Living a green life….maybe

I need a laugh and hell, you probably need one too! I have a confession, after a decade of more of striving to live a green and natural lifestyle; I am at the end of my rope. Really…I am about ready to say screw the planet and give me my conveniences! Yeah, I’m an ass…I know it.

I guess you could say my interest in living a more natural life started not along after the Spousal Unit I married, some 14 years ago. My first attempt at being a natural girl was to dive head first into vegetarianism, sadly the man did not share my vision and within a year or so I gave up the ghost. Between spending over a $100 a week at Whole Foods on a basket of veggies and meat substitutes back in the 1990’s, feeling incredibly crappy and having to look at the man eat meat, it was too much for me. In the end, it was steak and swine strips that brought me back to the dark side.  Though I am proud to say that even though vegetarianism and I are not a match, that stage of my life did start to change my eating habits, a change that has more of less stuck all these years. Meat is no longer the star attraction in my diet especially since I only buy organic, grass-fed and local meat. Hard to have a bacon bonanza when an $8 pack only nets you 10 fuckin pieces!

Fast forward down the road, we moved to Maine and apparently landed here before the whole eat local movement went national. Hell, I was the first person I knew to belong to a CSA back in 2003. In fact it used to amuse me having to explain the concept to folks, now CSA’s are a norm. I admit while I love the concept of CSA’s the reality is I waste a lot of food at times, right now I participate in a winter CSA and honestly can tell you I hate most winter root vegetables, but hey I am eating local and supporting local agriculture.

My love affair with all things natural really kicked into full gear back in 2005 though when I was pregnant with the six year old. I lay the blame on my midwives, it’s their fault! They introduced me to the now defunct Mothering magazine, here I was in an emotionally fragile state, pregnant and mourning the loss of my mom and bam, a new way of life. I jumped in full force.  Next thing you know, I am telling the man we will be using cloth diapers, breastfeeding and that are kid will not be vaccinated. I am pretty sure there was a few times the man wanted to shake me silly instead he did what many a man has done before him….yes dear!

Well my relationship with breastfeeding was good, some might say too good. There I was planning on a year of nursing, next thing you know the girl is three and a half and still nursing! Cloth diapers though were a harder piece; those little dipes are so damn cute until they are filled with real life poo and pee. The only thing that kept the kid in cloth diapers was the fact that I found a diaper service. Turns out I have issues dealing with shit any longer than I have too.

Time went on, I traded in disposable water bottles for stainless steel bottles…hello Kleen Kanteen and Sigg bottles. Not only are they water bottles, they can double as personal security devices when filled! When our finances nose-dived, I even traded in our paper napkins for cloth ones…the one thing I still enjoy.  After all a cloth napkin can make any meal seem festive.  I decided to start buying vinegar in bulk and only cleaning with non-toxic chemicals, better for the kiddo and family, so what are house smelled like a potato chip plant until I found the right balance of vinegar.

I even went so far as to give up my beloved Degree deodorant and explore crystals and natural deodorants until the day a natural deodorant malfunctioned on me after the crystal gave me a bad rash and left me in a state of funk away from home. Funk is not good unless it’s brought to us by George Clinton and the P.Funk!

But what I really want to talk about is reusable feminine hygiene products, look if you are a woman of menstruating age, you can spend a ton on pads and tampons. (Why can’t we get a deduction for these items?) So the idea of using reusable products seems like a sound plan, granted many women get a little squeamish at the idea of being that up, close and personal with their bodies but for those who aren’t…well reusable pads and cups are a fabulous idea. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. For the past several years I have struck a balance between using disposable products when away from home and reusable ones at home. Since the idea of hauling my own wet sack around is just too much for me.

Well I am sorry to say that after yet another month of perimenopausal flow, I think I am breaking up with these reusable hygiene products. Sure the pad feels like a personal pillow for your girly bits, that is until you overflow that bitch at 4am…then can we say mess?

My realization this morning at 4 am when I woke up looking like a gunshot victim from the lower half of my body is that sometimes disposable is good. Reminds me of last weekend when after years of cleaning with all natural products I broke down and bought bleach and Pine-Sol…I cleaned and cleaned and damn it, it felt good! While I doubt I will bring in the heavy cleaners weekly I have decided that sometimes we need a little something extra to get the place sparkly.

In the end, while I am probably not quite a green reject, at best I am only living a half green life, and I am completely fine with it. I like balance and moderation.



Cooking with BGIM

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that despite the fact I rarely talk about cooking on the blog that I actually cook a great deal or rather as time allows. I am not a very crafty person; I can’t sew, knit, crochet or make anything other than meals and kids. Oh, I am rather good at running non-profits and turning them into financially solvent organizations. But how many folks really want to read a blog about how to make a struggling non-profit organization not only financially stable but to see it actually grow? Yeah I thought so.

Anyway in recent weeks I have had several twitter followers ask me for some of my recipes, even real life friends have asked for a few recipes. So as I struggle yet again with direction for this blog, I figured I would institute a new feature called cooking with BGIM. Like many who read my blog, I work outside of the home, so as much as I like to make everything from scratch the reality is that it’s impossible for me to do that every day. However I grew up with Sunday dinners, that one huge meal of the week where my mother cooked the equivalent of a Thanksgiving dinner every Sunday and often we had friends and family over to share the meal with us.

When the Spousal Unit and I moved to Maine, for a brief period of time I attempted to have my own version of the Sunday dinner but as we had no family or friends to invite over when we first moved here, a huge spread for only the three of us (kidlet was not around at that time so it was me, the Spousal Unit and college boy who at that time would have been called only kid) simply made no sense. I attempted to re-start the Sunday dinner tradition when my Mom died but at that point it was simply too painful and until recently Sunday dinner was just like any other night.

