Back... with a baby!

Knock, knock? Anybody home? It's been a VERY long time since I last blogged. I have good excuses, I swear. Here's the main one:

Introducing the newest and most exciting member of our family, baby Giles!

Giles (a family name, pronounced like Miles, but with a soft 'G', like giraffe) is six months old now.

Way back when I started this blog, I was adamant that it be about finding just the right amount of green for you - green living, saving money, leading a plant based lifestyle, etc. I didn't want it to be about perfection, but rather about finding your own perfect shade of these ideals.

Having that flexibility is even more important to me now. I joke that Giles' main purpose in life is to challenge my ideals. Here's just a few ways he's encouraged me to be more flexible, or not, in the case of my muscles.

  • I expected to cloth diaper. ha. The kid pooped four times per diaper change. I just couldn't keep up. I gave up pretty quickly, and we used disposables for the first 5 months. Now we cloth during the day, and use disposables at night.
  • I wanted to have a med-free child birth. I wanted it BAD. Instead, I had every intervention in the book, and as the picture probably makes clear, ended up with a 'surgical extraction'. :-P 
  • I wanted to stay vegan, but as my belly got bigger and I needed more protein in smaller sizes with less carbs to keep my sugar under control, I resorted to adding eggs back into my diet.
  • I wanted to avoid toys made in China. Yeah. Friggin. Right. Sure, there are toys that are made in the US. They are soft colors, or wooden, or, if a 6 month old baby could speak, BORING. Babies like bright hard plastic that twinkles and shines and makes loud noises. I am still trying to keep them to a minimum, and I'm hoping I can go back to no Chinese made toys once his imagination starts to be a factor in playtime.
Those are just a few off the top of my head. My very, very tired head. 

Things have changed around here, but my I'm still trying to find that balance between the way we want to live, and the way we actually can live. It's a continuous work in progress. I don't expect it to every become a solid, hard line kind of thing, nor a finished product. 

Since the focus of my daily life has changed, the focus of the blog will probably shift as well. Stay tuned for lots of the same topics, but with a more family oriented focus.

I'll leave you with a picture of my happy little guy, celebrating his half birthday. (Really, he's celebrating the fact that I took his pants off. I think he'll be one of those shorts in winter kind of kids!)


Me, Dr. Oz, and the Recipe that Never Was

I've got a story to tell you today. After the story, I'll share the recipe that started it all.

I was having a boring day about 6 weeks ago. I was sitting on the couch, thinking about what I would do for the rest of the day, but not actually doing anything. The phone rang. I expected it to be my Mom.

"Hi, this is Marty from the Dr. Oz show," a voice said. Confusion set in. I was silent. I looked around to see who was playing jokes on me, even though I was home alone. Marty said hello a few more times. I finally answered him, feeling very silly. I'm guessing he's accustomed to that reaction. In true New Yorker fashion, he rattled off a lot of information in very short time and I was still kind of dumbfounded. He invited me to participate in a show via video, featuring one of my healthy recipes with Hawaiian flare for a 50 States of Healthy Cooking kind of show, and I agreed.

I immediately got on Facebook and posted that I was going to be famous. {Ok, not really, but I did post that the Dr. Oz show just called me and I was super excited.}

Over the course of the next week, through many phone calls and emails, I narrowed down what they wanted from me. I worked on filming for three days. I made my 'Pineapple and Edamame No Fry Rice' over and over so it would look fresh in the takes. I did my hair and makeup more in one week than I usually do in a month. I washed the same clothes and wore them repeatedly for continuity in the shots.

I submitted my 3 videos finally, with a sigh of relief. It was a lot more work than I had expected!

They told me they loved them, but to do them again, talking louder. :/
And this time, they gave me a script. Scripts are hard people. You have to memorize them.

I filmed again. And again. And again. Marty let me know they decided not to use the recipes, but they still wanted to see the food. I hadn't even sent the recipe in yet! I was bummed - the recipe was the star! But I kept at it. I resubmitted, and they accepted my work this time.

Then I got an email saying they were taking a different direction, and they had selected 3 people to actually feature their 'winning' recipes on the show. I was not one of the 3 people. {Kind of hard for mine to win since I never got to send it, right?} They told me the show would air at the end of May, and that they selected a few random clips from the 47 non-winners, so keep an eye out. Since they didn't tell me I was one of them, I didn't worry about it. But I still watched, just to see how it all turned out. I never saw it. There was no show during the last week of May that in any way resembled the one I was working on.

