Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Home Projects

It's been awhile since I posted on home projects. But this morning my mom sent me a link to this U-Tube video in which this man named Wally Wallington lifts and manipulates Stonehenge-sized stones in his back yard, using just wood, himself, and levers.

I've been having fun reading people's summations of this video: A college commenter suggested the main point is that you shouldn't go off to Florida and play shuffleboard for retirement. Not a few others have concluded that aliens, alas, may not have created the pyramids. Mood-killers have agreed, enmasse, that Wally's "rediscovery" of ancient building techniques is a reminder of the numerous amounts of information and abilities humans have lost in the shuffle of more modern "progress". I like how it smashes common expectations/stereotypes about hard laborers -- he's a retired construction worker who is clearly ingeniuous, thoughful, resourceful, and not only interested in the way things work, but motivated and curious enough to follow his own observations to their incredible ends. And of course, I don't think it prudent to leave unspoken the obvious possiblity that Wally is, in fact, an alien.

Any summations I missed? Or, what I really want to know: what home projects do YOU have going on?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Houston Goes Fruity

MaGreen, BabyG, and I went to Urban Harvest’s annual fruit tree sale on Saturday, January 20, here in Houston. Within minutes of the 9:30 am opening, people – at least a thousand folks – had cornered almost every tree and vine.

Urban Harvest is a non-profit dedicated to nurturing communities through gardening education. They hold classes, send instructors to schools, maintain a seed library, and disseminate information about how to garden in the Houston area. Their largest event is an annual fruit tree sale. The sale has grown steadily and this year it was moved to a new, more commodious space next to the Emerson Unitarian Church.

The main fruit trees available were those that are ideal for Houston’s climate: oranges, lemons, grapefruit, kumquats, limes, tangerines, persimmons, apples, pears, figs, grapes, blackberries, peaches, nectarines, plums, mulberries, pomegranates, jujubes, blueberries and mulberries. An addition to this year’s sale were more tropical and sub-tropical plants like dwarf mangos, star fruit, Cherry of the Rio Grande, and jaboticaba.

By the time I arrived, just fifteen minutes after the opening, only a few orange and lime trees remained. The mood was civil, but people had a half-crazed look as they guarded their plants. Late comers looked bewildered. The check-out line snaked around the entire lot. The Urban Harvest website says, “Our vision for Houston is a city thriving with a network of gardens and orchards building community health, vitality and pride.” Seeing all those people clutching at their trees made me feel hopeful about this beast of a city. Maybe Urban Harvest’s vision is possible.

Their next sale will not be until January 2008. Check out Urban Harvest’s list of other fruit tree sales around Houston if you live nearby and can’t wait.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Klean Kanteen Sippy Cup Review

Last year, GreenDaddy’s parents considered retiring early and becoming entrepreneurs: they wanted to manufacture an invention – they hadn’t decided on it yet – in their native India, and then sell in the states. Around this time GreenDaddy and I discovered that there was no such thing as a sippy cup made out of stainless steel, and we thought: that’s it! Mom and Dad can make sippy cups in India, the land of stainless steel innovations!

Why did we care so much about stainless sippy cups? It wasn’t so much they had to be stainless steel, we just didn’t want them to be made out of plastics that leach hormone disruptors into food – we’ve written a lot about this here, and here and here. Our family doesn’t eat off of any plastic substance: all BabyG’s bottles were glass, her high chair is wooden, we store leftovers in glass containers.

When it came to be sippy cup time there was no such thing as a non-plastic one. At first, we opted to teach BabyG to sip from a normal cup, which is fine at the kitchen table, but on long stroller or car rides, she wants a little something to sip, you know? Ergo our dream of getting rich on stainless sippees.

Of course, neither of us were good enough capitalists to do more than email a stainless steel manufacturer in his home state in India. Meanwhile, I regularly googled “non-plastic” sippy cups, and eventually hit up on discussions on the forums and Berkley Parents Network announcing rumors of Klean Kanteen’s product. We bought it as soon as it was available.

The Klean Kanteen Sippy Cup costs a pretty penny – around $15 on sale. You can buy a matching, Built NY insulated sleeve and spend $20 on everything. We didn’t buy the sleeve, as $15 is already a hefty price for a sippy cup, but people who did buy it love that it keeps drinks at the temperature you want them, and say it makes them easy to attatch to strollers, etc. I wish I’d gotten one because when it gets hot here, cold water stays cold for about two seconds.

