Ha!  You CAN save money and eat healthy, earth conscious foods!  It’s so simple I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before!  

Here is the secret:

Switch to a plant-based diet. 

That’s it….

Oh, don’t roll your eyes at me.  I don’t mean you have to become a vegetarian or a vegan (although those are very healthy, good lifestyles – just not for everyone).  Instead you become what is rapidly becoming known as a “flexitarian”. 

Apparently, and I just learned this new word last week, a flexitarian is someone who eats mostly a plant-based diet but isn’t opposed (morally or otherwise) to eating meat on the occasion.  

We did this a while ago, after working with a holistic health/food counselor who taught me new uses for old foods and coaxed me to eat vegetables I NEVER thought would darken my door, much less my refrigerator!  But being brave, and not one to ever shrink from a challenge, I pushed on.  Now we are full-fledged “flexitarians” eating meat only once or twice a week.  

We are a  family of three, fully organic/wild, including meat purchases – which in other words reads E.X.P.E.N.S.I.V.E.   And my grocery bill had creeped up to $250 a week (including whatever sundries we purchased, which are all natural products too)!  

Today, even with those expensive meats and products like for instance,$20 for a free range chicken! $18 lb for fresh caught wild Salmon, $7.99 for a small  container of laundry soap that is safe for the earth and for me and my family….

my grocery bill is…..drum roll please…..$150 a week!  Holy SMOKES!  I never thought I would see the likes of those prices again once I committed to eating organic foods and using organic products. 

So a regular weekly menu in my house looks like this:

Breakfast:  Whole Grain Cereal (usually Kashi brand), boiled eggs and fruit, omelette, or spinach Quiche

Lunch:  Left overs, sandwiches (made with boars head all natural meats and LOADS of veg including tomatoes, sprouts, onions, ect., salad and a slice of sour dough bread or homemade bread

Dinner:

Monday: Double Mushroom Soup, whole wheat bread and fruit salad made with seasonal fruits and sweetened with agave nectar. 

Tuesday:  Cuban Black beans & Rice

Wednesday: Roasted Chicken, Cajun spiced boiled potatoes, sautéed collard greens, sliced tomatoes

Thursday:  Left overs

Friday: Stuffed Portobello Mushroom caps (stuffed with spinach, cheese, etc), some sort of vegetable side

Saturday: Clean out fridge – left overs

Sunday: Warm Shrimp Spinach Salad with sliced bread

snacks include: roasted pumpkin seeds or nuts, fruits, pretzels, popcorn, smoothies, banana bread, guacamole and baked tortilla chips, etc. etc.

Change, Change, Change

December 8, 2009

I have had a lot of changes in my life recently. Changes that forced me over a year ago to abandon this blog and focus inwardly on my life, and culminated in the loss of my mother to breast cancer.  No one ever wants to lose their parents, especially when their parents are still so young.  But with my mother’s death, I was given an amazing new insight and clarity about life that I didn’t have before. In other words,  with my mother gone I am officially a grown-up.

Yes, I realize that since I AM 38, I should have realized I was grown up a long time ago.  But you really never feel that way until you can no longer pick up the phone to call your mom.  Despite whether you had a good or bad relationship, rocky or smooth, your mother is the true umbilical cord to your childhood. 

And so with this growing up, I am making more changes. Positive changes.  First and foremost, I am changing the name of this blog to “Simply Green”.   The former name is long and unwieldly.  Simply Green, however, aptly conveys my quest to live simply, live green and to save money (green being a double entendre for both the green movement and money).

Not all changes have been as hard as caring for and then losing my mother.  I have made a great many positive changes in my life over the past year and I am excited to tell you about them and I will start tomorrow.

Take care and keep watching.  Simple living is back.

This month, after six years of struggling with beige carpet, we are getting rid of it and putting in low-maintenance laminate.   We chose laminate because of its durability and its low maintenance requirements.  Unlike carpet, laminate won’t embed pet fur from our three lovely shedding creatures, it won’t stain when the dog or cat urp and it is low on the allergen list.  It doesn’t scratch easily with pet claws and 8 year-olds and it doesn’t need waxing or sanding like hardwoods.

Do yourself a favor, find one thing that requires high maintenance in your home and…..get rid of it.  Replace it with something that gives you more time for the pleasures of life and takes less life energy to maintain. 

The simple living family recently experienced a family trauma that, a few years ago, would have thrown us into a stressful meltdown.   Our son fell and broke his arm….in two….  Not a simple fracture or break but multiple compound fractures with exposed bone that required surgical readjustments, traction and a fairly long recovery period for an 8 year old.   

