Archive for the ‘Things I Like’ Category

Avocado: a Love Story

Avocados are one of my favourite things ever.  Almost to the point where I would use an expletive to emphasize the depth of my love, except that my Mom reads this.

avocado

Little known fact: they stand up on their own.

Why you ask?  Well…

They are damn good for you. Sorry Mom. But avocados are full of the good monounsaturated fats, fibre (soluble and insoluble), folate, potassium, and many other vitamins and minerals. Heck, I even read somewhere that they might actually help fight belly fat accumulation (and I will get you that citation shortly). More concrete is the evidence that monounsaturated fats can help lower your cholesterol.

Like all diet choices, you need to decrease bad choices while increasing good choices. For example I’ll recommend mashing avocado onto a piece of bread instead of using butter, and then making your sandwich like normal. You just replaced artery clogging saturated fats with a vitamin rich and heart healthy alternative! Go you!

Guacamole is delicious. Smash up avocados with yogurt and lemon juice, and find some low sodium seasoning to top it all off. Then just try not to eat it all in one go… like I do.

It’s good for your skin. No I said that. Those oils and vitamins I mentioned earlier make this a great ingredient in homemade masks. My favourite goes as so:

*Grind oatmeal into a powder.
*Blend it with avocado
*Add milk or yogurt and blend until you get a smooth, thick paste
*Maybe also cucumber, if your skin is irritated
*Smear on your face and hide around a corner
*Scare the next person who walks by.

I hear you can also use avocado as a conditioning mask for dry hair, so if you try that, let me know how it goes!

The word avocado means testicle. Maybe you don’t see that as a good thing, but apparently I am still five and find these things funny. I was going to quit while I was ahead, but so much for that I guess!

The Happiest Place on Earth

It’s not Disneyland.  I’ve never been there, but it sounds loud, crowded, and full of cartoon animals.  I don’t like any of those things, unless it’s the crazy chef from “The Little Mermaid.”  The happiest place on earth is my local garden centre.  You see, I have discovered in recent years that I love to garden.

As a kid I was always more of the “Ignore it and see what sprouts” school of growing things.  My Mom would patiently assign me a corner of the garden every year, and don’t get me wrong, I loved the idea of gardening, but just couldn’t seem to find the tenacity to stick with it.  In retrospect I think part of the problem was that I always filled my plot with flowers, which look nice, but don’t really give much back.  Of course, at the time growing vegetables wouldn’t have been as rewarding as it would just have gone in with all the grub my Mom was growing.  Now, it’s a whole other ballgame.  I put in the effort and I get a payout of cheap, delicious food.

...dirty freeloaders.

When I finally moved into a townhouse with a small backyard I decided right away that the barren edge of the lawn would become a garden.  I didn’t do much more than dig out the weeds and add some potting soil to it before I threw in my seeds.  I had a bumper crop of tomatoes that fall, but little else.  My peas died off after one picking and I got two hard, seedy zucchinis.  The soil was dense and rock-filled, and my carrots mostly broke off in the ground.  Still, I was hooked.  The veggies I did harvest were mind-blowingly delicious.  The first bite of carrot immediately convinced me to grow as much food as possible.  It’s easy to forget that veggies are actually very tasty, especially when we mostly buy grocery store versions.

The next year I did a little research and took a little more care in my planting.  My husband killed my peas and spearmint,  but the rest of the veggies came up nicely, and we ate tomatoes and zucchini, topped with fresh herbs, for quite some time.

This year, our apartment is on the second floor of our building and I am gearing up for a container farm.  The deck is sheltered nicely, and if I work around the bikes I think I can get a good selection going.  So a few weeks ago now I was off to a nearby greenhouse to stock up on plants. It’s a magical place, full of green things and damp smells.  And I mean that in the “damp foresty” and not the “damp gym socks” way.

Now, several weeks later, I have success on all but the lettuce front.  Apparently those seeds were duds.  Otherwise though, things are coming along nicely!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In order of appearance:  An Oxalis my grandmother gave me (and I was worried I’d killed), Oregano sprouts, a Pea plant, Zucchinis, and a Strawberry blossom.

The Vinegar Files

So, my life has been a little wild lately.  This isn’t my personal blog, so I will keep the whining brief:  I am out of a job, and have sent my husband up north for work.   As you may infer, I now have quite a bit of free time, so I am trying to keep busy and productive. And is it ok that I am kind of enjoying it?

Today I finally feel like I’ve accomplished something in getting my house clean.  Up until now this has been a fruitless effort largely because I have been living with four males.  However, with Husband up north and Brothers 1 & 2 out of town for summer jobs, it just leaves me and the fairly tidy Roommate.  We’ve both done some organizing, purging, and tidying, and I’m proud to say the house looks kind of like adults live here.  Adults with a lot of secondhand furniture and swords, but nonetheless.

I am sure you’ve heard that most things can be cleaned with Baking Soda and Vinegar.  I just finally bought some Baking Soda (I don’t bake) and have been using Washing Soda instead, but here’s the Lazy Hippie’s top ten uses of Vinegar.

