Thrifty & Green Magazine Feb / Mar 2012

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Spring Flowers Learn how to preserve flowers for weeks, and ready the garden for growing season.

Take a Walk Page 11

Get a New Spring Wardrobe Free Organize a Clothing Swap! Page 69

Valentine Vegan Cookies

Learn the art of fruit and nut pie, and get our favorite cherry + maple pecan recipes. Page 42

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10% off Energy

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Star Appliances

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2012

RECIPES

FEATURES 11 49

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Take a Walk The many benefits of walking in nature.

19 Lemon Chia Seed Muffins 38 Roasted Vegetable Stew 39 Beef Pot Pie with Gluten Free Crust

42 Valentine Linzer Cookies

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Dirt Lovers Diary Author and organic gardening expert Ken Druse shares with us tips to stay on point for Spring Gardening season. Green Spring Clean Clean your home with safe, frugal all-natural ingredients.

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For the Love of Swap Get a new Spring wardrobe on the cheap.

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Splurging on a Budget Get the ins and outs of living well on less from Jessica Oman.

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49 Preserve Cut Flowers Learn the secret to preserving cut flowers, getting ready for Spring garden planting and more with organic gardening expert Ken Druse.

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42 IN-SEASON

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LIVING Plan your Outdoor Vacation National Park guide and outdoor destinations for thrifty spring vacations.

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Get Out and Ride Tips for beginner urban cyclists.

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FOOD & HEALTH The 2 Most Important Rules in Food If you want to feel good start with your diet. Eat right when you follow these two key rules.

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Partner Exercises Couples that stay fit together are happier and more likely to last!

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Vegan Linzer Cookies You’ll never miss the eggs in these gorgeous cookies.

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FAMILY Why Going Green is the Safe Choice for Kids Get the basics of a green lifestyle for your childrens sake as little bodies can be more sensitive. 5

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44 5 Partner Exercises Couples who support each others health + fitness goals are more likely to succeed.

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Growing Up Green The importance of knowing the difference between what one needs and wants is a forgotten value in most homes today.


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HOME & GARDEN 8 Ways to Green Your Kitchen Simple tips to help you be more sustainable in the kitchen and when buying food.

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7 Ways to Start Seeds Indoors Urban gardening is exploding! Get tips to grow in small spaces from the movement spokesman Mike Lieberman the Urban Organic Gardener.

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Seed Bombs 58 Rising in popularity learn about how you can beautify your community with flowers and edible plants. Green Spring Cleaning Tips ingredients make powerful cleansers for your 66 Simple home comprised of all natural elements, safe for your family and pets.

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SAVING MONEY / PERSONAL FINANCE For the Love of Swap Get a new Spring wardrobe on the cheap, organize or attend a clothing swap. Start a Health Savings Account Some employers offer pre-tax health savings accounts, a great way to maximize your dollar when paying for the ever increasing deductible.

Reward Point Programs 78 Maximize Learn how to max what credit card companies offer to get free airline tickets hotels and more.

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editor’s letter

elcome to the Spring issue of Thrifty & Green!

My family and I, and everyone here at T&G are excited to present the first Spring edition of Thrifty & Green digital magazine! We have created a useful and entertaining issue we hope can act as a tool to help you get the most out of the season for less — while still keeping the earth in mind. In this issue, we are getting outside! Be sure, even with the nip of Spring in the air Nicole Breit’s Take a Walk on page 12 and Mandi Woodruff’s Get Out and Ride page 29 will help you bring the many benefits of walking and biking into your life this year. In Food writer Lori Winter offers The 2 Most Important Rules of Food on page 19. If you want to feel good it starts with your family’s diet. Also get ready for Spring weekend getaway’s in Plan your Outdoor Vacation page 24 where assistant editor Sara Howard offers a quick green guide to thrifty outdoor fun. At Home we look at 8 Ways to Green Your Kitchen from buying habits to eliminating plastic bags, these tips will help you and your family learn how to be more sustainable. Couples, learn how to be more fit with your partner in Partner Exercises on page 43. Get out in the garden whether its in the yard with organic gardening veteran guru Ken Druse, in Dirt Lover’s Diary on page 48, or the apartment balcony with the Urban Organic Gardener, Mike Lieberman in 7 Ways to Start Seeds Indoors page 53. In Family learn why Going Green is the Safe Choice for your Child on page 55. The Paglaro’s of the T&G family blog Growing Up Green share with us The Importance of Self Discipline on page 61. This issue in our Saving Money section learn how to get a new spring (that is also green) wardrobe for dirt cheap in For the Love of Swap on page 68. Finally in Personal Finance learn to Splurge on a Budget oage 75 and more with Jessica Oman. We truly hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did creating and enjoying all the wonderful contributors!

Till next time,

Chris McGrath Founder and Editor-in-Chief 7

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Thrifty & Green SUBSCRIPTION

Founder & Editor

Chris McGrath

Design Director Design Lead

Beth McGrath Chris McGrath

Our publication is free in keeping with Thrifty standards, and digital only in an effort to adhere to our Green sustainable values and preserve trees. We publish 6 issues a year.

SAVING MONEY Saving Money Editor Saving Money Writer

Jessica Oman Natalia Tudge

Subscribe free at: http://www.thriftyandgreen.com/content/managesubscriptions

Personal Finance Writer Personal Finance Writer

Dario Piana Dave Ramsey

CUSTOMER SERVICE

LIFESTYLE Lifestyle Editor Lifestyle Writer Lifestyle Writer

Sara Howard Lori Winter Stephanie Moram

FASHION & BEAUTY Fashion & Beauty Writers

Rachel McHollister

HOME & GARDEN Home & Garden Editor Home & Garden Writer

Stephanie Moram Pamela Pinto-Session

FOOD Food & Health Editor Food & Health Writer Food & Health Writer

Nicole Breit Lori Winter Christa Shelton

FAMILY Family Editor Family Writer

Tovah Paglaro Scarlet Paolicci

Online: thriftyandgreen.com/contact Questions by phone: 360.339.5339 9-5 PST ADVERTISING

For advertising solutions that reach a Thrifty & Green minded audience contact us today. Our web site www.thriftyandgreen.com and digital magazine as well as other upcoming projects, such as video webisodes and more feature many opportunities for you to build long-lasting relationships. See digital magazine rates on page 103.

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TECHNOLOGY SUPPORT Director Technology Chris McGrath Technology Consultant Thomas P. Scola

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Take a Walk

photo by: Dessert View Children’s Center

mind + body + spirit WRITER NICOLE BREIT 11

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health feature

Nature Therapy Tips to Rejuvenate Your Mind, Body and Spirit

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ost of us already know that walking is one of the best forms of exercise there is. For those who can’t spare the time to participate in organized sports or afford costly gym memberships, walking has even greater appeal. It can be done safely anywhere, any time of year, with no special equipment required (save a good pair of shoes). We also know that just thirty minutes of walking is greatly beneficial to our physical well being. Those who walk regularly enjoy lower blood pressure, muscle tension release, improved strength and flexibility. They also burn calories – anywhere between about 100 to 150 on a 30 minute stroll, depending on the size of the person, the intensity and speed of their pace. Nature walking provides even greater benefits. Many counselors recognize that walking in nature can result in vast improvements to the health of the whole patient, and prescribe Nature Walk Therapy for this very reason. Nature walks are highly beneficial for those who suffer from depression and anxiety; they give us a break from

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circular thought patterns, and help us to literally “move through” whatever is weighing on our minds. Creative thinkers also know the secret to solving a nagging problem or getting past a frustrating block is as simple as going outside and walking. All of us at one time or another have taken a walk to “clear or heads”, to make a decision, or to take a break from a stressful situation. Some people treat walking as a spiritual practice – an ideal time for quiet reflection. A nature walk can be excellent preparation for meditation. Others use it as time to simply reflect on life, or practice positive affirmations. Best of all, walking gives us the opportunity to experience nature: to notice the subtle changes of seasons, the weather and participate in the world that exists outside of our artificial environments. We notice trees, birds, animals – the whole world happening “out there”. We begin to feel connected – or re-connected - to other living things. We become aware of the beauty in the world that we are a part of: a sunrise or sunset, an awe-inspiring

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storm, a pristine beach, or the lush green trees of a park or forest. Here are five ideas to get you nature walking in your neighborhood and beyond.

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Find a nature walking group. Walking with a group makes it easier to do regularly and your fellow walkers will keep you motivated.

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Make a list of local nature walks you would like to take. Start close to home – is there a lake you can walk around? A local mountain that has

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great hiking trails? A forest with lush flora and fauna? Keep your list somewhere visible, and check off each adventure one by one as you work through your list. Then make a new one, going further afield.

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Is there an older person in your life you would like to spend more time with? Suggest a nature walk as a way to connect with someone who may otherwise not get to enjoy nature very often. Being out in nature is a great way to connect, across generations. To spend quality time, sharing stories and memories, our hopes and worries.


Marth Stewart Pets Pique Sleeveless Crab Polo

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SAVE TREES

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take a walk

mind + body + spirit

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Walk with your children. Children who spend time exploring nature grow into adults who enjoy hiking, camping, gardening and value the importance of preserving the environment. Most adults love teaching children about nature, whether pointing out a birdsong, teaching the names of trees and flowers, or simply admiring the beauty of a tree. And children have things to teach us, too! Little ones love to share what they notice about the world (often things that adults would otherwise miss!)

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Nurture your naturalist appreciation. On days when you have extra time to spare, bring a notebook on your walk. Jot down the things you notice as you stroll at a leisurely pace. Try capturing the beauty around you in a sketch, or writing down the random thoughts that come to mind as you walk. Nicole Breit is the Thrifty and Green Food and Health editor. She is based in Vancouver, Canada, and is an accomplished writer, proud mom of two and avid nature walker. Visit her website at http://www.nicolebreit. com or find her on Twitter: @ NicoleBreit 15

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Books for Spring Peaceful Piggy Meditation (Albert Whitman Prairie Books) [Paperback] Kerry Lee Maclean (Author), Kerry Maclean (Illustrator) List Price:

$18.99

Editorial Reviews This is an excellent introductory book on meditation that we recently used with great success to teach children to meditate at a Buddhist summer camp. The theme of the book was just about right for kids aged 4-9. I did not find the material “dumbed down” for this age group as a previous reviewer suggested, but perhaps older children might find it to be so. The piggies are cute and kind of cool (I liked them!). Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire [Paperback] Dharmachari Nagaraja (Author) 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (30 customer reviews) | Like (63) List Price:

$16.95

Many of today’s children face challenges and obstacles far beyond what their parents ever imagined. These 20 thoroughly modern retellings of ancient Buddhist tales give parents a fun, low-pressure way to impart wisdom and moral guidance without preaching. Each story highlights a moral or ethical dilemma that echoes those that children face in their own lives, providing insight and enlightenment that they can use to defuse trying situations. At the conclusion of each story, applicable Buddhist principles are discussed. Featuring engaging characters, enthralling adventures, and modern language that speaks to today’s kids, these beautifully illustrated stories can help children relieve stress, attain greater academic and social achievement, and enjoy a more positive outlook on life. 16

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books for spring Making More Plants: The Science, Art, and Joy of Propagation [Paperback] Ken Druse (Author) 4.7 out of 5 stars List Price:

$27.50

This title has not yet been released. You may pre-order it now and we will deliver it to you when it arrives.

