My love of Kamut

I have been baking bread for our family for almost a year now.  It is something that I love to do – especially when I can purchase organic flours or locally milled flours to add in.  It is so fun to experiement with the recipe by adding other flours in to see how it makes the bread taste…and this is what led me to discover some organic kamut flour at Bulk Barn.

Oooh, I love the taste of the bread when it has kamut in it.  It is rich, and buttery tasting and it has a beautiful golden colour.  This summer I couldn’t wait to make bread at the cottage because my brother from Calgary would be there.  He also makes his own bread and I wanted to share the experience of kamut with him – it’s like I knew that he would get how amazing it is.  Well, he lived up to my expectations.  We sampled the bread for our bedtime snack – and he had all the kids smelling the bread and taking a bite before they put anything on it.  He also said that it tasted like our Grandma’s bread – so that may be another reason why I love it so much.

Kamut is an ancient relative of the modern durum wheat – they call it the “sweet wheat” because it is not bitter.  It has a Egyptian heritage; “kamut” is an ancient Egyptian word for wheat.   When compared to common wheat it is higher in 8 out 0f 9 minerals, contains up to 65% more amino acids, boasts more lipids and fatty acids, and has up to 40% higher protein level.  It is also considered a “high energy grain” because of it’s higher percentage of lipids which produce more energy than carbs.

There are a few websites out there where you can learn more about kamut, but I think it’s popularity is going to really increase and we will all know the name soon.  It is easy to substitute into any recipe, the only change you may have to make it add a bit more liquid.  I think kamut crepes or muffins are next on my list of experimenting…maybe I will even throw some into the next batch of cookies!

Aaah, kamut, my love.

Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 2:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Birthdays…

It seems that with spring comes birthday season, and I don’t think I was a huge success in the gift selection process.  However, I feel like I did make some good ethical and environmental choices for the birthday party I had for Sarah.

Sarah loves horses, so this year it was a horse theme.  The horseshoe pinata was made from pizza boxes.  I went with real plates and glasses and our cloth napkins.  I debated about what I was going to do with the treat bags for awhile.  What I ended up doing is sewing bags out of an old sheet, and then cutting out a horseshoe from felt to glue on the front.  I used up material I have had for almost 15 years (Yes, I am a pack rat.), and the girls all have a bag they can keep using. 

The other issue is what do you put in the bag?  I have given up shopping at dollar stores because for such low prices how can there really be any hope that slave wages or child labour are not  involved in the production of those products.  This year I stopped at 10 Thousand Villages and found a beautiful glass ring and some fair trade chocolate, which I added to the bag along with a few other things.

We did not buy anything new for the invitations or thank you cards, and the invites had a silver painted horseshoes cut out of cereal boxes glued to it.   The thank you cards utilized some of the horse stickers that Sarah got for her birthday. 

I have been trying to rethink gift giving, to avoid meaningless purchases.  So this year Sarah got riding lessons from her grandmother for her birthday, and we took her to pick out  boots for her riding lessons.  She is now the proud owner of pink cowgirl boots.

I also have to add, that Sarah received a lot of money for her birthday this year and it has been beautiful to see her being generous with her riches.  The kids program at our church is collecting money to buy 10 bicycles for an orphanage in Guatemala.  Sarah has given $30.00 of her birthday money, and is thinking of giving more.  Seeing her generosity is further inspiration to continue my journey.  What a girl!

Published in: on June 16, 2009 at 2:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Spring Cleaning

I have been doing some spring cleaning lately, and I thought I would share some of my new green alternatives to spruce up the house.

 Washing windows can be a real pain in the arm and I now have a new favourite item to help in washing windows.  My mom sent me the Norwex window cloth and it is amazing!!  All I did is wash my windows with water and then dry with the window cloth this year, and I have no streaks.  The window cloth does an amazing job on the windows and mirrors. 

With a one year old boy in the house, you can perhaps imagine what the walls of my house might look like.  Riley went through a stage of writing on the walls with any sort of writing implement he could find.  I had been procrastinating in cleaning them, because I didn’t want to use the magic eraser type product because of the chemicals in them.  Norwex has a Micro pad that is supposed to do the trick.  The consultant that I got the pad from suggested just cutting off a small section and using that up – to make the pad last longer.  I just cut off an inch squared and then wet it and the pen and marker and pencil all came off the wall!!  Unfortunately, Riley was a bit too forceful at times, and now I need to repair the little pen holes in the wall.

