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Bean Soup Recipe

June 9, 2009

Last night, I made a simple soup of black beans, black eyed peas, and chickpeas. I have all these dried, so I measured 1/4 cup of each, then quick soaked them. Quick soaking still involves an hour of soaking, so it is not as quick as some other cooking activities. After they soaked, I rinsed them, saving the soak water for my plants. I put them back in the pot, covered them with fresh water, and added a fourth of a cup of brown rice. I cooked the soup for about 45 minutes. During the last 15 minutes, I added some precooked shredded chicken I had in the fridge. I seasoned everything with a small amount of salt, and a teaspoon of lemon and pepper seasoning. It turned out great. I like beans to still be on the firm side instead of squishy or soft. If you like beans just this side of mush, you should probably soak longer, and then cook longer than I did.

Today for lunch, I had this again and it was even better the second time around. The lemon and pepper seems to have had time to really soak in. When I make this next time, I think I will add some diced onions and celery, and sliced carrots. It is great as is, but I like to make something new each time.

Another benefit of this dish is the low cost. All the beans were dried, I had the rice and chicken on hand, as well as the seasonings. You could say I ‘shopped from the pantry.’ Even if I had bought everything last night, this still would have been a cheap dish since I only used one-fourth cup of the beans and rice. I still have plenty left for my next soup creations.

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Why Less is Better

June 5, 2009

I follow Holly Lisle’s blog. She’s a writer who recently moved. She wrote a great post about the move, and what she learned. I just wanted to share.

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Beth’s Thank You to Oprah

May 1, 2009

Beth has a video and blog post about Oprah’s learning about the plastic problems in our environment. Got check it out.

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Green Roof

April 30, 2009

I first heard about green roofs a while back, but I got very interested when Felder Rushing talked about the green roof he was going to put on his arbor. It is installed now and he has pictures of it up on his site.

Felder Rushing's Arbor

Felder Rushing's Arbor

I saw Majora Carter’s Ted talk in which she mentioned green roof projects in the south Bronx. The company, Sustainable South Bronx is working to green the area and green roofs is one strong component of their mission.

I think a lot of people have known about green roofs for a while, but the media coverage of them is increasing. This month, National Geographic has a story about green roofs. They have wonderful pictures of green roofs in Chicago, Manhattan, and Michigan. They also have pictures of green roofs in London, Canada, and Germany. The pictures are stunning, as most pics in National Geographic are. What I enjoyed most about the article is the clear explanation of what makes a green roof.

A green roof has many layers. At the bottom is the waterproof membrane that separates the living roof from the building. Above that is a root barrier, then a storage layer where the extra water is held until the next rain. next is a filter fabric then the growing medium. Regular soil would be to heavy, so instead it is a soil composite. Lastly, are the plants. The advantages of a green roof are beauty, lessening or preventing water run off, lowering  roof temperature and inside building temperature, improving air quality, job creation in the areas of installing and maintaining the roofs, and urban gardening. A green roof can support a wide variety of plant life from landscape plants to fruits and vegetables.

In urban areas, traditional roofs absorb sunlight, causing the buildings to heat up. During a rainstorm, water runs off, overwhelming sewer systems and water treatment facilities. They are ugly and add nothing positive to the environment. Green roofs are a solution to these problems. While many grow plants that are for appearance and water absorption purposes, more and more food plants are part of the mix. Green roofs are a fascinating change in urban environments. I cannot wait to see more news on them as the trend continues.

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Severe Storm: What to do When the Sky is Falling

April 29, 2009

I have talked before about how to prepare for bad weather. I said what to store, what to pack, and what to have in your car. Where I live, the most common threats are severe thunderstorms and tornados. Assuming you have done all your prep work, what do you do when the storm is actually happening?

Stay calm. Panic will get you hurt faster than anything the storm can send your way. A cool head and focused attention will serve you during any bad weather situation.

Home

Listen to weather reports. If it is pouring rain outside, you should stay where you are. Listen to the radio or local television station to make sure you know if a bad storm turns into a tornado. If it does, seek shelter as recommended by the announcer.