Fast forward to June, and a friend Facebooks me that her Mom saw me on TV today. Say what? I was on Dr. Oz??? Luckily, being in Hawaii, it was still early in the day and I hadn't missed it. I tuned in, iPhone ready to film me on the screen. Watch carefully:

See why I said to watch carefully? I was the very first video clip to speak. "I'm Kristen, from Honolulu, Hawaii..." CUT! lol. There was also a quick close up of my dish, sitting on a log on the beach, before the clip of me talking.

Ay yi yi - what an experience! So much excitement, so much work, and so little TV time! lol. But it was definitely a positive experience, I learned a lot, and I'm glad I did it.

Ok, now that you've seen my 2 seconds of fame {15 minutes is evidently very elusive}, now I'll share the recipe that should have been the star of the show all along! ;)

Pineapple & Edamame No Fry Rice
What you need:
2 Cups Uncooked Brown Rice (Or 1 Cup Brown Rice and 1 Cup of Quinoa for a lighter carb, higher protein count)
1/4 to 1/2 Cup Vegetable Broth
1 TBSP Minced Ginger
2 TBSP Braggs Liquid Aminos
2 Cups Shelled Edamame (Prepared according to package directions)
1 Cup Fresh Pineapple, Chopped***
1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro
1/4 Cup Chopped Raw Cashews
1 Green Onion, Chopped

What you do:
  1. Cook the Brown Rice in a Rice Cooker. (Or use your preferred method.) (If you choose to use half quinoa, prepare that at the same time.)
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet or other heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the 1/4 cup of vegetable broth and the ginger. Simmer over medium heat for 2 minutes. (Reserve the other 1/4 cup of broth to add as needed.)
  3. Add the Braggs and stir. Then add the cooked rice (and quinoa if you're mixing the two), the edamame, and the pineapple. Turn heat down to medium-low. Continue to cook until thoroughly heated. Add the reserved vegetable broth as needed to keep it from drying out. 
  4. Remove from heat, serve into dishes, and sprinkle each dish with cilantro, cashews and green onion.
***We're lucky enough to get fresh pineapple grown right here in Hawaii, and it gives the dish a local flare that is super yummy. But any pineapple will do. If you absolutely have to use canned, pick a juice packed one to cut calories and sugar.

I hope you like the recipe as much as we do! 


Hawaiian Mountain Apple Pie

Have I told you guys lately how much I love my job? Teaching yoga at the YMCA is so rewarding. One of the coolest things is about my job is all the fresh produce my students bring me. Yesterday, I received a bag of fresh Ginseng greens and a dozen Hawaiian Mountain Apples, fresh picked off the tree.

 I had never heard of a Mountain Apple, have you? My student called them by their Vietnamese name, so I was clueless. I enlisted the help of Facebook, and my clever friend recognized it immediately.

A little Google research revealed that they don't last long after picking, so I looked for a recipe to use them all in quickly. Rebekah's Ka'a'awa Mountain Apple Pie was a clear winner!

I veganized the recipe by swapping 1 TBSP of Smart Balance Vegan Margarine for the 3 TBSP of butter, and Raw Turbinado sugar for the regular stuff. I used a frozen crust that was dairy and egg free.

I'm not much of a crust artist - clearly Rebekah is from the looks of her pie! - so I always cut up strips from the 2nd crust in the package to decorate the top roughly. This crisscross shape results in "V is for Vegan" pie slices! ;)

The pie was delicious! It was sweet and tart all at the same time. It was even better after being chilled. Perfect for a hot summer day in Hawaii. Now I'm trying to figure out how I can get more Hawaiian Mountain Apples!

The last slice of pie is calling my name right now, and I'm going to close this post so I can do dig in!


Dishwasher Detergent Deal! (And a review)

There is a great deal on Amazon right now for Seventh Generation Free and Clear Dishwasher Detergent Pacs. I learned about it via Money Saving Mom who link to Jungle Deals and Steals. Gotta love the way a good deal travels!

Right now, the Seventh Generation Auto Dish Pacs are a great deal at $4.20 for a 20 count bag. If you use Subscribe and Save with Fee Super Saver Shipping, you can get them for $3.99 a bag. That's only 20 cents per load!

Here's my totally unbiased and not-sponsored-in-any-way review on Seventh Generation Dish Detergent:
I love it.

But I didn't love it at first. I tried the liquid one, and wasn't happy. I tried all the tips on their website to maximize it's power, but it still left my dishes filmy. They looked worse afterwards then they did when they went in.

So I wrote to Seventh Generation, begging them to make a better product for those of us who really want to LOVE a green product.

They responded, saying the were just releasing a newer version that was providing excellent results, and could they send me a trial? Of course, I said 'send away'!

