My crazy Family Living in Japan

Military Family Living Abroad

Cleaning Green November 30, 2009

Filed under: Around the House,Going Green,Your Health — Annastasia @ 16:00

So today I had to clean, the most dreaded room of the house. . . . .My Kitchen. I have no dishwasher and the dishes all have to be washed by hand. I normally have to do this 1 -2 times a week because my pre-teen can not seem to get them clean (I think she does this on purpose thinking that she won’t have to do them if they are dirty).
I started my kitchen by cleaning the counter. We have a bar/counter thing that we eat on, that also seems to “collect” all kinds of treasures. Once all the junk was gone, I grabbed my trusty bottle of homemade Super Ant repelling super yummy smelling Major disinfecting cleaner. As I sprayed it onto my counter, I thought of what other people use to clean things like their counters and such where their kids always are and where they eat and things. I personally don’t like using any chemicals that aren’t necessary (such as Raid, I swear the Cockroaches here are on steroids). That got me to thinking that I should share some of my “household concoctions” with all of you, my readers!

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SUPER CLEANER
2 cup water
5 drops lavender oil
5 drops tea tree oil
1/4 cup vinegar
2 teaspoons baking soda
Combine all ingredients in spray bottle. Close TIGHTLY (nozzle too) and shake to blend. If the nozzle is left open, it may “spit” solution as the bicarb and vinegar interact.

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I use this on EVERYTHING that needs wiped down in my kitchen! It is a wonderful cleaner! I also never have any ants in my kitchen, could be the tea tree or the vinegar? Vinegar is such a great cleaner. It cleans windows, deodorizes, cuts grease, dissolves stuck on stickers, and more!  To Learn more uses for Vinegar click HERE.

Vinegar is acidic and astringent and can be an irritant if used undiluted. It works as a solvent on some things which is why it is such a good cleaning agent. Generally it is a very safe product and has been used for generations, so its properties are well understood, unlike those of many modern cleaning chemicals. It has been in use from ancient times, as it occurs naturally when wine, beer or other alcoholic drinks are exposed to the air. This is a much better cleaner to use in your house than all those super harsh chemicals from the store. Half of the ingredients you can’t even pronounce, let alone know what they do!

Baking soda is another great cleaner. I use it in conjunction with vinegar often. Aside from my super cleaner, I also sprinkle it down my sink drain.  I then pour vinegar down the drain. Once it is done bubbling, I flush with super hot water.  Makes all the icky smells go away and leaves it clean.  Baking soda can be used as an abrasive and can be used to shine your sink in place of things like comet or ajax.  I also use baking soda as a deodorant (and it actually works better too), I simply take a small amount and moisten it some, then spread it on the underarms and let dry.  It works great, even in this super humid weather! It can also be used a couple times a month to help whiten  your teeth. (don’t use more than that, or you may possibly get irritated gums), simply put on a toothbrush and brush, then rinse.  I also use this in place of shampoo. I take some baking soda, sprinkle it onto my scalp and massage with some water, then rinse well. I do this about once every 4 -6 days.  I then spray Apple Cider Vinegar on my hair as a conditioner (2 Tblsp +1 Cup water) just spray it on, let it sit a minute, then rinse really well. Both Kiwi and I use this method for hair care.

Both items are also great in your laundry, use baking soda for stain removal (in the wash cycle) and vinegar for ph balancing (in the rinse cycle).  I actually just ordered some soapnuts too. I will be writing about those soon!!

I hope you all got tons out of this post.  There are tons of inexpensive ways to use normal non toxic household items to clean and disinfect your house.  They are safer for you and your family, and you know what is in it (which I always like to know).

Good luck mixing your own concoctions!! (If you already use some of your own, post them in the comments section here to share with all of us!)

HAPPY CLEANING!


*All the Essential Oils I use for cleaning are the same ones that I have available in my store.

