Friday, August 31, 2007

Create a Tranquil Area in Your Home

Every home needs a space that is a sanctuary…this can be your bedroom, a room for meditation or yoga, or just a space to be.

To create your restful room, you will want to create a room with and abundance of yin. Yin and yang are opposite but complimentary forces and are contained in all things. The following are some examples of yin and yang:

Yin vs.Yang

Feminine vs. Masculine

Winter vs. Summer

Dark vs. Light

Interior vs. Exterior

Curved/rounded vs. Straight

Water vs. Fire

Wet vs. Dry

Earth vs. Sky/Air

Moon vs. Sun

Wood vs. Metal

Pottery vs. Glass

Horizontal vs. Narrow

Stillness vs. Movement

Odd numbers vs. Even Numbers

Cold vs. Heat

Soft vs. Hard

Sleep vs. Wakefulness

Low vs. High

Passive vs. Active

Black vs. White

Blue vs. Red

Indigo vs. Orange

Violet vs. Yellow

Yin is cool and soothing and using yin objects will help create your restful place.

Perhaps the easiest way to achieve a predominately yin room is with color. Each color has its own vibration; color can be used to bring harmony and balance into your life. The invisible vibrations of color can be used to either relax or stimulate.

The color spectrum is made up of seven colors, with thousands of tones, shades and tints in between. The longest wavelengths, or yang colors—red, orange and yellow—are considered the warm, expansive and outgoing colors, the shorter wavelengths, or yin colors—blue, indigo and violet—are cool, soothing and introverted. Green is considered neutral.

So, you will use predominately the cool, yin colors to decorate your room. This can be as easy as painting the walls a soft lavender, for example. Feel free to use some warm colors, however, as the room need not be entirely made up of yin colors.

Other Tips

  • Rounded, curved furniture and other objects are preferred over straight angles.
  • Water features such as fountains are perfect and the sound of the water is very relaxing.
  • Earth features can include plants and flower arrangements in ceramic vessels. Ceramic objects, rocks and crystals are perfect, too.
  • Soft furnishings, pillows and blankets will make the room cozy.
  • Candles and incense will add a soothing atmosphere.
  • Fabric wall hangings, like a quilt, are cozier than artwork in glass frames.

Bringing in some or all of these elements will make your room a sanctuary. Enjoy!

For more on creating your special home, go to: Harmonious Environment

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Keema Masala

This recipe is delicious and and very easy to make. Serve with Basmati rice and some vegetables. If you don't like much spice, reduce amount suggested or eliminate chilies.

1 lb chicken thighs, grind in food processor
5-6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
Ginger, equal in amount to garlic, minced fine
1 Can coconut milk
Tamarind, 2 inch chunk. Boiled a cup of water, let sit, separate tamarind, squeeze and discard—use water. Found in Asian or Indian markets
2 hot chilies, chopped and seeds discarded or 1T hot chili powder
1-2 T coriander
1-2 T cumin
1 T tumeric
Handful cilantro, stems discarded and chopped
1 can chick peas
1 cup frozen peas
2 T olive oil

Cook chicken and set aside. Heat oil in a saute pan and add spices, garlic and ginger and sauté on medium until spices are fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add milk and tamarind, return chicken. Add chick peas and simmer 10 minutes. Toss in frozen peas and cilantro at end.

For more recipes and lots more, go to: Harmonious Environment

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How to Reduce Stress at the Holidays

The holidays,beginning with Thanksgiving and through December, are notorious for being stressful. The holidays are a period of over stimulation, with crowded stores, too much work, and too much in general to do.

This year, I encourage you to do some pre-holiday planning and get rid of clutter and the knick-knacks that you don't love. (Read more about clutter in my last post.) Excess clutter leads to over stimulation and stress.The next few months are the perfect time to get rid of it and to organize whatever you wish to keep.

Secondly, clutter makes cleaning a bigger chore, as all that stuff has to be dusted or moved to clean the floors.

If you decorate your home for the holidays, consider temporarily removing your knick-knacks to make room for the decorations. This will achieve several objectives:
  • Reduce stress from over stimulation
  • Make cleaning faster
  • Give your place a new look
  • When the holidays are over and you gather and replace your hidden goodies, they will seem new and fresh. You might even be inspired to move them around for a new look for the New Year!
For more tips on clutter and organizing, go to:Harmonious Environment

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Reduce Stress and Increase Positive Energy by Clearing Your Clutter

Clutter in your home or office creates stress, because it is a visual distraction that pulls at our attention.

