Cascadian Farm Organic Goodness

WELCOME TO OUR ALMANAC! READ ABOUT ALL THINGS ECO FROM ORGANIC VEGGIE
GARDEN TIPS TO GREEN FAMILY ACTIVITIES.

GOOD QUESTIONS

Why do you grow organic?

Because every little bit helps. While I am still on my journey to a greener lifestyle - there are many who are far ahead of me! - I believe that each time I take a greener step and make a more earth-conscious decision, I have made a difference. I want to preserve the world for my children and I want the world to be a healthier, safer place for them and their children.

What is your best organic tip?

Vinegar to boost natural dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent. I have used natural detergents for years now, but I must admit that sometimes the smell from musty towels that were left in a wet heap or the build up in my dishwasher makes me crazy. To get rid of the smell, I add white vinegar. Works like a charm!

What is your favorite CD?

I suppose if I have to choose, I would say R.E.M. Automatic for the People - but really it is impossible to choose just one of their albums. I adore R.E.M.

If you had to decide, what would you be: animal, plant, or mineral?

Animal. I would want to feel, to run, to eat and drink, to give birth - I would want to experience the world around me.

The Do’s and Don’ts for dealing with homesickness


My first trip to “camp” was when I was only a few weeks old. My father was the speaker and my parents’ friend flew my mom with her brand new twin babies up to the island. Yes, for our family, camp was a part of life – and we loved it!

My father was a minister and he loved to speak to youth – even long after his days of “youth ministry” were over. So, every summer my parents volunteered for a week at senior teens’ Bible camp.

My dad was the camp director and my mom worked in the kitchen. My siblings and I were “worker’s kids” roaming the camp, hanging out with campers and having fun. It was the highlight of our year.

As I grew older, I became a camper, then a dish crew worker, and then a counselor.

I even met my husband at camp! And we have carried on the tradition of volunteering every summer at this same camp that has been so important to us. In fact, this summer will be my eight year old son’s ninth year going to camp.

My son loves it and counts the months until July when we get on the boat and head to the island.

And he can’t wait until he can attend camp on his own, as a camper at Junior Boys camp.

But, when I first attended camp without my parents it was not the fun, carefree experience I had going to camp with my family.

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What is your biggest weight loss/weight maintenance challenge?

Mine is stopping eating when it tastes too good! I can often resist until it touches my tongue. But then I am gone!

I find it so hard to hit the bottom of the bowl, to take the last bite. So, if I am at home with “more” available, it takes all I can do to not indulge in second and thirds and fourths...

I have eaten a third of a tub of ice cream in the wee hours of the night! (Oh yes – late night eating is when I am at my most vulnerable.)

Here are five ways to battle back when you want to dig back in:

1. Put away the container/left-overs away and refuse to go back. After serving your first, reasonably sized helping, return the tub of ice cream to the freezer and place the scooper in the dishwasher, close the cookie tin and shut the cupboard door, or scoop the leftovers into a container and put it out of sight if it is still too hot to go in the fridge.

2. Have a glass of water with a splash of lemon to clear your palate with a refreshing taste. It feels like a treat and will help you move on instead of going back.

3. Brush your teeth! A sure fire way to get you out of “eating mode” is to brush your teeth. Your teeth feel minty clean and you can focus on something other than that delicious, tempting flavour that was lingering in your mouth.

4. Get moving! Go for a walk. Get up and dance with your kids. Getting outside, or even active inside, will not only help you metabolize your meal, it will get your mind off food.

5. If all else fails, have an apple. If you really feel an urge to keep eating and your teeth just need to chomp on something, grab an apple and enjoy the sweet, refreshing crunch.

I have a friend who laments the popularity of digital photography. He even has handed his DSLR over to his wife and returned to his film SLR. He loves to tease me and go on “digital-is-evil” rants with me, just to get me going.

And while I understand his point that film holds value that digital cannot replace, I cannot imagine going back to my film SLR. (Although I do hold onto it for sentimental value as it belonged to my late father.) In fact, going to a digital SLR camera was perhaps one of the greenest (and easiest) choices I have ever made.

