Month: January 2013

Recipe(s) for Clean

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe (theme 3 of 6)
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative

I have been slowly transitioning our household cleaners to “green” options over the years. I was relatively happy buying Seventh Generation brand but over the past year I attempted to go further…”greener” and “safer” using stuff from around the house.

I started this year with a shower spray I loved, an all purpose cleaner that I felt good about, and floors cleaned with straight up vinegar. I also found a recipe for weed killer that worked pretty well, too (and I felt apple cider vinegar worked better than pickling vinegar). There was a dishwasher detergent that had been banned from our dishwasher after all the glassware turned out to be super cloudy and took forever to get back to normal. But overall, my changes had worked well. I was ready for more.

With a little vacation time in early January, I decided to blow through the remainder of my list replacing other cleaners and trying other recipes. I have learned two things so far:

1. I like the new Container Store that opened near my house way too much.

2. If you buy a boatload of vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide, virtually all your cleaning needs are met…assuming these recipes work.

002

With post-its, tape, markers, containers, and measuring tools in hand I began mixing concoctions. I made sure to write the recipes directly on the bottles so I wouldn’t have to go searching for them again when it was time to refill. So here is what I have made so far:

Glass and Toilet Cleaner (via Desiring Virtue) – Just a bottle of hydrogen peroxide with a reminder that baking soda can be added for stubborn toilet stains. Verdict: Initially the mirrors seems streaky, but it goes away as the liquid dries. I am still finishing some store-bought toilet cleaner so I will have to get back to you on that. Other notes: I have and would continue to use vinegar and newspaper for mirrors and windows. I have also read (but not tried) 1 c. of baking soda left for an hour works for toilets.

All Purpose Cleaner (also via Desiring Virtue) – 4 Tbs. of vinegar and 3 c. water. I also added about 1/4 tsp. of sweet orange essential oil for a cleaning and smelling boost. Verdict: I might like this one better than what I have been using. It also seems to get through counter gunk better, especially if you let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

Carpet Cleaner (also via Desiring Virtue) – This one was a biggie for me because we had/will have baby pee and poop all over the floors for a few years. And I’m a klutz. But I severely wanted to end our reliance on our OxyClean.  So the alternative is rubbing alcohol, pure and simple. It’s in its own container so that I remember what to use it for. Verdict: I got rid of gray paint on a beige carpet. I think I’m keeping this!

Wood Duster (via Desiring Virtue or Down to Earth) – Next to the carpet cleaner, the other cleaner I really wanted to replace was our Pledge. I honestly forgot which of the following two alternatives I made. I put both recipes on the bottle because they seemed exactly opposite each other. So you could either do 1 c. olive oil and 1/2 c. lemon juice or 1/2 tsp. olive oil and 1/4 c. lemon juice. Verdict: Whatever I used seems to do the job. I do have to dust more often, but I don’t get headaches after doing it.

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Next up: Laundry soap. But I still have a large container to work through so I bought ingredients, but held off making it. If I remember, I will try to update this later.

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What have you used? What works for you?

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Big Box of Citrus: Week 1

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired (x2)
  • Read a classic (x4)
  • Try a new recipe (x6)
  • (Re)connect (x12)
  • Get selfishly creative (x12)

What have I done so far with my bushel of citrus?

1. Juiced it. I have recently become an advocate of “juice in moderation” especially since Kid was born. My theory was that you would rarely consume as many fruits in one sitting as the number that offer up that full glass of juice that you pour from the container. You also lose the fiber, et al. when you only take the juice.  After officially seeing how much juice two oranges yield, I feel validated. (Further internet “research” concurs.)  On a less soap-box note: this morning’s OJ was especially good! If boxes of fruit are going to be an annual thing, it might be time to look into a citrus juicer. Or I need work on building my squeezing muscles.

juice

2. Shared it. I’m so happy my son digs grapefruit. It helps that I chose a pink grapefruit. He was more willing to admit that he liked it because it was “red”, which is his absolute favorite color.

3. Blended it. There was a quick visit to Pinterest before this morning smoothie just to get some ideas of fruit combos and proportions. I ended up with 1 pink grapefruit, 1 cup of frozen strawberries, and 1 cup of spinach. For extra nutritional boost…as if all that vitamin C wasn’t enough…I added some tofu, flax seed, oatmeal, and yogurt. The taste was a little bitter, though on reflection it makes sense with the grapefruit. I added about a tablespoon of agave syrup to sweeten it up. I liked it, but it may not be a crowd-pleaser.

share with sonsmoothie

4. Baked it. Twice. Mornings start at 7 a.m. around here. That gives us plenty of time to do fun things before breakfast. I broke out an old grapefruit muffin recipe and Kid and I set to work. Kid insisted Dr. Dog help with the baking, too. We three made a double batch and refrigerated half for Grandma and Grandpa’s visit the next day so that they could try them fresh. The other half was baked and consumed for breakfast and throughout the day. Yum.

