Monday, February 28, 2011

~ Chicago Diner Veggie Burger Recipe ~

One of our favorite places to go out to eat around here is actually in downtown Chicago at the very well known vegetarian paradise, Chicago Diner.  Everything on the menu is vegetarian & a lot of it vegan.  They have every bit of comfort food you can imagine from Biscuits and Gravy to Philly Cheese Steaks and everything in between.  The bakery has some of the most delicious vegan treats I have ever tasted and they make shakes with Temptation vegan ice cream that pleases even the most mainstream of eaters.  We crave it.  Because it is about an hour away, we don't get there too often so I was super pleased when I came across this recipe the other day in an old Vegetarian Times article for Chicago Diner Burgers.  In an effort to stop buying things in boxes, I planned on making a big batch of veggie burgers to freeze for those super busy nights when cooking isn't really an option.  This recipe pleased everyone in the house.  My son exclaimed, "We can never buy gardenburgers again!"  My daughter asked for seconds. 
Today, I'll share with you this fantastic recipe but if your ever in Chicago,
 promise me you'll visit Chicago Diner  (check out their menu by clicking this link). 
You won't be disappointed.

Chicago Diner Veggie Burger

• 3 stalks celery, diced (about 1 1/4 cups)

• 1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)

• 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

• 2 tsp. onion powder

• 2 tsp. garlic powder

• 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

• 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

• 12 oz. mushrooms, finely chopped

• 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour


1. Bring 4 cups water, celery, onion, soy sauce, onion powder, garlic powder and pepper to a boil in pot over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in oats, mushrooms and flour, and cook 5 minutes more. Transfer to bowl, and chill.

2. Preheat oven to 350F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray. Shape mixture into patties, and bake on prepared baking sheet 15 minutes. Flip, and bake 10 minutes more. Cool.

3. Heat grill to medium-high. Place foil on grill, and coat with cooking spray. Grill burgers on foil 7 minutes per side. Serve with Red Pepper Aioli.

{ Day 2 :: 30 Day Challenge }

2.) Post photos and write about someone you have been close to for a really long time.

That cute blond in the photos...that is Jenni.
Next to her, the equally cute little tan girl, me.
(Don't you LOVE our matching suits?)

( one of MANY camping trips we have taken together!)

In my last 30 day Challenge, I told you that I didn't know my birth father growing up.
In most of these pictures, you will see my silly cousins, my adopted Dads family.
Along with a great Dad, who came with a lot of fun cousins, I also got Jenni, my oldest and bestest friend.
We met when I was 2 and she was 4.
We played ALL the time.
Jenni's Dad is one of my Dads' best friends.  They are almost like brothers. 
Jenni's parents are like parents to me, in fact, I lived with them briefly in high school.
There are many ways she is connected to our family but that is a whole other
 ridiculously hard to follow story.
Trust me on that one.
Jenni attends all our family Christmas parties, every birthday gathering, every wedding,
 cookout & get together.
 We have so many memories together.

( Jen & Maya when we lived together a few years ago)

In our middle school years, we drifted apart.  She claims I was too snobby but I still say it was her.
When high school rolled around, everything changed.
It was the first time we attended school together and she took the "big sister" roll seriously.
She introduced me to all her friends, took me to all the best parties and always looked out for me.
We worked together at a local Pizza place and spent time after work sipping coffee & writing poetry on napkins in a truck stop with all of our friends.  We had notebooks we would pass to each other in the halls at school containing long detailed letters & stories about what we thought the future would hold.  We rewrote the words to most Beatles songs into ridiculously funny lyrics.  We swam all day until we were red in my Aunts pool then passed out on her living room floor so we could wake up & do it again.
We played cards into the wee hours...Spoons, Asshole & Kings in the Corner.  We danced to Jungle Boogie more times then I can count and sipped drinks around many bonfires with friends.
  After high school, we went different paths again but always came back together like no time had past. 
I had babies and moved to California.
She was having fun being single & dancing the night away.
When I moved back and my ex & I split, she was there.
When I needed a place to live & didn't want to be alone anymore, she moved out of her parents & in with me and the kids for a year.  We had so much fun together.  My kids bonded with her in HUGE ways.
She is their "Auntie" after all.  ;)
When the time came for us to go our separate ways, we cried.

( a ride in my Grandpas wagon with my cousins & Jenni~pooh)

(after a HOT day of gardening at her parents house last Summer)

Over the last couple years, we don't see each other as much as I would like but I always know she is there & we can pick up right where we left off in that way that real friends can do.