For people who love gardens, propagation—the practice of growing whatever you want, whenever you want—is gardening itself. In this paperback reissue of the successful book Making More Plants, Druse, one of America’s foremost gardening authorities, presents innovative, practical techniques for expanding any plant collection, along with more than 500 photographs. Based on years of personal research, this is a practical manual as well as a beautiful garden book, presenting procedures Ken Druse has tested and adapted, as well as photographed step by step.

National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States, 6th Edition [Paperback] National Geographic (Author) List Price:

$26.00

Featuring 375 color photos and 80 full-color detailed maps—more than any other park guidebook—this is the most comprehensive, up-to-the-minute book of its kind on the market today. A perennial favorite with more than a million copies sold in previous editions, it reflects National Geographic’s century-long association with America’s national parks system and its peerless reputation for travel expertise and cartographic excellence.

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books for spring Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook, Revised: Quick, Easy, Cheap, and Tasty Vegetarian Recipes [Paperback] Carole Raymond (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars List Price:

$13.95

Some people are vegetarians because they think a meat-free diet is good for you. Some believe it’s good for the planet. Others just want tasty food; they want it cheap, they want it easy, and they want it now. Whatever your reasons, check out this book’s 135 great-tasting vegetarian recipes, including: Gingered Chinese Greens Stir-Fry • Banana Bread • Moroccan Stew and many, many more.

Quick Vegetarian Pleasures: More than 175 Fast, Delicious, and Healthy Meatless Recipes [Paperback] Jeanne Lemlin (Author) 4.7 out of 5 stars List Price:

$18.00

Jeanne Lemlin has been writing about great vegetarian food for more than a decade. Her many books include MainCourse Vegetarian Pleasures, Simple Vegetarian Pleasures, and Quick Vegetarian Pleasures, for which she won a prestigious James Beard Cookbook Award. A cooking instructor and food writer, she is a columnist for Cooking Ligbt and a contributor to Gourmet and Country Journal. Jeanne lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

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food & health

The two Most Important Rules in

FOOD

photo courtesy of Travel Canada

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his is getting down to the basics, people. These two food rules apply to every single person in the world. I don’t care if you call yourself gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo, GAPS, vegan (which isn’t actually healthy – more on that later), locavore, primal, or omnivore. These are the two MOST

IMPORTANT food rules. It all boils down to this. Every single person in the world can start with these two rules as a basis for eating healthy. 2 Most Important Rules Eat Real Food

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Here’s the thing. Way

too much of what we call food and insert into our mouth to swallow isn’t actually food! It’s been mangled and processed in a lab or a factory to the point that you can’t even call it food anymore.

cause of (fill in the blank) or in spite of (fill in the blank)? What about (fill in the blank) or (fill in the blank again)? Those things aren’t technically (fill in the blankety blank). (What a fun game, don’t you think?!)

Sure, you can debate the finer points of this argument until the cows come home. Is (fill in the blank) considered a real food be-

But for real, people. Get a grip. Use common sense.

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You know what I mean. If you can make this one


food & health change for at least 75-80% of your diet, you’re light years ahead of the rest of the country who are falling for those badly disguised marketing tactics (Lucky Charms are healthy because they have whole grains? Fruity Pebbles are healthy because they have antioxidants? Are you freaking kidding me?) Let’s look at another example or two: An Apple is Real Food •

An apple = real food

Apple flavored fruit roll-up = not real food

An orange = real food

Packaged, pasteurized, sugar- and chemicalfilled orange juice = not real food

Another way to check for real food or fake is to read the ingredients list on any packaged food (do this for EVERYTHING you buy that comes in a package). If it contains more than 5 ingredients, it’s probably not real food. If you have trouble pronouncing one or more of the ingredients, it’s probably not real food. If you detect the presence of colors with numbers after them (blue-5, yellow-3), it’s not real food. Stick to food that is as unadulterated as possible. Shop along the outside edges of the grocery store, not the aisles. Even better, 20

find local farmers, farmer’s markets, or co-ops and support them. Your food will be even more real that way. Listen to Your Body This is a huge one for me. I get so fed up hearing about the latest nutritional fad – even within the ‘real food’ world. Only eat fruit in the morning. Don’t combine this food with that. Don’t eat gluten, it’s from the devil. Figure out your metabolic type so you can eat the right foods. Get tested and eat right for your blood type.

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I just don’t honestly believe that God meant for us to have to know our blood type in order to eat healthy. But before you say, “It worked for me!” Or “It worked for my aunt’s coworker’s boyfriend!” Allow me to say this: Yes, these types of fad diets do work for some people. Why is that? Well, everyone’s body is different. And everyone has different issues that need to be worked out nutritionally. It could also be that a specific fad diet worked for you simply because you started eating more real, whole, nutrient dense foods with the new diet as opposed to the fast food and packaged stuff you were eating before. This is why it’s huge to

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listen to your body. Here’s a big tip: start a food journal. Grab a notebook and write down everything you eat in the day, what time of day you eat, how your body feels before, during, and after eating. Include any external factors like stress, exercise, what part of your menstrual cycle you’re in (provided you’re a female, of course), and if you’re traveling. Food Journal Start to notice patterns. If you realize that your stomach was queasy on the same days that you drank milk with your grilled cheese sandwich, try eliminating dairy from your diet for a week or two. Keep listening to your body. Are you still queasy? When do you have the

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most energy? Is there any correlation between your breakfast and your energy levels (or lack thereof ) for the day? Your body will tell you what it needs if only you know how to listen. Be aware that if you are switching from the SAD (Standard American Diet) to a diet of real food, you will most likely experience some withdrawal or detox symptoms. But don’t worry, they won’t last forever! Rome wasn’t built in a day, and sometimes you do have to get worse before you can get better. Detoxing isn’t always pretty, but it’s worth it. Once you start the process, you realize just how toxic you actually were. Note these things in your food journal.


rules of food

Lemon Chia Seed Muffins Recipe by: Lori Winter

photo by: Lori Winter

Taking it Further So I guess here is where I have to insert that cute little disclaimer that says I’m not a medical professional or licensed nutritionist, so take this post into consideration at your own risk. (Of course, I would even prefer you did that even with the advice of medical professionals, who are required to study little to no nutrition in med school). But do realize that these two food rules are just a launching pad. It may be all you need to know. So don’t stress yourself out with the latest nutritional fad diet. Or you may still be dealing with symptoms that won’t go away or excess weight that won’t come off. Start by eating real food and listening to your body. 21

Then branch out from there. Educate yourself on issues like gut health and balancing your hormones. Consider getting tested for food allergies by a holistic doctor. But never leave these two food rules behind. I’m convinced they are the cornerstones for healthy eating. What are your biggest recommendations or tips for eating well? Visit our facebook page at http:// facebook.com/thriftyandgreen and post your ideas and recipes. Lori WInter is a T&G contributor and writer in Nashville, TN. She is known as the Thrifty world traveler and is publisher of laurelofleaves. com an award winning food and green lifestyle blog.

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Ingredients: 2 c. spelt flour 2 Tbsp. chia seeds 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder 1/4 tsp. baking soda 8 Tbsp. butter at room temperature 1/2 – 3/4 c. honey 2 large eggs zest of 1 lemon 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice 1 tsp. vanilla 1 c. yogurt (preferably homemade from raw milk) Directions: Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, cream butter & honey. Add eggs one at a time. Add lemon zest, juice, & vanilla. Add yogurt & flour and mix until just combined. Bake at 350 F for 18-20 minutes. Health Tip: Chia Seeds are awesome! Check out these food facts. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

High in Omega-3 fatty acids Natural energy booster High in fiber Is a complete protein Contains a full range of B vitamins

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Plan your

Outdoor

Vacation

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photo by: Sara E. Howard


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o you catch yourself gazing out sunny windows, suddenly unaware how much time was lost to daydreams? Do you pine for the feeling of the wind in your hair? Do you glare down highways of bumper-to-bumper traffic, wishing desperately for the peaceful respite of a wooded mountain trail or a vast desert valley? If so, then you’re probably already dreaming of a summer vacation. This year, consider visiting a national park, national forest, or wilderness area for an outdoor vacation. An outdoor vacation offers endless opportunities for relaxation, recreation, fresh air, and fun. Even better, outdoor vacations can also be cheap! The best time to start planning your vacation is now. The U.S. National Park Service reports more than 275 million visitors each year, and some big tourist attractions can get crowded. If you start now, you can create a thrifty, green, and peaceful vacation for the whole family. To get started, identify your getaway style. Are you looking for a simple and easy family vacation, or would you prefer the solitude of a backcountry camping trip? The answer to this question may influ-

living green ence your final destination. National Parks: Beautiful, Easy, and Popular National parks offer a host of activities, including hiking, camping, and cycling. They boast some of the nation’s most beautiful vistas and scenic routes. They also typically have wellestablished infrastructures. While remote trails and campsites are available in these parks, front country camping—when you set up camp just feet from your car—is popular. Wellkept public bathrooms, water spigots, supply shops, and visitor centers dot the landscape. Rangers host daytime activities for kids, and historical landmarks serve as occasional diversions from the natural world.

National forests fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As such, they are managed as sustainable sources of commerce: lumber, grazing, and recreation. So With a little bit of careful where does solitude come planning, this setting can in? While vacationers travel be perfect for an easy outin droves to national parks, door vacation, particularly they tend to skip nearby if you have kids in tow. Durnational forests. In Tennesing peak seasons, however, see and North Carolina, popular attractions can for example, tourists often get crowded. Shelters and overlook the Cherokee, campsites fill up quickly. Pisgah and Nantahala You’re almost guaranteed National Forests and head to bump into people—and straight to Great Smokey cars—wherever you go. Mountains National Park. National Wilderness and Forests: The Road Less Traveled If you prefer an adventure with a bit more solitude, consider a national forest or designated wilderness area.

