Conserve, Give, Love

attemping to incorporate these things into the everyday…

It’s the Little Things March 24, 2009

Filed under: changing,environmentalism,green living — Lauren Rowerdink @ 3:46 pm


Image from Nikki McClure

A lot of things have changed in my life over the last couple of years. But, one thing I really feel like has become a theme in my life is being mindful.  Which basically would just be the opposite of mindlessness, I suppose, or perhaps ignorance is more accurate.  The more I learn, the more change I see in the way I think and operate and make decisions.  So many decisions in our everyday lives are made mindlessly, without knowledge or awareness of how they will affect the world around us, our (global) neighbor, and even ourselves.  Happily, in my life, it’s been changing.  It’s a response to the things I’m learning.  Questions pop into my mind like,
“Do I need to that?”
“Is there a better way that I could do this?”
“How is this affecting the…. planet, my health, my family, etc.”  
As I’m throwing something in the trash I’ll wonder if there’s a way to avoid that bit of waste the next time.  And it’s not taxing like you might think.  I’ve been making one change or so at a time and I don’t beat myself up over anything, so that when I do find a new, more mindful way to do something, it’s actually just a really nice feeling.  I like knowing that simple, mundane actions can be doing something good in the world.  So, in that spirit, here are some little changes I’ve been thinking of.  They are all small things.  Some I’ve already made and some just next up on the list.    
  • Use bar soap for washing dishes.  I’ve actually been doing this for months and months, maybe a year…  Dr. Bronner’s soap comes wrapped in paper, so there’s no plastic waste, it’s vegan, and fair trade and there are a bunch of scents to choose from, all of which are quite nice.  It’s the perfect little change toward using less plastic and buying fair trade.  thanks to life less plastic, who thought of it first.  (we have started using Dr. Bronner’s bar soap in the shower and at the bathroom sink as well.  There are other natural soaps out there, but most are not fair trade or even organic and most are packaged in plastic.)
  • Monitoring my use of water in the kitchen – not letting the tap run when I don’t need to.  This has proven to be a difficult habit to break…   
  • Use a cup while brushing my teeth instead of letting the water run. (like No Impact Man)
  • Draw more.  I tend to go through spurts.  I need to break out the sketchbook again.  It would be good for my soul to be more creative and turn off the electronics more often.
  • Utilize the local library.  Oh my, I love the library.  I wish there were a library set-up for everything.  There are so many things that I could use, but don’t need to own.  And I love how relaxing it is to read a book, rather than doing reading and research in front of the computer screen.  Plus, it’s free and who doesn’t love that?!    
  • Find a new place for my retractable clothesline and start using it again.  I haven’t put it up since we moved in September because I can’t decide where I should put it.  It’s quite small in here and our washer and dryer are outside.  I would really like to find a solution, though.  Hopefully it will get put up this week, as soon as I get over this cold! 
  • Put a new rule into effect for myself: If I am going to leave a room for more than 60 seconds, I will turn off/unplug any and all electronics – lights, TV, laptop, music, whatever.  It’s so easy to leave things running, thinking “Oh I’ll be back in a minute anyway”.
  • Paint on the canvases I got for Christmas last year. I can’t believe it’s been so long!  I really REALLY want to try my hand at painting something pretty for my walls and it goes along with one of my general goals to make more things by hand.
  • Make more food-things myself… Start making my own baked tortilla chips.  It would be much healthier, cheaper and cut back on the plastic.  I’ve started making my own “plant” milk.  So far I’ve made hazelnut and almond and they were both really out-of this-world delicious (I already really like  packaged almond milk, but this was way better) and then I save the left over pulp and it’s great for getting extra protein and fat into Elena.  I pretty much went with these guidelines and I’m loving the blog where I found them.  I would also like to make lara type bars for Elena, which is something I occasionally buy and stick in my purse just in case she gets hungry/cranky.  I’m looking here and here for tips. One thing I have succeeded at is making desserts at home.  If I don’t do this, Brian and I will end up picking up a box of this or that at the store and it is less healthy and creates more waste.   (When I bake at home I use whole grain flours, unrefined sweeteners and sub out most or all of the butter/oil)
  • Drink more water and less coffee.  I always need to drink more water.  (though not during mealtime as it interferes with digestion, did you know that?  Robyn’s Blog has taught me lots of things.)
  • I’ve made a few little dish scrubbers from mesh produce bags.  they are the perfect little thing to use on cast-iron cookware.
  • Find a good recipe for making my own whole grain bread (all whole grain, no all purpose flour).  Sprouted would be especially good, as I am always buying Ezekiel.  Any suggestions?
  • I just bought a new stainless steel pan and I’m working on phasing out all non-stick (teflon) cookware as well as plastics from our kitchen…  no more off-gassing and leaching of chemicals, please!
  • Get more sleep.  I’m a crazy night-owl and I always have been.  My husband goes to bed earlier than I do rather frequently, but then I end up staying up too late.  Getting more sleep would be better for my health, and allow me to turn the heater and lights and whatnot off at an earlier time.  
  • I am considering ordering weekly deliveries from Dandelion Organic, a company that delivers fresh fruit and veg that is as local as possible – to your door.  What a wonderful thing!  I just need to be sure it’s not too expensive for us.