However the kidlet is growing up and with my father’s impending move to Maine, Sunday dinners have made a come back. I have very little family and while my son was blessed to have direct connections to my family, the kidlet has none and the act of the Sunday dinner is a way to share one of the many traditions I grew up with her, to connect her with the ancestors so to speak.

So without further adieu here are a couple of items I have made recently. Last night we had lasagna, tossed green salad with local produce and Italian bread and for dessert pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. These cookies were delish though my attempt at using fresh pumpkin was a bust; in the end I used canned pumpkin puree. My fresh pumpkin adventures are another post…let’s just say I applaud folks who take whole pumpkins and turn them into something edible. It’s easier to make bread in my humble opinion than to make a pumpkin edible.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup white sugar (if you decrease this I would not go below ½ cup)

½ cup vegetable oil

1 egg

2 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)

2 tsp baking powder

2tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

1tsp baking soda

1tsp milk

1tbsp vanilla

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg together. In a separate bowl stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

2. Dissolve baking soda w/milk and stir into pumpkin mixture. Now add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.

3. Add vanilla and chocolate chips, mix well.

4. Drop by spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 mins or until lightly brown and firm.

Note: These are soft cookies, also due to a wonky old stove I baked for closer to 15 mins.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

A few Sunday’s ago I made apricot orange pork chops with roasted fingerling potatoes and sautéed collards with mushrooms and onions. This meal sounds a lot fancier than it is as far as prep time in part because the chops are cooked in the Crockpot. A Crockpot is a lazy cook’s best friend, seriously in winter mine is used at least 2-3 times a week.

Anyway here is the pork chop recipe

Apricot Orange Pork Chops

6 chops (any kind will do though the meat when done is falling off the bone so after making this several times I now get boneless chops)

1 cup apricot jam

3tbsp brown sugar

1tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground clove powder

1-11oz can mandarin oranges

Mix all ingredients well in a bowl, put the chops in the Crockpot, pour mixture over chops and cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high in the Crockpot. They are done when the meat is fork tender.

Apricot Orange Pork Chops w/Collards and Fingerling Potatoes

Note: Neither of these recipes are my creations, sadly I cannot remember where I got them so can’t give proper credit but did want to let ya’ll know that.

As a cook, who has been cooking a while I will admit I often take recipes and tweak them to my own taste buds but generally the first time out I will follow a recipe as it’s written unless there is an obvious issue. Happy Eating!

Mamahood is the new hustle but where are the sistas?

For the past year or so as I have gotten really into reading blogs, I have noticed this strange phenomenon, average every day women who happen to be mothers who have taken the art of mothering into something blog-worthy yet they also make a few extra bucks via these ventures. Now what I am about to say here is not new since a few months ago a sista did an amazing article for Bitch magazine talking about this exact thing, but this is my spin on it.

Yep, there are all sorts of Mommy bloggers out there as well as Mommy zines, even books about average every day mothering, which is cool since I love seeing what other Mamas are doing to stay sane and keep their wee ones engaged. However I have noticed a small, ok maybe a large problem. Where are the women of color bloggers? Zine? Books? I mean seriously, for every one black woman waxing poetically about the joys of motherhood, knitting, cooking and just living life (like my girl Chi-Chi)there are probably 25 white women doing this. The thing is some of these blogger Mamas is getting paid, but what about the sistas?

Is no one interested in our daily lives?  I admit when I first started blogging I wanted to be a cross between this and this which maybe I am some days but most days, I am just me and I follow no rhyme or rhythym with my blogging, so gone are my dreams of being known as a Mama blogger…instead I am just a sista in Maine which is already pretty strange.

But no, on a serious tip why is it that now that living simply is all the rage we see less representation among people of color, shit in my humble ass opinion many of us perfected the art of living simply, we just didn’t use flowery language to make it sound good. Look, my Mom was a stay at home Mama in the 70’s and 80’s and we were pretty much always broke, shopping at the thrift store and garage sales was a normal part of our lives. Saturday mornings in the summer, my Mama was up early with her trusty shopping cart for us to prowl the neighborhood in search of bargains, back then the shit wasn’t cool and I used to pray none of my friends would see us.

Cooking from scratch? Again, that was the norm in my house. Macaroni and cheese never came out the box, it took hours and was made from scratch with a mix of cheeses. In grammar school one of my favorite things was when I could invite friends over and Mom would make pizza (no Boboli crust for us, all homemade, made by hand) with a side of butter cookies. Good times, man. Yet no one ever gave my Momma a book deal and until recently I never thought much of these things, it was just the way Mama rolled. Shit, my Mom was sewing clothes and re-fashioning her thrifty bargains long before anyone thought it was hip.

No, it hasn’t been until I started reading Mama blogs and seeing how folks elevate this simple living that it hit me that I couldn’t be the only sista who grew up this way and even has a few of these handy talents, yet where is my book deal? If you are a handy sista reading me, where is your book deal?

Look, don’t get me wrong I am not mad that some Mamas are getting their hustle on while raising the kids, times is tough and folks gotta earn a few shekels anyway possible. I just want to know why the powers to be aren’t being more inclusive, really? I would be all over a book written by a woman of color who is a homemaker, and I suspect I am not alone.

I do know from engaging in the Black blogosphere there are sistas who are not only homemakers but even Mamas who are homeschooling like this sista, yet despite the few sistas I read on the regular who are engaging in these things, I still think we are greatly underrepresented.

Anyway maybe I should break out my trusty camera and start snapping photos about our lazy days and convince some publisher that there is a market on Black motherhood. What say you?