The body of the Klean Kanteen is made from recycled stainless steel, and it doesn’t have an epoxy coating inside. It features an adaptor that changes it from a kid-sized, stainless steel water carrier into a sippy cup. The actual drinking spout is the regular Avent toddler spout, and though we haven’t tried it, I have read that any Avent spout or bottle nipple can be used. I have read a few reviews from customers complaining that the spouts leak, but if they switch to a different Avent spout, that problem goes away. Ours doesn’t leak, though.

Design-wise, I am not the number one fan of the Klean Kanteen. When BabyG first tried to use it, at 9 months old, it was awkward for her to lift the 7 and a quarter inch long canister high enough. At 13 months, it is still awkward. The container is fat at the bottom – regular, adult sized, water bottle fat – and a little thinner at the top, where kids are supposed to grasp it. This means that the greatest weight of the liquid rests in the fat part, and the baby has to pivot that weight around, more or less, from the thin part. I mean, if you had a giant object that was wide and heavy on one side and skinny on the other, you would have troubles picking up the skinny side, too. It's physics.

Moreover, the baby has to tip the bottle extra high to make the water spill from the fat part of the canister “up” into the thinner part. All and all, it just doesn’t make much physical sense. Better if the whole bottle were thin, or there was an easy to grasp part in the middle.

Another feature I don’t like, is how the adaptor that converts the Klean Kanteen from a basic stainless steel water bottle into a sippy cup, is made from #5 polypropylene, as is the actual sippy spout part (which is an ordinary Avent sippy spout top).

Of course, if you’re going to use plastic, #5 is “an okay one” -- meaning it isn’t “known” to leach, but that it is hazardous to make. Bisphenol-A, that hormone disruptor scientists noticed leaching out of plastics #7 (which many baby bottles and sippy cups are made out of!), has not been caught leaching out of polypropylene. At it doesn’t contain the carginogens like plastic # 3 (the plastic pre-wrapped sandwiches, etc) or #6 (Styrofoam) is suspected of carrying.

As somebody who believed all plastics were healthy as no-sugar apple pie until just a couple years back, and who has read that no matter the safety rating, one should never put plastic in their mouth or heat food in plastic, I admit I’m not completely sold on the safety of plastics not “known” to be hazardous.

Still: if you don’t want your baby drinking water or juice or milk or whatever it is you feed her out of materials that are either “not known to be” or “known” to be made out of carcinogens or hormone disruptors, and you really need a sippy cup, none of my complaining matters a single iota: The Klean Kanteen is the ONLY sippy cup that is mostly made out of a non-plastic material.

If water sits in your car on a hot day, it will be touching the stainless steel, not the plastic. And Klean Kanteen never develops that plastic taste, even if you leave the same water in there for a couple days.

I think Klean Kanteen saw the need for the stainless sippy cup, and they converted a product they already had to answer a growing consumer demand. They’re a good company, and I’m grateful they’ve created this product. I think many of the design “flaws” are more results of not actually having designed their “kids cup” to be a “sippy cup” for babies.

However, I’ve been reading around the web, and here and there people have mentioned the existence of stainless steel sippy cups at expos, etc, that are actually designed for toddlers. I bet by the time BabyG is a few years old, there will at least a couple better options. Heck, maybe GreenDaddy and I will visit a stainless steel plant when we visit Gujurat, this summer, and actually become stainless steel sippy moguls ourselves.

Until then, I do recommend the Klean Kanteen, and we will continue to use ours. When I lost the first one, I shelled out the excessive moolah, and bought another. I believe the Klean Kanteen is safer for my baby than the other options available. I'd like it to be more steely. I'd like it to cost less. And yes, it’s awkward -- but, hey, at least in this aspect it’s giving BabyG an early lesson in adapting to the imperfections of the world.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Love Fest 2007: G(comm Unity)nting

BabyG's 1st year bash was, if I haven't mentioned, a six hour long open house. Long enough that I wanted to provide sustenence for my guests in the form of not only delicious Harvest Pumpkin Apple Cake, but Dilled Egg Salad Sandwiches, two kinds of cookies, and homemade Limeade. It was on a Saturday, and the following Wednesday, I cooked three lasagna's for GreenDaddy's surprise birthday (in which my surprise was upstaged by the mean intestinal bacteria some piece of food delivered GreenDaddy two days before...)