What things are on your mind to change?  Do tell!


(A Big Ole Pot of) The Magical Fruit

Filed under: environmentalism,food,green living,health — Lauren Rowerdink @ 2:38 pm

3289542808_723dce55f71photo credit:LDOMENICI/

You know what that is, right?  BEANS!

Beans, beans, wonderful beans.  I never cooked with them too often in the past becuase I always found them to be so rough on the digestive system.  But, did you know that if you soak them and cook them yourself, the soaking helps dissolve the starches that cause that magical, musical, tummy-ache inducing quality?  Oh yes.  Also, cooking them yourself is a great way to reduce packaging in your life, spare you from that often BPA-ridden plastic lining, and added sodium AND save money!!  Cooked Dried Beans are the cheapest source of protein around, even when you buy organic.  Can’t go wrong with that, right?

Beans have become a much larger portion of my diet lately since I’ve started cooking them myself.  I waited far too long to start doing this just because I really wasn’t sure how exactly.  But since I read some simple instructions and finally just tried it, I’ve realized how easy and, dare I say, convenient it is.  A few great recipes helps too.  

So, here is the method:

Soak desired amount of dried beans overnight in a large bowl in the refridgerator. The water should come about three inches above the beans.  One cup of dried beans will make about 3 cups of cooked beans, so keep that in mind.  Rinse soaked beans and then place in a large pot and fill with water – roughly 3 cups water to 1 cup beans.  Bring to a boil, cover with lid, leaving it slightly ajar for steam to escape.  once the water has come to a boil, reduce to a simmer (if you leave them boiling, they will turn to mush).  length of cooking time will depend on what type of bean it is (see below for cooking times).  

It is somewhat of a time consuming process, but my dear, it is not a complicated thing, you just have to be home for a couple  hours.  So, pick a time, any time, when you know you will be home and let a pound or so of them cook away, then store in their cooking liquid in the refridgerator and use them that week.  Don’t think you could use a pound in a week? Well, you might be wrong about that.  Here are the types of beans, their respective cooking times and suggested ways to use them, or scarf them, up – with some recipe links while I’m at it:

Black beans (turtle beans): 1 1/2 hrs.

Black-eyed peas: 1 hour

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans): 1 1/2 hours

White beans (great northern beans): 1 1/2 hours

Kidney beans: 1 hour

Pinto beans: 1 1/2 hours (ok, so it’s harder to get a variety of types of dishes out of pinto beans, as they tend to be paired with the same mexican type flavors, but refried beans always make a good snack, I think, kind of like hummus.)

Of course you can always just sit yourself down to a nice plate of rice and beans, or a bean burrito, it’s just nice to know that you don’t have to.  oh and don’t be afraid to swap out the beans in a recipe for another kind.  usually it’s do-able. 