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Thanksgiving Vegan Style November 26, 2009

Filed under: Life,Vegan Recipes — Annastasia @ 22:23

This holiday season, I think the #1 question I get asked is “what are you making for Thanksgiving”? Normally one doesn’t put too much thought into this, as it is normally the same stuff each year. It is made up to the “traditional” things that family wants for Thanksgiving. Turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, stuffing, a jello salad, rolls, and pumpkin pie were all regular things at my family dinners.  This year is a little different, because we are now vegan. Now most people would think that meant that Thanksgiving would need to be canceled, but that isn’t the case.  My family and I had the most wonderful dinner, and it was all very flavorful, filling, and 100% vegan!  We had a Veg Loaf (like a meat loaf, but with no meat), mashed garlic potatoes, green bean casserole, stewed soy chunks, and toasted bread.  I normally would have made a pie, but since it was also my son’s 1st birthday, I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting.  I thought I would share some of the recipes from dinner with you all so you can see what we weird eating vegans actually eat on holidays like Thanksgiving.

K-Chick Veg Loaf (courtesy of vegweb)

1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans)

1 can kidney beans (or pinto beans)

1 small onion

2 -3 cloves garlic

5-6 small-medium carrots

1 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup unsalted cashews

1 -2 Tblsp Olive Oil

cumin, basil, rosemary, cinnamon, salt, pepper 1 tsp or more of each

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Boil carrots for approximately 10 min, drain and mash.

Saute onion in olive oil on medium low heat until softened.

Add garlic and spices and heat another few minutes.

Chop (or Food process) cashews until grainy in texture.

Mash beans, add cashew crumbs, and bread crumbs in large bowl.

Once veggies are done, add to bowl and mix/mash very well until combined and sticky in consistency.

Pack mixture into an oiled bread pan and bake for approx 1 – 1.5 hr.

The last 15 min of cooking, I spread ketchup and brown sugar mixed together on the top and let it cook.

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This next recipe was SUPER yummy. It had a little bit of an ‘asian’ feel to it for me, as it tasted like sweet & sour sauce over veggies and “un-meat”.  It was super yummy by itself, though I could easily see it being put on top of some brown rice and being an entire meal in itself! Definately going to be a keeper in my house!

Stewed soy chunks (recipe from HERE; link copied 11/24/2009)

1/2 pack soya chunks

2 tbsps brown sugar

1/4 cup green peas

2 carrots peeled and chopped

1/2 onion chopped

1/4 cup cilantro

1/4 cup celery chopped

3 cloves garlic peeled and chopped

1 spring onion chopped

2 green chillies (to taste)

2 tbsps oil

1/4 cup tomato ketchup

Salt to taste

Boil water in a pot and add Soya chunks. Take off heat and stir occasionally until cooked. Strain, squeeze and keep aside.

Grind celery, cilantro, green chillies, spring onion, chopped onion, chopped garlic and salt.

Add grounded mixture to soya and season soya.

Heat oil in a low-based pan and add brown sugar.

When sugar melts and starts to bubble in the oil, add seasoned soya chunks and ketchup into pan and mix. Cook for 2-3 mins.

Add peas and carrots and mix. Cook for 4-5 mins.

Cover and cook on low heat for 6-7 mins.

Remove from heat and serve hot.

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Due to the fact that I am living overseas, I can not find many “convenience” vegan items. These would be things like soy cheese, soy yogurt, soy coffee creamer, and even something as simple as ‘cream of mushroom’ soup.  I really wanted to have the classic dish of green bean casserole, but this calls for cream of mushroom soup. The only one we can get here is campbells, which is not vegan. What is a hungry vegan girl to do? Well, some other hungry vegan girl had this very same problem it appears, because she wrote a recipe for ‘condensed cream of mushroom soup’ and posted it to vegweb! She did note that this is not for eating “soup” purposes. It is solely for dips and casseroles, things that you put the soup into. Here is her recipe for that ~

Cream of Mushroom ‘soup’ (courtesy of vegweb)

1 pkg  silken tofu

1 envelope of vegan onion soup or mushroom soup mix

4 oz can of mushroom (any kind works)

Put all items into blender, and blend until all combined.

Equals 2 cans ‘condensed’ cream of mushroom soup.

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I needed this to make green bean casserole. I used the regular recipe, just subbed rice milk for the regular milk called for. It came out super yummy! My family was very satisfied, and VERY full!! Even without the turkey, we ate an amazing meal.  Dessert was super yummy too!! Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting, how can you go wrong with that combo?

