Thursday, August 29, 2019

Caring for God's Earth - Minimizing Waste

In these modern times, we are constantly bombarded with photos of the affects of plastic waste. The enormous floating "trash islands" in our oceans. The marine life trapped in plastic, or the sea turtles that have choked on plastic bags because they thought the bags were jellyfish. We're also aware of the size of our landfills, and how some areas are now transporting their trash to other areas because they have simply run out of the space to bury it.

While I consider myself overall "old-fashioned", I tend to be forward thinking when it comes to this beautiful world our Father in Heaven created for us. I don't believe he intended us to cover it with trash. 

"The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land." --Leviticus 25:23-24 (KJV)

Because of this mindset, I've always been eager to do my part in recycling and reducing waste as much as I possibly can (within reason---you won't see me knitting a blanket out of recycled plastic waste; I'll leave that to the "professionals"). I'm grateful for all that has been given me, and I don't want to mistreat or misuse it.

"And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination." --Jeremiah 2:7 (KJV)

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So how can one contribute to the preservation of this beautiful earth? For us, we try our best to minimize our waste. Each week, our family of five produces only about one bag of trash for city trash pick-up. To be honest, it's not even a completely full bag. We've even begun skipping a week, and putting our trash bins out for collection only twice a month. So how does a family of five produce only one bag of trash each week?

1. Recycle. Our recycle bin gets full a lot faster than our trash bin. We're able to throw much of our plastic, glass, cardboard, and metal products into the recycle bin. There are a few items that our city has asked us not to recycle, which we have other plans for.

2. Compost. Our family does not eat meat or dairy products (which are no-no's for composting), so almost any food item we don't eat ends up in the compost bin. Vegetable scraps, apple cores, banana peels, uneaten rice, and moldy bread all go out to the compost bin. Very little food ends up in our trash bin.

3. Reuse. We seem to always have an abundance of plastic shopping bags. I've given thought to asking for paper bags only, but have yet to do this (I know I should). We do two things with our plastic shopping bags. First, we use them as our bathroom trash bags. A lot of people do this, and I think it is probably the most common use for the bags. However, because we do not produce much trash in the first place, we still have way too many plastic bags. Fortunately, our local grocery store has a place in which we can return our used shopping bags for recycling. They also recycle other plastic bags as well. You know those bags that frozen vegetables come in? Recycle! The large plastic bag you bought your potatoes in? Recycle!

4. Shred. All of the paper we use and no longer need gets shredded. But what do we do after it's shredded? It goes to the compost bin. Take note that this includes only non-glossy paper waste, as glossy and colored paper can contain harmful chemicals we don't want in our garden. Paper has it's benefits for a healthy compost, as it contains carbon (though you do want to make sure you have a happy ratio of nitrogen-rich grass clippings to get just the right carbon-nitrogen ratio).

I know that there are so many other ways we could reduce waste, but these are the things that we're working on. What do you do to reduce waste?

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Southern Pimento Cheese

A dairy-free take on a classic Southern favorite.

Southern Pimento Cheese

2 cups cooked jasmine rice
8 ounces diced pimentos
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 Tablespoons tahini
1 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons miso
1 teaspoon (or more) sriracha 

1. Prepare jasmine rice according to package directions.
2. Optional--In a food processor, pulse cooked rice until it reaches a minced-like consistency. Do not puree. 
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine rice with the remaining ingredients. 
4. Chill in the refrigerator. 

Pimento cheese can be served in a multitude of ways. My mother preferred to melt hers on toast. I prefer to toast the bread but spread the chilled pimento cheese on top. My great-aunt serves a pimento cheese sandwich. Others may serve it as a dip with crackers. In our home, we also enjoy finger, or tea, sandwiches with pumpernickel bread. It's all good!

Monday, August 5, 2019

When He Dreams Big

After the birth of our first child, my husband abruptly quit his job. It was no huge surprise, as he had been vocal about his dissatisfaction in his current profession. We made many sacrifices in the years following so that he could go back to school and obtain a degree in something he was more interested in pursuing (his first degree had been rushed and chosen because of its ease and not its practicality). Two and a half years (and another child) later, he graduated with his master's degree, began his new career, and within 6 months we paid off his student loan debt. 

Fast forward seven years and he's at another crossroad. He's had a dream ever since he graduated, and has worked continuously for the same company in the hopes of fulfilling that dream. Recently, a couple of offers were made to him, one within his company, and the other not. After consulting with me on both offers, we are heavily leaning toward one of them, but are waiting on the other party to make it happen.

As the homemaker, these upcoming changes in my husbands career will mean another period of sacrifices and careful budgeting, regardless of which path is chosen. My husband has made it possible for me to fulfill my dream of being a homemaker, and it is my duty to support him in pursuing his dream that will hopefully guide us toward a bright future for our family.

It's not easy. When he dreams big, it is important to pray over any upcoming decisions and to have an open and honest dialog with one another. Allow him to express his worries and concerns, and remember to express yours as well. Encourage him when he begins to over-worry. Offer help in areas that you can to assist him in his decision making (even if it means poring over policies and legal documents within his field to reassure his understanding of them). Remind him that it will be okay, that the family will not suffer, and that the end goal will be worth the risk. Most importantly, stand by him as he makes his final decision, even if it may differ from what you hoped for.