P.S. One softball-sized grapefruit yields about 4 tsp. of zest and 1/2 cup of juice (when you rely solely on your muscles for juicing).

little bakeDD bake

5. Juiced it, again. The oranges are particularly juicy and don’t make for good eating. I DID invest (a whole $4) in a citrus juicer. It is much more effective at getting juice out.

  juicer

6. Tossed it. Natural decay started to show. A quick visit to the internet reveals that citrus is best stored in a cool place. As there are still too many fruits to fit into the fridge, they moved to into the garage instead. Indiana winter should help keep them cold.

mold

7. Baked it (again) and decorated. I have been holding onto a recipe for an orange chiffon cake for a while. With a work party on the horizon, it seemed time to bust it out. Orange zest and juice went into the cake. Orange juice went into the frosting (that was my addition). And why not try a little orange peel flair? The public has yet to taste it, but if the frosting is any indication it should be pretty good.

chiffon

Number of fruits left: 40

You and I and All of Our Friends

An audience is always warming but it must never be necessary to your work.

 – Gertrude Stein

. . .The music is nothing if the audience is deaf.

– Walter Lippmann

1.Audience Development

I chose these two quotes for a reason. They relate an internal conflict I have. I have experienced far too many musicians whose main impetus is narcissism. They desperately need others to pay attention to them. Their heart and mind are not in the right place, in my opinion. They make decisions based on sometimes temporary benefits and act without a long or even mid-term plan. In contrast I have focused my efforts on the development of my project concept and crafting music. Ultimately, however, without an audience (whatever form that may take) I’m just a guy in the woods with a guitar. If I fell a tree with my might and prowess on the guitar and nobody hears it, does it really matter? Developing an engaged and interested audience for The Sunrise Review is essential to the success of the other goals I outlined in my last post. It is key to the continued growth of the project. It’s also the area I have put the least amount of effort into and the one that may require the most effort.

The audience-performer relationship is an interesting one, even more so when it’s construed into a business scenario and that’s the goal of this year. So, what does that look like?

The Classic Patronage Model

A single individual supporting one or more artists. It is incredibly rare these days and I am not putting any effort into development in this area. Individuals just don’t have that kind of moolah laying around.

Distributed Patronage

This is the new paradigm, lots of folks giving a little bit to support the artist. For a while having an audience also meant being in close physical proximity to them if only temporarily.  That has also changed, thanks to the ol’ internet. As a result so has how you go about developing the relationship. There are a number of ways to engage fans and listeners as a musician using the world wide web. It’s actually a multi-billion dollar a year industry. There are so many methods that it can be somewhat mind-numbing to choose the best ones for a particular endeavor.

A Digital Game Plan

Here is my focus in 2013 for developing the audience for The Sunrise Review

  • A Dedicated Website:

www.solarpoweredmusic.com

I had this already, and have spent the past few months updating, upgrading and generally improving it.(it took 3, really!) I’m pretty pleased with it and am equally glad that I am able to be  in complete control of it. It’s the official source of info on The Sunrise Review. It’s got all the music, videos and photos in one spot as well as blog posts and project updates. An area that could improve is SEO. Right now if you search, solar power music or sunrise review, it takes a couple pages to get to this site. Something I aim to change.

  • Newsletter Subscribers

This is my primary form of communication with my audience. So far I have about 750 folks who get the email. About 20% of them actually read it and significantly fewer click on the links. I would like to get the subscribers above 1,000 and more folks participating in the calls to action I include in them. One of the ways of enticing folks into joining is free music, so I have some tunes set aside for that purpose.

Are you signed up? I promise you won’t get spam. It’ll be just the opposite. Great music and interesting stories.

http://solarpoweredmusic.com/newsletter-signup

  • Social Media

Like any responsible independent musician these days, I have social media accounts for The Sunrise Review.

Follow me on Twitter or Like my Facebook Page

You can also gorge yourself on actual media at Soundcloud, Youtube, and Flickr.

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t use these as much as I could. Partly due to my aversion to the narcissistic nature of them and partly because I’m not really sure what to do with them. I’ve made an effort to begin working on creating a “social media strategy” but it’s full of fits and starts in trying to remember to follow it along with the hours of research and web design I have been doing. Not to mention actually writing and rehearsing music, the point of it all.