These party preparations and caring for the poor, sickened GreenDaddy arrived, as the best kind of stress and sickness does, at the height of the holiday season. Right when normal people are busy getting their winter plans, purchases, and/or trips in gear. For us, that meant preparing for a two week long sojourn to Utah and then to California, to see all our respective parents.

All this plus doting mightily on BabyG was enough to frazzle icecubes. But everything came off okay.

"But how!" I hear one of you dear readers gasping. "Good Golly," another is muttering, "Your family surely is a veritable mountain of unyielding force!"

Yes, we are. Thanks phantasmic reader, for noticing.

But how DID we survive? And why didn't the eldest heroine of this blog expire in a pile of lasagna noodles, pumkin puree, and happy birthday ribbons?

[MaGreen], my friend and loved one,

we'll be over tomorrow at the beginning of the party, and you should think of hank and i as people who you can call in the morning or before the party begins to get last minute whatever (including, "please bring a can of coke with you to the party").

we can also run errands, take out garbage, put out chairs, provide nonviolent conflict resolution, mop up pee puddles, open windows, change lightbulbs, turn compost, take things out of ovens, entertain children, and oil squeaky door hinges.


It's that simple. I always want to write about how at least 50% of our ability to keep working at being green parents is a direct result of the incredible community that surrounds us. Our nurturing, loving community is the "reen Pare" in Green Parenting.

For those of you who want a way to help out new moms, or sick friends, or just friends who need a lift: copy above note, change the names, and send it off. (Well, better change some details in it, too, because otherwise it could have effects opposite of your good intentions. Chuck's note immediately lowered my blood pressure, and even now, weeks later, reading it makes me incredibly happy. Makes me feel inordinately lucky.

It wasn't only Chuck who saved my ass. Our friend Nicole did all sorts of decorating, last minute shopping, and lasagna baking. Janira helped me get the house ready. Heather came over and made cakes. Kayte brought her camera and took pictures of the 1st birthday(since our camera was missing that day). Keith and Theresa lugged over half a dozen or so extra chairs. And for the surprise party, all GreenDaddy's friends brought little and big somethings to augment the lasagna. And even the people who didn't "do" something, "did" something by celebrating the births of my two favorite people, and have "done" countless other life saving and wondrous things for us these past many years. Thank you.

The ever expanding sum of my friends' kindnesses reminds me that being green isn't just about using glass storage containters instead of plastic, or growing your own food, or creating less waste, or riding your bike to work. It's about nurturing the people around you so they can make their own green choices, or maybe choices more inline with their belief systems, but that you support because they're your people.

This is important for me to remember. My community enables me to work for what I believe without becoming pissy, angry, or poison because I'm greener, or peacier, or a better earth-lover than whoever. It keeps me going when I'm pooped, and it makes me want to be as fabulous to other people as my community is to me. Which is Good for Green.


Sending this in to the scribbit Write Away Contest!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Continuing the Struggle for Reproductive Rights

MaGreen and I attended Planned Parenthood luncheon on Friday, which is an annual event marking the 34th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the US. Nine hundred people attended the event including notable public figures like Sarah Weddington, who at the age of twenty-six argued the winning side of the Roe v. Wade case. There were also several elected officials present including State Reps Alma Alan, Elen Cohen, and Rick Noriega; City Controller Anise Parker; and City Councilmembers Sue Lovell and Peter Brown. Volunteers, donors, staff, and other supporters filled the tables.

Outside, on the sidewalk, about ten anti-abortion protestors held up signs and passed out pamphlets. One of them noticed my Planned Parenthood name tag and asked me if I believed women should have abortions. I said, “I believe in women’s right to choose.” Then she asked my friend, a woman, “Don’t you think women should have the right to choose pregnancy?”

“Of course,” my friend said. I was reminded not only of the different between our beliefs and theirs, but also of the difference between what they believe we believe and what we actually believe.

Inside, the keynote speaker, Marcia Ann Gillespie, gave an inspiring speech on reproductive rights. Gillespie served as the editor-in-chief of Essence and Ms. magazines and has participated in a number of struggles for racial, gender, and economic justice. She spoke about the difficulties of living a life of activism. She said, “When we remain committed to human rights, we often feel alone.” She also noted the need to question one’s own privileges and assumptions in what she called “a constant de-crudding process.” I really liked that phrase. Gillespie noted that her blindness to heterosexual privilege was one of the later layers of crud that she shed.