This June, she is getting married & I have the honor of standing by her side.
River & Maya will also be in the wedding.
I really am so happy for her, this best friend of mine.
We're so different in so many ways, but it has never mattered.
My Jenni~pooh.

( on a roller coaster at Great America last Summer! Ha! We're in the back row.) (On a trip to St. Joe, Michigan : enjoying the lake with my daughter)

Here's to best friends!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

One Small Change :: Laundry

Ok...I admit, I got a little ahead of myself.
I said my March One Small Change project
would be laundry but I just couldn't help myself & I couldn't be happier.
I really am not sure what took me so long to make this laundry soap. I've been reading about it online for years now. I've bookmarked & saved recipes. Maybe it was not knowing what washing soda was? Maybe I thought it would be difficult?

Boy, was I wrong. It took less then 5 minutes to whip up!

My dear friend & I decided to give it a go.
Every small step is one closer to self sustainability, we declared.
Washing soda is found in the laundry aisle at your local grocery store. It comes in a big box usually by Arm & Hammer (under $3!) & can be found next to the
Borax which you'll also need for this recipe.
I've used biodegradable soaps for years.
When I cloth diapered, Biokleen, Ecover & Bac-out were staples for us.
Then for awhile I ordered Shaklees concentrated powder.
Most recently, because it is so cost effective, I've been using Trader Joe's Lavender Laundry Soap. I also have a jar of Yoreganics Soapnuts that I just LOVE & use quite often as well.
So far, I have to say....the homemade soap has given us the fluffiest, cleanest laundry in years.
This recipe is a keeper.
{And, both the beautiful ceramic canister I found at the thrift store for $1 + the cool handmade coffee scoop my friend gave me makes it even more enjoyable to do laundry! Now, I just can't wait for it to warm up to start hanging it out to dry!}

Homemade Laundry Powder

2 cups (finely) grated castile soap*

1 cup borax

1 cup baking soda

1 cup soda ash (washing soda)

*** I've used Dr. Bronners soap for almost 15 years now so it was natural to use it in the laundry as well. This soap is amazing. If you've never used it, it can be found online or at most health food stores. One and a half .5 oz bars makes about two cups. So far, lavender has always been our families favorite for everything but I do think I'll try some peppermint for our next batch as everyone seems to love it for laundry soap. ***

Mix everything together & store in an airtight jar.

Depending on your water, you might need to adjust the sodas a bit & the amount used per load. I use 3 TBSP per load.

You may need to give the jar a shake once in a while to

prevent the soap flakes from settling to the bottom.
Happy Washing!
Love & Light!

Friday, February 25, 2011

{ This Moment }

I heard a chick~a~dee sing & glancing up, the snow covered branches suddenly
looked like apple blossoms...the wind gently blowing a million cold "petals" down...
from every angle, it whispered "Spring".... ♥

{ Many thanks for the sweet comments on my 30 Day Challenge post. Please pardon my absence this week. The evening I began my 30 day challenge, my son fell sick with Influenza which his since swept through the house knocking us all down one by one. phew..what a terrible illness that was. Hoping everyone out there is staying well! Love & Light!!!}

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Right now, I am...

...totally soaking up the last rays of sunshine as they dance across the kitchen this fresh eggs, amish butter & vintage aprons look especially lovely in this light. Feels like a surreal sunshine day dream ~~

Friday, February 18, 2011

{ This Moment }

{this moment}


A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see

Thursday, February 17, 2011

{Day 1 :: 30 Day Challenge}

Day 1 :: Post a photo of yourself & share 15 personal facts about you.