I was very surprised when I received a full sized bottle in the mail! Full sized! And they were right, it worked much better. No more film. Just nice, clean, sparkly dishes, as long as I use vinegar in the rinse aid compartment.

Then there was a coupon for the dishwasher pacs, so I tried them out. And I love them. But they are expensive, and in Hawaii they are really expensive. So I don't buy them as often as I buy the liquid.
Enter this deal, and on Subscribe and Save, so I don't even have to worry about it! I'm a happy camper. If you haven't tried, maybe now is the time to give it a shot! :)

**While this review is not sponsored in any way, that is my affiliate link to the product above.


Memorial Day 2012 In Photos

I hope everyone enjoyed Memorial Day Weekend! I certainly did!

The festivities started with my first attempt at stringing together Plumeria Leis. Every year, the veterans buried at Punchbowl {National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific} are honored with fresh leis laid on their gravestones. The cemetery places a small American flag at each marker, and on Sunday afternoon, local Boy Scouts take more than 40,000 {FORTY THOUSAND!} leis and place them at each and every grave, while rendering a salute.

Usually, Memorial Day coincides with high school graduations, and the seniors donate their fresh flower leis to the cemetery, providing a significant portion of the leis needed. That didn't work out this year, so they put out a call to the community to make and donate leis. Since I have plumeria trees in the yard, I decided to give it a shot.

I thought my first attempt was too short, so I gave it to Goose instead. :)

I made three more, and we delivered them to the cemetery. {Turns out, my first lei was just the right size, and my next ones were too long! But they worked, and that's what matters.}

On Monday, we went back to the cemetery, to honor the fallen. {Because Memorial Day is about people who have died in service to their country, folks. It's not the same as Veteran's Day!} It's a strikingly beautiful place any day, but on Memorial Day, with the flags, the leis, all the extra tropical flowers, and families gathering around their loved ones' final resting place, it's breathtaking.

There are many unknown service members buried here. Some from the attack on Pearl Harbor, and hundreds from the Korean War. Seeing markers like these really brings home the point of Memorial Day. These service members deserved a full and happy life, but war took that away from them, so instead, we offer them a day of honor, respect, and gratitude for their sacrifice.

Visiting the cemetery reminds me to be grateful for all the sacrifices that have been made by those who lost their lives in service to our country, and it also reminds me to be extremely grateful that the sorrow of such sacrifice has not visited my family during my lifetime. I am so very thankful to have my husband home safe and sound on this holiday.

After leaving Punchbowl, it was time to cross something off my Hawaii Bucket List - the Floating Lanterns. Every year on Memorial Day, the Shinnyo-en Buddhists sponsor a Floating Lantern event that draws tens of thousands of people to the beach. More than 3,000 floating lanterns are released (and then later gathered) into the Pacific, with messages of hope and love to honor those who have died in wars, loved ones who have passed, and for peace throughout the world. {Check out their website to see pictures that do it way better justice than mine do.}

You have to arrive early to obtain a lantern, and they have tents set up with supplies so you can write your messages and decorate them, before assembling them on the float.

Later in the evening, the ceremony starts. There is Hawaiian chanting and singing, Hula, Shinnyo-en drummers, guitar and ukulele, and recordings of interviews of those who have had exceptional experiences at past events. It's all live on the beach, and there are 3 huge screens so everyone can see. It's also broadcast locally, and around the world. A moment of silence was shared to honor those who have left us. Her Holiness Keishu Shinso Ito spoke to the crowd, and together with political and religous leaders from the Island, lit the torch for peace. A few large ceremonial canoe style lanterns were officially floated, and then after the ringing of the bells, the crowd was allowed to float their individual lanterns, wading in the water and setting them gently down to slowly float out toward the horizon.

I wrote messages of remembrance for my grandparents, my friend Zac who left us far too soon and is greatly missed, and all my beloved pups that have crossed the rainbow bridge. {All dogs do go to heaven after all!}

It was truly a magical moment, being connected with thousands of strangers by a simultaneous sense of loss and love. As dusk faded and night took over, the glowing of the lanterns grew brighter, as they peacefully moved away from the crowds on the beach.

I'm so glad I was able to participate in this event, and I'm thankful to the Shinnyo-en Buddhists who graciously go to great lengths to organize and fund it, welcoming people of all faiths and backgrounds. This is another moment that truly lives up to the local saying, 'Lucky we live Hawaii.'

These events happen all over the world. If you ever have the chance to go, I highly recommend it.

Mahalo for looking at the pictures, and Aloha!