This is the basic 1, 2, 3 plan for building the general awareness around The Sunrise Review in 2013. I have also identified some target demographic markets for the project: Americana and Arabian Music Enthusiasts, Outdoor Adventurers and Renewable Energy/Sustainability Advocates. I will be working on creating different materials for engaging each of them.

A Resolution for January.

So, I’m a little late to the Resolution Revamp party due to my completely retarded computer savvy.  (And before you cringe at that statement, I mean to use the word “retarded” in its actual meaning, not as a derogatory slur.)  I, as many of you out there, have a very uncomfortable relationship with New Year Resolutions.  So, in an effort to be respectful of that relationship, I am choosing to not make a list of resolutions this year.  Instead, I am going to periodically choose some way of bettering my Self and/or my life, and document it for posterity.  My hope is that in doing so, I will A.) be able to reflect on how my choices and actions form my daily experience, and B.) offer up some inspiration on how you might find a little more growth, joy, ease in your life, as well.

Today’s ‘resolution’ centers on framing.  No, I don’t mean creating a pleasing surround for a portrait or painting.  What I refer to here is the way in which I choose to view a given experience or situation.  I believe that the best way to actualize resolutions, or goals, is to address them in very specific ways.  Instead of making the vague statement that I will begin to re-frame my perspectives of all my experiences, I am choosing to change the way I frame one particular experience in my life right now – my school experience.

Some of you may know that I am currently enrolled in an esthetics training program at the local community college.  The experience, thus far, has been disappointing for me.  Not wanting to come back to the same disappointment following winter break, I made the decision to try to re-frame the way I view this experience.  As I began to explore what might be the root of the problem causing the unpleasant symptoms of disappointment, defeatism and foul attitude, I realized that the school program is not the problem at all.  The real issue in play here is my reaction to my unmet  expectations of what I believed this experience would/should be.  My reaction is something over which I have control.  And there’s the A-HA!

Rather than gripe about what the program isn’t giving me, I’m trying to focus on how I can get as much from it as possible while also contributing to the collaborative experience in the best way I can.  So far it seems to be working.  My school experience is still not ideal, but it’s a million times more enjoyable than it was before the winter break.  I am learning more and smiling more and sharing more.  And that, to me, is what resolutions are all about:  making life a little more enjoyable.

Have any of you had any similar experiences with changing your framing of a given experience or situation?  Please share if you do.  I’d love to hear about it.

Happy January!

xoxo,

Melanie

Early to Rise

by Graham
“The artist is not a special kind of person; rather each person is a special kind of artist.”
Ananda Coomaraswamy

I’m a musician. I have been since I was 9 and took up the violin in my school symphony and the youth symphony in my hometown. That’s not the real story though. There is no point at which you really start or stop being a musician. There are milestones of individual fluency or skill with the language and the tools which are externally identifiable. There are even more internal milestones for which there are no words to describe. There are also many ways to “be a musician”. To some it is a vocation, others a lifestyle, a world view, a social activity or a past time. The first category is the focus of my energy this year; Making a living from my musical output.This is going to take a handful of things which I’m not exactly an expert at and a plan to execute them. They all involve writing in one way or another. At the top level these are:

  1. Audience Development – I need more folks to be interested in The Sunrise Review
  2. Performance Opportunities – This is related to #’s 1&3 on both sides of their respective equations. 
  3. Funding Development – It’s going to take an influx of money to achieve my goals for the year
  4. Media Recognition -Radio interviews, blog posts, music reviews, etc. . 
  5. Team Growth – Doing everything by myself is technically possible, trained professionals are probably better and quicker for some tasks, though.

To accomplish these goals I have a framework to apply them to, American Heritage. I am traveling to World Heritage Sites throughout the US writing and recording music. It’s the focus of my activities and something I conceived of to provide a diverse range of opportunities for myself. It also presents some new challenges, not the least of which is the sheer scale of the project,  21 sites in over a dozen states (and one territory) some of them only accessible by air or sea (one only by sea). I started the project at the top of a volcano in Hawaii 14,000ft above sealevel. I’ve since visited Olympic National Park and Yosemite. I am currently on the East Coast where I intend to start recording the music I have written so far. I’ve started by contacting Independence Hall to arrange for a permit to record in the birthplace of America. They were less than enthusiastic, independent musicians are clearly of the unsavory ilk. If that doesn’t work out I will see about Mammoth Cave, or the Everglades. I hear Florida is nice this time of year. . .