Unlike national forests, designated wilderness areas offer the true solitude of pristine nature. In 1964, the Wilderness Act established a national wilderness preservation system. Under this system, tracts of land can be set aside as wilder-

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ness, to be protected with special regulations. National wilderness areas may fall within the confines of a park or forest, but roads, structures, and motorized vehicles are not permitted. No bathrooms here! In wilderness areas, beauty and challenge come handin-hand. In the wilderness, you can hike trails, hunt game, raft rivers, canoe lakes, watch birds, take pictures, fish, ski, and stargaze. Far from parking lots and hamburger stands, the wilderness offers peace and solitude, yet requires more careful planning and outdoor skill. Research, Research, Research For a first-time park or wilderness visitor, the choice of locations and activities can seem overwhelming.


in-season Familiarize yourself with a few offerings, and read reviews. Consider purchasing or borrowing a good guidebook on your parks of interest, as these books often distinguish between crowded tourist attractions and less-traveled trails. Call a ranger to ask questions, or browse online forums. While the U.S. Forest Service website and U.S. wilderness gateway site both require a bit of patience, the U.S. National Park Service and Parks Canada websites are surprisingly user-friendly. Perhaps most importantly, take time to consider your gear and clothing selection. Will you be staying in

a park that requires heavyduty bear canisters? Will you need warm clothing for cold nights? A little extra research can help prevent unpleasant surprises during vacation. Plan Now, and Book Early Many lodges, campsites, and shelters accept or require reservations. Some areas also require permits for back country camping, either in person or by advance application. Popular overnight spots fill up quickly, so try to avoid making last-minute reservations. When choosing your dates and locations, make a short list of backup options.

If one of your desired locations is already booked when you call to reserve, don’t despair. Reservations employees are generally helpful, and they can suggest workable alternatives over the phone. Get Excited If planning feels too much like a chore, try assigning different tasks according to the strengths of your family or friends. If someone loves cooking, put him in charge of meal planning and the grocery list. A directionallygifted person can take ownership of maps and trails; a detail-oriented person can make a list of key items like bug repellent and water bottles.

Don’t Just Stop There These parks, forests and wilderness areas are full of wonderful little details to stir your passions. Gardeners, naturalists, and curious minds can take pleasure in an abundance of seasonal wildflowers, local critters, and geological wonders. History lovers will have their fill of Civil War landmarks, settlement stories, and political drama. To thrill your inner child, find a park with fossil remains. As an athlete, challenge your body with the range of physical outdoor adventures. Once you get excited about your trip, research and planning might seem just as fun as the vacation itself.

Lake Crecent - Olympic National Park - Port Angeles, Washington - photo by: olympicnationalpark.com

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Mt. Raineer National Park, Rainer Washington - photo courtesy of Mt. Raineer Visitors Center

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living green

Photo by: Sara E. Howard

Guidebooks provide easy-to-carry, reliable information on your final destination Get Out of the Car The history of U.S. national parks, in particular, has been fraught with a long debate between accessibility and wilderness. Most U.S. national parks are laced with winding roadways that provide visitors with easy access to some of the most beautiful national landmarks. This means that people of all ages and physical ability can use the parks, a concept of public ownership and democratic landscape. However, it also means that car emissions and other human pollutants come chugging through the last strips of American wilderness. If you can, consider leaving your car in one central location for the entirety of the trip.

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Go for long hikes, camp nearby, or use the public transportation systems that some parks have established. Be Flexible and Have Fun On one recent trip to Shenandoah National Park, some of my favorite hikes were last-minute suggestions from park rangers. While careful planning can keep you safe and comfortable, flexible expectations help you stay relaxed if nature isn’t cooperating.

Gateway to National Park Service Wilderness: wilderness.nps.gov/default.cfm Sara E. Howard is the T&G Living Green editor. She is based in New York City, where she passionately pursues her two loves of bicycles and vegetables. Follow her on Twitter: @ green_knees

National Outdoor Resources U.S. National Park Service: www.nps.gov U.S. National Forest Service: www.fs.fed.us

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living green

Get out and Ride

Urban Cycling for Beginners

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he first day I ever biked to work was nothing short of a disaster—except for the fact that it changed my life for the better. At the time, I was riding a clunker of a vintage cruiser I found for 100 bucks on Craigslist. I was so unfamiliar with cycling that I didn’t even realize the seat was 6 inches too short for me and the gear shifter was broken. Couple that with the fact that, as a born-and-bred Southerner, I had almost no experience cycling in an urban setting, and you can imagine just out how of my depth I was hitting the streets of Manhattan for the first time. But one thing was certain: I was hooked. Since then, I’ve learned from scratch how to turn a two-wheeled commute into a lifestyle that has made me healthier and happier than ever before. I know the idea of hopping on a few pounds of metal and pedaling out into traffic doesn’t seem like the most relaxing—or smartest—way to go green and get in shape, but these 10 tips can help nudge you in the right direction.

1. Buying a bike is like finding a great pair of shoes. You’ve

got to find the right fit for yourself. Since you’re just getting started, I recommend getting a used bike. Remember, you’ll be riding this thing every day, so you want it to be extremely sturdy and comfortable. Try Craigslist or find a used bike dealer in your area. Just don’t fork over your cash until you’ve taken it for a test ride and had all the proper seat and handlebar adjustments made by someone who knows

what they’re doing. Little things, like a saddle that’s too low, can be really hard on your knees and make your ride miserable.

2. Map out your route. You’ll want to find

the safest, most efficient route to work. Try Google Maps or MapMyRide. com to find directions for cyclists. It won’t be long before you have your route memorized, but it also helps to keep a map on hand with bike lanes in your area—just in case. New York City bike shops keep free bike maps on hand for anyone to grab, so

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check whether your town has similar resources. Then practice your commute in advance to scope out any roadblocks or detours. A 10-mile commute should take about an hour.

3. Please, don’t go crazy with the accessories. My friends and I

love to geek out over the latest bike gadgets, but I promise you this: that solar-powered speedometer and $100 hydration pack aren’t necessary. And you’ll look silly. Here are the things you must have: a good headlight and


taillight for night riding; a helmet (no-brainer); a great bike lock (don’t be cheap!); a spare inner tube and patch kit in case of a flat tire; a good, loud bell so cars and pedestrians know you’re coming; and an insulated water bottle.

4. Make friends with your local bike shop.

When I was just starting out, I didn’t even know my bike had gears, let alone how to shift them. I walked into a shop near my apartment and asked the repairmen for a few pointers. I promise you, most bike shops are staffed by friendly, informative workers who will not look down on you for asking “beginner” questions. Many shops also host free or low-cost workshops, which are a great way to learn the ropes if you’re unsure of questions to ask.

5. Be brave. Let’s be honest: It takes some guts to get out there in traffic and share the road with motorists. Don’t be afraid to bike in the middle of the road if you absolutely have to when there are no bike lanes around. Cars will probably honk, but you have just as much a right to the road as they do. If you’re biking in a major city, you might also have to deal with the wrath of those crazy speed demons better known as cab drivers. Here’s my trick: If they cut you off, flip you off or yell something rude, just 30

grin like an idiot and give your bell a good ring. It freaks them out.

6. You will be sweaty. Get used to it. The

most popular question I’m asked about biking to work is how I deal with the whole sweating thing. The answer is simple: I just deal with it. It’s smart to give yourself a 10- to 15-minute window to cool off before heading into the office. In summer, I opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics and keep a change of clothes in my bag. Carry a small towel or cleansing wipes, and consider stashing deoderant and face wash at your desk. Ladies, don’t even bother slathering on make-up before you ride. Trust me, perspiration is mascara’s enemy No. 1.

7. Don’t be a jerk. In

some cities, cyclists get a bad rap for breaking traffic laws. Please do the rest of us a favor and don’t run red lights, ride against traffic, or take shortcuts by hopping on the sidewalk. Be polite to pedestrians, even if they walk into the bike lane while texting without bothering to look both ways. Cities all over the country are becoming more bike friendly than ever, and all it takes are a few bad examples to wreck that trend.

8. It will be hard in the beginning. Do not quit. I was twenty pounds

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overweight and not exactly in the best shape of my life when I decided to start cycling. It took me a whopping 90 minutes to bike the first four miles, and when I finally heaved myself into my desk chair, breathless and copiously coated in sweat, I felt like such a weakling. But little by little, I grew stronger and more confident in traffic, and so will you.

9. Find a bike buddy.

As soon as I started cycling, I found myself relying heavily on a few friends who also bike. Biking is even more enjoyable when you have pals around to share the view. Also, if you find the commute tough in the beginning, it helps to have a friend cheering you on. If no one you know is into cycling, try participating in local bike tours or group rides. Many riders attend solo, and it’s a nice opportunity to make friends.

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10. Take the scenic route once in a while. One of the biggest perks about cycling is that we tend to see sides of our hometowns that few people ever do. Every once in a while, try shaking up your commute home from work by taking a detour over a bridge you haven’t crossed yet or through your local park in warmer months. You’ll be amazed at what you can discover when you veer off the beaten path. That’s what biking is all about. Mandi Woodruff is a T&G contributor, and a reporter based in New York City. She blogs about cycling at www. thebikewriter.com. Find her on Twitter: @thebikewriter


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February / March 2012 Photo: Sico apple-sorbet eco-friendly one coat paints see more at www.sico.ca


8

ways to green your kitchen Say goodbye to plastic cutlery.

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With a handy stainless steel cutlery set, campers, picnickers, and on-the-run diners alike can eat anywhere, anytime, guilt free.

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WRITER NICOLE BREIT THRIFTYANDGREEN.com

2

While you’re at it, buy a re-usable lunch bag you love.

Invest in a good coffee maker. If you buy early in the year, you can take advantage of the post-holiday sales. Those with a daily coffee habit will easily have paid for a $200 espresso machine by foregoing Starbucks by the spring. A very easy way to save money in the long run – and get in the habit of using that portable mug.

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February / March 2012

4

Preserve your food while preserving the earth with smart alternatives to disposable food wrap. Abeego Designs sell snack bags, food wraps and covers, handcrafted from a combination of hemp, cotton, beeswax, tree resin and jojoba oil.


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Easily find your next organic meal. Use the online Eat Well Guide to search local, sustainable farms, markets, restaurants and more. Finding healthy local food is as easy as entering your zip code or city in the search field. Bon appetit!

7 Find out how your municipality deals with food waste. Can it be composted? Will the city pick up discarded bones, apple peels and other biodegradable food? Apartment dwellers may have to abide by different rules than home-owners with regard to composts – but learning about indoor composting, which is tidy and doesn’t require a lot of space – will help reduce your food-print.