Let's say you need to think through some action plan. Do you:

  • Go to the mall when it's really crowded
  • Take a hike or walk in the woods
The mall will overstimulate, distract and probably cause stress (particularly if you need to think about something.) The hike will allow you to focus and is relaxing.

The visual and auditory distraction of a mall is similar to clutter in our homes and offices. We can only focus on one (or maybe two) things at once. When we are overstimulated by our environment, stress is a result because it is a constant struggle to think.

Clear your clutter (and organize the rest) and you will feel a difference in the energy of the space. With unwanted objects removed and items attractively and practically organized, new, vital energy will flow unobstructed throughout your home.

If you have always had a cluttered home, note the difference in yourself once your space is cleaned up and organized. When your desk and office are organized, for example, you immediately become more efficient. No more anxiously searching through random piles of paperwork as a client waits on the phone. You will be calm as you know where your paperwork is and you will be more productive as a result.

Purging your home of unwanted items and organizing the remainder of your possessions has another benefit as well—you will learn how many things you have accumulated and this will likely result in fewer future purchases. Because it feels so good to purge yourself of unwanted things and because the energy in your environment will feel so much better, you will be turned off by the idea of gluttonous purchasing. End the tyranny of being an uber-consumer! When you do buy, it will be out of necessity or because you truly love an item.

Copyright 2007 by Norma Lehmeier Hartie from Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet

Cajun Spice Mix

I'm a big fan of Cajun or blackened spices rubbed on meat or chicken. However, I got tired of constantly replacing small jars of the different blends, as I tend to use generous amounts of the spice mixes. Plus, those small jars are expensive! A couple years ago, I placed an order with Mountain Rose Herbs. for bags of spices in 4 and 8 ounce bags and mixed my own. I put the mixture in an airtight container and placed leftover spices (to be used separately) in another airtight container.

I use the rub on boneless chicken breasts: I cut into strips and roll chicken in mixture then cook it on a seasoned cast iron pan with a bit of olive oil. Then it gets placed on a big salad and is served with heated bread from a local bakery.

I will prepare the chicken the same way as above, and add some lemon juice for extra flavor just as chicken is cooked. Slice onions and peppers and cook either on cast iron pan or on the grill. Combine a good quality salsa with a mashed up avocado for a quick combo guacamole/salsa. Next, a bowl of refried beans with some cheese melted as another side. I take tortillas and heat them directly on my gas stove (you can also heat in oven) and place everything on table, where everyone makes there own fajitas.

I also use this Cajun mix on fish.

Cajun Spice Mix
1 cup Garlic Powder
1 cup onion powder
2/3 cup paprika
1/3 cup cayenne
2/3 cup oregano
1/3 black pepper
1/3 cup cumin
2/3 cup lemon peel
1/3 cup tumeric

For lots more recipes and more, go to: Harmonious Environment.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Pasta with Pesto and Chicken

Summer is the perfect time for this recipe, as basil is available fresh from farmer's markets and is so good. Serve this with a tossed salad or some fresh tomatoes.

The last time I made this dish, I ground and sautéed chicken and I preferred it over bite-sized pieces, as each bite had all the delicious ingredients.

1 lb Chicken, boiled and cut into bite-sized pieces or ground and sautéed
1 lb pound pasta
1 lemon juice and zest
Handful of pine nuts
1 teaspoon butter
½ bunch scallion, chopped
radicchio, chopped (optional, nice for color)
Prepare pasta. Add lemon to chicken once it’s cooked and add pasta. Add in desired amount of pesto, Sauté nuts in butter, then add scallion and radicchio.

1 bunch basil, stems removed
1 head (or less) garlic
Approximately ½ cup olive oil (amount will depend on consistency you like and size of bunch of basil)
1 cup parmesan
Food process garlic, then add basil and parmesan and process. Add oil and process. Add additional oil if necessary. You can add pine nuts, but I prefer to sauté them and add them to a dish at the very end.

For lots more recipes and more, go to: Harmonious Environment.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Real Food for Pets

With the pet food recall that killed and sickened dogs and cats several months ago due to melamine (which is normally found in fertilizers and plastic,) I know people are confused about what to feed their pets. For the past two years, I have been feeding my 13 year old Pug, Toast, a special diet that has made her healthier.