For me, real understanding of gender inequality came late, and is still coming. I did not have a strong opinion about reproductive rights until I was in college and various people tried to convince me of their positions. It was not until I was in a small gathering where a gynecologist explained why he performed abortions that my own position solidified. He said he didn’t have a single reason, one airtight argument, for supporting reproductive rights. He said that his patients each have their own stories. Sometimes a woman has been raped. Her life is in jeapardy. Or the fetus has miscarried. Birthcontrol failed. Perhaps the woman did not use protection and does not believe that a pea-sized cluster of cells in her own body ought to become a baby. Maybe the woman is poor and lives in a country that does not support mothers, where she and the possible child will not be able to live a dignified life. Or the woman has already had six children and does not want anymore. Each of those stories are the reasons.

Even if we do not agree with the validity of every single one of those reasons, we should support the right and the capability of those women to choose abortion during the first trimester, as one choice among other possible choices. Protecting that right should be one part in a larger struggle for gender equality, fair distribution of wealth, affordable childcare, universal healthcare, and education.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

One Fun Thing

GreenDaddy and I are as busy as ever, and before he took BabyG to the Children's Museum, he said: "I'm going. But you have to work." He hesitated, said. "Okay, you can do one fun thing, but otherwise you have to work."

This is my one fun thing. I have three things to say:

1. I'm posting product reviews at Prop's and Pans.

2. In the process of deciding what to review, next, I chose our shampoos. Which led me on a snaking webhole of research and I ended up, gasp, deciding the three shampoos we love need to be nixed. I've gone no-poo in response. More on this to follow.

3. I also want to review Klean Kanteen's, non plastic, stainless steel sippy cups. They're the only sippy cups on the market you can get without plastic, folks! Before I write the review, though, I thought I'd ask if anybody else has used them?

Alright! The fun is over!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Healthy Baby 1st Birthday Cake Recipes

Oh the horrors of finding a first birthday cake for our little pookey-pooh.  The first birthday cake was a biggie.  There are so many options.  So many opinions.  People who believe depriving a baby of devilishly chocolate, sugary cake is tantamount to child abuse; people who believe giving baby any sugar, ever, is tantamount to child abuse.  Some people skip cake altogether, reasoning any messy, dessertish dish will do for the messy-faced photos that most everyone agrees are about the whole reason a child turns one.

For BabyG's party, we made, cough, cough, cough, i mean our friend Heather slaved in our kitchen all morning to produce-- several "cakes" in jumbo muffin tins, for the babys and toddlers present to have their own private cakes to destroy.  The adults got regular cupcake-sized versions of the same thing.  It was the right way to go: the adults who like tiny slices ate one cupcake, and those who never get enough, snuck cupcakes into their coat pockets on their way out.  And the kids all got to feel special enough to warrant a cake.  I didn't have to slice anything. I do wish I'd opted for a darker frosting color -- below she's eating Pomegranite Ice Cream.

Red Dessert is GoodWe did have a hard time finding first birthday cake recipes for BabyG's party, to begin with, though.  After a year of little sugars, we didn't want send her into sugar-convusions on her birthday, but we're not anti-sugar, either.  We're a somewhere-in-between household.  So this is the post that offers up a little of my research in the form of some of the best recipes I found.

Pomegranite Ice Cream Hands
By all means, no matter when you read this, if you have a green cake suggestion post it in the comments and I'll likely add it to the list.  

The ever evasive word 'green' means: less sugar than normal cakes and/or healthy ingredients...but thanks to Fiddler, it also means cool, gardenish presentation.

A secret about my cooking, in general, is that if I can throw a vegetable or nut into something, I do it.  My selection of recipes reflects this.  Since there are a million versions of apple cakes, etc, I chose the recipes I like best.

BabyG's Birthday Cake (which she LOVED)
Pumpkin Apple Harvest Cake
By Cait Johnson, author of Witch in the Kitchen


1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin puree
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup organic sugar
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped apple
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Whipped cream or confectioners’ sugar for topping (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare an 8-inch round cake pan by greasing and flouring it.
2. Combine pumpkin, eggs, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add flour, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, and salt, stirring to combine. Add apples and nuts, stirring again. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
4. Cool the cake, still in the pan, on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack, remove pan, and cool cake completely.
5. When ready to serve, turn cake on to a pretty plate and top with whipped cream or confectioners’ sugar, if desired, or serve plain.

ps. If you make the cake, smooth it out when you put it in the pan as pumkin makes it bake in whatever shape it goes in there with.  Guests loved the cake, BabyG did...I frosted it by whipping heavy cream with a little sugar and cream cheese.  

mmmm mmmm mmmm

Cosmo's Birthday Carrot–Pineapple Snacking Cake (from Superfoods by Delores Riccio)
Makes 9 or more servings

1 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs (or 1/2 cup prepared egg substitute)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar (can use less)
1/2 cup white sugar (can use less)
1 1/2 cups finely grated (about 4 large)
one 8 oz can of crushed pineapple, packed in its own juice, undrained
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 inc square or 7 x 11 inch oblong cake pan.
sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a large bowl.

