Thursday, April 29, 2010

Weekend Foraging, Homebrewing Kombucha, and a Giveaway...?

I'm currently supposed to be packing up my bags for this weekend- but the couch was looking a bit too tempting.
Remember this post?  Well I signed up for two of the classes, and am driving down to home-base out of Portland tomorrow after work with my friend Shana, then meeting up with another friend Brittany.  We're doing two classes with Wild Food Adventures: clam digging, and sea vegetables- I wish you could see the pile of stuff I'm trying to sort through.  Bah!  The list of clothes to bring is completely different than anything I've ever worn trudging around on the beach.  Right now I feel like I'm going on a run with a bucket and a hand rake tied to my backpack.  There will be no photo evidence of what I wore.

I will hopefully have lots of non-clothing related exciting things to blog about when I get back. 

Aside from all that- I'm brewing my second batch of kombucha.  My first batch came out absolutely fantastic.  I'm going to do an actual post about it once I have the time to sit down and really write.  At this very moment I'm making beef jerky out of our favorite Olsen Farms beef bacon which happens to make the best jerky ever.  My mom gave Matao a commercial grade dehydrator for Christmas this year and it's one of our favorite things. 

Oh, and I'm thinking about doing a giveaway maybe next week.  It'll have something to do with this:

Some of you already know exactly what's in those boxes.  I think most of you don't.  At one point there were 525 pounds in the back of the work truck.  In my living room there is somewhere closer to 60.  I haven't decided yet, though.  I might try to team up with another artist.  Anyway.  Let me know if you're curious about what's in the boxes.  Or if you just want to eat what's in them.  That works too.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ducks in the City

I saw this sassy little couple splashing around in the rain in front of my building a few weeks ago.  I love them!  They quacked at me.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

One-Week Cleanse Breakdown

 light n' airy by CarolynsHope is exactly how I feel!

Today is the last day of my week-long cleanse, and I thought I'd go over a few things that people have been asking me.  Overall I have been really happy with the way it went, and I would absolutely recommend it to someone who has the discipline to really stick to the diet and use the kit the way that it is intended (aka taking all of the supplements and tinctures as directed).  There are three different ways to use the kit- as a more intense one week cleanse, an easier two week cleanse, or an intensive 5 day juice cleanse.  These are all options when using the same kit.

I used the Fresh Start Kit from The Herbalist which is a local herbal medicine manufacturer.  They have a retail store on NE 65th St. near the Roosevelt/Greenlake area.  I actually picked my kit up from Metropolitan Market in Lower Queen Anne, near my office.  Their price was a touch higher, but it saved me the pain of a long bus ride so I thought it was worth it.  For the record- neither Dandelion Botanical in Ballard, nor Mother Nature's in Lower QA carry the kits.  Super Supplements does but they kind of freak me out.

Q: Why are you cleansing?
A: Short answer: Because I feel like crap.  Long answer: because my allergies are the worst they've ever been, I'm tired all the time, my digestive system is always out of whack, and I'm having a hard time focusing on pretty much anything.  Really- there are a million ways and a million different reasons to cleanse.  A lot of people don't believe in the benefits of cleansing at all.  I eat a clean, healthy, and balanced diet most of the time and rarely ever have sugar or carb crashes and generally don't feel lethargic or sluggish from overeating.  I am physically active and drink plenty of water.  Despite all of this- I am still conscious of the fact that my body just doesn't feel quite right.  Here is a good list for knowing if it's a good idea to cleanse.

Q: Do you feel any different?
A: I didn't until day two- but when I did it was like "BAM!"  My energy level has gone way up, my entire body feels lighter, my thoughts are more clear and it's easier for me to stay focused.  The most intense difference has been immediately after taking the three tinctures- which is not surprising.  It feels intense for about 20 minutes and then begins to taper off.  It isn't like peak highs and lows though- it more or less lasts the entire day.  I never felt like I was crashing or "coming down".  My body just feels happy.

Q: Is it a fast?  What are you eating?
A: No, it's not a fast- and I am eating a lot!  It is very heavily based around whole vegetables and fruits, as well as fruit juices- when I first looked through the cleansing guide I was a little panicked by the list of cleanse approved foods.  Honestly- I ate a lot of potatoes.  But I also ate a lot of other things.  The key is to eat large portions so you're still getting enough calories.  I also drank juice about 6 times a day.  My day in meals usually went something like this:

Breakfast: Brown ricecake with almond butter.  Sometimes I'd drizzle it with honey as a treat.
Snacks: Fruit, carrots with hummus or almond butter, and raw nuts.
Lunch: Brothy soup with lots of veggies and grains (amaranth), or potato salad made with Bragg's liquid aminos, olive oil, seaweed, shredded carrot, and black pepper.
Dinner: Huge salad with vegan dressing, herbed potatoes (courtesy of my wonderful boyfriend), fish (cold water and wild- this is technically a "first time cleanse/cheater" food), and more veggies.  A lot of my meals crossed over from dinner to lunch and vice-versa.  I'd make a big portion of something and save it for another meal.
Beverages: Water, herbal tea, 100% fruit juices (Trader Joe's was a lifesaver for juice), and I did sneak kombucha a few times, but probably shouldn't have.