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Grow your own food. Living in a small apartment? Grow some hearty herbs in your kitchen, like mint or parsley. Use your sunny balcony to grow some potted tomatoes. Have access to communal space or your own yard? Plant a row of vegetables for your first outdoor garden and grow from there.

8 Take a “green” cooking class. Some of the world’s greatest cuisines rely heavily on vegetables, grains and flavorful spices – think Indian, Thai and Middle Eastern cooking, to name just a few. Or get up to speed on delicious round-the-world vegan recipes at ethnicvegan.com, which features searchable recipes by region and by type (appetizer, entrée, dessert, etc.)

February / March 2012


February DIY

projects

Unconsumption “Garden House,” by Kirstin M., was the “Creative Prize Winner” at an event in Savannah, GA, benefiting the local Humane Society and Emergent Structures, which a rather Unconsumption-y effort based in Savannah and connected to SCAD. The dog house was built entirely of dumpster reclaimed wood with a green roof garden space above. Reprinted from DIYnot blog diynot.tumblr.com/ with permission

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February / March 2012


Book Review

The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam

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lana Amsterdam is a bona fide gluten-free diva. She is the author of two cookbooks – one entirely devoted to gluten-free cupcakes – and the creator of Elana’s Pantry, her recipe and lifestyle blog. The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook is a personal favorite of mine – and not just because it was part of my action plan for losing 40 lbs of baby weight as I cut refined sugars and starches from my diet – but because the recipes themselves are so satisfying and delicious. Like many, Amsterdam began to cook and bake glutenfree as a result of health issues. As a mom of two young children grappling with celiac disease and “no interest in creating separate meal plans”, she began to create recipes for her entire family out of necessity. The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook is the result of three years of experimenting and tasting with new, healthful ingredients. In this book, Amsterdam incorporates the same basic, versatile ingredients again and again in her breads, crackers, entrees and sweets. Although you may not have them in your pantry before you buy this book, you will use them again and again once you start cooking. In addition to almond flour, Amsterdam rely heavily on grapeseed oil and agave nectar for her gluten-free recipes. Agave nectar is Amsterdam’s secret weapon for adding the right touch of sweetness - and those with a sweet tooth will not be disappointed. This cookbook offers delicious recipes for a bevy of sweet treats including muffins, scones, pancakes, cookies, pies, tarts and cakes. Without a doubt, Amsterdam is an expert at creating dessert recipes that make you forget how healthy they are, but she is also a master at comfort food recipes. There is something for everyone here, including a nice variety of vegetarian, fish and chicken entrees that

will appeal to the whole family. Her hearty and savory chicken pot pie and vegetable quiche are just as good, if not better, than those made with traditional floury pie crusts – and kids will love her tasty chicken fingers. All in all, this book is a great addition to any chef, or aspiring foodie’s, recipe collection. Thank you, Elana! Nicole Breit is the T&G Food & Health editor, a writer, and mom in Vancouver BC. Along with her passion for all things green and organic she dreams of a crafting barter network where folks feature unfinished crafts that can be completed. Read more of her work on www.thriftyandgreen.com/food-health or visit her website www.nicolebreit.com.

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Time to Bake

Le Creuset Tart Dish Durable stoneware will not wear out and is the choice of chefs the world over. shop collection

Bakeware | Cookware | Cooking Tools | Cutlery | Dinnerware | Storage | Small Appliances

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February / March 2012


food & health

Book Review Celebrate Vegan

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ynise Balcavage’s second cookbook, Celebrate Vegan, certainly gives you plenty of reasons to be festive! One might not be able to discern from the title alone that this cookbook provides you with dishes to whip up on many occasions, using vegan dishes to celebrate both traditional and nontraditional holidays. This concept sets this cookbook apart and makes it truly unique. When I first flipped through the cookbook, I was not only tantalized by the mouth-watering recipes, but educated about many holidays and traditions I didn’t even know existed. Holidays such as Vesak, a Buddhist holiday celebrating the life, enlightenment and death of the Buddha or Diwali, a Hindu holiday celebrating Rama and Sita’s return home after fourteen years of exile and is a testament to good prevailing over evil. This cookbook arouses your senses and stimulates your brain at the same time! I just don’t

by Dynise Balcavage

think you can beat good food served with a side of education. Along with her wonderful recipe creations such as Fig-Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash for Thanksgiving or Risotto with Leeks and Porcini Mushrooms for Columbus Day, Dynise provides you with tips for variations, kitchen wisdom and wine pairing ideas. She also provides you with icons to go along with the recipes to let you know if they are fast, frugal, “make-ahead”, kid or omnivore friendly. Her introduction truly prepares you to navigate vegan cooking before delving into the recipes , making this cookbook very userfriendly. From Cinco De Mayo to Martin Luther King Day to Festivus and everyday celebrations such as Girl’s Night In, Dynise has you covered with creative dishes that just happen to be vegan. After all, good food is good food and Celebrate Vegan is on a mission to prove this is the case. I prepared the Peppermint Bark recipe for a Christmas Eve party for my non-vegan family and

friend and it was a hit! With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Dynise has you covered with her Heartfelt Linzer cookies (please see recipe below)! I encourage you to “Celebrate Vegan” on Valentine’s Day and beyond by picking up a copy of this fantastic cookbook. Your holidays, traditional and non-traditional alike, will never be the same and will always be scrumptious! Be sure to get Dynise’s recipe for Valentine (or anytime) Lindzer Cookies

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on the next page! Christa Shelton is a T&G contributor, blogger and the founder of ‘Veggin Out with Christa’ a vegan lifestyle blog, and feature in the Thrifty & Green Blogger Network. She is a professional speaker, vegan lifestyle coach, and meal planning expert. Be sure to visit www. vegginoutwithchrista.com for more of her work and about her services.


Roasted Vegetable Stew Recipe by: Chris McGrath Yield: 4 Quarts Ingredients 8 quarts 3 c Garbonzo beans 4 c Eggplant, cubed to ¾ “ 4 c Zuchini 3 quarts Red Potatoes cut into 1” chunky half moons 3 c Red Onion cut into ¾ “ chunky half moons 3 c Celery cut into ¾” chunks ½ c Garlic chopped 2 c Fresh Basil leaves chopped 1 tblsp Dried Oregano 1 tblsp Dried Basil 3 c dry red wine ½ c balsamic vinegarm or merlot red wine ½ 104 oz. can (half a can) of Muir Glen Crushed tomatoes 2 Quarts vegetable stock 2 small cans tomato paste

6. Add potatoes and other vegetables and let simmer 20 min watching that it does not stick to the bottom. 7. Remove, add feta cheese as garnish if serving if not package feta on the side.

Directions 1. Pre-heat oven to 425. Group red potatoes, and red onion in a roasting pan and brush or spray with olive oil. Roast 45 min. 2. Put zucchini on separate baking sheet bake 30 min and eggplant on its own baking sheet, bake 15 min. 3. Cook garbanzo beans till completely soft separately. Time will depend on volume. 4. Heat Olive oil in a pan and add garlic and celery, sauté till soft. 5. Add crushed tomatoes and red wine along with veggie stock and tomato paste, simmer for 40 min while potatoes cook.

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February / March 2012


recipes

Beef Pot Pie w/ gluten free piecrust Recipe + Photo By: Wendy Gregory Kaho

I’ve tried the frozen gluten-free pie crusts and they aren’t 2 scant tsp. xanthan gum

too bad, but they are expensive. I’ve tried mixes and other recipes, but I was still not happy with the results. Then I got the bright idea to contact Jeanne Sauvage of Art of Gluten-Free Baking. Here’s Jeanne’s pie crust with instructions for a two crust dessert pie. Following it is my beef filling recipe using only one crust. You may freeze the other crust for another time.

Gluten-Free Pie Crust

From Jeanne Sauvage, Art of Gluten-Free Baking

Yield: Double Crust for a 9-10 inch pie pan Special Equipment Needed

• rolling pin • 9-10 inch glass or ceramic pie pan (I think that glass and ceramic create more flaky crusts than do metal pans) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in a cool, dark place): 1 1/4 C (170g) brown rice flour 1 1/4 C (205g) white rice flour 1 C (120g) tapioca flour 1 C (165g) sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko) 39

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(you can also use the gluten-free flour mixture (not baking mix) of your choice--just be sure it contains xanthan gum. Or, you can add 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour. If you use bean flour, it will add a bean taste to the pie crust. INGREDIENTS 2 1/3 C (350g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix 1 TBL granulated sugar 1/4 tsp salt 1 C (8oz; 230g; 2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces (you can also use lard, margarine, or shortening) 1 TBL vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar) 5-7 TBL cold water 1 egg beaten--for egg wash (optional) extra tapioca flour for rolling out crust First, make the filling for your pie. Set the filling aside at room temperature while you’re making your crust. DIRECTIONS 1. Place flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Mix together with a spoon until combined. Add butter

February / March 2012


recipes pieces to the dry ingredients mixture. With fingers, start rubbing together the butter and the dry ingredients. This will take some time. Do this until the resulting mixture looks like wet sand mixed with pebbles.I like to do this by hand to get a feel for the dough. You can also do this initial mix with a food processor if that is your preference. 2. Add the vinegar and rub into the mixture. Add water a TBL at a time, rubbing into the mixture. You want to add enough to create a dough that holds together well, but isn’t wet. During the winter here in Seattle I’’ve consistently used about 6 TBL. In the summer I use closer to 5 TBL. 3. Divide the dough into two fairly equal pieces, shape into disks, and wrap each disk separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the disks for about 20-30 minutes (or until the disks are cool and somewhat firm) 4. Prepare your rolling surface. Flour the surface well with tapioca flour. Also flour your rolling pin. When this disks are chilled and have firmed up a bit, remove the first disk of dough from the fridge and place on your prepared work surface and sprinkle top of dough with tapioca flour. The key to successfully rolling out gluten-free pie dough is to go slow. When I say slow, I mean SLOW. And with a light touch. If your dough starts cracking, slow down and don’t press so hard with your rolling pin. With your rolling pin, carefully and patiently roll out the dough into a 10-11” circle (big enough to fit your pie pan). If the dough sticks to the rolling pin, add more tapioca flour 5. In the next step, you are going to roll the dough around the rolling pin in order to transport it to the pie pan. In order to do this, sprinkle tapioca flour over the entire surface of the pie crust dough. Now, put the rolling pin on top of one side of the dough. Again, go slowly! Wrap the dough around the roller until you’ve gotten all of the dough onto the pin. The dough should roll easily around the pin without breaking. But, don’t worry if it does break-the breaks are easily fixable by pinching the dough together over the break(s). 6. Lift the pin with the dough rolled around it and 40

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put on the top of your pie pan. Unwrap the dough from your rolling pin onto the pie pan so the pan is covered evenly. Now carefully press your dough into place. Proceed slowly, starting with the middle bottom of the pie pan and working out to bottom corners and then up the sides. When you get to the rim, press the dough onto the rim. Finally, press down and carefully tear off any leftover dough (set these scraps aside--you will use them later) 7. You now have the bottom crust dough in place in the pie pan--put it into the refrigerator while you roll out the top dough 8. Preheat your oven to the temperature required for your chosen pie filling 9. Roll out the top dough the same way you rolled out the bottom dough. 10. Remove pie pan w/dough from refrigerator. Place filling inside it and dot the top with cold butter pieces 11. Roll top crust dough onto your rolling pin just as you did with the bottom crust dough and transport it to the top of your filling. Unroll over the top of your pie filling 12. Carefully press top and bottom crust dough together at the rim to form a seal. You can create a decorative edge by pinching the dough together with your thumb and forefinger of one hand and the forefinger of the other hand. Or, you can carefully press down along the rim with the tines of a fork. Be sure you’ve created a good seal--any unsealed portion will leak filling all over your oven floor during the baking process Now make a few short slashes in the top crust dough with a sharp knife to create air vents to allow steam to escape during the baking process. Optional: brush the top crust with beaten egg, sprinkle granulated sugar on top.

