Slow Living Essentials – August 2014

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“The end-of-summer winds make people restless.”
~ Sebastian Faulks, Engleby

And another month has gone by! Looking at the start of September, I am amazed that we are in the last month of summer. Here is my contribution to the group of good folks sharing a peek at each of their respective worlds on Slow Living Essentials





This month we’ve been trying a ton of new recipes, and with the August heat, it meant making good use of our smoothie maker! With my fairly strong intolerance to dairy acquired after an elimination diet in the spring of 2013 made my body say, “okay lady you’ve had enough milk and cheese to last a lifetime, now stop!”, I am always looking for ways to veganize recipes in ways that retain the yummy while pleasing the tummy. The Cucumber Basil Smoothie and the Mango Lassi recipes turned out awesome!




With harvesting at mock speed due to an early summer, it meant our preservation was bumped ahead as well. From a variety of bread & butter pickles to my Giada-inspired marinara (I left out the carrots and celery this year and it’s still scrumptious) to my longtime favorite serrano pepper jelly, to these incredibly easy pickled red onions, and the start of sweet pepper (capsicums, for you Aussies out there!) harvesting, it’s been busy to say the least. Yet still we (yes, we – husband very much likes doing the preserving with me, yay!) managed to try a new recipe for crystallized ginger (pictured above) from Karen Solomon’s awesome Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It cookbook. If you don’t have her series I highly recommend it. I have about 10 cookbooks and hers are very well-loved (read: in sticky condition as I’ve got drippings and other messes all over from using so much hahaha!). The hubby is inhaling it, so much that I’ve jarred it up and hidden some for our upcoming honeymoon road trip so that there are snacks for the drive :)



I must say, while the majority of my income is derived from my work as a recruiter, the most rewarding part of my business is the career coaching I do. This past month, I was engaged by a number of career coaching clients who work in the sustainability and/or environmental sectors. So while my current recruiting is with clients who pay little attention to green business practices or how they could more positively impact the social and environmental crises in our world (yes, another post about that is forthcoming), these coaching clients are making a difference in the community and with businesses, from natural habitats to education to recycling and more. It reminds me of how much more there is to be done and how much I need to step back and reassess where I want to go with my business moving forward. How can I do more? Where do I want to veer off and make some changes? What am I willing to let go of in order to do this?

I think the term "giant" for this sunflower is an understatement, don't you? Dang!!



Along with all the veggies that we grow, our sunflowers did a marvelous job this year, always seeming to try and break the prior year’s record for height and, well, hugeness like the one that is leaning over next to my husband. They’ve all since been attacked by squirrels and birds into a graveyard of shells splattered everywhere (they get the munchies in the middle of the night and the next morning? “Looks like a dog’s breakfast” the hubby says, heehee). Fortunately we were able to get one set aside and save a bunch of seeds for next year along with the red ones. Sunflowers never cease to amaze me in how fast they grow, their beauty, and the complete adoration the bees have for them.




After last month’s painting projects, we realized we have been accumulating lots of small bits of paint – great for touch-ups in the future, yes, but we thought, wouldn’t it be nice to actually use some of it up and at the same time add some color to our basement? So with that, the husband suggested we pay homage to the brick wall of the Telstra building in St Kilda, using our existing paints along with donated paints from our neighbors (EVERYONE has leftover paint, I tell ya!) that we asked for via a Nextdoor posting.



I’m still working on my book, I swear!



This month again had me full speed ahead with my clients, with community service unfortunately minimized, but again I continue to give a portion of my monthly income to my favorite nonprofits, with August’s donation going to Living Yoga, who “exists to support youth and adults in prison, in drug and alcohol recovery programs and in community transitional services. We use Yoga, with its proven ability to heal trauma, to help people improve their path in life, moving from convicts and addicts, to neighbors, coworkers and friends.” I learned about them in last year’s GiveGuide and knew they had to be one of my twelve beneficiaries!


We had a great time learning about growing and pruning cane fruits (raspberries, etc.) at Garden Fever’s class taught by local garden legend Glen Andresen.