There were a few days where I had non-cleanse approved foods- and I felt the difference.  One day was soup that had a few beans in it, and another was lentils.  I felt okay about eating them, knowing that they were still healthy choices regardless- but my digestive system was apparently not in the same mindset.  I also snuck a few bites of dark chocolate here and there, and had ceviche with corn chips one night- but it didn't seem to do me any harm.  I'd keep yourself in check with that one, though.  The idea is the be as gentle on your digestive system as possible.  

Q: What can't you have?
A: In short: alcohol, refined sugars, caffeine, gluten, dairy, most meats (free range and organic are considered approved foods for the first-time cleanser), most grains (rice, oats, barley etc.), beans, canned foods, eggs, popcorn, processed foods, iodized salt, vinegar, and artificial sweetners, among a few other things.

Honestly- it looks and sounds like a lot.  I had to plan for a few days before I could commit myself to doing this cleanse.  Read over their cleansing guide very thoroughly before making up your mind about doing it.  Plan meals ahead of time and keep in mind that the better you stick to the approved foods- the better you will feel.  Take the time to cook and pack your lunches and snacks.  The last thing you want to do in the middle of this is get frustrated and give up halfway through.  Remind yourself that it's only temporary if it helps.

There are a few contradictions in the food guide- hummus is okay, but beans aren't; rice cakes are okay but rice is out; quinoa is listed but amaranth isn't, etc.  Just use your best judgment and figure out what works best for you and your cleanse.

Q: What are the supplements like?  How often/what are you taking?
A: Some of them aren't bad at all and I enjoyed taking them.  Some of them... were really foul.

Intestinal Rescue was the worst for me.  You mix a tablespoon of powder in a glass of juice or water and drink it twice a day on an empty stomach.  Then immediately follow it with an 8oz glass of water.  I would do this first thing in the morning when I got up, and then right away when I got home- before eating any snacks or dinner.  I always mixed with juice (I tried it with water once and wanted to cry) and would shake the hell out of it in a canning jar and then chug it down as fast as I could.  It's gross- but it's worth it.  Just trust me.  You won't feel very hungry after drinking this and it's okay to eat a light breakfast or snack.  Just make sure you don't go all morning without food.

Renew-U, Blubberwack, and New Brain Choice are all liquid tinctures that you take together three times a day.  I was also taking these in juice, and found them to be the most pleasant.  They have a slightly alcoholic taste, but the herbs themselves are fairly mild tasting.  I would take these first in the morning- after Intestinal Rescue and before eating, right before lunch, and then sometime in the evening- after Intestinal Rescue, and before bed.

Renew-U Tea isn't bad, and was easy to drink throughout the day.  You need to drink 4 cups of this, so I would make it in a big pot in the morning, and then pour it into a Nalgene to take with me and drink throughout the day.  I actually enjoyed it more at room temperature.  I know a lot of people aren't tea drinkers- so if you find the taste off-putting just chug it and be done!

LBT Caps aka Lower Bowel Tonic are exactly what you think they are!  I'd take 3 caps right before bed with a small glass of water.  Seriously- don't take these and then dilly-dally around for half an hour.  Take them and then go to bed.  You will be thoroughly impressed in the morning.  I promise. 

Q: Anything else worth knowing?
A: Go to bed when you feel tired.  Don't venture too far away from a restroom for an extended period of time.  Drink a ton of water.  Don't exercise too hard.  Don't treat this like a diet- make sure you're eating enough calories.  Pay attention to your body and do whatever you feel is best.  Don't bother cleansing if you aren't committed to taking better care of yourself in the long run.  Do your research.  Don't allow yourself to cheat consistently- it's pointless.  And lastly- take all of my advice with a grain of salt.  This is just what worked for me and how it made me feel.  Read the entire cleansing guide, read all of the directions, and pay attention to your body.

Any other questions?  Let me know!  I'd be happy to answer them, share recipes, and tell you all about my poops.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tulip Festival

So, we did this really wonderful thing on Sunday afternoon.  The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is one of those things that I've wanted to do every since I've lived here.  It's silly and cheesy and really wonderful.  Every three seconds you decide that THIS tulip is the most beautiful, or THIS tulip is the brightest.  I highly recommend.  There are also a lot more pictures up on my Flickr.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Last night I found myself standing in the bulk foods section of my second favorite grocery store- looking at two big and empty canisters where the quinoa once was.  All that was left were a few teenie tiny little lonely bits.  I felt lost and confused.

I am currently on day two of this cleanse which involves cutting out gluten, dairy, refined sugar, and alcohol, among other things.  The list of "approved" foods is a bit contradictory, but I'm trying to stick to it as much as possible.  Quinoa is one of my approved foods.  Quinoa was the entire reason why I had walked to the grocery store in the first place.  Quinoa was causing me a bit too much grief and heartache for being so tiny.