So, now you have no excuse.  you know how, you know it will save you money and be good for you (much better than any animal protein and better than canned beans), and so much better for the environment, too.  Give it a try, cook up a big ol pot of beans and enjoy some good eats!  



Use it Up! February 10, 2009

Filed under: environmentalism,food,green living,health — Lauren Rowerdink @ 12:15 am

2204644756_90a24814a0_m1image courtesy of onpaperwings on flickr

A few ideas for using things you might normally throw out:

Old bread…

when you have left the last few pieces of bread in the bag and moved on to a new, fresh loaf, cube them up, throw them in the toaster with herbs and olive oil and make croutons for salad or soup, or throw them in the food processor and make a big batch of bread crumbs.  (Bonus: this is much healthier than store bought alternatives, particularly when using sprouted whole grain bread) Favorite uses for bread crumbs: veggie burgers, the famous chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon, falafel, and eggplant parmesan.

Stale bread also makes for great french toast or bread pudding or stuffing if you feel so inclined.


Save the ends of your veggies that you chop off, throw them in the freezer and when the container is full, make some broth.

If you know you have vegetables that are about to go bad and you know you can’t use them all, chop them up and freeze them, use them in just about anything, or cook them, add some stock, puree and fresh herbs and you’ve got soup!

Save your broccoli stalks.  save them for a “cream” of broccoli soup.  or just peel and chop them up and add whenever you’re using broccoli florets.

Oh, and you eat beet greens, right?  please tell me you don’t chop them off and throw them away!  add to smoothies or sautee as you would any other green – with garlic!


Same as veggies, if you have some you know you won’t be able to use up before it goes bad, wash/peel/chop it and throw it into the freezer for later use in smoothies or baking or to top your breakfast of choice – oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, french toast, cereal, whatever…  

If you will only be using the juice of your lemons/limes/oranges, you can zest them first and save the zest in the freezer for later use.  Use the lemon rinds for cleaning (as I mentioned in a previous post).  You could also make candied orange peels.

Old Clothes

 Turn a pair of socks into baby leg warmers.  My sister did this for Elena.  I’m thinking it would be a great thing to do with my socks that have lost their little mates somewhere along the line.  She could either look crazy and mis matched or more likely, they would be the ones i put on under her jeans when it’s extra cold out. 

Turn old undershirts into rags or baby wipes with just a pair of scissors.

Of course there’s all sorts of re-fashioning ideas you could go crazy with.  I hope to experiment someday when I have a sewing machine. 

Save all that plastic…

I’ve learned that I don’t need ziploc bags.  I save plastic bags from bread or those re-sealable bags some things come in and use them instead of buying ziploc bags.  I just squeeze the air out and twist them closed or re-use a twist tie.  I save gift bags that are too crumpled to re-use and pack my husband’s lunch in them.  I’m currently saving mesh produce bags to make a dish scrubber…. obviously it is better to not buy things that come in these bags at all, but I think most of us have them creep into our houses despite our efforts, but if not, good for you, you can ignore me.


I probably don’t need to mention saving glass and plastic containers – obvious, right?  But seriously, I save almost all of them.  Glass jars are used for storing bulk goods, leftovers and homemade sauces and dressings.  They keep things so much more organized than tupperware or ziploc bags.  I save large glass jugs and re-use for home-made iced tea, smoothies, lemonade or almond milk, etc.  plastic tubs are perfect for sending leftovers home with friends or family and for keeping things organized all over the house.  I want to reuse some aluminum cans for something like this or this.


Scraps of paper that are about to go into the recycling are thrown into my purse so that Elena has something to color on when we’re out (I also take the crayons from restaurants that give a fresh plastic wrapped package to each child, because I know they will just throw them away)  Or, you can save paper that has one unprinted side and cut it up, staple together and use as a message pad before recycling.  I also save paper grocery bags, which tend to trickle in when my husband goes shopping or extended family comes to visit, and I turn them inside out and use as gift wrapping. Oh, and I use newspaper (and vinegar) to clean glass surfaces before recycling it. 

