Monday, February 28, 2011

Is EVERYTHING made in China?

It drives me crazy that everything seems to be made in China and lets face it  they don't have the same safety standards Americans do. It is a bit of a stretch to think there is some guy checking each and every imported box of toys, plates, textiles, clothing, and housewares for lead, BPA and whatever else. Yes, stuff from China is more affordable but the average person has way too much stuff.  There are television shows dedicated to helping people get rid of their junk!  So spending more on less would make sense.  We are as much to blame as anyone for buying this crap.  My husband and I both keep buying Addyson plastic animals at the grocery store that were made in China.  They are her bath time friends and the paint (probably full of lead) is slowly chipping away.  Somehow we will fix this.

I am taking the challenge.  I will just redirect Addy when we grocery shop and save a bunch of money by not buying stuff from China.  I am more than happy to spend more on something if I know an American made it.  This also includes buying food made or grown in the U.S. One thing many of us buy from other countries is fruit and vegetables.   Remember that strawberries are not in season in the U.S. in January! On the ABC evening news the other night they challenged Americans to buy American made products.  FINALLY.  Here is a great site to get you started!  The Buy American Challenge     The blog also has a list of stores and vendors that sell American made products.

Best of luck!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

White Bean & Poblano Soft Taco

I had bought poblano peppers at the end of last summer and was looking for a recipe to use them in. I came across this recipe and it has become one of my favorite meals to make. It is light, refreshing, easy and fast. It also incorporates fresh cilantro which I love and hope that someday I can grow in my own garden. In addition, my husband will not only eat it but likes it!

I usually only use one can of beans and two poblano's so that I don't have a ton left over. I also do not have chipotle chili powder so I use cayenne powder instead. I believe I got the original recipe from but I don't remember.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Two 15.5-ounce cans white beans, rinsed
  • 3 large poblano chiles, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin, toasted
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried chipotle chile powder (optional)
  • One 8-ounce brick monterey jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 8 sprigs cilantro


1. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.
2. Add 2 cups white beans, the poblanos, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the beans break apart, about 15 minutes.
3. Stir in the chicken broth, cumin, oregano and chipotle powder, then lower the heat to low. Add the remaining beans and 1 cup jack cheese; stir just until melted, about 5 minutes.
4. In a dry skillet or a warm oven, heat the tortillas. Fold the tortillas into quarters.
5. Top portions of the chili with 2 tablespoons cheese, 1 tablespoon sour cream, a cilantro sprig and a folded tortilla.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Austin - Where the Greeness Started

In the late 90's I moved from Houston to Austin Texas. It was the best experience ever. I loved Austin. I would take my dog Rodeo hiking, biking, canoeing and dining. I lent my truck to a friend and rode my bike everywhere. Grocery store, gym, work. This past November my husband and daughter and I returned to Austin while visiting family. It has changed but no too terribly much and it still has eco-friendly, dog friendly, music friendly shops, cafe's, bars, eateries and parks. I took a quick walk through the neighborhood I lived in and took photos of some really neat cafe's and stores as well as my old house and area houses that still have that Austin feel.

My old house (above) and the capital building (below)...

More awesome photos from my old stompin' grounds.

I found an awesome store called Eco-Wise in my old neighborhood.

Snack Bar in Austin, Texas! I hope every town in America gets awesome restaurants like this.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Potato Leek Soup – Feel the Pain

I finally bought some leeks (yes actual leeks this time) to make potato leek soup. I also had two heads of cauliflower from the Bountiful Baskets co-op and I decided to also make a cauliflower soup. If I am going to mess up my fancy Cuisinart food processor I better make it worth it! One interesting little fact about the potato leek soup was that it only had one little potato in it and a bunch of leeks.

I had the cauliflower soup that night and the leek soup the next day. I of course couldn’t get my family to eat it, the dog wouldn’t even look at it and the chickens flat out refused.

I had a grilled cheese sandwich with the soup which made it more enjoyable. The cauliflower soup was a bit boring but the leek soup was really good. However after two bowls in two days I had stomach pains so bad that I decided that eating the soup was not worth the discomfort.

Swiss Miss

In order to talk about my Swiss Miss incident I must first preface it with the chicken and rice soup experience. The other night I opened a can of chicken and rice soup for my daughter. I poured the contents into the pan and there was only two tablespoons of rice. Weird I thought but I guess it could happen. Two days later Addy picked out Swiss Miss Marshmallow Madness with colored marshmallows. When I got home I promptly pulled out an envelope and poured it into a cup of luke warm water. It was ALL marshmallows no cocoa. What the heck? So I pulled out an old tub of hot cocoa mix and added a few spoonfuls. No biggie I am a fast thinking mom. Two days later I go to make her another cup and by this time I have separated all of the envelopes and put them in a drawer. (The boxes take up too much room and I like to recycle them all at once). This envelope was all cocoa and no marshmallows. What the heck? I began pulling them out and squeezing them. Some had only marshmallows and others only cocoa.

Yes, I can hear you all but I am a mom. I am tired and it’s a scientific fact that your brain shrinks when you’re pregnant and apparently doesn’t expand back to its original size. Some people would have thought to check the box. I didn’t and if I had had that brilliant idea it had already been recycled. In my mind the factory messed up – remember the soup?

Oh it gets worse. “I am writing the company” I exclaimed to my husband. I wrote the company and they sent back a nice letter saying “sorry about the confusion”. I know they had to be thinking – what an IDIOT! Heck, I would have. So I read the letter then re-read it and then read it again. Finally, the little light went off. Yup, I bet my letter shows up on one of those chain emails containing stupid letters to customer service reps. They should have wrote “sorry you are a complete moron.”

So for those of you who don’t know or haven’t figured it out the Swiss Miss packets come with one cocoa packet attached to one marshmallow packet. On a positive note while looking up the name of the Swiss Miss I bought I discovered that they made a mistake on the packaging. Apparently, the back of the box had a math game (which for obvious reasons I did not partake in) that had a math error. They wrote “We appreciate that bright math minds are double-checking our work…” Hopefully, the bright math minds outnumber the numb-skulls like me that can’t figure out the directions

  1. Pour one packet of cocoa into the cup.
  2. Open the next packet and pour the marshmallows into the cup.
  3. Stir.
  4. Don’t drink if too hot otherwise you will burn your mouth.
I used to make fun of directions like this!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Garden Boxes

It has been really warm here in Southern Utah and Daron got started on our gardening boxes. We decided it would be easier to water and they would be safer from the chickens if they were in the front yard. I would also see them a lot more throughout the day. The best thing about these garden boxes is that all of the wood is recycled. In fact, the sides (that aren't up yet in this stage in the photo) are leftover flooring panels. The neighbors probably think we made a ghetto sand box or a super sized litter pan.