Happy Cooking & Happy Thanksgiving!


*The soy chunks used above are also known as “textured soy/vegetable chunks”. They come dry, and get re-hydrated.  They have a similar texture to meat, and are very easy to cook. They soak up flavors well too. They can be found in my store, under the “store” tab at the top right.

 

Visions of peppermint and a sick kid in bed November 25, 2009

Filed under: Herbal Remedies,Life — Annastasia @ 23:33

With winter coming, so does the “sickies”. I try with a vengeance to keep them out of my home, but they almost always lurk in somewhere. Yesterday, it happened. Kiwi came home from school with a blaring fever of 102.4! Yikes, what was I to do??

Instead of rushing to the medicine cabinet for Tylenol or Motrin, I instead grabbed the herbal tinctures. Sickies are just a result of the body’s effort to remove waste material. There are 4 “chimneys” to do this through, the digestive tract, the urinary system, the skin, and respiratory passages. Fevers are also an effort of the body to “burn up” waste material so it can be easily eliminated. The symptoms of these (fever, flu, couch, sore throat, etc) are not the enemy. They are the result of the body trying to heal itself to get rid of the sickies. the cold symptoms are the bodies way of curing the cold. Anything we do to “suppress” the cold symptoms only prolongs the length of time it takes the body to relieve the sickness. (my own words on the description of sickness given in the ABC herbal book, I LOVE this book).

So, I mixed up a concoction of black elderberry,  Echinacea, goldenseal, and cayenne. I put it into some honey, and she ate it right up!  I gave her two doses of this concoction throughout the evening.  She sipped on Peppermint tea throughout the evening as well.  Before bed, I drew her a nice hot bath (not too hot).  I put Dr. Bronners Peppermint soap in it, along with some tea tree oil and lavender oil.  The skin is your bodies largest eliminative organ. You can get rid of tons of waste from the blood and lymph very quickly this way. She LOVED her bath, she didn’t want to get out, but it was time for brother to go to bed.   She ended up falling asleep on the floor about 20 minutes later, and I carried her to bed.  She woke up in the morning with NO FEVER at all!! I gave her one more dose of the herbal concoction in honey, just to be on the safe side. . and the sickies are gone.  Ash and I also took the same concoction but in water in hopes of preventing catching it. It worked.

Herbs are amazing! One of my favorites right now is Peppermint, maybe because it is getting close to Christmas. Peppermint has SO many uses, and it taste yummy to drink to. Who doesn’t love candy canes?  Peppermint Rocks!

According to Greek mythology, a furious Persephone turned the nymph Mentha into mint. Although myth claims it was born out of anger, peppermint actually has calming effects. It can also remedy many tummy problems.
Peppermint is a yummy way to relieve gas, nausea, and stomach pain, even the stomach flu. It is safe for infants with colic, and has a relaxing effects on them.  You can use it topically for the cooling and relaxing effect it has on the skin. Many commercial  muscle rubs contain peppermint oil to reduce pain, burning, and inflammation. Like other essential oils, peppermint oil is absorbed fairly well. It does need  to be diluted before putting it on your skin. You can use a simple olive oil base of 5 parts oil to 1 part essential oil.  Peppermint tea is also super yummy. I use 100% peppermint, and just brew it in hot water! My son Z, who is 1 LOVES this tea (I dilute it some for him).  It is mommy’s favorite too!

Go forth and learn about herbs, they are natures nutritional supplements!! The ABC herbal book is a great thing to have if you have kids, I refer to mine  a lot!!~

~HAPPY HERBING~

*All items mentioned above can be purchased directly through my store. Just use the “store” tab at the top of my page.

**Here is an awesome link on Fighting Colds and Flu with elderberry – click here.

 

I have opened a store! November 24, 2009

Filed under: Around the House,Going Green,Herbal Remedies,Life,Your Health — Annastasia @ 20:23
Tags:

Due to the overwhelming popularity of my “natural living” and what I use for tons of stuff, I have created a store on my blog. You can now go there to buy books that I talk about and review, buy herbs that I use, or the cooking supplies I talk about in my recipes. I figure this will make it easier for you all to see what I am talking about and purchase it for your self if you would like to.