Other random things…

When pillows go flat, fold them over and stitch one edge and then stuff inside a cute cover.

Use the heat from your oven by leaving the door open for a bit after you’ve turned it off.

Reuse coffee that you don’t drink by putting it in the fridge and save for an iced coffee later.  Throw the used coffee grounds into your outdoor garden/plant bed.

Rinse and reuse aluminum foil until totally unsalvageable. 

Use empty toilet paper rolls to keep electronic cords neatly coiled or use them to make puppets or other crafts with your kids.  Find more creative ideas here.


Any more things  you can think of?  let me know!

p.s. If you eat cheese or meat – I saw a chef on martha stewart today make two types of broth – one from parmesan rinds and one from prosciutto ends and trimmings.  I thought the parmesan one sounded like a particularly useful and tasty idea, for someone else of course.


Vegan Livin’ is Easy January 12, 2009

Aside from getting egg at a local breakfast place when I ordered tofu and going to my husband’s company party where I had pre-ordered a vegetarian lasagna (not vegan) months ago, and then a resulting awful stomachache… my transition to veganism has been really great.  Those are the only non-vegan things I’ve eaten and the restaurant that brought me eggs instead of tofu paid for my meal and also gave me a coupon for another free meal!  Anyhow, I’m really loving the peace of mind it’s brought me, just knowing that my decisions in this area are all finally lining up with my values completely, is so so nice.  And the food? Delicious, oh yes, even when eating out.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t live without meat, eggs and dairy.  You will get all of the nutrients you need (ok, assuming you don’t live on vegan cupcakes and cereal or something) and most likely you will find yourself eating a healthier, wider, more delicious array of vegetables, grains, fruits and more!  If you’re looking into the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, here are my favorite links to get you started:


  • Happy Herbivore – Lindsay at Happy Herbivore creates wonderful fat-free, whole foods vegan recipes that are always sure to please. She rarely uses meat analogues, so I think her recipes are great for beginners who may be a little scared of seitan, tempeh and tofu.  Try her nacho “cheeze” and spinach and artichoke dip and you’ll find yourself all the more assured that it is easy peasy to give up dairy.  I’m drooling right now just thinking about those nachos.  They are Brian’s favorite, too.
  • Post Punk Kitchen – If i’ve got a question about something, whether food related or not, I will often go onto the PPK website, click “forums” and then search whatever it is I’m thinking of and it never fails me.  Plus, the recipes are amazing.  Scrambled tofu will have you living egg-free in no time.  It’s the perfect recipe for the tofu virgin – especially wrapped up in a tortilla with some breakfast potatoes.  It’s my all-time favorite brunch.
  • Happy Foody – Sara was the first person to introduce me, via her blog of course, to vegetarian living.  It’s not that I hadn’t heard of vegetarianism before, obviously, but she was the first to inspire me to learn more.  And the recipes from her food blog are some of the first I made and still some of my favorites.  Her favorite salad dressing is now the favorite for Brian and I too. 
  • Dreena Burton’s Blog and Recipes – Dreena Burton has published several cookbooks.  Her recipes are healthy and delicious!
  • I’ve posted some of my favorite recipes in the past here and here.


  • Diet for a New America by John Robbins – a book I’ve mentioned again and again.  Well worth the read.
  • Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman – In this book, the author advocates a (at least 95%) vegan diet. It is well-researched and documented and will give you all the reasons you need to go vegan from a health perspective.


  • Veganomicon – It’s like the vegan version of the Joy of Cooking, meaning it’s a comprehensive type of book that will set you up for success if all you’ve ever cooked is something from a box.  Try some sample recipes and you’ll be hooked and buy the book the next time you have a spare twenty bucks.  Isa Chandra Moskowitz also wrote Vegan with a Vengeance, another favorite vegan cookbook.  Here’s a bunch of her recipes for you to try until you can come up with that twenty bucks.  I love her coffeecake and waffles.  That woman knows how to do brunch.  I can’t wait for her latest book to come out!
  • The Joy of Vegan Baking – a comprehensive baking book.  If you are a afraid of losing your ability to bake familiar favorites without milk, eggs and butter, this book will put your fears to rest for sure.  This book also has a few unconventional and healthy recipes as well, like the raw strawberry pie that I love.


