The Whirly Girl

Archive for August 2009

I recently received a sample of Golden Label Virgin Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions to try and review.  Being able to try this product has been most helpful in my quest to learn more about the benefits of coconut oil and incorporate it into our diet. 

I never thought I’d say this about oil but, “Yum!”  This coconut oil even smells delicious.  I’m finding that using it in place of vegetable oil or other fat in your everyday recipes is the best way to consume it on a regular basis.  The first recipe I used it in was my standard brownie recipe.  So good!  It gave the brownies a mild coconut flavor and the texture was perfect.  Next time I think I’ll add some coconut flakes and nuts as well.  I really liked that the flavor wasn’t overwhelming, but definitely there.

This past weekend I used the coconut oil in my pancake recipe.  I was so impressed with the flavor!  Because I only needed 2 tablespoons in 2-3 serving recipe the flavor was very, very subtle–just enough to actually improve the taste of already good pancakes without being obviously coconut-y.

As an experiment, I’ve also drizzle coconut oil over blueberries with plain yogurt for breakfast to make sure I got a daily dose.  Because coconut oil does solidify at 77 degrees F, it of course began hardening up.  The texture didn’t bother me since plain yogurt isn’t always perfectly satin smooth and I really like the coconut taste it added.  I think the trick is to pour it over something cold, like fruit and yogurt, in a very thin stream so you don’t end up with big chunks of oil in your breakfast.

I am thoroughly pleased with this product and plan on continuing to use it in my kitchen.

If you are interested in ordering your own jar of yummy virgin coconut oil, or any of their other products, you can do so by visiting Tropical Traditions website here.  If you are a first-time TT customer and would like to receive a free copy of their book Virgin Coconut Oil: How It Has Changed People’s Lives and How It Can Change Yours!, select “referred by a friend” when asked how you heard of them when placing your order and enter ID number 5356767.

As mentioned before, I am a teacher by school day.  One of the lovely perks that comes with this job is summer vacation which, in my opinion, just balances out the l-o-n-g workdays August-May and all those lunch breaks you don’t get.  I digress.

Summer vacation ended last week when my school started on Wednesday.  I spent a good bit of the summer wondering if teaching was still “my thing” because I had such a feeling of dread everytime I so much as thought about the upcoming school year.  If teaching wasn’t for me anymore, I was in big trouble because while I am truly qualified, through experience as well as official teacher training, to teach, it is the only thing I’m qualified to do.  I did a lot of thinking about vocation and if everybody has one.  What if I didn’t want my calling anymore, if I did still have one?  What does it mean that I think I just want to hole up at home forever, cooking and knitting and container gardening?  What changed between the first teaching experience I had at 18 that made me sure beyond the shadow of a doubt that I wanted to be a teacher and now, when just talking about the upcoming school year literally made me tear up, and not with tears of joy?

Through all of that I deduced several things: I still love teaching, love Latin (yes, I’m a Latin teacher), and love working with kids.  What I don’t love, and in fact hate, is being away from home for so much of the day.  I don’t love coming home too tired to even want to cook dinner, when I love to cook.  I don’t love spending all weekend doing the chores I didn’t get to during the week, instead of resting and hanging out with Scott.  So, the problem isn’t with teaching, but with being away from home for most of the day–I don’t like it.  I’m one of those people who doesn’t have to leave the house everyday to be happy.  I am usually much happier at home, working at my home-y things, than out somewhere else.  I wasn’t weeping over teaching, but the prospect of having to choose it over other things at home for the next 10 months with much of a balance.

So, as I’m back-to-schooling this year and enjoying my new crop of young Latin scholars (who are wonderful!), I’m also dreaming of the day when leading a productive life doesn’t mean 10 hours away from home each day. 

We celebrated my birthday last weekend with a lunch of gazpacho, pork tacos, Sacher Torte, and as many friends as would fit around the dining room table.  (Flowers and a new ipod waiting for me on the dining room table that morning kicked off the festivities.)  It was lovely in every sense of the word. 

