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The Very Next Thing

A Simple Sunday
July 31, 2011 at 6:00 am

Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. ~ Buddha

Posted in (General) by Kara
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A Very Good Week
July 30, 2011 at 6:00 am

An assortment of recipes, books, blog posts, or other things that inspired me this week.

Uh-oh. Plastic bags making a come-back?

Interview with Laurie David

Resource Robin

Homemade Chocolate Lip Balm

Are McDonald’s new menu choices really healthy?

What is inspiring you this week? Please tell us about it in the comments below!

Posted in (A Very Good Week) by Kara
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Farmer’s Market Friday: The Swiss Chard Scenario
July 29, 2011 at 6:00 am

I love Swiss chard. During the winter, I actually crave it.

Maybe I am really craving antioxidants. Swiss chard has lots of those.

It’s also a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin K, B vitamins and Omega 3s and offers up healthy doses of minerals like calcium and iron.

So who really knows why my body loves it?

Could be because it is so darn tasty.

My favorite preparation for Swiss chard (or any chard for that matter; the bright colors of rainbow chard make me especially happy!) is to saute it in olive oil with a little chopped garlic and crushed red pepper flake. After it is wilted, I add in some cooked white beans.

The mix is great over rice, tossed with pasta, or all on its own.

Chard is great in pace of spinach in most recipes, like yesterday’s calzones. It pairs well with eggs in quiches and frittatas. And it is terrific chopped up into soups.

And it is actually pretty good in a banana, berry and flax oil smoothie. A few leaves don’t change the taste, but pack in some really valuable nutrients. (Try it – I promise you won’t even notice!)

You can find lots of great recipesfor chard, and it is in season in most places across the country until Semptember. So buy a big beautiful bunch today. Your body will thank you!

Another Make-and-Freeze: Calzones
July 28, 2011 at 6:00 am

We have been making and freezing a lot around here lately. Our project last weekend was calzones.

It was a busy week with 11 a.m. swim lessons and the kids were so hungry when we got home. It was great just pulling out a few of these calzones and warming them in the oven for a fast and easy lunch.

Make-and-Freeze Calzones


16-ounce package of spinach, copped finely

1/2 of a medium-sized onion, chopped

one clove or garlic (or more!), chopped

olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil cut into strips (or about 1 tsp dried)

1 cup of tomato sauce (we like Muir Glen organic)

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

*Dough recipe:

In a large bowl, mix 1 cup of warm water with 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast. Add two tablespoons of honey. Let sit for five minutes. Add in 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup unbleached flour and 1 teaspoon salt and mix well. Add up to a half-cup more whole wheat flour and knead until smooth. Put dough into an oiled bowl and cover. Leave to rise for one hour. When it comes time to make calzones, divide dough into 6 equal pieces.

Step 1. Make dough.

Step 2. While dough is rising, heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion for two minutes (but do not brown); add spinach and cook for another minute or so until wilted.

Step 3: Add garlic, basil and salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook until garlic is softened and basil is wilted, but be careful not to brown garlic.

Put in a large bowl. Add sauce and cheeses and stir.

Step 4: When the dough has risen, punch down and divide. Roll out each piece until is is very thin and place a few big spoonfuls of filling on one side.

Step 5: Fold over dough, and seal by pressing with a fork. Brush with melted butter and put a few little holes in the top for steam to escape.

Step 6: Cook at 425 degrees for about 8-9 minutes or until just lightly browned. Remove from oven, cool and wrap each in aluminum foil. Place in a freezer bag.

When you want to reheat the calzones, warm them up in foil in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are warm inside.



MYO: Yoga Mat Bag
July 27, 2011 at 6:00 am

A few months ago, I spotted this cute yoga themed fabric at the craft store. And I bought a yard.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but it made me feel so cheery. The doggies doing downward dogs and headstands — it was happy fabric!

So this weekend I whipped up a couple of yoga mat bags. One to keep, and one to give to my mom, who has been such a great support lately (and always, but really, really lately). I wanted to support her in her yoga.

I got the fabric at Joann’s in case you are looking for it. The little tie is made of jute and hemp.

Yoga Mat Bags


1 yard of fabric (this is enough for two bags)

2 1/2 feet (for each bag) of ribbon, yarn, or thin rope

safety pin

seam ripper


measuring tape

sewing machine and thread


Step 1. Before you get started, wash, dry and iron the fabric. I know, but just do it because otherwise your bag will shrink and all your hard work will be wasted.

