Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Can you imagine living without trees?

Little One came home singing "living without trees" and "think about tomorrow," which intrigued me, so I looked up the lyrics to find the full song, as below.

Can you imagine? (2x)
Living without trees
Every time you chop one down
One less three grows in the ground
Think about tomorrow please.

Can you imagine? (2x)
Living without trees
That's where birds build their nests
Where their babies eat and rest
think about tomorrow please.

(continues...). I can't find an audio version, looking for one since I missed the teacher's rendition!

Seven things

Further cleaning out. Asking, Is this something I want to pass on?

  1. more cassettes
  2. 2 toy trucks and another toy
  3. styrofoam boxes, pieces and popcorn (to my nearest UPS store)
  4. more bicycle parts and accessories
  5. ski jacket
  6. winter gloves
  7. homemade cardboard rattle

Friday, April 20, 2012

JOT #38: Steaming

Steaming food is another great way to lock in nutrients without a lot of added fat, with the benefit that you also use less water.

Simple ways of steaming include in an electric rice cooker, which often comes with a steamer basket. If you don't use yours, you're just wasting all that perfectly good steam. Instead, stick some veggies or almost anything else of medium size on top (for tiny things you can also put them in a smaller bowl, as long as some of the steamer holes are free) and they'll be done probably before your rice is. If you don't have a steamer basket, you can buy one or even use a shallow strainer, colander, a bamboo basket, or the inside of your salad spinner (or any plate or bowl with some holes in it). Set it on top of a pan that fits it fairly well, and make sure to close the top to let the steam build up.

Fun ways to use steam include the following:

  • steam veggies on top of pasta while it's boiling (they can go in the sauce)
  • steam things in a pressure cooker
  • steam on top of a slow cooker
  • use the steam to open up your pores, then give yourself a quick facial
  • use the steam (after you boil pasta, for example) to open up clogged sinuses when you have a cold

Would love other ideas!

Seven things

Sometimes things are tucked away - for example, I found an entire box of negatives I'd put away in the garage just to "not be seen," but in fact I ought to have them in front of me so I can either use them or chuck them (right now they're just sitting there next to the photo albums). But the duplicate photos I'd stashed in there are gone. A few other garage items:

  1. 5 more books
  2. more duplicate photos
  3. more scrapbooking stuff (a small stack)
  4. drying stand
  5. wrappers for chips and candy (sent to Terracycle)
  6. small rice cooker - just not enough, now that we are actually 3 (not just 2 1/2!)
  7. 2 more cassette drawers

Seven things

Then there are those items you think you need and will definitely use, but never do. Case in point: a dustbuster. With a toddler, you'd think I'd use it frequently. DH cannot get it to work for the car, so only I've used it, about twice, and maybe once more to scoop up some Cheerios (just because I felt I had to USE it). So I discovered the hard way that we're fine with the dustpan and brush, and we can run an extension cord of the vacuum cleaner when the car needs a cleaning. Ahh....

  1. dustbuster
  2. 2 CDs
  3. stereo system - 14 years old, most of it doesn't work (tape players, volume knob)
  4. more tupperware
  5. a glass vase
  6. various glass jars
  7. non-CFL bulbs
  8. a duffel bag

JOT #37: Fermenting

Many things can be fermented: yeast is fermented into bread, apple cider fermented into vinegar, grape juice into wine, soy into miso. In India, we traditionally ferment a finely-ground batter of rice and blackgram (urad) lentils to make idlis and dosas. Milk also ferments into yogurt, cheese ages, kimchi ripens, kefir cultures, and beer brews.

All these things take a carbohydrate, like sugar, and convert it into lactic acid (usually) - the same process that inside your body gives you a cramp when you're out of shape. Instead of turning sugar into the most efficient water and CO2, like we do when we breathe, yeast and these bacteria make a delicious concoction of vinegars through this process of fermentation.

Why ferment? Well, it certainly adds flavor (think of a lovely balsamic vinegar!) and depth and complexity, and hints of sourness and tartness and "umami" which are delectable, a good enough reason in itself. But add to that the potential health benefits of many fermented and preserved foods and you have a winning combination.

Many of these foods allow lactobacilli to form, or other forms of beneficial bacteria that colonize our guts and help us digest our food and fight off "predator" germs. For example, my parents tell me that when they were younger, leftover rice was covered with water and left overnight in the humid weather of India. In the morning, this "kanji" was seasoned with salt and drunk as a refreshing, healthful, and filling beverage. You've also probably heard about the advantages of the resveratrol in wine, which helps keep you living longer and may help your heart.