I started the diet out of desperation. When she turned 8, Toast began to get crystals in her urine. Alkaline and acidic ones. We kept them from becoming kidney stones by switching her diet according to the type of crystals she had. She was fed Hill's Prescriptive Diet foods from the vet.

At the same time, Toast began to lose her eyesight. Two years ago, fully blind, her one eye swelled and we were afraid it would rupture. The vet gave us a prescription for glaucoma. It did help reduce the swelling in the beginning.

At this point, she was pretty sick and I decided to feed her real food. I would boil or bake free-range chicken (no antibiotics, preservatives, humane) and I added whole grain bread with chicken stock.

But, I would have to put the glaucoma pill in food to get her to eat it and she began to reject the food. First, no cream cheese, then peanut butter and so on. I stopped giving her the pill.

The eye has stabilized and Toast has had no crystals since I started her on her real food diet! She is now a healthy 13 year old.

I have since learned more about the proper feeding of dogs. They need about 85% meat in their diets. No salt. Some carbohydrates and vegetables.

I saw Vet Martin Goldstein on Oprah the other day and his diet guidelines make sense. He says that the conventional kibble has mostly grains in it--absolutely the wrong food for the carnivore! He also thinks raw meat is the best choice, but follow his guidelines if you go that route.

Now, Toast eats roasted chicken (I decided the boiling robs nutrients from chicken) and ultra premium canned food or meatloaf made with free-range buffalo, grated carrots and brown rice. I also feed her bits of food at dinner--meat and vegetables that don't have salt or much flavorings. (She's blind and basically deaf, she has the right to be pampered!)

You can purchase ultra premium canned food in a natural food store. This food will contain whole foods, with meat as first listing. It will NOT contain by-products, preservatives, artificial flavorings or color, sweeteners or sugar.

I believe that feeding our pets healthy food will allow them to live healthier and longer lives. If you are not convinced, or worried about how much more money feeding your pets will cost, just think of the vet bills you'll save!

2 Roast Chickens
I bake 1 13/4 hour at 350 degrees. Once cool, I remove chicken from bones and rip into bite-sized pieces. Then I place in 3 plastic containers, freezing two. Please make sure to remove all bones, as they can cause internal damage.

2 pounds ground buffalo or beef
2 eggs
1 cup cooked brown rice (no salt)
3 shredded carrots
Mix ingredients and bake in a casserole for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
Then I place in 3 plastic containers, freezing two.

For recipes for people and much more, go to: Harmonious Environment.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Linguine with White Clam Sauce and a Twist

Linguine with white clam sauce is one of my favorite dishes and I made it last night. Only I added a new ingredient and it kicked it up a notch, as my brother would say! The ingredient is anchovies and they are delicious. (I had a can with added salt and olive oil. I didn't add a speck of salt to dish and with the added Parmesan, it didn't need it.) Anchovies don't taste fishy and they added just another layer of flavor. YUM. Served the pasta with a a salad of greens (mostly from farmer's market) and cooked beets in a balsamic vinaigrette.

1 lb linguini
3 cans chopped clams
1 can anchovies
1 head garlic, chopped fine (less if you aren't a garlic maniac)
1 T butter
¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup dry white wine
Parsley, chopped
Red Pepper (optional)

Prepare pasta, reserving a cup of pasta water. Sauté garlic in olive oil and butter on medium-low. When garlic begins to color, add anchovies and stir until fish breaks apart. Add wine and clam juice and cook 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and heat, a minute. Stir in pasta, adding reserved pasta water if necessary. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

For lots more recipes and more, go to: Harmonious Environment.

Laughter is Contagious

This is part of the conclusion from my book, Harmonious Environment:Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet.

An excellent example of how our thinking and feeling can institute change comes from an incredible study by Dr. Masaru Emoto. Emoto’s experiments show how powerfully your thoughts can affect your physical environment. In his book, The Hidden Message in Water, Emoto demonstrates how water will change form in response to thought.

Emoto mentally projected love to a bottle of water, which was then frozen and the ice crystals were photographed. The crystals were beautiful, clear and symmetrical.

Next, Emoto allowed the water in the bottle to melt and directed hate to the water. He froze the water and photographed the ice crystals. This time, the crystals were misshapen, dense and ugly.

Every one of us, consciously or unconsciously, affects the objects and people around us—including ourselves—on a continual basis. Think about the expression “laughter is contagious.” It is! How do you feel when you are around happy, laughing people? Usually, you can’t help but feel good yourself. All emotions are energy and energy passes from one body to another; from one object to another; matter to matter. Emotions are contagious!

