this moment

 A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
~Amanda Soule

pray for SPUWe woke up this morning to the devastating news of yet another school shooting. This time at our beloved alma matter. Our hearts are broken and grieving and our prayers are with all involved.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

 

one step closer

no-poo 005

For years now J and I have been on a mission to rid our home of as many chemicals as we can. We’ve been making our own cleaning supplies for a long time now, and just recently started using our own homemade deodorant (it’s amazing!). Today brought me one step closer to our goal. I am officially shampoo and conditioner free. That’s right, I used up the last of my shampoo and conditioner and decided the time was ripe to make a long anticipated change to a baking soda wash and an apple cider rinse. I came across a fantastic step-by-step guide to going ‘no-poo’ on Pinterest that you can check out here. Basically, the idea is that the shampoos we use not only strip our hair of dirt and grease, it also strips away all the healthy oils naturally produced by our bodies which throws off the Ph balance of our hair. So we have to use a conditioner to put back in manufactured oils to replace the natural oils the shampoo took away. And the cycle just goes on and on and on. Until today. Since baking soda isn’t a detergent it won’t strip the healthy oils out of my hair. As someone who has ALWAYS had curly dry hair this really appeals to me. Also, not pouring chemicals down the drain every time I wash my hair is a definite plus.

This morning I did my final shampoo with a clarifying shampoo (as recommended on the site), followed by the cider vinegar rinse. The clarifying shampoo left my hair with that squeaky clean feeling that I’ve come to dread with my curly, and ever dry, locks, but the cider vinegar really did seem to do the trick and my hair was easy to comb out and has been soft and extra curly today. So far, so good. Can’t wait to try the baking soda wash! I’ll keep you all posted on the progress, but it felt so liberating to realize I’ll soon make it through my entire morning routine without a single chemical in sight.

As a side note, any local Edinburghers looking to make the switch, give me a shout as I have a mostly unused bottle of clarifying shampoo I’d be happy to pass along!

a crockpot kinda night

easy-peasy crockpot refried beans - sparrowhopes.com

Mondays can be rough after a fun-filled weekend, especially when said fun took the place of normal weekend activities… like grocery shopping and meal planning. Important weekly tasks, but a girl’s got to live a little, right? Starting the week without a stocked fridge and weekly menu sorted… That’s right, I live on the edge. On. The. Edge.

Thankfully, years ago we came across this amazing recipe that has become our go-to for busy days, and Mondays that come around just a little too soon. We almost always have dried pinto beans, onions and garlic, so this is a meal that comes together in a snap. It’s great paired with rice, tortillas and a nice green salad. It’s also really yummy with some fajita veg served on top. (Another great way to use up veg that has been languishing in the fridge a bit too long.)

tea

So what did we fill this weekend up with instead of housework and shopping? A chance to host a fabulous tea for some lovely folks and while away a very soggy Sunday afternoon warm and cozy with good conversation and plenty of tea sandwiches and cakes all around. It was such fun! We’ve just started volunteering as a family with ‘Contact the Elderly’ and it was hopefully the first of many such afternoons to come. Contact the Elderly is a brilliant non-profit organization that organises regular Sunday afternoon tea parties for people over 75, who live with little or no social support. Little N was in his element, (he ADORES anyone over 70) happily passing out strawberries, sharing photos and eating as many biscuits as he could manage when we weren’t looking. Quite the charmer.

Okay, on to the recipe… this is also great for vegetarian/vegan friends and you can really class it up with the toppings to make it guest worthy. Freshly sliced avocado, homemade guacamole or salsa, homemade tortillas, some yummy queso blanco. Oh the possibilities!

easy-peasy crockpot refried beans - sparrowhopes.com

Easy-peasy crockpot refried beans
(adapted from allrecipes.com)

  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3-4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin, optional
  • water, to fill crockpot
  1. Place the onion, rinsed beans, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin into a slow cooker. Fill crockpot with water to about an inch below the top and stir to combine. Cook on High for 8 hours.
  2. Once the beans have cooked, strain them, and reserve the liquid. Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding the reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency.

note: I like to put my strainer in a big mixing bowl and then pour everything in the strainer. Easy way to catch all the liquid as you’ll want to make sure and keep some in reserve to add to any leftover beans. 

NPR

I generally keep this space set aside for my crafts, recipes, and other domestic going-ons, but back in December I heard a radio program that I haven’t been able to get off my mind and thought I’d share it here to get your thoughts. It was a story on Talk of the Nation entitled, “As Global Population Grows, Water Matters More”. (The audio and transcript are online, you can access both here.)

J and I have long been concerned with our consumption, and try to be good stewards of the resources we’ve been given. A few years back we even spent a year blogging our experience of trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle by changing just one thing (large or small) each week. It was a rich and rewarding experience that continues to shape our home life today. However, it is so, so easy to slip back into rhythms that are not mindful of our call to be carers of the creation entrusted to us, and this radio program was a good reminder for me. At one point the guest on the program (Jason Clay, senior vice president of market transformation, World Wildlife Fund) shared that 1/3 of the calories produced on the planet are never eaten by people. That is astonishing to me when so many around the world go through each day malnourished. And then I got to thinking about the waste in our own home, and if I’m honest I have to admit that at least 1/4-1/3 of the calories in our home are likely wasted as well. It seems like we are constantly throwing out leftovers, even when they are still good, simply because we’re tired of the dish. Equally, a lot of food does go off as it is easy to cook too much and end up with food going bad. Neither option is good.

So, as part of a New Year’s resolution of sorts, J and I are striving to have zero food waste. That means being extra vigilant when planning meals and buying groceries, using up what we have before purchasing more, and composting scraps. I’m also currently looking for ideas of how to use up vegetable scraps. You know, the bits of veggies that really are edible, but we throw away because it’s easier than trying to figure out what to do with potato peelings, broccoli stems, and other odds and ends. Any thoughts? If any of you have clever uses I’d love to hear them!

Okay, enough of my ramblings. It’s so easy to get mired down in guilt and despair, but that doesn’t do anyone any good. I’m much more interested in taking small, positive steps in our own home. This is an area I’m so passionate about and I’d love to hear your thoughts and practices. Anyone have any good ideas for limiting the amount of food waste in your own home?