To find my “store” click on the tab on the top of the page to the right of the “about me” tab.  It is titled “store” (duh).

Thanks so much for following my blog.

 

Has it been that long???

Filed under: Life — Annastasia @ 12:47

So today is my son Z’s 363rd day of life! Yes, we are quickly approaching his 1st birthday. This is a sad occasion for me, as he is definitely not my baby anymore. He is still a momma’s boy for sure, but he is getting SO big! I thought I would share in this post some special things about my son since he came into this world.

He was born the day before Thanksgiving (I have a thing for holiday babies I think). He was so beautiful, and SO tiny. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be a mom to a icky dirty boy! Having two girls, I felt I was way under qualified for this job that god had given me. He was such a snuggle bug, as most newborns are.  Because we are way over here and away from family & friends, Hubby had to take the girls home.  Z and I were at the hospital all alone. He was such a wonderful newborn.  He was happy when he was awake, and he slept so good.  He did a 6 hour stretch at the hospital that night!!

From day 1 he was a super mellow, laid back, and chill baby.  He still is.  On Christmas eve (4 weeks old) he slept through the night on his own! He has since then.  We had a few instances of nighttime waking, but they didn’t last long.  We read “Healthy sleep habits, Happy Child” and that helped fix those situations.  I remember when he started crawling, and sitting, and standing.  He was so proud of the fact that he had mastered a new skill. I swore he would never get his first teeth, it seemed he was teething forever! But he now (finally) has his bottom two, and is working on the top two.  He runs everywhere, and he is so animated now with a HUGE personality.

He scrunches his nose, and does this funny breathing thing ~ then cracks up laughing at himself!!  He loves and cuddles his blue stuffed dog (he carries it everywhere). He gleefully rearranges mommies open cabinets, thinking most of it looks better on the floor.  He gets into his cereal, and has figured out how to get the lid open. You would think we never feed him the way he goes crazy for food!

One of his favorite things now that the weather has cooled down is the screen door.  He spends countless hours over there alternating between licking the salt rock, and letting the wind blow his hair!  He loves our salt rock, we will walk right up to it, bend over and lick! It is the cutest thing ever!  And his screen door time, he loves.  He just lets the wind blow through his hair. . .. it is so calming to him.  He will sit or stand at the door for like 15 min at a time. It is nuts!  It sometimes amazes me, the small things that amuse kids. It is wonderful.

This year has seemed to fly by!  I am sad that his daddy had to miss so many wonderful little things he has done. He is such a sweet natured little man.  I love to snuggle with him every morning when he wakes up.  I even like his annoyingly embarrassing high pitch shriek he does when we are out in public. I like to think he is practicing for his lead singer role in a rock band. 🙂

I love my little man SO much! I hope he continues to be as sweet and funny in the years to come. As we move into toddler hood, I hope the road is not too bumpy and full of laughs and smiles!

Happy birthday little man! Momma loves you!

 

Overcoming my addiction November 23, 2009

Filed under: Life,Your Health — Annastasia @ 22:22

So, I have come to realize. . . that I have a full blown addiction.  Before, it was cigarettes. Then it was coffee.  Now. . .  it is something so much harder to kick the habit of. .. .

“Hello, my name is Annastasia. . . and I am addicted to Sugar”


AAAgggghhHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhh!!!

Sugar is EVERYWHERE!!! They put sugar in everything!! I am not sure why they feel a need to put high fructose corn syrup or sugar in just about anything that comes in a box at the store.  Even juice has it!! Yes, kids juice.  We were at a festival for my daughters school, there was lots of juices for the kids, I picked one up, turned it over to read the ingredients (I am sure others thought I was some crazy mom, I am ALWAYS reading labels) and there it was. Ingredient #1, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)!!  YUCK – I am not giving that to my kid!!