Emoto also found that low frequency water reacts extremely negatively when exposed to low frequencies, but high frequency water is not affected in any way by low frequencies. This is because low and high frequencies are not on the same wavelength, and when we are in a high frequency state we are not affected by the low frequencies of our environment, other people, objects or food.

Each of us has the power within to choose what emotions to own. When we are filled with loving energy, it increases the love in the collective consciousness and raises the energy in the world.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Chicken Soup

This chicken soup recipe is from Harmonious Environment:Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet. Since I wrote the recipe, I now often shred the vegetables instead of chopping them. If you do this, cooking time is reduced to minutes.

Another shortcut is to used prepared chicken stock. I buy stock from natural food stores and get free-range organic in quart-sized containers. It's almost as good as my own and makes preparing this dish a snap. If you go this route, purchase boneless and skinless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces and cook about 15 minutes in chicken stock.

Chicken Soup or Stew

The stew is just more added rice and a bit less liquid.

For stock:
Whole or quartered chicken
2 carrots, peeled
1 onion, peeled
2 celery stalks
1 parsnip, peeled
1 turnip, peeled
Salt and pepper

Wash chicken, remove fat and most skin and put into a deep stockpot and cover with water. Add all ingredients and bring to boil. Allow to simmer for an hour. Remove chicken. Separate big pieces of meat from bone and throw bones back into the stock. Cook another 45 minutes. Strain chicken bones and vegetables from stock by using a colander.

Soup or stew:

3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
2 or more cups rice—more for stew
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 turnip, peeled and chopped
Chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

For a plain chicken soup, add a couple of cups rice to the stock and bring back to boil. Add vegetables and allow to cook for 15 minutes. Add chicken and salt and pepper to taste. If not enough liquid, add more water.

For stew with more pizzazz:
Sauté ginger, garlic, zucchini, mushrooms and curry powder or paste and add to stew.

Harmonious Environment:Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet, Copyright 2007 by Norma Lehmeier Hartie

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Grilled Tuna and Pappardelle Pasta with Wasabi Cream Sauce

The other night I was in the mood for tuna steak and remembered a terrific meal my husband had ordered in a restaurant when we first started dating. It was tuna steak with a side of pasta in a wasabi cream sauce. I'm not big on cream sauces (one or two mouthfuls and I'm full) but I decided to make a lighter version using low-fat milk.

The first night I grilled the tuna and served it on the side of the Pappardelle Pasta (wide egg noodles) with a big tossed salad and my soy dressing (see August 3rd post.) Yum. The next night, the pasta was a little dry, so I made a touch more sauce, added the pasta, cut the tuna into bite-sized pieces and threw it into the pasta, quickly heating. Delicious! Also had a big salad with soy dressing.

Pappardelle Pasta with Wasabi Cream Sauce
1 T butter, melted
8 ounces light milk
1 T wasabi powder
1 T flour
2-3 cloves garlic
Salt & pepper
Sauté garlic in butter, add flour and stir a couple minutes on low. Add milk and wasabi and stir until thickened. Salt & pepper to taste. Cook pasta a drain, reserving some liquid. Toss pasta with sauce and add some pasta water if necessary.

Grilled Tuna Steak with Sesame Seeds and Wasabi
4-6 ounces per person tuna
Sesame seeds (I like black for the color, but you can use any)
Wasabi powder
Salt & pepper

Mix dry ingredients. Rinse tuna and dry. Coat tuna on all sides with mix. Lightly coat fish with cooking oil (canola or olive) just before placing on hot grill. I like medium rare—about three minutes per side. Let sit a minute or two and slice.

For lots more recipes and more, go to: Harmonious Environment.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Shredded Vegetables

I eat lots of vegetables at dinner and always vary what I prepare. I created these recipes based on seeing pre-shredded veggies in my grocery store that were meant for slaw. Shredding vegetables totally changes their texture and makes a nice change.

For those interested in getting more vegetables into meat or carbohydrates, shred! For example, shred any or all of the following: carrots, zucchini, onion, broccoli and put into meatloaf, pasta sauce, any pasta dish, stew, soups, etc. This is an especially effective method for getting people who claim they don't like veggies to eat them.