February / March 2012


recipes

Beef PotPie Pie Beef Pot w/ gluten free piecrust

By: Wendy Gregory Kaho

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 425. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat and sautĂŠ the onions and celery until soft and translucent. Lower heat. Sprinkle the sweet rice flour over the vegetables and blend in. Cook for a minute or two and then slowly add the stock while stirring constantly.

INGREDIENTS 2 cups cooked beef cut into cubes 3 cups beef stock- I Like Pacific brand 1 small onion, chopped 2-3 stalks celery, chopped 3-4 carrots, chopped and steamed until tender 2-3 potatoes, peeled and diced and steamed until tender 1 cup frozen peas, thawed 3 Tablespoons butter 3 Tablespoons sweet rice flour 1 pie crust

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Take off the heat when the stock begins to thicken. Put the remaining meat and vegetables into a 3 qt casserole, pour over the gravy and top with a pie crust. Use a sharp knife to make several cuts in the crust to vent for steam. Brush the crust with beaten egg to help with browning. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 then lower oven temperature and bake at 350 until the pie crust is golden brown about 30 minutes. Serves 4 hearty appetites or 4 with leftovers for lunch. Jeanne Sauvage is also the Editor of the Canning Across America website. She is an enthusiastic gluten-free baker and recipe developer. She loves to can jams and pickles and enjoys using her preserved foods in the meals and baked goods she makes. Being gluten-free has freed her from a life of processed food. Her blog is Art of Gluten-Free Baking.

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recipes

Vegan Linzer Cookies Recipe + Photo By: Dynise Balcavage

Yield: About 3 dozen (depending on the size of your cookie cutters)

4. Lightly flour a large sheet of waxed paper. Roll dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into heart tops and heart bottoms, using your linzer cookie cutter. Place on cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. 5. Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack. 6. Dust heart tops with confectioners’ sugar. 7. Spread bottoms with jam and top with heart tops. (Author’s note: I know this sounds abstract, but follow the directions to the letter and it will all make sense!)

INGREDIENTS 2 cups (4 sticks) Earth Balances, softened 1 cup sugar 1 tablespoon lemon zest 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 cups unbleached white flour 2 tablespoons soy flour ¾ cup ground almonds 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon nutmeg Pinch cloves 1 cup raspberry jam About ½ cup confectioners’ sugar , for dusting

Variation: You can substitute any flavor jam for raspberry. Apricot, marmalade, and strawberry work especially well with this recipe.

DIRECTIONS 1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray or line with Silpat mats. 2. In a medium bowl, cream together the Earth Balance and sugar. Beat in zest and vanilla. 3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, almonds, and spices. Stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, about ½ cup at a time. When dough becomes too stiff for a mixer to handle, begin kneading it together with your hands. 42

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Note: Linzer cookie cutters have interchangeable center shapes. Using them makes it easy to create professional-looking linzer cookies. If you don’t have linzer cookie cutters, you can use two cookie cutters of the same shape (hearts for example). You will need one big heart and one medium heart. For the bottom, cut a cookie from one of the larger hearts. For the top, cut another cookie from the large heart and then cut out a heart “window” in the center of the cookie, using the smaller heart.

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For our lowest fairs visit alaskaair.com 43

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February / March 2012


health feature

5

Exercises for Getting Fit with a Partner

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artner exercises are on the rise as people discover all the great reasons to exercise in pairs. Research shows if you have a supportive partner when it comes to your health and fitness goals, you are more likely to succeed. Plus, if you exercise with someone else, you are more likely to stick with your program. Exercising together is also fun, and a great way of connecting with your partner.

tight to your sides and hands at about shoulder height. Now press your hands into your partner’s hands and move your hands overhead. The key to doing this exercise well is keeping the pressure firm between your hands. Start with 1 set of 10 repetitions, pressing your hands up and down, and progress to 3 sets.

Here are five indoor exercises to keep you active on those cold winter days. No gym memberships or special equipment required – just thirty minutes with your partner.

This exercise expands on the overhead press exercise. Move into a lunge position by taking a big step forward with one leg while lowering your other knee towards the floor. Stop lunging when your back knee is almost at the ground, and your front and back knee are at a 90 degree angle with your ankle and hip.

Overhead Press

1

This partner exercise is great for working your arms and shoulders. Face each other with your elbows held

Lunge with Hand Press

2

Hold your arms out in front of you, just below shoul-

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February / March 2012


partner exercises der level, with your palms facing out. Your partner should then lightly push his or her hands against yours, and move them up, down, towards and away from you. Start off with 1 set of 10 repetitions, alternating legs. Progress to 3 sets. The lunge will work your legs, and the hand press is great for your abs. Plank with Hip Push Begin this exercise by moving into a plank position (on the floor, flat on your stomach). Use your forearms to prop your body up off the ground until all that is touching the ground are your forearms and feet. If this position is too difficult, prop your body up from your knees.

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Once you are in the plank position, your partner presses on your hips and, with light pressure, tries to move you out of position. Your partner can do this by pushing down, back or to the side. The person in plank position must work to resist the push. The partner’s gentle push intensifies how hard the core is working. Perform 10 repetitions and progress to 3 sets. Shadow Balancing

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This fun couple exercise targets something that most people ignore – balance. Balance is important as it exercises the smaller muscles, and prevents falls and injuries. Start by standing on one leg as you face each other. Now lift your hands up with your palms facing out. Pretend you are looking at a reflection of yourselves in a mirror, with one of you being the leader and the other the follower. When the leader moves a hand up, down, to the side or in a diagonal direction, the other must follow. Take turns being the leader twice for 30 seconds.

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February / March 2012


partner exercises

5

Hamstring Stretch

Lay on the ground facing up with both knees bent. Now straighten one leg out and lift it off the floor. Your partner should grab the leg and help move it upwards until a light stretch is felt. Hold for 30 seconds. Perform the stretch twice on each side. This is a great exercise for loosening up the hamstrings, which are often tight from sitting for long periods of time during the day. I hope these exercises will help you keep fit during the cold winter months. If you find you are having a tough time sticking to your exercise program, lean on your partner. Exercising as a couple is a great way to spend time together, stay active and have fun.

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Rick Kaselj is a personal trainer in Vancouver, Canada who specializes in designing exercise programs for clients recovering from injuries. Rick has trained thousands of clients and completed his Master’s of Science degree with a focus on injury recovery and exercise. Access more of Rick’s exercises for preventing and overcoming injuries on his blog, http://ExercisesForInjuries. com Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rick_Kaselj Also connect with him on his Facebook page: http:// www.facebook.com/ExercisesForInjuries

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20% OFF

DOWN BEDDING For a limited time hurry and save! 48

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February / March 2012


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Spring Gardening

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February / March 2012


Dirt Lovers

home & garden

diary A blog on T&G with host organic gardening expert, and author - Ken Druse

Vibrant Color with Winter Shrubs

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inter is a time of rest for weary gardeners. In cold climates, we imagine the garden is fast asleep, as well, but if you’ve planned ahead, you might have fragrance and color to enjoy -- especially against a white blanket of snow. The colorful bare twigs of shrub dogwoods, varieties of willow and a few brambles – raspberry-like plants that may have arching silver stems – enliven the scene. Shrub dogwood stems range from acid yellow to flame to ruby

red by species and variety. Some of these deciduous plants have foliage interest through the growing season, for example yellowtwig Cornus sericea ‘Silver and Gold’ with its variegated green leaves edged in white. The willows, mostly varieties of Salix alba, produce slender stems in similarly brilliant shades depending on variety. In a month, the earliest winter shrubs will begin to bloom. The first in my cold USDA Zone 6 garden is a pussy willow (Salix chaenomeloides) that looks

much like the cut stems from the florists only the silvery catkins are larger and the shrub blooms a full month earlier. Soon after the pussy willow, my witch hazel ribbon-like flowers open. The small flowers would be overlooked in June, but in winter, they shine when illuminated by the low rays of sunlight in this season. The flower colors range from pale yellow, to fireorange, to purplish garnet and combinations of those colors. They are fragrant, ranging from subtle scents

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February / March 2012

that are barely caught drifting on the breeze to a super knockout like Hamamelis ‘Rochester’, which is worth cutting for indoors where it’s perfume will fill a room. Next, the tiny blossoms of winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) will appear, followed by waxy scented blossoms of wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox). If you thought there was nothing going on outdoors in winter, think again. Continued on next page...


dirt lovers diary

February: Tips for Dirt Lovers Growers and many florists know that cut-flower stems are conditioned before they are shipped or once they are received. Conditioned flowers may last for several weeks, depending on the plant, while the ones cut from the garden fade quickly. The method for conditioning flowers varies. A generalization could be to soak flower stems up to their “necks” in warm water for several hours. Plants with thick or hollow stems may have the cut end singed over a gas flame or candle. Poppies for example, will last a long time if singed, and not even a single day, if not.

soak them up to the necks, again. Tulips that take on funny bends and twists to their stems can have their stems rolled up in newspaper before soaking. The stems will firm up as the newspaper holds their stems straight.