So, I have decided to cut all sugar out of my life.  I still allow my children to eat it (the organic kind) in moderation. But none for me. Only stevia (which I can’t get here), Agave nectar (which I can’t get here), or Honey. (looks like I need to make a amazon.com order)

Today was my 1st full day with no sugar.  .. I feel somewhat like a druggie going through withdrawls. I have had the shakes, hot/cold flashes, and I got a blaring headache!! I broke down by dinner, and had some microwaved apples with some oatmeal and wheatgerm sprinkled over with some all spice. I then drizzled just a small amount of honey over it (like 1/2 tsp). Amazingly, after I ate this, I felt better! Maybe It is just a mental thing that I “need” dessert. . . I dunno

Either way, no more sugar for me!  I will keep you all posted on how this goes! (Did I mention I also cut out flour(breads and such)?)

You may be wondering where this all came from, well this is the book in my amazon wish list – Suicide by Sugar ~  I can only imagine what wonderful things this has to say! If it is anything like slaughterhouse was, I will be glad I have given up sugar by the time I read it.

Does anyone else have this problem?

Susan Schenck (author of the live food factor) writes a review of this book, here is what she said

Sugar addiction, according to studies cited by Appleton & Jacobs, is more addictive than cocaine! If someone has never had an addiction to sugar he or she must have very enlightened parents–or be living in the rural area of some remote part of the world.

On p. 10 the authors list 31 types of sugar. Some are ones many of us have thought of as healthful, such as agave, honey, molasses, raw sugar and maple syrup. But just because they are natural doesn’t mean they are healthful.

Chapter 2 lists 140 reasons why sugar is ruining our health. Each of these has footnotes at the back with scientific studies to back them up. Chapter 3 shows how sugar throws off our body’s homeostasis, disrupting the balance of minerals. Chapter 4 teaches us about how sugar destabilizes our blood sugar, as we learn about glycemic index, glycemic load, 8 things to consider when choosing a carbohydrate, as well as the dangers of the oral glucose tolerance test and better alternatives to use.

In chapter 5 we get the hard facts about soft drinks (you really won’t want to have another one after reading this, I promise!) We learn how to calculate our BMI (body mass index) to see if we are overweight, or even obese. (Currently 74.1% of Americans are overweight!) We learn to interpret deceptive labels, and to calculate the number of teaspoons of sugar in a product. We uncover the horrors of high fructose corn syrup, and how it has a double whammy in creating the obesity epidemic: it becomes fat faster than glucose or sucrose, and it releases the hormone ghrelin which stimulates the appetite. We also discover the alarming truth of what happens when you cook food–how it creates toxic byproducts called AGEs that age you. (If you must cook, steam at low temperatures, and use water.) As the author of a raw food diet book, I was pleasantly surprised that Nancy went into such detail about this.

Chapter 6 discusses some of the major sugar-related diseases and conditions: obesity, hypoglycemia, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, dementia, cancer and even epilepsy. Chapter 7 gives us the strategies to fight sugar addiction, choosing from 3 different food plans that involve 5 food categories. There are a few recipes that include sweet potatoes and beets. (When we get off the intense sugars, vegetables like these taste very sweet and satisfying!)

At the end of the book is a glossary, resource guide, recommended reading, and plenty of footnotes to support the authors’ claims. There is also a page on how to order a Body Monitor Test Kit which helps you figure out, through urine tests you do at home, whether your body is in homeostasis or not.

This book is easy to read and a must for the vast majority of eaters–carnivores, frugivores, vegetarians, vegans, etc. All parents and teachers need to read this, no matter how much they think they know about the dangers of sugar.

Hmmm .. . seems like we should all read it!

Happy reading.

 

Pretzel Veg Puppies November 17, 2009

Filed under: Vegan Recipes — Annastasia @ 06:45

Super Yum Dinner tonight!!! I made homemade Pretzel Veg Puppies!! For the side was homemade “quick” baked beans and Salt & Vinegar Chips! The kids devoured the puppies!!  They asked if I could make them every night!!

I got the recipe here – Vegan Dad

Just a note – I used all purpose flour only (didn’t have what the recipe called for) and it still came out AMAZING!!
For the “quick” baked beans – I open a can of pinto beans, drain & rinse ~ add brown sugar and ketchup to taste.  Nuke for 1.5 min and serve – the kids LOVE these too!!

Veg Pups