Honeybee Tasking?

by Jennifer

I am the kind of person that has always started a task and completed it before moving on to another.

As a single person, and also as part of a married couple I was still able to make my single task method work. Then came my sweet O. Okay, things had to be rearranged a bit but since my primary focus was taking care of her I could still carry on as usual. Then my Topher joined the family and the single task idea was getting a bit more challenging but still do-able. Then came major Adrenal Fatigue. That just made me so tired that one task a day was about all I could manage! Now both kids are in school full-time and my fatigue is under control so one would think I could merrily continue with my one-task mentality.

BUT,

one would be WRONG!

I find myself struggling to complete anything without ending up angry, or frustrated, or just giving up and knitting instead. As much as I love to knit (the kids can attest to that) that is no way to successfully maintain a happy home. I needed to gracefully concede defeat and try something new.

I am going to call my new method of accomplishing my tasks as Honeybee Tasking. Honeybee Tasking? What the heck does that mean? Bees are busy all day gathering nectar from hundreds of flowers but they don’t spend too long at any one, and sometimes they go back to the same one several times before heading to a different clump of flowers and starting that special bee dance all over again. I know this because the patch of wildflowers in our back yard attracted plenty of bees and butterflies this summer and I spent many lovely afternoons watching them. So instead of focusing on each task I am going to start tasks, stop tasks and revisit them as my schedule and energy level allow. Maybe this will drive me completely insane or, just maybe, I will find that buzzing happily from one flower to another is my new way of “bee-ing” productive!

Big Box of Citrus: A Project Begins

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired (x2)
  • Read a classic (x4)
  • Try a new recipe (x6)
  • (Re)connect (x12)
  • Get selfishly creative (x12)

Every year for the past three(?) years my father-in-law sends us a box of citrus from Florida. He doesn’t live in Florida. Who knows where the idea came from, but you won’t hear me complain. We usually get about half a bushel, which lasts about two months between two adults and a growing tiny person. But this year…a whole bushel. I think the time for lazy grazing is over if we want to make use of these guys before they spoil.

citrus

It’s a good thing I was on the look out for some resolution fulfillment. These sunny orbs are going to help me get through a creative project AND a recipe series. Double duty and lots of benefit. Recipes that I have started to stockpile include orange ricotta pancakes, citrus salad with feta, and orange chiffon (cup)cake(s). In addition, I will be documenting the use of  all this vitamin-C goodness through “photography” (using the term loosely here as I am not a skilled photographer and I will rely heavily on Instagram). Get ready. It’s going to be rather orange around here for a while.

P.S. If you have a  favorite recipe or use for oranges/grapefruits, feel free to leave a comment. I’m always happy to get some new ideas!

Cupcakes are good for your heart!

by Jennifer

I like cupcakes, plain ones, fancy ones, gooey ones – I just like cupcakes.

BUT,

I never knew that baking and decorating cupcakes could make my heart swell just like the Grinch’s at the end of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Last week was LaLa’s half birthday. She is a July baby so she never gets to celebrate her “real” birthday with her school friends thus treats on her half birthday. She requested chocolate candy cane cupcakes with pink frosting. Easy peasy! I took the kiddos to school, tied on one of my vintage aprons and started mixing. I filled the liners partially with rich chocolate batter, added some crushed up candy canes, covered that with more batter and popped them in the oven. While they were baking I whipped up some pink frosting and then decided to dip some mini candy canes in milk chocolate to put on the top of each cupcake. I was creating something special for my daughter and using my candy and cake decorating skills – what could be better? Then it hit me – O is in fourth grade and I only get to make birthday cupcakes one more time for her before she goes to middle school! When did my sweet little girl get so big?

I try not to get too emotionally sloppy about these things but, geez, I have a mommy-heart! I was feeling more than a bit sad but didn’t want to make a big deal out of it with O, tweens can be so touchy! So imagine my delight when she came running to the car that afternoon with a huge smile and told me how awesome the cupcakes were. I only teared up slightly but was able to cover it with a pretend sneeze.

Now comes the heart-swelling part!