You can also add these vegetables to pasta and add a protein. Use any or all of the following. I shred them in a food processor, but if you don't have one, a box shredder will work.

Winter Slaw

Broccoli stems (peel outer layer)
Carrots (peel)
Jicama (peel)
Any hard veggie
Cook in a bit of butter or olive oil, add salt. For variety, add lemon and/or lemon zest or saute garlic.

Squash and Carrots

Acorn or any variety of squash, peeled
Carrots, peeled
Olive oil and/or butter
Brown sugar
Lemon juice and zest
Shred squash and carrots, sauté and add remaining ingredients to taste.

For lots more recipes and more, go to: Harmonious Environment.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Choosing Colors in Home for Harmony, Balance & Health

I love the subject of color and have studied it extensively. Interestingly, when I first studied and practiced interior design, I found myself calling colors "warm" or "cool" as you speak of them--depending on their undertones. I did this for years.

Then I began to study Feng Shui. I won't get into detail, but suffice to say that traditional Feng Shui is an interior designer's are supposed to use certain colors (that are significant in traditional Chinese culture) in every room. Ugh.

I understood that people react strongly to colors, but I wasn't sure why. In preparation of writing Harmonious Environment:Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet, I began to study color from the dispassionate scientific point of view. For example, in the 20th century, The Luscher Colour Test revealed that colors stimulate different parts of the autonomic nervous system, affecting metabolic rate and glandular secretions. In the 1950’s, studies showed that yellow and red light raised blood pressure while blue light lowered it. Blue light is now commonly used to treat neonatal jaundice and to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Different colors, pulse rate and respiratory rate; color affects muscular tension, brain activity and the emotions.

Each color has its own vibration; color can be used to bring harmony and balance into your life. The invisible vibrations of color can be used to either relax or stimulate. The color spectrum is made up of seven colors, with thousands of tones, shades and tints in between. The longest wavelengths, or yang colors—red, orange and yellow—are considered the warm, expansive and outgoing colors. The shorter wavelengths, or yin colors—blue, indigo and violet—are cool, soothing and introverted. Green is considered neutral.

Picture the pure color spectrum--red, orange and yellow are considered warm; green neutral and blue, indigo and violets, cool. Black is warm, white cool. Add to that each color can become a shade (add black), tint (add white) or tone (black + white=gray=neutral.)

Now it's all math. Pure green is neutral because it's made up of equal parts blue + yellow. Add more blue and you have a cool green; add more yellow, warm.

Knowing that, pink cannot be cool--neither can red or orange. Add white to a warm color and it lessens it's heat; black to a cool color and it warms it.

Here is another example: brown is composed of red, yellow and black and is considered warm, because the intensity of black overwhelms the red and yellow. However, add some white (tint) and the color becomes beige or tan and effectively moves to the center of the spectrum, or the neutral zone. (You have undoubtedly heard of colors like beige and tan being referred to as “neutral” colors. This is why.)But add a pinky undertone to beige and you effectively make it warm again.

When planning the predominate color theme in a room, remember that warm or yang colors—red, orange and yellow—are best used in rooms that are meant for social and physical activity, as these colors stimulate the more physical aspects of life; eating, socializing and exercise. Conversely, cool yin colors—blue, indigo and violet—are ideal in spaces meant for rest or meditation, as these colors invoke feelings of calmness, creativity and inner transformation. Green, which represents balance, health and harmony, is ideal in all rooms.

Color is one aspect of how our homes affect us—there are many things that do. (I’ll save for another time…) How things like color, energy, clutter and so on affect us is the psychology of home (an actual category used in libraries). Understanding these processes—how color works, for example—helps us to create harmony, balance and health in the home.