Luckily, thankfully, wonderfully- the amaranth bin was nearly full to the brim.  Amaranth is nutritionally quite similar to quinoa, and has many of its own unique nutritional benefits as well.

While looking up recipes for using amaranth I came up with quite a few gems.  Some of these I will have to adapt if I want to enjoy them during my cleanse, but otherwise I'd consider them fair game.

- Chocoalte Amaranth Quinoa Cake makes me think that I could give up gluten forever.

- Popped Amaranth Granola is made with cashews, coconut, and honey, and although this rendition includes oats, butter, and sugar- I may make a few adaptations so I can enjoy it this week.  YUM.

- Amaranth, Quinoa and Corn Chowder sounds so, so good.

- Popped Amaranth Cereal with Sesame Seeds and Crystallized Ginger is another popped amaranth breakfast recipe that caught my eye.  These cereal recipes are actually perfect, as I've been trying to wean myself off of the boxed junk.

- Black Beans with Amaranth actually uses fresh amaranth leaves, which I don't have access to- but it's one of those recipes that seems to be worth holding on to.

Any favorite amaranth or quinoa recipes to share?  Any ideas on where to find fresh amaranth leaves in Seattle?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

School and Slacking

While I am not a fan of the "sorry I haven't been blogging!" type of post- that's exactly what this is!

I started taking part-time online classes last week and I can't believe how frazzled my brain feels.  I guess it's valid to take into consideration the fact that I'm working full time, I haven't been in school for nearly three years, and on top of that I'm taking classes that have nothing to do with sewing or going on trips to Vegas!  (For those of you who don't know- the last time I was in school it was for fashion design- hence the significantly more entertaining curriculum than my current bookkeeping courses.)  I'm hoping that once I settle a bit more into this schedule and learn how to deal with the fact that I can't just bake and play with the bratty cats when I get home from work- my blogger brain will turn back on.

In the meantime... here is what I'd rather be doing:

Maybe replace the Tecate with a ginger ale.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

Link Love!

Short and sweet!

- Jen of Indie Fixx has a post up on Craft Zine that details Growing Your Own Microgreens Indoors with lots of lovely pictures and really good instructions.  This is my plan once I have my little seedlings in pots.

- Have I mentioned that I have a big huge giant ridiculous blogger crush on Ashley English?  Seriously.  This woman is amazing.  I just found out about her YouTube channel and I can't stop watching.  On top of that- she just just just released the first two books in her Homemade Living series- Canning & Preserving and Keeping Chickens.  I haven't gotten my hands on either yet (my lack of chicken keeping space means I'll most likely be focusing on her canning book), but Food in Jars has a really wonderful write-up with photos.  

- I made this carrot cake on Sunday night for an office birthday- and it was one of my all-time favorites.  I covered the entire thing in unsweetened coconut flakes and walnuts, and used lots of lemon in the frosting.  It's even lovely to look at plopped on a paper plate.  I want to eat it again. 

- Fry Books is hosting the 5th Annual Seattle Edible Book Festival tomorrow (Saturday, April 10th) at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford, here in Seattle.  "Cook the Books! combines the creative and culinary talents of NW bibliophiles, foodies, book artists, chefs, bakers, librarians, kids and punsters."  

- Petite Vanilla Bean Scones from The Pioneer Woman are killing me.  A co-worker actually brought in a container of the "real" scones from Starbucks and they were good.  Really, really good.  I've never had them since, as I couldn't pronounce half of the ingredients in them.  But this... this I can do.  I'm hoping to have time this weekend.  White flour and refined sugar for breakfast!  Yes!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Free Potatoes! How Exciting!

I have a TON of sprouted local organic potatoes that I can't get myself to just throw away (and our apartment building doesn't compost).  I've already planted mine for the season and don't have the space or need for any more.  On top of that I also have extra 10-gallon grow bags that are perfect for growing those little suckers.

I would ideally like to pawn them off on anyone in the Seattle area- since shipping sprouted potatoes seems a bit silly.  But if you live elsewhere and are seriously interested we can work something out. 

Basically- if you want to try your hand at growing potatoes this year- I am offering to give you the taters and bags to get started.  All you need is soil and a little sunny spot to set them up. 

If you're interested shoot me an email: renai (dot) marie (at) gmail (dot) com otherwise I'm going to start giving them away as gifts!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bunnies and Jerks

Easter is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate in a very non-religious sort of way.  My family always had the best (aka craziest and loudest) Easter celebrations, and since I won't be home this year-  I want to dedicate this post full of lovely fluffy things to my jerk brother, and his jerk girlfriend, and my jerk bff's for all being able to enjoy it this year.  Have fun, jerks!  (Disclaimer: My mom and the rest of my family are not jerks.  Usually.)

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