Commercial Sprays, Insecticides, + DIY Recipes

If you choose to use a spray on your houseplants (something I rarely do) read the label carefully and

follow all directions. If a little works, more works better” is totally wrong --- not only dangerous to plants and you, but often a waste of the product. Before you use any pesticide, try a few drops of dish detergent in warm water in a spray bottle. Water works to dislodge and even kill some insects. The soap breaks the surface tension – spreading water all around leaves. Be sure to spray the undersides. Although safe for most

plants, insecticidal soap can damage others. Read the label. The soap will damage some succulents, such as jade plant, and will ruing the glaucous or powdery coatings that make “blue” and “silver” leaves those colors. Indoors, watch out for red spider mite. These can suck the life out of a plant, literally. If leaves look a little pale or speckled. Look closer. You may see tiny webs, if the case is bad. You can also find evidence

How to Preserve Cut Flowers

If you receive cut flowers for Valentine’s day, you can keep them looking fresh longer by re-cutting all the stems – while holding them under water if you can – that keeps oxygen from entering their stems. Change water daily. If you would like to make a cut flower preservative, try half 7-Up and water with an optional tablespoon of chlorine bleach to a quart of mixture. If roses or tulips start to collapse, re-cut them and photo by: Gertrude Jeckyll

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dirt lovers diary of red spider by holding a white sheet of paper below a plant’s leaf and tapping the leaf. Little dust may be remains left by the mites, if the dust moves, that’s the spider. Wash the plant off in the shower or kitchen sink. Wash the undersides of the leaves as well as above. Water, perhaps with a little dish detergent, is often enough to rid a plant, temporarily, of mites. I’ve heard that the mites, which can survive all sorts of temperatures, cannot tolerate moisture and humidity, and will die if the relative humidity is high. High humidity is just what most of your plants like, so try and raise it. Most houseplants love high humidity. If you think that spray the plants with a misting bottle helps, just spray once and come back in a half hour. The water will be gone. For spraying to help, you would have to do it every half hour through the day. Consider purchasing a humidifier. Also, trays beneath pots filled with pebbles can help. Pour water into the tray whenever you water the plants. Don’t ever let a pot sit directly in the water, however. If the pebbles won’ T lift the pot high enough 53

photo by: Kelly Stumbaugh

to not touch water, use an upside down plant saucer to elevate pots. The pebbles also increase the surface area from which water will evaporate, thereby, adding more moisture to the environment. All houseplants appreciate a ten degree F drop in air temperature at night. Even plants that need high temperatures, such as begonias, will appreciate the drop. Lowe4r temperatures discourage bugs and keep more moisture into air. The temperature also toughens foliage. Most seeds (and cuttings) benefit from gentle

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warmth from below. You can buy soil heating cables and mats. These can be good. I’ve used a 25-watt light bulb in a clip-on light with a reflector inside a milk crate below seed pots in trays. The light is for heat, not light. Some houseplants like to have their soil kept “evenly moist” with frequent applications of less water. But the vast majority will react much better to thorough watering with more water, less often. Pour water into the pot until it drains out the holes in the bottom of the pot. Never let any pot sit in water unless it is an aquatic plant.

February / March 2012

Ken Druse is a T&G contributor, author and one of the foremost authorities on organic gardening in the country. He has written 16 books on the subject six of which have received prestigious awards from the Horticulture Association of America. Ken has also been a guest on the Liberty Garden and Martha Stewart and is also a popular professional speaker. Find out more about Ken and read his blog at thriftyandgreen. com/dirtloversdiary or on his website at www.ken-druse. com.


home & garden

The Urban Organic Gardener 7 ways to Start Seeds Indoors

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ow that we are a few weeks into the new year, it’s time to start thinking about starting your seeds. Yes, it might be cold outside, but you can get a jumpstart on the growing season by starting your seeds indoors. This will help to get the most out of your space when the weather warms up because your plants will be ready to go. You won’t have to wait all that time for them to germinate. You’ll cut your time to harvest down by several weeks. Here are seven (7) simple tips to get those seeds started indoors 1. Know when to Start Your Seeds Most seed packets will tell you how long it will take for the seed to sprout and germinate. They will also tell you when the best time to put the plant outdoors is for your area. Be mindful of this and plan to start your seeds accordingly. You don’t want to have plants that are ready to go and no place to put them.

4. Allow for drainage If you decide to go the DIY route for starting your seeds, make sure that you allow for drainage. You don’t want to drown your seeds. 5. Label the seeds You think that you are going to remember exactly what you planted and where, but to be sure that you do label your seedlings. Some items you can use are a piece of tape or popsicle stick. You are going to want to note what you planted, the variety and the date that you started the seed. This will help you to keep better records for yourself. 6. Keep them covered To be sure that the seedlings are staying moist, you are going to want to cover it with some kind of plastic covering. You can use plastic wrap, pie cover or tupperware.

2. Know your Seed Source When buying your seeds make sure that you trust the source that you are buying them from. You aren’t going to want to have seeds that have been previously treated with chemicals. Some seed companies that you can trust are SeedsNow.com, Botanical Interests and Baker Creek Seeds. 3. Household items you can Reuse to Start Seeds To start your seeds, there are many different items that you can use that are already lying around your home such as toilet or paper towel rolls, egg shells, yogurt cups or strawberry baskets. If you aren’t into the DIY thing, there are seed starting kits that you can purchase that are green and sustainable such as this coir seed starting kit.

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The Urban Organic Gardener 7. Rotate the Seed Tray When starting your seeds indoors and using natural light, make sure that you turn the tray a few times a day. As the seed grows, it will stretch towards the sun. If you don’t rotate the tray, the seed will stretch in one direction towards the sun. By rotating the tray, this helps to even out the growth. With these tips, you should now have enough to get your seeds started indoors this year. Mike Lieberman is the publisher of UrbanOrganicGardener.com where he shows people with little to no land how to start growing their own food so they can avoid toxic pesticides, eat healthier and not feel limited by their lack of experience and space.

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family

Why going Green is the Safe Choice for Your Child

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lot of parents, upon being handed the most perfect thing they have ever held- their baby, feel the weight of responsibility. Many people who had not thought about going green and reducing their environmental impact suddenly wonder if they should be choosing greener products for baby and child safety. The answer is an resounding yes! Going green is a great way to help ensure your child’s safety from exposure to toxic chemicals. Children and babies are known to be much more sensitive to toxins. Their bodies take in proportionately greater amounts of environmental toxins than adults. Normal child behaviour patterns (such as placing things in their mouth frequently and washing hand infrequently) also place them at greater risk to some toxins. Exposure to toxic contaminants during infancy or childhood could affect the development of the respiratory, nervous, endocrine and immune systems, and could increase the risk of cancer later in life. “In many cases, children may have greater exposure than adults to airborne pollutants. Infants and children generally breathe more rapidly than adults, which increases their exposure to any pollutants in the air. Infants and children often breathe through their mouths, bypassing the filtering effect of the nose and allowing more pollutants to be inhaled. Children are often more susceptible to the health effects of air pollution because their immune systems and developing organs are still immature. Irritation or inflammation caused by air pollution is more likely to obstruct their narrower airways.” (See: http://oehha. ca.gov/public_info/facts/airkids.html) Ways to go green and avoid chemicals that may be dangerous to babies and children: 1. Choose green cleaners 2. Choose no VOC paint

photo by: Tovah Paglaro

3. Choose organic foods 4. Choose organic fabrics 5. Choose organic personal care 6. Choose cloth diapers 7. Avoid products with BPA Chemical exposures early in life are significant and preventable causes of disease in children and adults. Choosing to go green can help protect your child from toxins and help reduce your environmental impact as well! Scarlet Paolicchi is a T&G contributor and notable family blogger. She is the founder of http://familyfocusblog.com as well as the Social Media Marketing and Business Directory http://momswearyourtees.com

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home & garden

Seed Bombs

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here is no better way to celebrate the coming of spring than with dashes of color. In this vain, we maroon the garden with early flowering bulbs and seeds, loudly proclaiming the end of the long winter’s nap and staking claim to warmer days and more sun. Adding color to your own garden is fun, but adding illicit color to ugly places over which you

have no legitimate claim, that’s even more fun! I’m referring, of course, to seed bombing – a practice that is gaining popularity in a growing international community of guerilla gardeners. Seed bombs are small clumps of organic matter and wildseed that can be launched into barren soil to create natural beauty where urban design has left us short. Think empty lots, city street medians, boulevards or pathways. Seed bombs take root without the tending of a gardener and

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home & garden

left to their own devices, create colourful patches of protest. It all sounds very dramatic, but in actuality it’s a pretty tame way to contribute to the environmental movement while sprucing up your community. Unless, of course, your seed bombing with an excitable six year old, his keen little sister and a baby on your hip. Then it’s less than tame, but every bit as much fun. I’m always on the look out for activities that engage childrens’ imaginations while creating positive outcomes for the community and the environment. Seed bombing fits the bill perfectly. Sure it’s an almost subversive behaviour - technically the streets and lots we beautify aren’t ‘ours’ - but with age-appropriate conversations about property ownership, responsibility and environmental agendas, this can open the door to some very interesting topics for you and your family. The benefits of adding flowers and greens to the community are many. In addition to enjoying their beauty every day, you are providing much-needed flora for bees and butterflies. For families whose homes don’t lend themselves to a garden, well planned guerilla gardening can also facilitate homegrown foods. Regardless if you plant edibles or beautifuls, watching greens grow where greys once ruled is a rewarding process for kids and adults alike. Seed bombs are easy and fun to make, or they can be purchased from a number of organizations including Greenaid in the USA (http://greenaid.co/ pages/Store.html) and Kabloom (http://kabloom. co.uk/blog/) in the UK. Purchasing prefab seed bombs is a great option for saving time and provides relative assurance that the cluster will germinate. However, the prefab shortcut means sacrificing an afternoon of good, messy creation – which is half the fun with kids. Creating your own seed bombs also allows you more choice in seed selection. Choosing the right seeds can be the greatest challenge for new guerilla gardeners. When seed bomb-

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ing, it is critical to select non-invasive species, ideally wildflowers, that are specific to the climate and region. Novices will do well to consult a local seed magazine or garden expert to assist with seed selection. Some popular options across the USA include the following: West Coast: cornflower, Shasta daisy, farewell-tospring, garland chrysanthemum, Sweet William, mountain phlox and California poppy East Coast: ibaby blue eyes, baby’s breath, blue flax, dame’s rocket, black eyed Susan, gloriosa daisy and coreopsis Mid-West: iforget-me-not, prairie aster, wild larkspur, purple coneflower and rose mallow Herbs: basi, dill, cilantro, chives and parsely Making the seed bombs is a simple, if messy, process. It involves containing seeds in with biodegradable delivery method. The two most popular options are clay balls or newsprint mash. NOT SURE IF YOU

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seed bombs

Clay Seed Bombs by: Tovah Paglaro

photo courtesy of: Lethbridge Guerilla Gardening

What you need: Makes six sizeable seedbombs 4 tablespoons of seed compost or worm castings 4 tablespoons of terracotta clay powder 1 teaspoon of seeds (Note: Base this on poppy seeds as a size guide and add half a teaspoon more as the seeds go up in size.) 1 teaspoon of chilli powder as a pest deterrent (optional) Sprinkles of water at intervals Liquid fertiliser, if NPK (Nitrogen/Phosphorus/Potassium) is absent in the compost What you do: 1) mix 5pt powder clay, 5pt worm castings or seed compost, 1pt seeds and 1 pt chili powder in a mixing container. 2) add just enough water to make a nice muddy clay consistency 3) roll up the mixture into little balls like gum balls 4) let dry in a cool dry place for like 3 days 5) throw them in empty fields.