Work

Depending on where you work, you will most likely be informed by your boss if you need to seek shelter from severe weather. Follow instructions and remain calm. If you have any snacks or water with you, take them to the shelter location. You might be there for a while and when fear subsides, boredom sets in. Your coworkers will be thrilled if you have a snack to share.

In a Store

Listen for announcements. If a tornado is spotted, most stores have an interior location for customers to gather to be safe. Go there and wait until the storm passes. No store can make you stay, but you will be safer inside than trying to drive home or to some other shelter.

In your Car

If possible, drive slowly home or to a strong building. If you see a tornado, you are safer out of your car. If no sturdy building is nearby, getting out of the car and lying in a low ditch is safer than staying in the car. Never shelter under a tree, or overpass, or under a bridge.

Bad weather will pass, but while it is happening, stay calm, stay alert, and take as needed precautions to keep yourself safe.

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Resources about Swine Flu

April 28, 2009

The Swine Flu, now more often called 2009 N1H1 flu, is not in Mississippi yet but it is good to be prepared. There are many ways to prepare. First, try to make sure you don’t get the flu. Wash your hands often, at least 20 seconds with the soap and use a nail brush when you can. Avoid sick people, up to if flu is in your area, put of medical visits that can wait. By no means cancel needed appointments or procedures, but if you are just going in for a check-up, doing it later.

There is a lot of talk about possible quarantines and shut downs of many public places and businesses. If this happens, it is good to prepare now.  A great post on how to prepare, if it turns into something much worse than it is currently can be found here- Casaubon’s Book Blog.

We are not there yet, so in the meantime if you want to read more about the flu and how to protect yourself, check out this information: http://msucares.com/pubs/publications/p2553.pdf.

World Health Organization is up to date on the outbreaks around the world.

What are you doing to prepare? Anything, or are you waiting to see if it gets worse?

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Less Clutter Equals More Happiness?

April 28, 2009

I belong to a book club and one of the inserts in a recent mailing caught my attention. They had grouped all the ‘clutter buster’ books together.  Titles like Throw Out Fifty Things, Kick The Clutter, Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat, and When Organizing Isn’t Enough, were included. Those were just a handful of the books offered to help me get rid of my stuff.  The idea each one is selling is that by getting rid of stuff, my life, my health, and my mind will improve.

A lot of my stuff is ‘good’ stuff. It would be ideal for someone who needed it. I just don’t need it either right now, or anymore. I thought I needed it when I got it. For example, I have many spools of lovely ribbon. Some thin satin and some thick velvet. This is perfectly good ribbon that was purchased for my wedding in 1999. The marriage lasted two years but I still have this ribbon. I cannot throw it away. There is nothing wrong with it, except that I don’t need it. I know, craigslist, freecycle, yard sale. I will probably freecycle it soon. But my ribbon predates several of those options which is why I guess I still have it. My ribbon is just one example, and I’m sure you have something similar in your closet, or drawer, or on a shelf somewhere.

I have cleaned out and gotten rid of stuff before. I always feel lighter when there is less stuff in my house. So, lately, I have been wondering. How ‘light’ can I be? How much can I pare down? How few things can I have and still have ‘enough.’  I have come to realize that for me, one feeling I get from owning stuff is security. I have XX number of blankets = safe from cold. I have XX number of pots and pans = I can prepare food whenever and however I wish.  Have you noticed that feeling? Do you feel safe or secure from having possessions? I have read many times that it gets to a point where our stuff owns us. The upkeep and care, the time we have to spend on our possessions wears us down and wears us out. I think that’s true, to much stuff is bad. But, where is the balance? To little stuff is also bad.

Part of my plan for this year is to donate a lot of items, to sell items, and to swap items. That last one will not reduce how much I have, but I will get rid of something I don’t want and get something I do want. I am curious to see how low I can go. I have reduced my electricy usage much more than I thought I could. I look forward to reducing how much stuff I own. I want to see how high my happiness can go.