1. I farm dream for hours every. single. day.
I can't wait to wake up early one day to milk the cow & feed the chickens.
I will spend my day digging in the soil & the Winters spinning wool from my sheep & alpaca by the wood stove.
2. Creating Art,
{be it knitting, painting, sewing, printmaking, photography, jewelry making..}
fills me with deep peace & accomplishment.
3. For 11 years, I have wanted to be a midwife so bad it makes my bones ache to think about it. I am certain it is the path I am to take in life.
4. When I was 20 years old, my ex & I,with our 8 month old son in tow sold everything we couldn't fit in our old VW & drove across the country with very little money seeking out a life less loaded. After camping & backpacking for 3 months, we settled in Northern California among the Redwoods near the ocean. Cloth diapers served as our prayer flags flapping in the breeze around our campsites, wild berries were our sons favorite food & we learned a lot about what is real in life & the kindness of strangers. Those years changed my life.
5. I would like to write a book one day. Tales From the Table...stories inspired by my clients. I once worked on an 80 year old Native American woman who rode horse back across the US in her youth, another 80 something black man who was the 1st to be allowed in the "White" dormitories at Indiana University, a Vietnam Vet crippled by Agent Orange and full of shrapnel who has seen things I can't even imagine. I have been brought to tears, had outbursts of the deepest belly laughter & been inspired in many ways by the clients that allow me to lay my hands on them. What a true blessing!
6. I never knew my birth father growing up. My Mama had me in her teens. She married the man who I call Dad when I was three. All I knew growing up is that my birth father looked like George Harrison which made me smile & I found comfort in. When I did finally meet him, I was in my 20's & he was not the man I had built him up to be in my head.
He had been down a rough road of drugs & alcohol.
My Dad raised me & loved me without ever making me feel that we weren't blood related.
It takes a big man to give that kind of love. Although he & my Mom divorced when I was 20, I am grateful every day he came into my life
& we still have a very close relationship, my Daddy~o & I.
7. I have a serious case of wander lust. We have moved more times then I care to admit since my children were born. I have discovered, for them, home is a feeling no matter where we are. The smell of good things coming from the kitchen, lavender oil at bedtime, snuggling in Mamas big bed, that we are all together no matter where we are.
I still have dreams of moving back West most nights.
8. I am truly "A jack of all trade, master of none." I have dabbled in so many different things but tend to get over excited and move on to the next project. Hence why on a visit to our house you may see the spinning wheel out, next to my guitar, a pile of canning jars & organic gardening books, a basket of knitting projects, a pile of wool, paint on the kitchen table (and a pile of dishes in the sink!). There is so much to learn & do in this life it can overwhelm me at times. I want to read, know, experience, learn it all!
9. My babies were both born at home in the water. River Wildmen came into the world 2 weeks & 3 days late at a whopping 11lbs & 23 in long! My Midwife told everyone I was able to birth him naturally because no one told me I couldn't.
I love that about her.
Maya Serenity was born in California with sweet Midwives who DID tell me I couldn't do it, over & over again. Up until an hour before her birth, my midwife in Indiana was on the phone to guide us through an unassisted birth. At the last minute the Midwives showed up in time to catch my beautiful, round 10 pounder.
Never let anyone tell you you can't.
10. When I was 16, my parents decided to adopt. I was an only child up until then.
My "baby" brother is driving now! I love him as much as I love my own babies.
He is an incredible, strong, bright young man. "Uncle Alex" is only 4 years older then my son.
11. One day, I would like to live completely off the grid in a yurt.
Surrounded by fields of lavender & other herbs.
12. My ex & I separated when my youngest was only 2 1/2 after almost ten years together. I went through a wild phase of sorts for a year. Dating a lot, dancing all night at jam band shows & rediscovering my love affair with coffee, wine, art & hot musicians. This was all while my son was attending Montessori school & my daughter a sweet little tot. I so wish I could go back and re-do that confusing time in my life. I feel like, although they had a lot of stability, I also didn't give them all that I should've.
After a couple years, my ex moved back in with me in
a little house on a sand dune I had rented on the lake that grounded me.
We tried for a little over a year.
On my 29th Birthday, he left & never looked back.
There was someone else I didn't know about.
I cried to the lake a lot..letting all those hopes & dreams go.
Grieving for what my children wouldn't have.
A Mama & a Papa. The Papa that carried them in a sling and helped them be born.
I walked in the woods every day trying to figure myself out again.
It took awhile, but I'm here.
& we have a new rhythm.
One I'm pretty happy with these days.
13. I have a lot of friends. Some I have known since I was 2 years old, others from high school, my travels across the country & still more that I've made in recent years. I've never been one to have just a small close knit circle of friends but a large array of people from all different walks of life. In this way, I have never, ever felt alone. I am grateful for all they bring to my life & the time we share together.
14. I have been a vegetarian for 17 years this Spring.
I was Vegan a few of those years.
Lately, in my farm dreaming, I find myself craving home grown meat.
I've been checking cookbooks out from the library with pictures of pigs on the cover.
This worries my children, life long vegetarians.
I'm not sure where the shift in me is coming from but I feel a need for whole food from the earth.
And a reverence for the process of it all.
15. My Mama is THE most selfless, giving, amazing woman I know. The oldest of 6 kids who we're raised by a single Mom, she learned at an early age the importance of taking care of your family. She is the first to feed everyone, give them a shoulder to cry on &takes care of my Grandma with an unending supply of patience.
She had me when she was only 17.
She fought to keep me when everyone else was trying to get her to put me up for adoption.
She graduated high school, married & stayed at home raising me until I was in school. She then went on to college & earned a degree. She is my very best friend. My biggest supporter & fan.
I love her so much it makes my heart ache to think about.
There you have it. The 1st of my 30 Day Challenge.
Phew..that one wore me out. I cried AND laughed writing it.
A large bit of my soul just went out into the world...
Join me if you'd like in keeping it real.
Leave your comments below with a link to your page.
Let's really get to know each other.
~Love & Light Always~