In another bowl, beat the eggs with the oil, then blend in the brown and white sugars.
In a third bowl, combine the carrots, pineapple with its juice, and walnuts, if you are using them.

Beat the egg-oil mixture into the dry ingredients. When well blended, stir in the carrot-pineapple mixture. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake is risen and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out dry.

mmmm mmmm mmmm

Applesauce Cake Recipe

1/2 cup safflower oil
1 cup Florida Crystals natural sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup raisins
1 cup hot applesauce without sugar
A handful of chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)


Mix the oil and sugar. Combine the spices, nuts and raisins with flour and spoon this into the oil/sugar mix, alternating with hot applesauce. Cream until smooth. Pour into greased and floured 6-by-10-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.

mmmm   mmmm  mmmm

Cardamom Apple Cake from Canadian

• 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
• 3/4 cup (175 mL) firmly packed brown sugar
• 2/3 cup (150 mL) melted butter, cooled
• 2 eggs
• 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
• 2 cups (500 mL) sifted all-purpose flour
• 2 tsp (10 mL) baking soda
• 2 tsp (10 mL) cinnamon
• 1 tsp (5 mL) each nutmeg and cardamom
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
• 1 cup (250 mL) chopped pecans or unblanched almonds
• 4 cups (1 L) peeled, cored chopped apples
• 3 tbsp (50 mL) icing sugar


Grease 10-inch (4 L) angel food cake pan or similar pan and dust lightly with flour.

In large mixing bowl, blend together sugars; beat in butter, eggs and vanilla to make smooth batter.

Sift together flour, soda, spices and salt. Measure out about 1/4 cup (50 mL) and dust nuts. Mix sifted dry ingredients into butter batter; quickly stir in floured nuts and apples. Transfer to prepared pan.

Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 50 minutes or until skewer inserted in centre of cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan on rack. If possible, store for 1 day in airtight container before cutting.

To serve, remove from pan and, positioning patterned cardboard (or paper lace doily) over top of cake, sieve icing sugar onto cake. Remove cardboard.

mmmm   mmmm  mmmm


2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tbsp. chopped orange rind
1 tbsp. grated lemon rind
3 eggs
1/4 c. canola oil
1 1/2 c. yogurt
1/4 c. honey
1 c. chopped prunes
1 c. chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, sift the flour with the baking soda and cardamom. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, oil, yogurt and honey. Stir the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture until batter is smooth.

Fold in the dried fruit and nuts. Pour batter into greased bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until cake tester come out dry.

mmmm   mmmm  mmmm

Upside Down Cardamom-Pear Cake

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Cooking spray
2 peeled Bartlett or Anjou pears, cored and each cut into 12 wedges

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare pears, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cardamom; cook 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Pour sugar mixture into a 9-inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange pears in an overlapping circle over sugar mixture; set aside.

To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Sift together flour, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well. Place granulated sugar and 1/4 cup butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; beat until blended. Add flour mixture to egg mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla. Spoon batter into center of prepared pan; gently spread batter to cover fruit.

Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; run a knife around outside edge. Place a plate upside down on top of pan; invert onto plate. Let stand 2 minutes before removing pan. Cut into wedges.

mmmm   mmmm  mmmm

Baby's First Birthday Cake (Carrot Cake)
(Makes 1 double-layer 9-inch square cake adapted from "What to Expect")

~ 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
~ 2 1/2 cups apple juice concentrate (you may use slightly less)
~ 1 1/2 cups raisins
~ Vegetable Spray/Shortening
~ 2 cups whole-wheat flour
~ 1/2 cup vegetable oil
~ 2 whole eggs
~ 4 egg whites
~ 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
~ 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
~ 1/2 cup wheat germ
~ 2 Tbsp low sodium baking powder
~ 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Prep: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two 9 inch square cake pans with waxed paper and spray the paper with vegetable spray/shortening.