Last night I was walking the dog for some much needed exercise (for both of us) and musing over the past week’s events.  As I walked something occurred to me.  We weren’t stressed.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, we were very stressed over small boy’s hand/arm, surgery, hospital stay and recovery.  I was mostly stressed about his pain.  But other than that, we simply weren’t stressed.   Our years of paring down our life to live simply and basic meant that we didn’t have a multitude of commitments already in progress that had to be scuttled, rescheduled, revised or reworked.   We didn’t have to call and make arrangements to take over this or that.   We don’t have a ton of debt so we aren’t stressed about the forthcoming bills that always accompany a health crisis in the United States (and that is another rant for another day) or worry about our jobs, both of which were very understanding, because we have opted to stay in lower paying but more family friendly positions in our careers.   In other words, we were able to focus our entire energy towards our son and getting him through this event.

It felt good.  After this past week, I now know I wouldn’t change a thing, even if I could. 

pink ribbonOctober is breast cancer awareness month.  This month is important to me.  It was the month that my mother was first diagnosed with simple DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) at stage 0 just three years ago.  October was the month her newest doctor, the oncologist, said “don’t worry, we don’t consider this cancer.”  October was also the month that she was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer exactly one year after her initial diagnosis of “it isn’t really considered cancer.”

Stage IV is technically terminal. 

It is October again and my mother now has breast cancer cells in her ribs, her spine, her spinal fluid, her brain, adrenal gland, thyroid, and various other places.  She doesn’t have much time left.  It is her illness that made me take stock of my  life and realize that *I* wanted to be in control and not some company, some bill or some house. 

So check your boobs, check them monthly, have your mammograms and most importantly if you are diagnosed with this disease research.  Every day new therapies are approved for earlier and earlier stages of breast cancer leading to longer and longer survival rates. 

Don’t wait for a terminal illness to remind you what is important in life.  Jobs will come and go but your experiences are yours to keep.  Make time in your life for you, for your family, for your friends.  Everything else can wait.

We humans are funny creatures.  We struggle and struggle to balance life, to find meaning and to spend time with our loved ones.   After two years with my big white German Shepherd mix mut from the pound, Annabelle, I think I finally have learned something showing you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.  Here are the top 5 lessons I have learned from my dog.

5.  Nap frequently.  Life is always better when your rested.

4.  Always nap next to a loved one if possible.  If not, find the best chair in the house.

3.  Spend 15-20 minutes a day soaking up the sun’s rays.   You won’t get skin cancer or premature wrinkles from 15-20 minutes and remember, despite all the bad press the sun gets these days, it is the life giving force of our planet and vital to every living creature.

2.  Never turn down a treat when one is offered. One piece of cake won’t make you fat.

1.  Always greet your loved ones with unabashed enthusiasm and joy at seeing them again. 

And one bonus…

Take frequent walks and smell the flowers.  Exercise clears the head and keeps you healthy and happy.

The dust bunnies in my home are beginning to organize a coup to take over the running of the household.  Don’t get me wrong, my home is not dirty by any stretch of the imagination.  We keep things picked up and tidy, everything has a place and everything is in its place.  Dishes are always loaded immediately into the dishwasher after use and kitchen and bathroom cabinets are kept clean enough that we won’t catch a disease.

But we don’t spend a great deal of time cleaning things like baseboards or scrubbing the grout between the tiles on the floor.  We really don’t do much sweeping more than once a week, vacuuming a few times a week to keep the pet hair from creating a new pet, things like that.  When I polled some friends I was shocked to see some people sweep 2-3 times a day and spend hours scrubbing the grout in their bathrooms.  Why? I mean really, why?

Other than keeping things tidy as you go along and sanitary enough not to get ill, is it really important to have a house that clean?  It seems to me that there are far more valuable ways to spend your time. 

My husband has a tendency to become obsessive compulsive so I know what it is like to live with someone who cannot or will not stop cleaning.  However, even he will tell you it was the biggest waste of his time because he was so worried about keeping the house clean he couldn’t DO anything, play with our son, shirk off his duties and enjoy a day out in the sunshine.  Getting a new, far more challenging job helped him get his issue under control and ironically enough, even though he works harder and far longer hours than he used to, we see him more and interact with him more because he isn’t always cleaning.

So come with me, step away from the broom, lay down the dish rag and go outside to throw a ball with your kids, ride bikes together, take a walk….do anything!