You see, when I had my first child, my father had recently passed away and I had inherited one of his Canon SLR film cameras. I loved photography, but new very little and I had not used an SLR before. I remember staring at my new son and thinking, “Well, I guess I better learn how to take beautiful photos of you.”

So I picked up that SLR and started learning.

In the first year of my son’s life I spent approximately $2,000 on developing film. And that wasn’t even on enlargements, etc. That was just to develop them, check out how I had done, learn from my mistakes and then toss out the tons of garbage shots.

As everyone who has ever photographed children knows, you can’t take one or two shots and hope you got the perfect picture. No, each photography session included hundreds of photos to get the ones you want.

And, I actually often developed with duplicates or triplicates, (I know – shudder!) But it cost a dollar to add in the extra set and a heck of a lot more than that to get copies of any that happened to be good enough to share with the grandparents. So I was throwing hundreds of copies in the garbage AND I still have boxes and boxes of unsorted photos in my basement!

When my son Jackson was about two years old Canon introduced the first digital Rebel. I was desperate to get it, but I waited, hesitant to buy the first one out of the gate.

But not much later, my twin sister’s first baby was due and her husband bought the brand new Nikon D70. He had barely ever taken a photo in his life, so the arrangement was pretty much that I got to use the camera and take all the photos I could of their daughter. Worked for me!

And so my digital photography life began.

I now shoot with a Canon 50D (I had to return to Canon – it feels like home) and my DSLR is my most precious possession. (When my Canon 40D was stolen on the way to Disney World I was completely lost without it. I still have nightmares about losing my cameras.)

As I download thousands of photos on to hard drives, I am so grateful that not only am I saving thousands of dollars not developing film, but I am not tossing thousands of printed photos in the garbage.

Yes, my DSLR might just be my “greenest” (and my favorite) part of my day. If only all “green” choices were as easy to make!

I am all about playing. I think our kids have too much homework, too many activities and too little play. So I always take advantage of the sunshine and let my son play before homework or piano practice. If the kids are playing a neighborhood game of street hockey, I let my son drop his pencil and grab his stick. The opportunity for exercise can't be passed up!

Having said that, homework still needs to get done and on days when my son has a play date after school - or even worse a play date and then a lacrosse game in the evening! - homework is left until bedtime. Sometimes we get it done in time, but often he is too tired and cranky. So today I tried a tip I heard in the schoolyard, (yes we moms gather there too.) Have your kids do their homework together during their play date.

Yes, I got my son and his buddy to do their homework together! They did it three times as fast as they would have on their own and got right back to their playing. How did I manage to coral two eight year old boys to the table to do their homework, you ask? Well, it was actually easier than I expected.

  1. I led with the benefits – always a good approach for a tough sell. I asked the boys if they wanted to get their homework done together so they wouldn’t have to do it after the play date, highlighting the fact that it was much more fun to do it together than by themselves.
  2. Second, I fed them. I always need to give my son an energy boost after school. He is mentally exhausted and needs a break before he can refocus.
  3. Third, I gave them a play break before we started. For most parents, moving right into the homework works best. My neighbor has her daughter and friends do their homework during snack time. But my son has ADHD and is “done” after school. He needs a break to refresh his weary mind.
  4. Finally, with satisfied stomachs and recharged minds, I called the boys to the table. They quickly did their work and then returned to their play.

What a relief it was to have homework finished and the rest of the night for play and family time. All my son had left to do after dinner was practice the piano. This idea may not go over with every play date. But I am definitely going to do it as often as I can. It worked like a charm and we all played better when it was done.

What about you? What homework tips do you have?

I was not a co-sleeper. When my first baby was a newborn, I was terrified to smother him in his sleep. So I made sure he slept safely in a crib, without a blanket, stuffie or bumper pad anywhere near!

I didn’t get much sleep.