1. Combine the carrots with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the juice concentrate in a medium size saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, 15 to 20 mins. Puree in a blender of food processor until smooth.
3. Add the raisins and process until finely chopped. Let mixture cool.
4. Combine the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/4 cups juice concentrate, the oil, eggs, egg whites, and vanilla; beat just until well mixed. Fold in the carrot puree and applesauce. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans.
5. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 mins. Cool briefly in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. When cool, frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

mmmm   mmmm  mmmm

Chocolate, Zucchini, Sweet Potato Cake
recipe zaar

1/4 cup cocoa
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup rye flour or buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup grated sweet potatoes
1 cup dried cherries, hydrated in 3 tablespoons rum or hot water
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped (optional)

Decrease the oil by ½ cup, omit the sugar and honey. Try using chopped
jarred maraschino cherries for more moisture.
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• Butter and flour a bundt pan.
• Sift together first 7 ingredients.
• Set aside.
• In a mixer mix oil, sugar, honey add eggs and vanilla.
• Mix dry ingredients into egg mixture then add buttermilk.
• Stir in remaining ingredients.
• Pour into pan and bake for 50-60 minutes till toothpick comes out clean.
• Let cool.
• Invert onto cake dish.

mmmm mmmm mmmm


2/3 c. banana, mashed
1/2 c. butter, softened
3 lg. eggs
3/4 c. water
2 c. unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
Optional: 1 c. chopped walnuts OR 1/2 c. chopped walnuts & 1/2 c. raisins

Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch pan. Beat together mashed banana and soft butter until creamy. Beat in water. In a separate bowl, beat eggs until very foamy. Beat into mixture. Blend in flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Beat until smooth. Stir in walnuts or walnuts and raisins, if desired. Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool. Serves 8-10.

mmmm   mmmm  mmmm

Flowerpot Cake from Martha

This cake you have to see on the website, so here's the link to recipe and photo.  It's also for those of you decide your baby won't expire because of a load of sugar, and who want to see good chocolatey goodness wiped all over her/his mouth.  So here, "green" means it's in a flowerpot.  


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Doozy: Ending Painful Sex Via Physical Therapy

This post was hard to write, because it's stuff I ordinarily wouldn't share. I mean, it's about sex. But I think it's important to get the information out there, so GreenDaddy and I both agreed I should post it. I tried not to be overly descriptive, while being exact. But if women’s “private” body parts make you squeamish, click on by.


A few years ago, I was tortured by recurrent vaginal yeast infections. I’d have an infection, take mega-antibiotics so it would go away, and it would. Then, the exact same time each month, I’d get a new infection – which I often discovered the beginnings of when GreenDaddy and I were having sex. Because even the beginning of a yeast infection makes sex very, very painful.

For about three months we lived like this. Three months of me seeing a Gynecologist, who prescribed me a mega-pill that killed an infection for about two weeks. I was also ingesting acidophilus in countless forms: yogurt, little pills, etc. I read and followed many natural courses. Still, every month, on almost the same day, pow!

The fourth month, I told the doctor I was certain it was the birth control I started right before the infections, because the only thing that had been as regular in my life was my period. She’d never read about such a link, and convinced me to switch brands of pills. At month five, the same thing happened. Infection, cure, infection. We switched again. At month six, she said, “See, it’s not the birth control, it’s something else,” and she sent me to a specialist on yeast infections who prescribed sulphur vaginal suppositories.

I wasn’t into that, and gave up the pill, instead. The infections disappeared immediately. Which we assumed would save our sex life. No such luck. Sex continued to be painful in exactly the same way as it was when I had the beginnings of a yeast infection. Like the condoms were made out of the smallest grates on a vegetable grater. Very painful.

GreenDaddy certainly didn’t want to have sex, if every time we had it I felt like fainting from pain. It made him feel terrible, especially because he's rather fond of sex. And I didn't want to have sex, either, but felt terrible. And we were more or less, newly married. I felt broken. I felt like I was somehow cheating him, even though we had had a fantastic sex life -- I knew I didn't have an innate fear of sex -- until the infections started.

So I went to see doctors. “Buy lubricants,” they said. We did. It slightly dulled the pain. "GreenDaddy needs to be better at foreplay," they said.  Nope.  “Some women just always have painful sex,” they started saying then. Doctors, nurses: everybody nodded authoritatively, on occasion consolingly. That was just the truth as they saw it. I read all over the internet about vaginal pain during intercourse. Some people offered surgeries. Others concurred with the doctor: you’re unlucky, and you’re, forgive the pun, just screwed.

