Sunday, May 31, 2009

life2enV project

life2enV: my little birdhouse on Twitpic

Today begins the project... by capturing the moments of my life that I think make it especially wonderful, I hope to improve my own positive outlook and share the beauty of simple images taken on my enV2 personal communication device.

A seasonal shot of this birdhouse, I've taken one monthly since we moved in.

Filtered Water vs Bottled

My hubby used to work for a company that leased Reverse Osmosis "pure water technology" to small businesses. He had access to a TDS (total dissolved solid) meter, and we tested the municipal water, as well as bottled water that is sold on the shelf and through delivery services.

Did you know that spring water is treated with chemicals at the source, brought down in big trucks, then processed for bottling? This means lots of water wasted, and the TDS measures higher than some tap water!

After testing every thing we could get our hands on we discovered that for taste and purity the RO unit won hands down. So we have been using the innards of a machine to filter city water. This cuts down on the cost, saves plastic bottles from being used, and gives us access whenever we need purified water.

The RO process wastes some water. We figured out that it takes 6 gallons of city water to get 1 gallon of purified water for use in our household. The other 5 gallons contain higher levels of solids- although it has been charcoal filtered so it is relatively free from chemicals. The "wasted" water is a by-product condensed from the gallon that is pure (it has something to do with the membrane that separates the solids from the water being unable to extract all the contaminates without water getting through).

We use those extra 5 gallons for maintaining our compost pile, washing our car, mopping the floors and watering the landscape portions of our yard - allowing us to cut down on sprinkler usage and water frequency (living in a rental means we cannot xeriscape & xerogarden as I would prefer to.)

We collect the water in used milk cartons that we have sanitized.

The TOTAL cost per gallon for our delicious purified water? 3 cents.
The convenience of not having to cart bottles home and store them? Free!
And of course the impact on helping save our planets resources is priceless.

More to come on this important topic...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Apple Carrot Rosemary Chicken

Last night I peered into the fridge to see dwindling supplies, I was at a loss as to what to make for dinner once again.

Depressingly I thought, well there is brown rice and frozen chicken thighs. It'll be plain but healthy. So I started the rice in my rice cooker and put the chicken in to defrost. Then I thought - I'll just clip a little rosemary from my garden for flavor. I arranged the thawed chicken in a foil lined roasting pan and tucked the rosemary around it and popped it in the oven.

Back to the fridge to pull out the last remaining veggies in the house- mini carrots, which are always good with ranch. But the baby doesn't do so well with hard carrots... so I threw them in on top of the chicken. Then I noticed a half an apple in the fridge and another rolling around in the drawer- apples go great with rosemary! So I sliced those up and threw them on top of the carrots. Then I pulled the foil up around the whole mess. It smelled great.

After the chicken was done cooking, the apples and veggies were still a little crisp, since they came to the party late- so I pulled all the meat off the bone and mixed it in with the rice to stay warm while the rest finished cooking. There were a lot of drippings (even chickens have the fat thigh problem, I guess) so I decided to mix in some flour and the last individual apple sauce to make a sort of gravy. A little milk to thin it out and voila- dinner was served.

It was delicious. Since I didn't measure anything I have no idea how much I used so it's hard to create a recipe- but I have learned that being creative with what you have on hand makes for better meals than following a recipe that you have to go buy ingredients to complete.

Hubby said I was a bit like Steve Martin from the Jerk:

"We only have chicken and rice for dinner."

"Oh and some rosemary, but that's all -chicken, rice and rosemary..."

"and carrots. But that's all chicken, rice, rosemary and carrots..."

"but that's ALL! Except for some apples... so chicken, rice, rosemary, carrots, apples, and gravy. But that's it."

And it was it, and it was easy and it was healthy.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rick Levine is good...

This morning I woke up to the realization that I have to put together a learning record for our final meeting for the year with our charter school's Education Specialist- TODAY!
Upon reading my horoscope from I just had to laugh!

There's no need to show everyone how together you are today, for the very act of drawing attention to your security exposes your lack of it. While it may be true that your self-esteem has been vacillating, it's more important now to do something that makes you feel good, instead of trying to gain approval from others. Refocus on your inner world rather than placing undue significance on outside influences.

This past week I have been discussing how we go about doing this with our homeschool support group. Our first year with the charter school I spent a lot of time trying to capture every detail of our adventures and show off what my daughter was doing. It took so much time, because we are what many call "unschoolers" or interest-led learners. This past year I realized that was just not necessary.

Now I just give the bare minimum of what they require, then relax and enjoy the rest of our journey freely. After viewing a show on public access about California schools and their lack of any sort of tracking data base, it was apparent that the idea of a permanent record is ridiculous.

I know that she is learning, that she is ahead of her peers in some areas, behind them in others. But the beauty of homeschooling is that we get to focus on actually experiencing educational events and not waste precious time meant for learning on testing so that the school can get funding. And that doesn't even take into account the hours a day going towards all the little things that interrupt a child's natural curiosity.

Did you know that schools that are not up to standard on the standardized testing (which by the way doesn't even match the state standards) get MORE money than others? If they continue to fail they get even more. If they do better the funds are taken away... appalling, huh?

Sunday, May 24, 2009 said...

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009 -- The stubborn Taurus Moon encourages us to stand our ground, and the Sun's crunchy quincunx with unrelenting Pluto might pit us against an intense person who is feeling just as rigid. We want to hold to our highest ideals, for today's Jupiter-Chiron conjunction is like a carrot on a stick, teasing us with the possibility of reaping heavenly rewards even while we are still here on Earth. Ultimately, it's a challenge to balance our dreams with reality.

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009 -- You don't want to do a lot of extra work today. In fact, you might choose to spend the day relaxing if it is totally up to you. But it's not only about your desires now, as there are social obligations that you must fulfill. Don't stress about it. Your resistance to doing what's expected of you is worse than the event itself.

What happened...
Wow, once again Rick is right on target for me! The three day weekend began slowly enough as I awoke to an empty bed, as Sweetie took on baby duty for the night (his way of saying thanks for my put-the-kids-to-sleep-early-on-a-Friday "homedate"- my way of assuring myself a sleep in Saturday surprise!)

However, the man had beer plans! Brewing a batch, that is, and inviting his buddy over with his little one for grilling burgers. Too bad, that particular buddy has history- and while I like to fancy myself a forgiving, friendly, faithful wife- this man just makes me mad. But I wasn't going to stress about it.

The event itself was... well, uneventful as expected. The burgers were good... one child was not; the conversation was strained... so were the juicy baked beans. The watermelon was well worth a morning of cleaning sticky fingerprints left all around the house at at 2 1/2 year old's level. Holding to my highest parenting ideals was a challenge with a child who knows no limits... but I stood my ground quietly, and kept my tongue (and children) in check.

All in all it is true- our expectations set the standard for our own satisfaction, and we shouldn't waste time dreading the less than wonderful moments we get to spend just enjoying the journey, whoever may be along for the ride. Nor should we indulge in disappointment, it only serves to make us fat with desire.
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