Also, roll up your mat and measure how big it is. An average mat is about 5 inches across and 27 inches long. This tutorial is for an average size mat. If you have a giant, padded mat, you may need to cut the fabric a little bigger.

Step 2. Cut the fabric  into two 8 1/2- by 32-inch pieces.

Step 3: With right sides together, sew up the two long sides and the bottom.

Step 4: Box the corners, by making a line of diagonal stitches on each side at the bottom.

Step 5: Fold over 1/4 inch and iron. Fold over again 1 1/2 inch and sew. 

Step 6: Using a zig-zag stitch, sew back and forth a few times on the seam and about an inch above the seam. (This part is a little tricky to explain, but see the photo).

Step 7: Using a seam ripper, remove the stitches between the zig-zag stitches to make a little hole.

Step 8: Place pin into rope or ribbon and thread it through the space created. (Just like when the string comes out of your hooded sweatshirt.)

Step 9. When string appears on other side (success!) place knots in both ends. Then, tie them together so you never have to do Step 8 again.

Step 10: Throw your mat in there and head to class!

Happy headstanding!

That’s Not For Us
July 26, 2011 at 6:00 am

Food can be so much more than food, can’t it?

It can be political. It can be an economic issue. It can be very loaded.

In our family, we have a lot of food rules. Some are for health reasons, but other are choices we make about how to eat. We have all these rules because we feel they are what’s best for our family, our circumstances.

And sometimes we bend the rules, because special occasions call for a treat.

What can be challenging is how we talk with our kids about the choices we make. We don’t want to overwhelm them with random factoids and statistics, but we want them to feel good about eating well, without feeling like our way is the only way.

In stores, at restaurants and even at gatherings, we sometimes find ourselves saying, “that’s not for us.”

It is my attempt at explaining (without overexplaining) that other families eat other things. And that’s OK, but that doesn’t change our rules.

I want my children to feel good about making good choices, but I don’t want them to ever feel like they need to push our rules on other people. I certainly don’t want them to worry about what other people eat.

So tell me, how do you talk about food in your family?

Are you swapping?
July 25, 2011 at 6:00 am

Are you part of Paperback Swap?

I recently joined after cleaning out a lot of books that we didn’t really need anymore.

I like to buy books used — I like the savings (in this case, the books are free, although you pay to ship your own books) — I also like the “recycling” aspect of not always buying new books.

So far, I have been a little overwhelmed with the e-mails from Paperback Swap. I listed a lot of books because we had a lot to share. Many had been previously requested, so almost immediately I got multiple requests to send books. BUT, I almost immediately got some credits too!

As I get the hang of things, I think Paperback Swap could be a lot of fun.

I mean, what isn’t great about getting a book in the mail essentially for free, while clearing space on my bookshelves too?

If you are or have been part of this swapping community, share your experience! I’d love to hear how it worked (or didn’t work) for you!

A Simple Sunday
July 24, 2011 at 6:00 am

Then followed that beautiful season … summer … filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Posted in (Simple Sunday) by Kara
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A Very Good Week
July 23, 2011 at 6:00 am

An assortment of recipes, books, blog posts, or other things that inspired me this week.

It’s Our Policy, from Cold Antler Farm

Retro Pillows

Love Grown Foods

Free Form Whole Wheat Pizza


What is inspiring you this week? Please tell us about it in the comments below!

Posted in (A Very Good Week) by Kara
Comments (0)

Keeping Cool, Naturally
July 22, 2011 at 6:00 am


Like a lot of the country, we’ve been in the middle of a pretty intense heat wave this week. Bank signs yesterday said it was 99 degrees, but at times, the thermostat reached over 100.

We don’t have central air, although this week we have frequented many places that do.

My grandparents never had air conditioning either. It never seemed to bother them, even in the hottest weather.

They just drank ice water and stood in front of a fan.

During this kind of crazy heat, when there is little to do but sweat and bear it, we are using the following tactics to keep cool naturally:

  • Homemade popsicles
  • Pool days (Or anything water-related days. One of the creeks we like to visit  is in a shady area.)
  • A cold washcloth with a few drops of a cooling essential oil like peppermint
  • Living room slumber parties (since the heat travels up to the second floor where the bedrooms are)
  • Lots of ice cubes, water, iced tea, and cold drinks
  • Creating a relaxing homemade spray of water and essential oils like peppermint, lavender, citrus or rose
  • Keeping the kitchen cool with simple meals like hummus with cut vegetables and crackers, or even peanut noodles that don’t take too much cooking
  • and knowing that soon, the heat will pass and it will be sweater weather again.

How are you keeping cool this summer?  

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