When he was nine months old, he learned to stand up – in his sleep – and would scream for me to nurse him back to sleep at 2am. I decided to try to train him to sleep through the night. For two months, I walked the floor every single night for two hours, refusing to give in. Finally it worked and he slept through the night. But then I went back to work and when he occasionally woke up I didn’t have it in me to fight him. I gave him a bottle and rocked him back to sleep. By eighteen months, he was finding his way into our bed every single night. And there he slept until he was four.

But I never really considered myself a co-sleeper. My twin sister, on the other hand, is a true, hard-core, co-sleeper. They have a “family bed” – a king size mattress on the floor in case the little ones fall out. Both her girls sleep with them and she swears she doesn’t regret it for a minute. So when my daughter started to wake at nine months, my sister encouraged me to just co-sleep with her. “This is such a short time in her life. And co-sleeping is the greatest thing next to nursing. Trust me – just do it. You will all be so much happier.” I decided to become a co-sleeper.

Since my son, who was then six, still liked to crawl into bed with us and we only had room for a queen sized bed, I had to find a different solution than all four of us in one bed. I put a twin mattress on the floor in my daughter’s room and she and I co-sleep there. Yes, it seems kind of crazy at times – I am sleeping on the floor in my daughter’s room and my son is taking my spot in my bed many nights. But you know what? I don’t mind a bit.

In fact, I love co-sleeping with my daughter so much I don’t regret the decision at all. After a long day of work and household craziness, it is so nice to snuggle up and bond with her. It is no wonder our kids want to sleep next to us at night! It is such a stress reliever and such a comfort to feel each other’s presence, to breathe the same air.

Sure I wish we could fit a king size bed in our house where both of our kids could join us at night. But that isn’t an option for us. So for this short window of time in our children’s lives, we are making do with what we have. And I am refusing to apologize or feel like I failed by sleep sharing.  No, I am embracing co-sleeping and enjoying every last second of it.

When bath time comes at my house, my daughter doesn’t squeal for bubbles – she calls for “sprinkles!”

Everyone loves a luxurious bubble bath – especially kids. But for children with sensitive skin or issues like diaper rashes, UTI’s, etc., bubble baths may not be an option. My two year old daughter struggles with eczema and severe diaper rashes. Many days, I can’t even use a mild soap on her skin, let alone have her soak in a bubble bath. So, I tickle her fingers and toes with baking soda “sprinkles” and she is thrilled!

It all started when she was an infant and I was at a loss of how to soothe her inflamed bottom. Olivia’s diaper rashes can flare up in minutes and turn into open wounds. Along with treating her rashes with a wide assortment of creams, I started soaking her in a baking soda bath to ease her discomfort.

The baking soda neutralizes the acidity and balances the pH levels on her skin helping to heal her diaper rashes. At two, Olivia still endures painful rashes and I always use baking soda to treat them. But whether she has an active rash or not, at bath time I still reach for the baking soda.

When my sister’s daughters are here for bath time, they too cry for “sprinkles!” They all think it is such a riot to be dusted with the soft, silky powder. And, since baking soda is inexpensive, I can sprinkle away for a cost effective, natural, bath time solution.

Cooking with kids can be fantastic fun, but it can also be stressful on parents.

Here are a few hints from moms who've survived cooking with young children.

Tip 1. Keep it Age Appropriate

Think about the ages of your child(ren) and come to terms with the realities before you begin. 

Toddlers love to get involved, but their attention spans are short and they're likely to make a mess.

Have a few simple steps ready for them to perform -- like adding and mixing a few dry ingredients. You may consider having an extra mixing bowl and spoon with possibly a few extra ingredients so that nothing too important gets lost.


Tip 2. Create a safe, fun cooking environment.

The challenge of enabling children to reach counter level in order to assist with cooking has gotten easier these days. Instead of letting your child stand on a chair to reach the counter or sink, you can get a Kitchen Helper Safety Stool that allows your child to safely stand at the right height to help.

My twin sister Susan bought one of these from our online store a few years ago (in addition to blogging, we also have an online store with fun, safe & educational toys). Julia who is almost five has been enjoying the Kitchen Helper stand for years and now her two year old sister Sophia uses it daily too. 