Friday, February 11, 2011

{ This Moment }

{this moment}


A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Monday, February 7, 2011

~Creative Clutter~

I'm learning to let go.
This house is small & there are projects started on every surface.
Paint, legos, puzzles, science projects, Valentines crafts, fairy furniture, clay that is hardening & as of tonight, a white t-shirt that is being painted to look like a storm trooper suit.
Pay no attention to the baskets of yarn, knitting needles, piles of wool, printmaking supplies, photography equipment, thread & beads... *ahem*
I wonder where they get it?
Who really needs a clean house?
I see passion and inspiration around every corner.

It's good for the soul.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

{ This Moment }

******** Snow Day *********

{this moment}


A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

*** *** ***

~ One Small Change ~

Last year, I started seeing the One Small Change posts on so many blogs.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea.

We all have the ability to create a ripple in the world with actions large & small.

In Andy & Suzy's words,

"We are challenging you to make one environmentally friendly change each month. If you wish to join us, here is how it works!

1. Choose a change that you want to bring into your life that is going to reduce your carbon footprint. It can be big or it can be small...just decide on one change....if you need ideas check out our "What Can I Change Page", browse through old posts for ideas, or simply email us and we would be glad to help!

2. At the beginning of each month leave a comment on this blog to the appropriate blog post (the blog post will be titled "May Change", "June Change", etc.) letting us know what you plan to change. Come back mid month to leave comments with updates and read about what others are doing. If you blog about your change, please leave a link to your blog post.

3. That's it! So easy, so fun, so rewarding, and so important!Throughout the months we will write posts offering support, ideas, inspiration, surprise giveaways and guest posts from our participants so check back often."

It really is a sweet community they have going over there.

We have done many little things over the years that have just become a way of life

but this inspires me to do more. What areas have we slacked on?

What could we do better with?

In January, I ran out of paper towels while cleaning the bathroom.

I used to buy 2-3 rolls a year for the really icky jobs.

We use cloth napkins & dishtowels in the kitchen

so there really isn't a whole lot of use for them.

(unless you ask the kids who seem to go crazy wanting the

cardboard tube when a roll is finished for some project!)

So, it really wasn't a big decision to just not buy anymore.

I cut up a couple old t-shirts & added them to the rag bin in the laundry room.

There you have it, other then t. paper, we are done with

disposable paper products in this house.

For this month, I am going to work on our recycling system.

Since we moved early last Fall, we haven't been quite so organized.

I'd like to see our waste reduced by at least half by the end of the month.

Also, I will begin knitting some washcloths for the kitchen.

In March, I plan to green up our dishwashing.

Somehow, buying biodegradable dishsoap

& recycling the bottle doesn't seem like enough.

Check out the One Small Change Blog for more information & to jump in.

Every little bit matters.

~~~~Love & Light Friends~~~~

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"Snowgasm 2011"

Yes, I seriously heard it called that yesterday.


It seems most of the blizzard has past through & now we are enjoying the big fat fluffy flakes of lake effect snow. It has been snowing for 30+ hours.

Other then wonky internet access, all has been well.

Lots of baking, making, reading & snowplay..

I'll write more tomorrow.

My arms are killing me at the moment from digging out most of the last two days.

A kind stranger came by & plowed my driveway this evening.

Last night, we had Thundersnow for about 20 minutes. That was WILD!

I love snow days.

School & work have been canceled for tomorrow as well

& we are looking forward to another fun day at home.

For now..I'll leave you with some fun photos.

Be safe & warm friends!!!