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seed bombs

Newspaper Seed Bombs by: Tovah Paglaro

What do you need: seeds IKEA heart-shaped iced cube tray (this is ideal for Valentines Day but any mold will do)

photo courtesy of: flickr photographer Mademoiselle Chaos

old newspaper water immersion blender sieve scrap cloth silicone ice cube tray (shapes are fun) 1 teaspoon of chili powder as a pest deterrent (optional) What you do next: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

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Shred Newsprint Add water to shredded newsprint Blend shredded newsprint and water Add seeds to water & newsprint mash Place scrap cloth in sieve and drain/press/ mush as much of the water out as possible Shape the seed bomb in silicone ice trays Pop Seed bombs out while still wet Place in a warm dry spot to dry. With seed bombs dried and ready, it’s time to hit the streets and beautify forgotten spaces In dry climates, adding a little water to the seeds will help them along. However with the right seeds and a little luck, even the most difficult to reach places should be accessible to a crafty family of seed bombers. Bombs away! THRIFTYANDGREEN.com

February / March 2012


Growing Up Green

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feature series

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photo by: Quincy Paglaro


Growing Up Green

feature series

Lessons in Self Discipline The Lost Art of Self Restraint

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om, I need new pants! We?ve all heard it and gone on with our day, unfazed by an unremarkable statement. We may have even been the perpetrator, casually remarking, Geeze, you need new pants.? The context is understood. This isn?t true need. Not serious need. Not like food for starving kids need. This is need in the most mundane sense of the word. Therein lies the problem. Beneath this innocent proclamation lies a dangerous and tumultuous landscape of rampant consumerism. We need healthy food, clean water, companionship, safety and shelter. We need clothing that protects us from the elements. I?ll even concede that, especially in grade school, we may need apparel that simultaneously indicates our place within the accepted social culture and reinforces our sense of individuality. But do we, or our kids, truly need new pants when last years are out of style or the knee rips or they become a little too short

or a little too tight? There is an interesting body of research about children’s development and the needs that must be met to reach selfactualization. Scholars argue that we need to provide children with the tools to overcome conflict (Erikson), continuous love and support (Bowlby), intrinsic reinforcement (Bandura), hands-on experiences (Vygotsky) and almost all theorist agree that children need to feel safe. No theory proportes that children need $70 jeans, toys that talk, the same doll their friends have or a room full of toys that barely get touched! So how do we get sucked into this sense of false need?

In part, we can blame the media. It?s been done before and we’ll do it again! But let?s not stop there. Marketing fuels the fire, driving our collective sense of desire for ?the good life? made possible through the exact accumulation of some unobtainable equation of goods. But we?re smart, media-savy parents, who have been raised in a multi-screen, multitasking, multi-sensory

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environment and know that the bombardment of images purposefully serves to create increasingly unobtainable longings with the intent of picking our collective pocket. That?s yesterday’s news. Let?s move beyond it and ask, why ? if we?re so darned smart ? does it still work? The answer, in part, lies in a linguistic falicy. A shortcoming of the Eng-


family lish language and a laziness on our part as purveyors of powerful words. Consider the word love, arguably among the most powerful of powerful words. I love my parents. I love shoes. I love Casa Del Mar. Widespread expression of extremes robs the words of their power. They’re rendered void through overuse. Such is the case with need. When we simultaneously need a latte and a solution to a global economic crisis, we’re placing these two

3 in

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goals on the same playing field, linguistically leveling their relative importance. Is it any wonder then that we have a hard time differentiating between our need for functional clothes and our desire for stylish ones? Or that our children stare blankly when we question their need for a tripleeXtreme-almost-identicalto-the-one-in-the-closet toy that Joey-from-downthe-street-has-two-of. She needs it. Of course she does. Except she doesn?t need it, she wants it. The problem is that we’ve muddled that water with a fundamentally murky belief that we should get what we want.

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According to the American Dream dogma, hard work entitles us to possess lots of stuff. In this line of thinking, acquiring possessions is our free market destiny, which we must, which we need, to fulfill. It?s this logical misstep that is represented in our overuse of the word need. What we do need, is to preserve our planet for our children?s generations. And to do this, we need to get a hold of our concept of need.

ics working in favor of the status quo. But words are powerful and perhaps, by curtailing our overuse of the word need, we can begin to perpetuate a healthier future. Tovah Paglaro is a mother of 3, Family Editor + Columnist for T&G in Vancouver, BC. She writes about Sustainable Family values and eco inspired crafts in her two weekly oringial columns Growing Up Green, and Crafty Kids on thriftyandgreen.com/family

It?s a tall order to institute a fundamental cultural shift. There are layers of bureaucracy, policy, media, psychology and econom-

Transforming

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Green Spring Clean

home & garden

Natural Solutions for Cleaning + Washing

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pring is a time for renewal, growth and blossoms. A time to start fresh and after having your house closed up for the winter, what better time than to do some spring cleaning. This is a task that many, including myself dread, but after it is done, I am so happy that I did it and I feel reenergized. So open those windows, turn some music on and get cleaning. Windows, bedding and curtains are things that I only do twice a year – spring and fall. Ok – I may do the windows one more time, but that is pushing it. To make those windows shine you can use newspaper and vinegar, but I don’t like wearing gloves while I clean and I don’t like newspaper print hands. I have found an alternative, that I think works even better – club soda. Put some club soda in a spray bottle and have at

your windows and mirrors. The club soda can be either fizzy or flat. For cleaning your pillows – follow these steps: Let the wash go for the full cycle and then do an extra spin cycle, making sure to get as much water out as possible – this will also help with the drying.

Washing 2 pillows at a time, fill the washing machine to about 2/3 of the way full and put in some liquid soap, not detergent – making sure it is dissolved before putting the pillows in.

For your mattress, sprinkle some baking soda on and let sit for an hour or so, then vacuum – flip over and do the same thing on the other side. I also have a feather bed and that I bring outside and let air out in the sun. The cleaning industries tries to make you think that you need a different cleaning product for each item in your home, but we all know that this is not the case. You can make your own cleaning products for pennies on the dollar and you probably have most, if not all the ingredients in your kitchen. Let’s start with the bathroom. For your toilet you need some vinegar and baking soda. Pour some baking soda into the toilet bowl add some vinegar and watch the reaction! Close the lid and let it work until the end of the bath-

Using a fabric softener ball fill with 1/4 vinegar. Using the vinegar in the final rinse cycle will make sure that all of the soap is out of the pillows and will help kill germs.

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green spring clean room cleaning or let it sit overnight – then scrub with a brush. For those tough stains use a pumice stone, really. For the tile, sink and tub you can make a great scented vinegar all-purpose cleaner, this is pretty much all that I use in my bathroom, unless I have some tough stains in the tub – then I use borax and a slice of lemon, dipping the lemon slice into the borax – I then just scrub away and watch the stains disappear. Scented Vinegar All-Purpose Cleaner 2 cups hot water 1 tsp borax 1 Tbl castile soap 1/8 cup vinegar 5 – 10 drops essential oil, I like to use lavender In a glass measuring cup add each ingredient separately, mixing to dissolve before adding the next ingredient. Pour into a 16 oz. spray bottle. Spray on a cotton cloth and wipe. Shelf life: indefinite. For your wood items in the home – mix together 3 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar in a spray bottle. Shake well before each use. Spray on a cotton cloth and wipe. The olive oil conditions and the vinegar cleans.

To get those animal and winter smells out of your rugs and carpet, use baking soda. In a parmesan shaker pour in baking soda about half way, add a few drops of lavender oil at a time and mix well – if it starts to clump you have added too much oil. Top off with more baking soda. Sprinkle on your rugs and carpet, with a broom sweep your carpets and then let the baking soda sit for at least 30 minutes – vacuum and inhale, ahhhh. For the kitchen I rely on a Castile All Purpose Cleaner, Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Baking Soda. Sprinkle

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green spring clean

some baking soda into your stainless steel sink, spray with vinegar to form a paste, let sit and then scrub, rinse and wipe dry – shiny! To disinfect your counter tops clean with the castile cleaner, spray some vinegar and wipe followed by a spray of hydrogen peroxide and wipe. The vinegar and hydrogen peroxide combination – and they need to be sprayed separately – will kill salmonella, e-coli and other bacteria. Castile All-Purpose Cleaner 2 cups hot water 1 tsp washing soda 2 tsp borax ½ tsp castile soap 10 drops essential oil, again I like to use lavender In a glass measuring cup add each ingredient separately, mixing to dissolve before adding the next ingredient. Pour into a 16 oz. spray bottle. Spray on a cotton cloth and wipe. Shelf life: indefinite. This works well on walls, cabinets, door frames, counter tops, light switch plates, heater vents – pretty much anywhere! Now that your home is renewed and refreshed go catch some of that spring fever, go for a walk, get your hands dirty in the garden, relax on the hammock or catch up with your neighbors. Enjoy, spring has sprung and it feels wonderful! Pamela Pinto-Session is a T&G contributor and founder of simplyrurban.com a family blog about rural living in the city.

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Making your own naturally scented castile all-purpose cleaner is easy. Just find your favorite essential oil and mix with a few ingredients and away you go.