Cooking Tips to Save Time

The following are some practical and efficient tips to help you cook faster and easier.
  • Cook enough food for two dinners. Most food can be easily reheated. Consider steaming to reheat food. Place a bit of water in a pan and place food on it. Cover. Check frequently to ensure that the water doesn’t completely evaporate and burn the food; add water as necessary. This method heats food as fast as a microwave, and no nasty altering of the food takes place.
  • Play music if you enjoy it. Music can make cooking more enjoyable and relaxing.
  • Be organized when you cook.
    • Determine what to cook and the approximate cooking times for all of the food.
    • Pull out the necessary ingredients.
    • Begin cooking the item that will take the longest.
    • “Prep” food. Chop, mince, food process and so on all of the ingredients, if all ingredients are added at the same time. If you are sautéing a meal, begin by chopping onion and garlic, for example, and continue to cook and chop vegetables as the first vegetables are cooking.
    • If you don’t already own professional quality knives, buy them and keep them sharp. Nothing save time in the kitchen like working with sharp, quality knives. (Wusthof is my favorite.)
    • The trick is to never stand still when you cook. While food is cooking on the stovetop, for example, you can chop, clean empty bowls and put ingredients away. Unless you have help, the object (well, my object) is to have virtually everything cleaned by the time the meal is finished cooking. I also find that if I am continually moving, the process is smoother because I must concentrate on what I am doing.
    • Some convenience foods are really handy and all natural. Canned beans, tuna fish, olives, coconut milk, some natural sauces, some prepared spices and herbs and dried pasta are staples in my kitchen. For most of us it is unrealistic and unnecessary to prepare everything from absolute scratch every day.
    • Keep indispensable items on hand. I always purchase often-used items in quantity. This saves both on fuel used to make those purchases and makes cooking dinner much easier. For example, I always have coconut milk on hand if I want to make Thai food, or soy sauce for Chinese. The following items are ingredients that I always keep in my kitchen. Virtually all items are organic.
      • Olive, grape seed and canola oil.
      • Sesame seed oil and roasted peanut oil, refrigerate.
      • Variety of vinegars; including balsamic, cider, red, white and cooking wine.
      • Chicken, beef and vegetable stock in cartons.
      • Prepared sauces. My favorites are San-J© all purpose Szechwan Hot and Spicy Sauce; Thai® Kitchen Red Curry Paste, fish sauce, soy or tamari sauce. Natural sauces like the Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste, are a huge time-saver. They use only natural ingredients, such as like galangal root and lemon grass—ingredients that take forever to prepare yourself.
      • Mustards, capers, olives, anchovy paste.
      • Variety of hot sauces.
      • Variety of dried organic spices and herbs (keep frozen or in airtight containers).
      • Fresh garlic, onions, ginger.
      • Canned coconut milk, olives, tuna fish, clams, variety of beans, artichokes, baby corn.
      • Dried pastas, risotto, variety of rice (including basmati, white, brown, wheat berries and wild rice), dried cloud ears (black fungus), which has been used in Chinese cooking since the 6th century. It has a crunchy texture, is loaded with nutrients and its black color looks great in a dish. Soak in hot water for fifteen minutes—it will expand several times—rinse, remove stem and chop. Add to dish near the end to preserve crunchiness. Experiment by adding them to a variety of your favorite dishes.

Store dry ingredients, like rice and grains, in airtight containers. Also, note that organic produce does perish more quickly than non-organic produce. Apples are a good example, without the “protective” wax coating, they begin to soften after a few days.

Copyright 2007, Norma Lehmeier Hartie

For lots more tips on cooking, recipes and more, go to: Harmonious Environment.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Killing Weeds without Harmful Chemicals

When my husband and I moved into our house almost five years ago, we knew we would be doing extensive landscaping to the one acre or so of our landscaped property. The house was 40 years old and desperately needed help. The front of the house featured lots of overgrown trees, bushes and plantings and tons of weeds.

We removed, pruned and trimmed. Then we designed and added a meandering stone walkway from the driveway to the front door. We had a ton of space left and didn't want grass or mulch, so we decided to add river rocks. Lots and lots of them. Formed patterns with difference sizes. We put river rocks around the foundation and in a few areas in the back, too.

We placed landscaping fabric underneath the rocks. However, weeds still manage to pop up, especially in Spring. They drive me crazy and I feel like I spend half my life pulling them out.

There is no way I would use any poisonous chemicals on the weeds, however. So, I experimented and found that straight white household vinegar will kill small weeds. (The tiny weeds just seem as if they proliferate overnight. A two year old might be able to grasp the suckers, but not me.)

I put the vinegar in one of those spray pumps and on a sunny and hot day, go to town. Within a day or so they have shriveled and burned up! Do not use vinegar near plants, however.

I still do a lot of weeding, but killing the small ones does help keep me from feeling completely overwhelmed.

For more on non-toxic gardening and much more, go to: Harmonious Environment.

Clean Mold in Your Shower with Non-Toxic Product

I finally figured out exactly how to clean mold and any scum in my shower stall without the use of toxic products like bleach. My shower is tiled in natural stone and does a great job of resisting mold, but in summer, mold manages to get into the grout and rough areas of stone tile. All it takes to clean walls is a spray bottle, white vinegar, water, tea tree oil, lavender oil and a scrub brush.