In washing my walls I have been using a simple solution of water with a few drops of essential oil in it.  I love adding essential oils to my cleaning water, because of their disinfecting and sanitizing properties.  A lot of the Norwex products are meant to be used just with water, but I do miss the smell.

Published in: on May 26, 2009 at 1:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Green Living Show

This past weekend my family and I attended The Third Annual Green Living Show in Toronto.  It turned out to be a really fun family friendly event.  I probably would’ve got a bit more out of it personally without kids, but it was fun to have them there to enjoy the day. 

One of our first stops was the Natural Playspace that was created in the show.  There was a fenced off area complete with trees, sand pit, small amphitheatre, and craft tables (made out of trees) for the kids to enjoy. You can see a sketch of the space on the Green Living Show website.  Riley went down the slide probably 50 times. 

riley-on-the-slide1

The other family hot spot was the organic/fair trade food section that was giving out samples of all this amazing food.  The girls, and Chris were in heaven.  We did make some food purchases because they were already dropping some of the prices on Saturday evening.  

One of my favourite companies was there – The Green Beaver.  I love this company because it is a Canadian company and because they leave all of the nasty chemicals out.  Some green products still have  chemicals in them that it would be best to avoid.  We bought some Green Apple Toothpaste and Star Anise Toothpaste (this is like brushing your teeth with black licorice – so yummy!)

We are not in the market for new shoes, but we met the company that we would like to purchase our next pair of shoes from – Simple Shoes.  The shoes are made out of recycled and natural materials.  They are made in Asia, but the company has a third party involved ensuring that fair wages are being paid.  Plus the shoes are also very cool, and fun!!  I love fun!

My children are animal lovers, so we did stop at all the animal booths – WWF, Greenpeace, Earth Rangers.  There were a lot of booths dedicated to greening your home, as well.   We didn’t have time to really explore all of these booths.

I think if you are interested in greening your life, this is a great show to attend.  Most of the companies were offering special prices just for customers at the show.  We all know how expensive organic food, or stainless steel drink bottles can be, and some of the prices at the show were amazing.  We paid for our entrance tickets with the savings on the things we purchased.

Published in: on April 30, 2009 at 5:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

World Water Day – March 22

I have been away for a bit and it seems like we are getting into the environmental season – spring.  Tomorrow is World Water Day, which I just found out existed today.  I will consciously try to conserve every drop of water tomorrow.  If you are looking for activities in your area or things you can do, the Council of Canadians has an extensive website. 

Another special day coming up is Earth Hour on Saturday, March 28 at 8:30 pm.  I am ahead of the game on this one and World Wildlife Fund – Canada has set up a website for people to get involved.  I have signed up for the event, but I realized that I will be out that evening.  So I will need to heavily co-ordinate my family.  I wonder if the girls will go for no night light in order to help the planet?

The other thing I found out about is a new search engine called Forestle that helps save the rain forest while you search.  I have switched over from google, and now do rain forest searches.  So fun!

Published in: on March 22, 2009 at 2:33 am  Leave a Comment  

SOA Watch

I have been reading today, and I had to blog right away about the SOA Watch, because it brings up a new thread in the web of abuse. 

The SOA Watch according to their website “is  an independent organization that seeks to close the US Army School of the Americas, under whatever name it is called, through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work. ”

What is this school?  It is an army training base located in Fort Benning, Georgia.  The school trains Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, and the graduates have killed many of their own people.  According to the SOA Watch website: “Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, “disappeared,” massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Assassins.”

The thread of the evil of military repression is an integral part in the web of economic oppression.  The militia are ready to brutalize and kill people who stand up against the injustices of economic greed within their community.  I recognized the presence and evils of the military, but did not think of their training.  The fact that these soldiers are being trained in the States to kill brave folks standing up against oppression is terrible.  I just want to applaud the efforts of this group that is trying to shut down this school, so please go check out their website.

http://www.soaw.org/index.php

Published in: on February 15, 2009 at 9:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Green Valentine

My husband surprised me with some green valentine’s gifts.  He bought me the Cradle to Cradle book that I have been wanting to read (let me know if you want to borrow it), and a page a day calendar called Living Green: 365 ways to make a difference.  It was a great surprise and it is nice to know that I have support in this journey.  We cannot help the earth and the people on it alone.