Other types of preserving and fermenting also allow the food to be stored for longer periods. Ordinary rice and lentils ground in water - a day, but fermented, a week, and with refrigeration even more. Other cultured foods can last even longer, which is why these fermented foods go way, way, way back in history, before refrigerators and freezers and perhaps even indoor cooking. (More info here)

Want to try? Start with something simple like letting your apple cider turn to vinegar, or bake your own bread, then move on to the more (seemingly) complex stuff. It's amazing what a little fermentation magic can do.

Seven things

I'm hit by another strong wave of nostalgia, digging through Little One's baby clothes. I found mini onesies, minuscule jackets, and microscopic socks. Even Little One (at 3 1/2) cannot believe how "tiiiiiiiny" they are. I'm glad they will go to clothe a tiny new boy we know.
  1. bag of baby clothes/shoes/socks, etc
  2. more trains
  3. some small toys
  4. bike accessories - most broken
  5. babyproofing cord wraps
  6. fireplace accessories we never used
  7. some old medicines

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Seven things

It's funny how little of each kind of thing we actually need and use. Little One is case in point: he owns lots and lots of toys, but plays with only 10% of them on a given day. In the absence of toys (sometimes despite them), he finds something else to use, like a stick or pebble or something out of the recycle basket. I wish adults could be so resourceful.

  1. train tracks
  2. broken contstruction toy
  3. stack of train track pieces
  4. toys - a construction toy, a big plastic car
  5. board game set given as a gift
  6. cookie sorting toy
  7. toddler clothes outgrown

Seven things

I had a great big box full of fabric, sewing projects, papers, and other scraps. Digging through, and putting away things that don't belong, I now have only one box (and an empty basket to use for something else!):

  1. holey socks
  2. paper scraps once saved for paper-making
  3. origami papers
  4. fabric scraps
  5. roll of papyrus
  6. stack of tissue paper
  7. underwear


Traffic pollution kills more than traffic accidents:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Seven things

After a big trip of dropping off various things at various locations, I feel lighter. Among them, went some clothes:

  1. 3 tops
  2. a tank top
  3. a skirt
  4. 8 saris - what a relief to be free of these
  5. pair of hose, and pair of tights
  6. another salwar set
  7. a backpack - ok not technically clothing

Monday, April 16, 2012

Seven things

A hard look at the bookshelf, and then other things found while just wandering. I found it useful to think about whether I want to really read something, or am keeping it just because it was a gift or sentimental:

  1. 7 books
  2. outdated business cards
  3. salwar set
  4. a few energy-saving devices
  5. 4 glass bottles
  6. a tarp
  7. an eyeliner

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Seven things

In nooks and crannies:

  1. pumpkin carving kit - brand new, but never used
  2. box of straws - we discovered the reusable kind!
  3. some more tapes and CDs
  4. old napkins - were already used as rags
  5. set of stoneware plates - beautiful but unused
  6. tent - no stakes or poles
  7. 2 dupattas

Friday, April 13, 2012

Seven things

More purging:

  1. pair of earrings
  2. inhaler pump once used by Little One when he had breathing problems
  3. several boxes of over-the-counter meds we don't use
  4. expired prescription medicines
  5. 6 bottles of old spices never used
  6. children's old medications and sunscreen, acetaminophen (link to asthma!)
  7. old backup CDs - ages old, from work and otherwise

What came in? A couple of birthday take-home-gifts, 4 glass spice bottles, several plastic containers bought along with things from the store, a party balloon, an informational binder, some mail, a few pieces of kids' artwork.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Seven things

Clothes. They keep coming.

  1. men's shirt
  2. an overly shiny shawl
  3. salwar top
  4. one more skirt
  5. 4 regular tops
  6. 3 pairs men's underwear
  7. pair of hotel slippers - saved for just-in-case for many years!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Seven things

Sometimes things really do feel like a weight on your shoulders. For example, whenever I see my yearbooks, I feel heavy. Yearbooks are heavy, and they are full of some childhood memories I don't want to relive, and people I don't remember, and they make me feel bogged down in the past. I pull these out, heft their weight in my hands, set them free to be set loose, to fly, to defy gravity.

Here, a few things that were weighing me down:

  1. 3 yearbooks
  2. pair of broken glasses - they looked great, but were not very light and were hanging out as my backup-backup
  3. stretched-out ponytail hairbands
  4. an eyeliner that's itchy and makes my eyes look droopy
  5. expired colored contacts I would wear someday
  6. 2 old magazines saved so that I could remember...something
  7. several small gift bags - I always save too many of these