For the Love of Swap

saving money

New Spring Wardrobe on the Cheap

photo by: thinkstock

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et your closet ready for spring by throwing a clothing swap party. It’s fun, and it’s practically free! Confession: I have too many clothes. Go on; say it out loud and with conviction. We all know it’s true. Your closet

may be akin to a used-book store, shelves brimming with dusty and forgotten books, all precariously balanced and likely to topple at the slightest nudge. Instead of books, however, your closet is crammed with clothes you may not have worn since Friends ended its run in 2004. Garment tags peek out from sleeves, once-loved shirts

lie wrinkled in a corner, and hangers tangle your clothes together like jungle vines. The situation leaves it almost impossible to dress in the mornings. You need a new wardrobe, but first you need to cleanse and start from scratch. If only your salary allowed for it, right? Wrong. Welcome to the wonderful

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world of clothing swaps. It’s a world where you can empty your wardrobe of unwanted items and fill it with new treasures, for no more cost than a bottle of wine. It began with intimate get-togethers in small apartments, where friends traded old but fashionable clothes. It has grown to


saving money gymnasium-sized sensations, where swappers fish through piles of clothes for hidden gems. Organizations such as Swap-ORama-Rama and the Swap Team even offer resources and guidelines that make it possible for people across North America to easily host a clothing swap in their own cities.

Why Swap?

The benefits of a clothing swap make you wonder why you haven’t been swapping your whole life. •

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Cheap as chips: Depending on the size of your swap, you could potentially overhaul your entire wardrobe for free. It really doesn’t get much better than that. Friendly to forests: Continually buying new goods puts a strain on the world’s resources, and it’s important to recycle and reuse whenever we can. Clear clutter: Being organized leads to a better state of mind. If you start with your surroundings, your mentality will quickly follow. Reducing your amount of excess clothing in an ecofriendly way can help you breathe more easily.

Social session: With busy schedules on the rise, we don’t always have time to get together with friends. Combine a clothing swap with the opportunity to catch up with your mates and meet new people.

How to Swap

Clearly, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be swapping. Getting started is easy, with just a little bit of structure and planning. After all, you don’t want your clothing swap to turn into a free-for-all, do you? Imagine everyone madly grabbing at coveted items with no rhyme or reason. I’ve seen it happen. It’s amazing how aggressive girls can get when clothes

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come into the equation. Some turn into super villains at the mere mention of free clothes, plotting out the best tactics to obtain the pieces they desire. To make the most out of your event, and to decrease the number of casualties, take these ideas into consideration: 1. Enforce quality control. Stained and ripped items are not allowed at the party. 2. Be cognizant of body types. It’s no fun for the girl who can’t swap her clothes because she’s the odd one out in size. 3. If it can be worn, anything goes. From hats

February / March 2012

and jewelry to purses and shoes, all are welcome at a swap. 4. At a small swap party (4 – 8 people), take turns presenting your wares. Tell a true tale about some of your more treasured items. Why did the item mean so much to you, and where have you worn the garment? Everyone loves a good story. 5. After each person finishes her story, have those in the crowd yell “mine!” for pieces they want. It will quickly turn into a game of concentration. 6. For larger groups, or if you have time constraints, have your guests display their clothes in piles


saving money

photo by: College Candy

around the room. Shout “go” to launch the frenzy. 7. Make sure you have a full-length mirror stationed in the room or hallway so swappers can try on clothes. Have garbage bags on hand to pack up unwanted clothes for charity. 8. Serve refreshments and make a night of it. Ask your guests to bring a bottle of wine or an appetizer. Trust me, you will work up an appetite.

Kick It Up a Notch

Stay on the lookout for

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large clothing swaps in your city. That’s when things can get really exciting and when the best clothes can be discovered. Picture this: scores of strangers with hundreds of articles of clothing up for grabs. Did you just get goose bumps? I did.

Swap Style: swapstyle.com Sandra O’Connell is a T&G writer based in Vancouver with a background in marketing, communications, and fashion.

One last tip: Don’t forget to invite your friend with the most covetable wardrobe. Clothing Swap Resources Swap-O-Rama-Rama: swaporamarama.org The Swap Team: theswapteam.org

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Read 30 minutes a day with your child.

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Six Steps to Open a Health Savings Account with a High Deductible Plan

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s the popularity of high deductible plans continues to increase, so does the use of Healthcare Savings Accounts (HSAs). Many consumers may not understand where to start when it comes to finding both financial products but it can be easy. Follow these steps on how to pair a high deductible plan with a HSA:

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Find or make sure you have a high deductible plan that is compatible with a HSA. If you don’t have a high deductible plan you can compare health insurance plans online to find one. But remember, the deductible must be at least $1,200 to be paired with a HSA for an individual and $2,400 for a family. Talk to an agent to ensure that your policy is HSA compatible.

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Wait for the health insurer to approve you for coverage.

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Try to avoid getting a HSA with a health insurance company, instead compare options between banks and third party services that specialize with HSAs. If you open a HSA with a health insurer and then choose insurers in the future, the funds in the HSA may not be transferrable.

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Once you have the HSA start adding funds to the account. The funds will accumulate interest and are tax deductible. In 2012, the contribution limit for an individual is $3,100 and $6,250 for a family.

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the deductible is, you may not be able to accumulate enough funds in one year to cover it. Other things to consider: • Find a HSA provider that offers certain benefits like a HSA debit card, or a provider that makes it easy for you to be reimbursed. • You can use HSA funds for Medicare premiums, deductible and senior health care expenses. The HSA can

When you incur a medical expense, use the funds you have in the HSA.

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Try to accumulate enough funds in your HSA to cover the deductible in case of an emergency. Depending on the how high

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help you cover health care costs during retirement and supplement other savings that you have. • HSA funds are tax deductible so don’t forget to include contribution levels when you file taxes. Erinn Springer is T&G contributor, and a blogger for GoHealthInsurance, a national health insurance exchange. To view more posts visit GoHealthInsurance.com.


personal finance

Splurging on a Budget Get What You Want – For Less – With Online Classifieds

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hen you’re sticking to a budget, it can be hard to justify spending on your “wants” as opposed to your “needs”. But if you set aside a certain amount each month for splurging, there are ways to stretch a tight budget a very long way using online classifieds. Put your search skills to work, and get a lot more for your money this winter! First, always use advanced search tools to find what you want. Want a new dining table and chairs to replace your aging IKEA set? How about a snowboard so you can shred it up on weekends? Many

online classifieds sites like Craigslist allow you to limit your search to items in a certain price range, so enter this in to eliminate options that are out of your budget. Also try searching by specific brands or other criteria that appeal to you. For example, searching “table and chairs” is likely to return an overwhelming number of results, forcing you to sift through lots of items that are in bad condition or not at all what you want. However, searching “bistro table chairs wood” with a price range of $50 to $150 will return a more manageable list. You might choose a price

range slightly above your budget, because prices are often negotiable. Using advanced search criteria will save you a lot of time when searching for items you want. If you’re looking to buy anything that plugs in or runs on batteries, always ask to test the product before you buy it. Some people try to sell things that don’t work, and then you’re stuck either paying to fix it or disposing of it altogether. Test all buttons and switches too. The last thing you want is to spring for a beautiful table lamp for your living room, only to take it home and find

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out it doesn’t work. For big-ticket items like cars, classified ads can be hard to gauge. Do a lot of research when buying vehicles. Read product reviews, learn about what problems the particular year model might have, and then look for those issues when you test drive the vehicle. Run the Vehicle Identification Number to check for previous accidents. If you see any damage on the vehicle, ask how it got there, no matter how minor – this is a great way to test the seller’s credibility and determine whether your purchase makes sense. After all, the motor-


personal finance cycle you’ve been dreaming about for five years won’t be a great deal if you have to spend money on it every month just to keep it running. You also need to be able to recognize when an item listed in the classifieds might be stolen. If you see a top brand name at a no-name price, that should be a red flag. Ask the seller lots of questions about the item if you choose to contact them, and if they talk around your questions, it might be because it’s a stolen item. By using some of the same buyer savvy you employ at retail stores, you can actually acquire a lot of extras for a bargain basement price. Don’t be afraid to ne-

gotiate, because the worst thing that can happen is the seller says “no”. So the next time you want a lovely vase, a cruiser bicycle or a telescope for stargazing, there’s no need to sigh and say you can’t afford it – check the classifieds and see if you can find it there. Jessica Oman is the T&G Saving Money and Personal Finance editor, a writer and business owner in Vancouver BC. She walks and rides her bike and lives without a car on as much local food as she can find. She is also the founder of Write Ahead a copy writing, editing and business consulting firm that caters to green businesses.

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personal finance

How to Maximize Your Point-Based Reward Programs

W

hile pointbased reward programs are everywhere, the struggle to turn said points into an actual prize is often not worth the effort. Rule changes, never-ending procedures and carrying the right card are time-consuming obstacles that may prevent you from redeeming your well-deserved points rewards. Wondering how to prevent point gathering from becoming an exercise in futility? Here are some ideas.

1

Instant Gratification: The oldest and most successful point-based reward program is the stamp card. The “buy eight ice-creams, get one free” type. It’s also the most cost-effective from a customer standpoint: By the time you get to redeem your freebie, it’s the equivalent of receiving 5 to 10 percent of your money back, after a very limited number of transactions. The only inconvenience is the number of reward cards you may have

to keep track of. If this is an issue, pick the ones you are likely to fill up first.

2

Double Dip: Almost unavoidably, most credit cards include a reward system of some sort. While this shouldn’t be the main reason to pick a card, there is opportunity in using them for purchases that will translate to points in a separate program. The key is to pursue just a few rewards to avoid spreading assets into too many baskets and never reaching

any milestones. Travel-related perks take the longest to materialize, so choose a card with different tiers.

3

But I want to travel!: If the ultimate goal is a plane ticket to an exotic location, go for a credit card with a good dollars-points ratio. There are cards in the market that offer about one mile for every dollar spent (Capital One Aspire Travel Platinum MasterCard, American Express Blue Sky). Keep in mind that this return adds up to

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just 1% of your expenses and you won’t find a much better ratio elsewhere.

4

Multiple transactions: If your points are linked to the number of transactions and not the amount, the strategy is to divide and conquer. For example, the Score program from Scotiabank rewards 100 points per purchase at affiliated movie theatres, no matter how many tickets you are buying. Hence, separate transactions multiply your earnings. Users


who get a free pass after accumulating 1000 points would be wise to use them for 3-D movies, which are normally more expensive than regular showings.

maker based in Vancouver BC. He is passionate about frugal values, enjoys running marathons, and long walks on the beach.

5

Keep it Simple: If the reward you are aiming for is only valid at specific times of the year, and involves mailing and extended wait periods, it’s probably not worth the effort. Think of time as a valuable commodity you could be squandering if claiming a prize takes more than half a day. Also, the best way to make your in-store points count is to use them in the same place and not at affiliates, as their rewards tend to be of lesser value.

6

You are Still Spending Money: Ultimately, the reward programs exist to encourage loyalty. Making purchases with the sole purpose of adding points is an oxymoron. More times than not, you’ll be better off paying for the prize directly. Jorge Ignacio Castillo is a T&G contributor, journalist, and documentary film-

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