 

birthday lunch table

birthday lunch table

 

When people show up at your home bearing gifts of a ramkin of creme brulee, an expanding envelope for your coupons, menchago cheese and high-quality chocolate, and a grocery store gift card for “the things you usually say no to,” it makes a girl feel pretty good.  Not the fact that gifts were brought, but that all of these things, and this fabulous tea towel from my sister, were a good summation, in material form, of who I am.  So was the food.  It’s always nice to feel like people know who you are.

 

birthday gazpacho

birthday gazpacho

 

birthday Sacher torte

birthday Sacher torte

 

P.S. Yes, the zinnias on the table match my plaid napkins perfectly.  Not planned, but fabulous.

I watched this video this morning about making your bathroom eco-friendly and thought it was great.  (Thanks, becentsable!)

We have already taken some steps the video listed.  We also have CFL bulbs in our bathroom.  I do use vinegar for cleaning purposes sometimes, but need to get better about using it for more things.   We have also been in the process of switching our chemical cleaners with natural ones like Nature’s Source.  They cost more than vinegar, though they are not pricey, but I feel a little skeptical about vinegar as a disinfectant.  Is this unfounded?  Please tell me if it is!

I am trying to figure out the whole natural shampoo, soap, etc. situation.  I am more than willing to admit that I sometimes feel torn between only putting things on my body that I would put in my body…and the fact that my shampoo and conditioner for curly hair works really well and I like the way my soap smells.  A lot of all natural products are considerably more expensive than the good old chemical-laced ones, which is also an issue for me.

I do feel I’ve made some steps in the right direction:

        coconut oil–I use it as a moisterizer on my face, not the virgin kind because I don’t think I could handle smelling like a coconut all the time.  (I know you’re not supposed to need moisterizer til your “old” but I’ve needed it since I was about 13.)

       epsom salts–I use this as a facial scrub to get rid of the flaky skin.  I also think it might absorb some oil.  Wet your finger tips, dip them in the salt, and scrub away.

        Kinky-Curly hair gel–Unlike coconut oil and epsom salts this product was not cheap, but it has no chemicals or artificial scents and I decided I could splurge on my most recent visit to Whole Foods.

What have you done to green up your bathroom or other parts of your home?

 

Until we got married I never had to juggle the usual utility bills.  My pre-marriage home was a one bedroom guesthouse the in-laws of a friend rented to me for three years at ridiculously, graciously, low rent with no bills.  So, I lived there for next to nothing, used their washer and dryer at their insistence, and ate dinner with them on occasion.  (Before moving off into the land of wedded bliss, the wife half of this saintly couple even helped throw me a wedding shower.)  It was a hugely generous situation and honestly, living in a town where my private school teacher’s salary was a third of the median income, I don’t know what I would have done without it.

Before the guesthouse, I was in college and living in an all bills paid apartment with a roommate.  So, until our marriage last summer the only thing I’ve had to budget for was rent.  An electric bill was a new one for me (a budget was not, so utility bills weren’t all that painful to accept).  Here is what I try to do to keep our energy bill manageable. 

 

  • Dry clothes on a clothesline instead of in the dryer.  I have done this consistently for only a month so I don’t know the monetary savings, but I feel it’s a much more responsible choice when possible.

 

  • Turn off lights and other energy-sucking items when not in use.  We try to keep groups of appliance plugged into power strips that can easily be turned off.  Every morning before work and every night at bedtime I walk through the house and make sure everything that can be is turned off

 

  • Turn off (unplug?) the water heater when away from home for a weekend or longer.

 

  • Use fans to reduce the need for AC.  Reverse them in the winter to circulate warm air. 

 

  • Set AC or heater accordingly when you aren’t home.  Don’t cool or heat an empty house!  We set timers so the house starts to cool down/warm up an hour before we get home from work.

 

  • Use rugs or rolled up towels to block cracks under doors and prevent your “bought air” from escaping.  We do this in our bedroom at night, especially since it’s the only room we cool/heat while we’re sleeping (given the window unit/space heater situation).

 

How do YOU manage your electric bill?