I did, thanks to lots of lubrication, manage to get pregnant. It was fairly painful – say a five on that list of one to ten – but I wanted a baby. Then, during most of my pregnancy we didn’t have any sex at all. A couple months after giving birth to BabyG, we had sex. We had hoped that shoving a giant baby human through my vagina might have miraculously fixed something. It didn’t.

On a post-birth visit to Lu, our midwife, GreenDaddy and I asked her for help. At this point I had talked to a dozen different doctors of different ilks about the problem. I had had so many appointments I didn’t even tell GreenDaddy about them all because it was just one disappointment after another. We were both scared. Because it looked like this was just the way it was going to be.

Lu set up an appointment for a physical. Of the many doctors I’d seen, only three others had examined me. Like them, unfortunately, Lu didn’t see any obvious problems…though I found the exam excruciatingly painful, and she could see that.

I was bearing down for her pronouncement: “Some women just have painful sex” when she actually said, “Well, it looks like you have Chronic Pelvic Pain. You’ll have to go see the physical therapists at the Women’s Hospital of Texas.”

Physical therapists for vaginas? Yes. The whole reason I am writing this post is that there is this group of women working as physical therapists, and they specialize on problems with the vagina, and nobody, not doctors, not nurses, almost nobody knows. I'm writing in case somebody thinks they either have to have painful sex forever or no sex, they really ought to go see one of these people. Because it worked for me.

I was terrified the first time I went in. Of course, the baby came with me, because it was the middle of the day. I was led to a room with a massage-like table, where relaxing music was playing. My therapist came in then, and I thought, “How’s this twenty-two year old girl going to do anything?” I lost spirit.

She examined me, which was weird and uncomfortable. After two years of pain that felt specifically like lacerations of some sort, I was pretty certain no massaging of the vagina was going to help. I thought I was incurable. But she didn’t. She said, “I think we’ll schedule eight visits. That should do it. We’ll start the first one today.”

During this and all other visits she massaged the new scar tissue I’d created giving birth, and she massaged parts of my pelvic floor that would spasm whenever something touched them. Basically, my muscles remembered the pain from having sex at the start of yeast infections, and wasn't letting go of the memories.

I won’t lie and say the treatment itself wasn’t as painful as the sex. It was. But after two visits, she said I should go home and have sex with GreenDaddy.

By this point, the thought of sex was extremely unpleasant to me, though. I couldn’t imagine it not hurting: it had been about two years without painfree sex. But I went home and did as she told me…and that pain that had been about an 8 (without lubricant) on her 1-10 scale became a 5. And over the course of the next few visits, the 5 became a three.

On various visits, my therapist talked about other things too: the use of dildos to aid in healing, and various products meant to enhance a woman’s experiences during sex, mostly liquids that stimulate the clitoris to help a woman lubricate herself.

And now, it’s been about six months since I last went, and sex is 98.5% painfree, I'm at a .5 on the pain scale and we don’t need to use the Lubrin even.

So far as I'm concerned, my therapist was a magician. I have never been so grateful to a healthcare provider.

And I think back about all those doctors, a few family practice doctors, but mostly Gynecologists and OBGYNs, who told me there was nothing to do about having pain during intercourse, who didn't hesitate to relegate GreenDaddy and I to a life in which sex was either painful or nonexistant.

And I think of all the women experiencing vaginal pain and believing there is no hope.

And I realized that the reason doctors don't tell women about these therapists is because they don't know.

So I decided to write this post, hoping women in pain, their partners, their healthcare providers...people who need it will find it. And help women experiencing the sort of hell I was to find a solution.

If you want more information: Women's Hospital of Texas or google: chronic pelvic pain physical therapy (your city).

It's worth it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

BabyG Speaks, Acts, Dances, Kisses...

1-2-2007 9-12-39 PM_0106When she first started speaking at about 10 months, I didn't believe GreenDaddy. I had noticed the woof-woofs, but wasn't in the mood to count them. He noticed the hello, and I didn't want her first word to be delivered into a cellphone. Alas. It was.

The other first thing she started to do around this time was cough. I coughed because something got stuck in my throat, she'd giggle, and then pretend to cough. So I'd cough back, and she'd cough. Funny when we're playing in the living room, not so funny when she's in her car seat sounding like she's choking to death. (GreenDadddy reminds me: if she can cough, she's not choking. Okay. But then I'd have to be freaking out whenever she's silent in the back seat. Not really a fabulous alternative...) BabyG also thinks sneezing is hilarious, and tries to copy. BabyG thinks any grunt anybody makes and she can sort of copy is funny, too.