Yes, the stuff on the restaurant table that no one uses. It's good on fries though!

1. To clean the coffee maker.  I just bought a French Press, so I decided to give our drip machine a good cleaning.  Fill it up with water and a good splash of Vinegar, run it through once or twice, and follow with a plain water cycle.  Give the carafe a scrub and let the whole thing air dry.

2. To clean the rack from my toaster oven.  I soaked it in hot water and Vinegar and the majority of baked on ickies came off with a light scrubbing.

3. To deal with the unspeakable horrors at the back of the toilet seat.  Enough said.

4. To kill the moss on the deck.  Actually my Grandmother told me about this one:  half Vinegar and half water was apparently more effective than any of the commercial moss-killers she bought.

5. As half of the bathroom crime fighting duo.  I use Washing Soda and a damp sponge to scrub out the tub and sink, rinse with water, then spray down with Vinegar.  The ensuing chemical reaction dissolves off any Soda residue as it converts to water.  I don’t rinse off the Vinegar so it works thoroughly, as my baby blue 70’s tub shows pretty much every streak left.  Yes the place smells nasty, so follow it all up with your favourite scented candles.

6. To leave my dishes sparkling. I am blessed with a dishwasher, however, it’s one that leaves my dishes cloudy and dull.  I dump Vinegar and maybe a splash of lemon juice in the bottom of the dishwasher before I run it, and end up with clear, residue-free dishes.

7. As an ingredient in my homemade glass cleaner.

8. In hair rinses.  Except for this I use Apple Cider Vinegar instead of plain white.

9. As a fabric softener alongside this detergent.

10. As….um,  OH!  I used it as a weed killer on the patio at my last house!

Seriously, a massive jug of Vinegar is kind of the holy grail of homemade/green home solutions.  I keep a spray bottle filled with the stuff at all times.  It’s cheap and effective, just make sure you have your scented candles ready afterwards!

Oil: The good and the beautiful

Some time ago, my hippie coworker Alanna and I were researching something known as “The Oil Cleansing Method.”

It sounds contradictory doesn’t it?  We all know that oil is that sheen on your face and the dullness in your hair and has something to do with your skin overproducing sebum (a word that has had us giggling since middle school).  Oiliness is bad, and we fight it down with the harshest cleansers we can get!  In fact, we’re not sure why BP didn’t just dump a ton of Noxema in the ocean after things went so terribly wrong down there.

But we’re getting smarter about skin too.  It’s starting to become common knowledge that over-cleansing your skin is just as bad as never washing it.  We know that stripping out those natural oils causes your skin to overcompensate, resulting in more oil than is needed.  And this gums up the works pretty well. As in so many things we’re learning that balance is the key, using gentle methods to assist the skin instead of carpet bombing it with harsh synthetics.

This is where the Oil Cleansing method can be exceptionally useful.  It uses natural plant oils to loosen dirt and dead skin cells and deliver a solid punch of health to your dermis.

The method is detailed fairly clearly here. And while I don’t recommend shaving your head, I think this ladies skin does look great.

...and pretty bottles make it work better.

Which oils you use will depend on what your skin is like.  Dry skinned folk will want a richer, heavier oil than those of us with skin that tends to “self-moisturize” already.  I will always recommend doing your own research, but personally, I have been using the following mixture with great success:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 cup hempseed oil

3-4 drops tea tree oil

Both olive and hempseed oils are rich in Vitamin E as well as those important fatty acids we keep hearing about. Olive oil is an old beauty secret, and there’s a lot of exciting research coming out about Hempseed oil: to start, it’s one of the only plant oils containing Vitamin D, as well as being a very complete source of Omega 3 and 6. Actually I could do a whole post on this stuff, but lets settle for saying it’s a great lightweight oil that has a pleasant nutty taste and smell as well as being bright green. It’s expensive though, so I cut it with olive oil, which I buy in large quantities for cooking.

Lately I try to do the full routine about twice a week and just rub a little into my face, legs and elbows after a shower.  I tend to follow with facial toner before I leave the house just to take care of any oil that hasn’t soaked in.  Honestly though, this has been super effective.  The worst of the eczema on my elbows is gone, and the patch on my leg has cleared considerably. The skin on my face is smoother and happier, feeling softer with less redness and fewer breakouts. I still use a mild soap to cleanse in the morning, but I will probably talk about soap on it’s own at some point.

I will warn you, switching to natural methods can take an adjustment period of a couple days to a week. How severe this is will depend on how many and how harsh of synthetics you’ve been using and probably on what your diet is like. This is your skin clearing out the crap and adjusting back to normal! It’s a good thing! Be patient, but maybe don’t start this right before your wedding. You may also want to ease into it, cutting back on your commercial products slowly. I started by cutting down my cleanser use to once a day instead of twice for a while before I switched to natural soap completely.

But seriously, if you’re skeptical just try rubbing a little olive oil into your newly shaven legs or dry elbows. You will be a believer in no time!