the convenience paper towels give me. I’d rather have cleaner air.

I’m getting back into the vegetarian groove. Commercially packaged meat is gross and dirty and full of fear and hormones…I’m planning of writing a post more in depth about my feelings about meat, but for now, I’ll just say that the meat found putrefying in grocery stores is unappetizing and makes me want to cry.

I’ve been using this website called FreeRice. There has been a lot of speculation as to whether or not FreeRice actually donates rice to the hungry, but after some research, I personally believe they do the good that they say they do. You answer questions, and every time you get one right, 10 grains are donated through the World Food Programme. Click HERE to try it out! and if anything, you’ll at least learn some new things.

That’s it for now. I’m eating kidney beans sauteed with soy sauce and sriracha. Because I’m poor and I love beans.

More soon! Much love and light,

Stephanie

Yumday

Whew! Sorry for the delay in posts – what a busy week it’s been! I’m in the last few weeks of training at work, balancing my social life with work life and STILL trying to get this apartment organized. I need to up my dumpster diving game because on my budget, even thrift store prices seem a little hefty!

So I want to start something I’ll hopefully be able to keep up every week. I want to call it “Yumday” where every Sunday or Monday I’ll post a yummy, organic, and hopefully all local ingredient recipe!

Today I’ll start with something extremely simply. I call it “Skinny Pizza”.

I love love love love love love love pizza. But I don’t like processed meat, cheese, sauce, dough, or non-organic anything so if I order it or (gasp) buy frozen, that means I’m on a SERIOUS budget! And the calories in pizza, I can’t even…and then you pair it with some cheap beer, you may as well just go eat at KFC!

(I am not judging. The amount of pizza and cheap beer I have consumed, and probably will consume again, in my life is probably enough to feed a small town. Because I am human and imperfect.)

So anyway, Skinny Pizza is something I made on Sunday because I wanted the taste of cheese, tomato and basil in my mouth without having an actual pizza. This is what I did instead:

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I took a piece of organic seed and grain toast from the Great Harvest Bread† Company (I have the Dakota bread. Chock full of grains and seeds!), slapped on some homemade goat cheese, topped it with farm fresh tomatoes, salt, pepper, and organic basil from my porch garden.

Simple. Local. Organic. Easy.

And that’s one of the things I love about “Health Food” – it’s not like you have to go all out. It can be just like this.

So that’s my Yumday post! I’m sure I’ll do something more intricate soon, but let’s start out simple 🙂

Other than that, I’ve been working, tending my porch garden, and reading about Ayurvedic medicine. I WILL be fixing my lip balm soon too.

 

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photo 1I hope everyone has a wonderful week!!

 

Cape Fear River Watch and Farmer’s Market

Now that I live in Wilmington, I’m really excited to get involved with the volunteer opportunities here. And, in light of my determination to go green, reduce my carbon footprint, and help save the planet, Justin and I sacrificed sleeping in this Saturday to help with the Cape Fear River Watch.

Wilmington natives are most likely familiar with this awesome opportunity, but for anyone who isn’t in Wilmington, River Watch is an organization that helps with water and river quality. This particular volunteer program cleans trash out of rivers and riverbanks. I was really excited to see quite a few people there, including my coworker/good friend Allie and her boyfriend Nick! Sticks, bags, and gloves were provided for us. Below are some photos from the morning, taken by Bernie, our motivated and awesome organizer, and Allie! Clicking on the photos will take you to the Cape Fear River Watch Website.

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Allie climbed out first and I followed – My shoe untied and I almost fell in -_-

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I’m particularly happy with my heroic pipeline pose >_>

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We got what we could! There’s still more trash that we couldn’t reach even with the long grabber sticks. This photo unfortunately doesn’t showcase every awesome person who came out. We all kind of got separated and cleaned different spots.

I felt really, really good after this morning! My soul felt good, my body felt good…all was good. After, even though we were wet and soggy, Justin and I hauled over to the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market and we picked up some homemade goat cheese, organic cat nip, corn, okra, rosemary and thyme to plant in pots on the porch, and organic ground goat.

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IMG_4375 The vendors were drool-worthy. I wanted some of the homemade bread but I’m still on a bit of a budget (haven’t gotten my first paycheck yet) so I’ll have to wait, it was a wee bit pricey. But when I have the money, I’ll be purchasing a hand-woven basket, some beeswax candles, and other goodies I can’t wait to get my hands on!

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This is my French thyme and pink rosemary! I wanted to buy out the whole herb vendor. The lady’s prices were amazing and she was so kind and very helpful in giving me advice to start my porch garden. Since taking this photo I have potted the herbs, thanks to my awesome neighbor Angie who has a thriving porch garden!

I actually may have a few more posts born of this weekend. Since our apartment is lined by a bamboo forest, Justin went and foraged some fallen stalks and is currently making them into some sunshades for the porch a gate for the porch! And I’m hoping to experiment with some lip balm making supplies I have but never used!

That’s it for now. I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!