Spray bottle
Fill almost half with white vinegar
Few drops of tea tree and lavender oils

Spray mixture onto shower walls and allow to sit for a good ten minutes. Take a hand-held scrub brush and an old toothbrush for tight corners and scrub away. You may need to hit walls with shower spray if mixture dried. Hose off and voila! A clean shower with no harmful chemicals.

If the smell doesn't bother you, you can re-spray and allow mix dry to prevent future mold.

One other tip: I use a squeegee at the end of a shower and wipe down shower door and floor of stall to dry it faster--mold loves to grown in damp conditions, and this inhibits it.

For more recipes on cleaning and much more, go to: Harmonious Environment.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Great Salad Dressings

A member of one of the online groups I belong to recently asked for suggestions for interesting vegetables to try or recipes, as her boyfriend doesn't like to eat veggies. I think this is a fairy pervasive problem and I have decided to post great vegetable recipes and tips for eating more of them. This will be the subject of the next few posts.

The member also stated that her boyfriend doesn't like raw veggies. Which made me think about how much I like tossed salads and can't imagine not eating them. Yet. There are a number of reasons why someone might not like salads:

1. Terrible dressing: Virtually all commercial dressings are vile, loaded with preservatives, artificial flavors, sugars and cheap oils. (Some natural prepared dressings are good--check the refrigerated section of a natural food store.)

2. Too much dressing is poured onto salad. A little goes a long way--when in doubt, use a bit, toss, then taste--you can always add more.

3. Salad isn't dressed and you have to pour dressing yourself and toss in with a fork. The problem here is that you are sure to get great globs of dressing in one bite and traces on other bites. (I hate this.)

4. Dressing sits on salad too long, making it wilt. Mix dressing into salad no more than five minutes before you eat.

5. Inferior vegetables--either old, brown or just nasty.

My husband and I eat a lot of salad, but it's still just the two of us, so I keep things interesting by rotating what veggies I buy for salad. Summer is easy, as a wide variety of greens are available at farmer's markets and natural food stores (our local stores carry local produce, too.)

I make most of my salad dressings and chose dressing based on the other dishes we are eating that night. I make a bottle at a time and they keep well refrigerated.

Here are my favorites:

Classic Vinaigrette
1 cup parts olive oil and/or canola
1/3 part any of the following vinegars: balsamic , red, white, apple cider
1 T dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper
Shake, use a blender or food process

Add more pizzazz by adding some or all of the following:

Anchovy paste
Hot sauce
Fresh herbs: parsley, rosemary, dill, cilantro
Garlic, pressed
Crumbled bleu cheese on the side

Caesar Dressing
1 ½ olive oil/canola
2 T white vinegar
1 T anchovy paste
2 cloves garlic pressed
3 T lemon juice + zest of one lemon
2 T Dijon mustard
2 t white pepper
½ cup Parmesan
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (raw eggs make me nervous, and hard-boiled gives dressings nice body)
Food processor or blender

Soy Dressing

This is excellent dressing for a salad served with cold noodles and sesame (I'll post this yummy recipe another time. It's also in my book, Harmonious Environment:Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet,) Also, try as a dressing for cold cooked vegetables, like broccoli or asparagus.

3 parts olive oil
1 part white rice vinegar
1 part soy sauce
1-2 cloves crushed garlic

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Cioppino Deliciousness

Cioppino, a classic Italian dish, is one of my favorites. It's light, flavorful and delicious and is the consistency of soup. I eat it with good bread from one of the local bakeries and salad. It's a great meal and it takes minutes to prepare. Of course, you can use fresh clams instead of canned, but I never bother.


1lb shrimp and/or scallops
2 cans clams
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1 can whole tomatoes, break tomatoes apart
1 t oregano
2 bay leaves
Salt & Pepper
parsley, chopped

Sauté garlic, add clam juice (reserve clams) and reduce to about half. Add wine, tomatoes and spices and cook 5 minutes. Add fish, cook 3 minutes. Add parsley Serve with heated bread.

I make a big tossed salad and toss with balsamic vinaigrette. I usually make a batch of salad dressing and store in refrigerator.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 T dijon mustard
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
salt & Pepper
Combine ingredients and serve.

For more recipes and much more, see:Harmonious Environment.