One of Julia and Sophia's favorite activity is actually "helping wash dishes" and they both stand in the stool together and play at the sink endlessly.

Tip 3. Let them choose.

Have your children help choose and prepare a simple recipe for dinner. When kids are involved in selecting and preparing dinner, it's more likely they'll actually eat their dinner -- even the vegetables.

One way to make this work easily is to create your own family cookbook with your family's favorite recipes (that you're able to prepare with your kids) and show pictures of the different recipes. Then let your children browse through the cookbook and choose what they want to make.

You'll know that the recipes are healthy and easy to prepare and they'll be empowered and excited to make and EAT dinner.

Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, I am thrilled that the world got to discover our close-to-perfect corner of the world during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.

I grinned with pride, as if I had made the clouds disappear myself, when the sun soaked our visitors and warmed them as they walked our streets.

I cheered inside when I traveled effortlessly through the Vancouver airport three times immediately before and during the Games. In fact, my experiences in the Vancouver International Airport in February, 2010, were the smoothest I have experienced to date!

And I applauded with gratitude the tens of thousands of volunteers who lined the streets of Vancouver giving directions and assistance to visitors and even residents like me. They were the oil.

But perhaps what stood out the most for me during of the Olympic Games here in Vancouver, BC was the quiet on the roads. The city and its visitors were indulging in the transit system put in place for the Games. I tasted it first hand and it was good – so very good.

When my son and I hit the downtown scene for a hockey game, I marvelled at the empty streets and the packed sidewalks. We moved with the crowds to board the skytrain and walked the final blocks to the venue.

Once we arrived at Canada Place for the game, even the security lines moved quickly and effectively. The whole experience was a lesson in efficiency.

Now that the Games are over, I hope those good lessons will not fade. I hope our government, and other governments, will recognize what can be achieved and will work to implement such strategies long term.

When transit is readily available, cost-effective, and reliable, people will use it. It worked for the world’s party. It can work every day too.

The popularity of microwave popcorn boggles my mind.

Why would one choose to spend more money, increase packaging waste and eat artificial flavors when the natural option saves money, reduces packaging waste, has no artificial ingredients and tastes better?!?

We all love to snack – especially kids. So in our house, we regularly use our hot air popcorn popper to indulge our cravings, while having a healthy, natural snack.

I purchase a bulk sized container of hot air popping corn and it lasts us months! My kids, especially my two year old, love the excitement of the popping corn and the smell that permeates the house.

After it is popped, I add a bit of melted Olive Oil margarine and a sprinkle of salt (not too much of course!) and we curl up on the couch for a popcorn party.

If your family is in the habit of eating potato chips, why not switch to popcorn to satisfy them? And if you have been using the microwave to pop your corn, this Year, break free and use a hot air popper.

And here is a popcorn popping tip from a veteran popcorn popper:


If you find your popcorn maker sends popcorn bouncing right out of the bowl and all over your kitchen, grab a tea towel and hold it loosely around the popper and bowl. Much less mess – but don’t hold it too close. That air is hot!

I am not sure how my family would survive without avocados.

I can always count on avocados as a quick, healthy way to feed my kids.

As babies and toddlers, avocados were staples in their diets. Both my kids loved to devour slices of avocados and I was so grateful that they were eating a food packed with healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, nutrients and protein.

And now as my children get a bit older, I still keep avocados as a regular in all of our diets. I especially love to add them to wraps. We eat all kinds of salad wraps, quesadillas, etc. and avocados are perfect for all of them!

Here is a quick wrap idea to feed your kids (or you!)

Avocado and Dried Cranberry Wrap

Ingredients

Flour Wraps - I use whole wheat, multigrain or high fibre white

Sliced or Diced Avocados

Light Cream Cheese

Dried Cranberries

Directions

Spread cream cheese on wraps and arrange avocado slices

Top with dried cranberries

Wrap!

 

Now, how easy was that? Enjoy!

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