More web stuff:

Resources for Research and Making the Transition:

Now, go give it a try why don’t you!


Resolute. January 5, 2009


I believe the credit for the above photo goes to Herbivore Clothing Company, but I can’t seem to find where I got it from now…


As New Years was approaching, I began to think about the past year, as we all do, and of course, the year to come.  It seems a convenient time to me to make a resolution in my life to make a permanent change.  Something has been weighing on my heart and my mind a lot lately.  

I bought a sweater a few months ago and saw that the tag said “angora” and I bought it anyway because I loved the fit and styling so much, but the decision has weighed on me.  My dad took me shopping after Christmas and wanted to buy me warm socks at REI.  He loves the SmartWool brand and really wanted to get some for me.  I didn’t have the heart to have the “please no animal product” conversation with him.  He bought me four pair, two of which I’ll be taking back and two of which I’ve been wearing.  And it’s been weighing on me.  I’ve somewhat been in the market for a new pair of boots and can’t bring myself to buy leather ones, even though I love these, because it’s been weighing on me.  Every time I crack the eggs for some cornbread or put the cheese on top of my pizza, something just doesn’t feel right in my spirit.  

So, I’m making the change… toward the vegan way of life.  When I went vegetarian a year and a half ago, I cut out most dairy and eggs as well.  The only reason I’ve not gone vegan yet is because I haven’t wanted to deal with what others will say and I don’t want to inconvenience anyone (admittedly myself on occasion), but this is hardly a good reason to continue to make choices that don’t line up with my values.  Factory farming practices are shockingly horrifying.  Really.  I don’t want to be a part of it in any way, shape or form.  It is not good for anyone involved – not the animals, not the environment, surely, not the people perpetuating the violence and not for the health of those who consume those products.  It would be wrong for me to continue to support these practices, particularly against my own conscience.  At this point I plan to keep the things I already own that are not vegan, because I don’t think it would benefit anyone for me to just throw them out, but from here on out all purchases shall be cruelty free.  

While it may seem like an extreme choice to some, for me I think for the most part it will just be woven into the fabric of my life, as so many other changes have been.  I’ve learned that nothing is so difficult as it seems it will be, especially when motivated by something more important than any minor inconvenience.  This is not meant as a judgment upon anyone else, though sadly, I know some will perceive it that way.  It’s just another step toward becoming who I am.  Wish me luck!  I think it’s going to feel really good.  Happy New Year!


Kitchen Successes and NieNie Love October 31, 2008

Filed under: food,health,Links — Lauren Rowerdink @ 12:35 am

Some things I made in my kitchen this last week that turned out lovely:


Homemade Pizza.  I made my own dough for the first time.  Who knew it was so easy?  and tasty? topped with my own sauce (roughly: 1/2 can tomato sauce, 1/2 can tomato paste, fresh garlic, basil, fresh cracked pepper, salt), chopped zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, arugula, broccoli and a little bit of mozzarella on top.  oooh so good.  you really must try it.


Lemon Fusilli with Arugula:  I made some changes to this recipe.

  • I cut all of the amounts in half, since I’m cooking for two and a half people.
  • brown rice fusilli pasta instead of the less healthy semolina version
  • rice milk/soy creamer instead of the heavy cream
  • scale back the lemon or leave it out entirely.  delicious!