Her words:

  • 1st: woof woof (to the dog next door & who i hate not only because she talked to him before she talked to us, but because he wakes her from her nap a few times a week, usually on days when she REALLY needs a nap)
  • 2nd: Hello (to the cellphone which we must use more often than I realized)
  • 2nd: Daicy (meaning, Percy, the cat, and actually, for awhile, all four legged creatures)
  • 3rd: Qua Qua Qua (Spanish for Quack, addressed to the rubber duck)
  • 4th: Memememe (milk, mom, feed me. maybe it doesn't even mean mom.)
    4th: Dadada (come notice me Dad. also applies to GreenDaddy's dad, V. maybe it doesn't mean dad. she says neither meme or dada with frequency. i like that our names are not her first words, by the way. i think its a good thing.)
  • 5th+: bye
  • dougee (dog)...
  • aaaaahhhhh
  • baa! (to the picture of a sheep)...
  • duck (to the rubber ducky if she doesn't say qua qua)...
  • psssst (the ec, elimination communication books said it would happen...and it has! she says psst, at least 50% of the time before she's peed. in oakland GreenDaddy's's mom would screech the car to a halt and BabyG would pee in her potty. in houston, we're just not driving around so much. and it's really cold. sometimes we hear her and don't stop...)
  • kisses (my favorite by far. not only will she do things like climb over to whatever is impressing her most and kiss it -- be it me or her grandma or a singing airplane toy. and afterwords she'll say, 'kisses')
Basically, she's a genius. I think if I tried harder to coach her, she'd know more words. But I don't want to stress her out. She's coming along at her own pace rather nicely. I also suspect she's learning Spanish words from our babysitter, and my Spanish isn't good enough to catch them. I mean, the qua qua thing took me two or three weeks to acknowledge. I never learned the words for things like squirrel or quack, before, you know?

HappyAside from words, she's mimicing a lot. My favorites: in her picture book that has one hundred photos, she has great responses: yawns at the yawning boy, pretends to wash her hair when the baby's in the bath, and, for awhile, cried whenever she saw either the sippee cup or the spoon, until we gave her one or the other.

I thought the word books were silly when people gave them to me at the shower. I never realized that in all these months when she can't communicate with perfect control of her vocal chords, she'd use them to acknowledge meaning between herself and whoever is looking at the book with her.

Lastly, BabyG dances.  If I sing the Pookey-Poo song, or GreenDaddy sings anything, or the radio plays.  She stands up against some piece of furniture and wiggles her whole middle body like she thinks she's Elvis.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Return

Blogger promises our problems will be solved by the end of the week, sort of.  Already I am experiencing the particular writers block of a person who has a long list of Very Important Things to blog about, and is therefore stumped.  I want to write about elimination communication and how, miraculously, BabyG makes the "pssst" sound about 70% of the time she needs to go pee.  I want to write about my stepmother's end stage liver failure, a little, and alcoholism.  I want to write about birthday cake recipes.  I also want to write a post that's just about BabyG, who turned a year old.  And I want all the posts to be fabulous.


And I have a few product reviews to write.


There's so much to write it seems daunting.  

Will this post?


Monday, January 08, 2007

Blogger is not Green

This might work. I have hacked into the html code, and will upload the whole blog.

We aren't ignoring the world. We switched to the new and "better" "Beta" "Blogger" but so far it has only been new. It won't let us upload any files. It won't register that you've commented, although if you click on the comment links (0 comments), you'll see any comments left. Anybody publishing via ftp & vdeck is, as the teenagers used to say, screwed.

We are using vdeck and publishing via ftp.

So since GreenDaddy's last post, we haven't been able to regularly publish. One post got through on a glitch. And I'm hacking this one in to see if it will work.

Muy deflating.

Highlights You Might Not Expect From the Holidays:

  • My stepmom thinks I'm Caroline Kennedy. Really.
  • She thinks my father is four different men named Lou.
  • We like my sister's fiance, and he works for Homeland Security.
  • BabyG made her happy, and vice versa.
  • BabyG got some plastic electronic toys from the family that she ADORES.
  • BabyG hung out with all her grandparents and started feeling comfortable around them.
  • BabyG and I saw our friends' Julie and Jeff's incredible property, filled with Redwoods,outside of San Jose.