For my girls, I decided to give them a different Valentine’s gift.  Each Saturday comes with Saturday morning chores that need to be finished before the fun of the day begins.  My Valentine’s gift was to do their chores with them, and this elicited much thanks.  Hannah even said that she dreamed that I would say that. 

I hope your Valentine’s has been green.

Published in: on February 14, 2009 at 8:03 pm  Comments (1)  

Green Living Show

I was trying to do some research on the internet the other night, and I was getting very overwhelmed.  There are a lot of companies out there, and it is just hard for one person to find out everything.  However, as I was nearing my end, I was so delighted to find out about the Green Living Show.  Finding this information redeemed all the other time I had already spent.

The Green Living Show is a huge eco-show happening in Toronto on April 23 – 26, and I have it booked in my schedule.  I am so excited, because I can actually talk to people about all these issues.  It is the 3rd Annual event, and it looks like it will be so good.  Check it out for yourself.

http://www.greenlivingonline.com/torontoshow/index.html

Published in: on February 8, 2009 at 2:47 am  Leave a Comment  

The Triple Bottom Line

The triple bottom line is something that I have been reading about that really excites me, and makes me wonder why all businesses are not set up this way.   It is a way of accounting that looks at economy, ecology, and equity, or another way to phrase it is it looks at people, profit, and planet. 

The idea is that a company assigns value to natural capital (planet), and to human resources (people), and then incorporates their overall costs and benefits into the bottom line.  There is a theory that companies do the best in the long run if they base their accounting not just on cash, but on the overlap of profit, environment and society. 

I have read about some companies that are great examples of this method of accounting the the book Global Profit and Global Justice.  I would like to share a few of their stories with you.

Church and Dwight Company (aka Arm & Hammer, etc) started using recycled packaging as early as 1907, and now use over 80% recycled papers in all aspects of their business.  They also use only 4 chemicals in all their manufacturing facilities; that is impressive considering how many chemicals we all likely have in our homes.  A great example of focusing on environment.

Wainwright Bank, from Boston have focused on the social aspects of responsible business.  Here are some of their initiatives:

  1. Affordable housing (committing financing to a wide range of housing projects)
  2. Health services (helping with HIV/AIDS by aiding non-profits)
  3. Environment (partnerships with environmental groups)
  4. Homelessness and hunger (providing loans to shelters)
  5. Women’s Issues (education activities and banking relationships with organizations helping women)
  6. Diversity (50% of the work force is women, and 30% is visible minorities)
  7. Social activism (stakeholder in Trillium Asset Management Co., which is an investment management firm that only deals in socially responsible investments)

Cisco Systems has provided the routers and switching gear that has enabled the rapid growth of the Internet.  This is a very wealthy company, but right away they set up a Foundation to give back.  Their giving mostly revolves around education, and one of the programs aims to bring education and Internet-age job skills to participants in 33 of the 48 least-developed countries in the world.  They also created a really cool partnership when they hit a bit of a recession.  What they did, because they valued their employees, is offer them an option to work at a non-profit for reduced pay (1/3 wages), but still maintain their employee health benefits and stock options.  Many were hired back at Cisco when the recession ended, but a few opted to stay at the non-profits.

Interface Inc. a large flooring company has also redefined how they are going to be a sustainable company and leader.  Here are their seven steps:

  1. Eliminate waste (ie the concept of waste)
  2. Benign emissions
  3. Renewable energy
  4. Closing the loop (so materials used flow cyclically)
  5. Resource-efficient transportation
  6. Sensitivity hookup (community that is sustainably aware)
  7. Redesign commerce (so service and value are the focus not material)

I think my part in this is taking a deeper look at the companies that I patronage.  Do they deal in the triple bottom line – or does cash rule the business decisions? It does make me excited to see that some clever people are making such smart choices, and if I can, I want to support that type of thinking.

Published in: on January 26, 2009 at 2:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Why I am doing this

In church yesterday, I watched an amazing video created by our Sunday Morning Team.  This video really captures why I have embarked on this journey.  So I would love you to check it out.

http://www.southridgechurch.ca/video/details/bliss

Isn’t it great!!

Published in: on January 20, 2009 at 2:33 am  Leave a Comment