LaLa came home after school yesterday and asked me to make MORE cupcakes for her class! They had earned a special movie day and she wanted to share treats again. Yippie for me! This morning I once again dropped the kiddos at school and started to bake. This time, as I mixed the batter I thought about O. How her smile lights up a room, how her eyes sparkle when she is happy, how she jumps just a little when she is excited because her body just can’t contain all the joy she is feeling. As I filled the liners with the yellow batter and added caramel and chocolate I remembered watching her sleep, not just when she was a baby but last night too. I remembered her delight in scrubbing a floor like Cinderella and the graceful way she chased butterflies. Whipping the sweet butter flavored frosting made me think of the wonderful stories that she imagines and shares, the elaborate plans she makes when she is enthralled with something and her strength and determination to do things her way. When I garnished the tops with a few pieces of popcorn I knew that these cupcakes had more thoughts and memories in them than any other cupcake in the world. Although they disappeared within minutes of delivery to the class and received rave reviews I will remember them as much more than a sweet treat.

Simple, maybe, but it sure made my mommy-heart happy! Now, I wonder if they will ask for more cupcakes soon…

(Re)Connect 1 of 12: Anne and the King of Siam

By Erin

  • Explore some place new
  • Be inspired (x2)
  • Read a classic (x4)
  • Try a new recipe (x6)
  • (Re)connect (x12)
  • Get selfishly creative (x12)

I thought that (re)connecting would be a little bit more of an effort, but this one came together pretty easily. I think in the future it WILL be harder to keep up on this goal. There is a two year old at home (and another one due in May), which makes it hard for either parent to feel like we can spend significant time away from the family while the other one is home with the kid(s). Also not aiding our “going out” efforts is both adults’ enjoyment of keeping our bodies at home. One of us is more likely to want to “do SOMEthing” but in general, we both kind of feed off the other’s desire for family time. I suppose there are worse things. There are also different ways to “connect” which I will also be exploring through the year, so it’s not a hopeless resolution.

The first connection can strangely be summed up in the title of a movie:

ANNE

Out of the blue and with very little thought, which is very unlike me, I invited my friend Anne out to lunch. This is somewhat significant because we are “the spouses.” It is the husbands’ work relationship that blossomed first and morphed into the two families becoming “family friends.” This is always tricky business because more often than not, I don’t usually warm up to many of the spouses or significant others in these situations. Who knows the psychology behind it, but in most cases I much prefer my husband’s friends. Instead, I am obligated to try my best with the other. Not so with Anne. We hit it off at first meeting and this was our first “date” without the husbands and kids. It was lovely to talk the whole time without the interruption of cutting up a child’s food, soothing a crying baby, or chasing down a runaway.

THE KING OF SIAM

We (probably I) chose to go to my favorite restaurant: 3 Sisters Cafe. For those of you reading this from Indianapolis – if you haven’t been yet, go now. Get your body to Broad Ripple and bring your appetite.  Even if the items below seem strange for your tastes, you will find something just as delicious. (I’m always ready with recommendations, too!) Breifly, here is what I chose. (I borrowed photos from Amanda at namastewhile. It was just a coincidence that we had the same meal.)

The King of Siam sandwich is a warm pita topped with  hummus, spinach, and a cranberries-apples-almonds–fava bean-onion grain pilaf. It’s impossible to eat cleanly and makes my growing pregnant belly happy. Add fruit on the side and it’s better. Follow it up with a blueberry goat cheese pie and you’ve just consumed heaven in under an hour!

http://amandaclearyeastep.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/s6302539-edit.jpg?w=500&h=666

Thanks for the lovely Sunday afternoon, Anne. Despite the rain.

Cleaning and Sorting and Tossing, Oh My!

by Jennifer

So far this month my efforts have been centered around clearing out the things we have too much of, sorting what we are going to keep and finding better ways to keep the house clean. Sounds pretty boring but wait, it really can be a very freeing experience! Really! No joke! I have to admit that this creates chaos and for this family chaos is BAD! For OCDish me, it makes me crazy to have clutter all over. For “transitions are hard for me” LaLa it can cause major anxiety. For sensory-sensitive Topher it’s just overwhelming.

BUT,

in the end we will have an organized, clutter-free, naturally cleaned home that makes us all feel better!

What I have completed so far to make this a reality?

First: I sorted through four years of professional pictures (dance, sports, school and just regular visits to our favorite photography studio.) Let’s just say that the stack was over 6″ tall and leave it at that! Once that was done it was time to collect everything necessary to get those photos into albums. After sale shopping at Michael’s I have the albums and decorative papers ready to go.

Second: I started working my way through all the boxes of toys in the playroom and basement. This task will take some stamina as there are way too many to attack at one time.

Third: I have been madly pinning all kinds of natural cleaning tips to use instead of chemicals. I have cleared out the cleaning supplies and replaced them with the following:

100_1883

On the surface it doesn’t seem like much but each box sorted, each picture placed in an album and every spray of vinegar is creating a better home for the people I love and that is no small thing.