Eggplant Parmesan:  After going to Olive Garden a long time ago, I made up this recipe trying to imitate their eggplant parm.  it’s delicious if I do say so myself

  • Cut one medium sized eggplant into 1/2″ rounds, 
  • grill on george foreman or grill pan until softened and nice grill marks appear (about 4 mins. per side) let cool slightly, 
  • dip in soy yogurt and breadcrumbs (I usually make my own from sprouted bread and italian seasonings). 
  • top with a little cheeze if you desire or vegan parm (i like to use the “Almesan” recipe from Veganomicon.)
  • bake for 15 mins or so, until crispy (I used the toaster oven since I was making such a small portion – it uses less energy and is easier to keep an eye on).  
  • Serve alongside sauteed greens or the traditional, spaghetti (homemade marinara, whole wheat/brown rice/quinoa spaghetti) .  mmm…


These muffins and these cupcakes. I used less sugar than called for both of these and they were still delicious.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread.  oh. my. goodness. I made some alterations to this recipe:

  • applesauce instead of the (whole stick!) of butter, no joke.
  • organic turbinado sugar and cut the amount in half (the applesauce adds a lot of sweetness)
  • organic plain yogurt instead of sour cream.
  • dark chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips and cut the amount in half.

This was sooo good.  My husband asked me not to spoil the experience by telling him all of the healthy alterations I made 🙂


These past food-related posts have really pointed out my love for NieNie and her food blog: CuisineNie.  I’ve read her blog, Nie Nie Dialogues, for well over a year.  It has been a favorite ever since Carla sent me the link.  I liked it so much, I even went back and read all of her archives!  She is an amazing woman, with impeccable taste and a wonderful ability to capture and convey the beauty of every day life.  If you haven’t read her blog or heard the story of what has happened to her and her family these last couple of months, you really must read this article.  Please join me in praying for Christian and Stephanie and their family.  
Oh, and you are going to want to check out her sister’s blog, C Jane Enjoy It, as it is also fabulous.


Less is More October 18, 2008

Filed under: green living,moving — Lauren Rowerdink @ 11:35 pm

I love our new home. It’s a lovely rental in an entirely different neighborhood than we were living in before, a neighborhood which I love.  We are so close to a really great park, really close to Trader Joe’s, which I frequent, and super close to El Gitano, best mexican food in town.  The streets around here are lined with trees and adorable, well kept little old homes.  We have a backyard now, which is so nice.  Now instead of looking out onto the traffic, Elena looks out into the backyard and watches for the neighbor’s kitty and says hello to all the squirrels that flock to the compost bin, which is adorable if you ask me.  

Favorite part about our new place?  Surprisingly, it is the smallness.  When we first started looking for a new place, smaller was a priority for me.  We have roughly half the square footage of our last place, which wasn’t necessarily excessive anyway.  But now, I spend my days in roughly 650 sq. ft.  and I love it.  Do dishes and watch elena play in the living room?  yes please.  Always know where she is just by peering over my shoulder?  yes, thankyouverymuch.  In our last place, I was constantly following her from one end of the house to the other.  Now, I only feel like I’m chasing her when she runs away and says “bye”, which is my cue to come get her and say “boo!”  It’s her favorite thing.  Guaranteed to lighten even the worst of moods.

I love that just having dinner cooking warms the whole house.  no joke!  I love that in my kitchen everything is conveniently located within my reach.  In our old kitchen I felt like I was always running in circles.  No more!  Not only is our place small, so is our oven and refrigerator, which has also turned out great. It’s more energy efficient, since I’m usually only cooking for two and a half people and there’s no more feeling like things get lost in the abyss of the fridge.  It forces you to keep things neat and organized, which is quite nice.  And speaking of keeping things neat and organized, this place is so much easier to keep neat and clean!  Since I can almost always see Elena, I am able to get so much more done and it doesn’t hurt that there’s less to clean, what with less space and all.  Less space equals less dirty counters, dirty floors, etc.  and the smallness makes it obvious when something is out of place.  I may not be the most organized person by nature, but an organized and clean space makes me really happy.

Overall conclusion: less is more

It’s another case of happier people, happier planet.  Less space to heat, less space to clean, and more simple happy life. 

here are some photos of the space before we moved in, I’ll post some of it with our stuff all moved in as soon as I take some.