This August had many highlights, but one of the biggest was having a long (car-free, of course) weekend in San Francisco (car-free, of course) where we met up with friends as well as Dan’s sister and her family visiting the States from Melbourne. It was way cool! The photo above is our niece at the top of Strawberry Hill at Golden Gate Park, paying tribute to the photo I have of Dan hugging a tree and an older one his stepmom sent to us of his (recently deceased) father in an identical type of picture. I feel so blessed to have this new family and cannot wait to create new memories and stronger ties with them as the years go on. Happy happy joy joy :)

Having a place to go — is a home. Having someone to love — is a family. Having both — is a blessing.”
~ Donna Hedges


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Beginning the long weekend with a Zipcar trip out to Silver Falls, an hour or so out of Portland.

Began the long weekend with a Zipcar trip out to hike at Silver Falls, an hour outside Portland.

Wow – September is almost upon us and while the weather is still warm, we can tell that things are getting ready to change. Tomatoes are done as are the cukes (well the latter I’ve made an executive decision on after a very plentiful year!), and just enjoying watching our twenty five or so pepper plants soak up the heat. Perfect timing with our (intentionally belated) honeymoon just around the corner!

Here’s some of the groovy green stuff I learned about this week…

* Three articles on family stuff have been bookmarked for the hubby and I as we think about how we want our 2015 pregnancy and everything that comes afterwards to possibly look: From Doula to Diapers: Bringing Up a Green Baby, a great overview without being all product-marketing, Financing a Homebirth vs Hospital Birth awesome to read to truly understand the costs when we may be very underinsured depending on where Dan lands empoyment-wise (due to the crazy expenses of buying your own insurance, as $300/mo with $2500 deductible is what we’re dealing with as the “best” deal), and finally, Surviving Pregnancy When Life Gets Busy by over on The Art of Simple keeps the focus on – you guessed it – paring down and focusing on what really matters. It’s always a giggle talking to moms and the tremendous variety of suggestions and experiences they’ve had – and yes, the advice. I’m listening, but always following my gut.

* Whoa, a 3,300 foot crack in the Mexican desert. As real as it gets on what’s happening in our environment, people.

* Those who are connected to me on LinkedIn might have seen this article I posted, and I wanted to share it with my blog readers as well. Throwing Cold Water on Ice Bucket Philanthropy finally put into words what was bothering me about the “look at me”, minimally education-focused side of charity. I could never understand all the ice bucket videos since that was stated to be for those who DON’T donate to ALS charities, and all the videos yet no one actually talking about what ALS is or who the money (if they donate at all) goes to? It’s like Movember to me – so much more focused on drawing attention to oneself rather than actually taking truly meaningful action to educate and work towards improvement. There, I’ve said my piece (for today).

* Handlebars that double as a U-lock? Rad. Check out this ultimate urban utility bike.

* Pleasantly impressed with Nextdoor, an online community for neighbors that for the most part is nothing at all like Facebook, and a great place for us to post classified ads, find and give away free stuff, learn about what’s going on in the neighborhood, etc. All with no parade of family photos or finding out what people ate for lunch or what game they are playing. Hubby is also working on several gardening and painting jobs because of the contacts made in here – yay!

* Awesome – check out this article on LilyPad, which helps clean up stormwater pollution. Now that’s product development that is worth investing in!

Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.”
~Marcelene Cox

Summertime Cooler: Veganizing the Cucumber Smoothie

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This week, the heat continued for several days at or above 90, and along with the veganized mango lassi recipe I shared with you in an earlier post, the other drink I’ve fallen madly in love with over the summer that is both a great vegan way to stay cool, AND an awesome use of the twenty thousand cucumbers that seem to have exploded off my three vines this year.

Inspired by a recipe in a recent issue of Sunset Magazine, I created a simpler, veganized version of their Cucumber Smoothie. By the way, I’m a person who refuses to drink green smoothies…until trying this!  Here it is to simply blend and enjoy:

2 cups So Delicious coconut milk yogurt (we LOVE this WAY more than the almond version)
2 cold cucumbers, chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil
2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt

NOTE: Along with removing the dairy, I also eliminated the ice cubes and club soda from the original recipe – the former because my smoothie blender isn’t that tough to truly crush ice, and the latter because I just don’t keep it around the house. It also asked for dill and mint, along with the basil, and I don’t grow those two items in my garden. I dig that two of the five ingredients in this are homegrown! Plus you know what? It’s awesome.


Workin’ 9 to 5 (…and assessing leadership looking forward)

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“If your thoughts, opinions, and perspectives don’t evolve, neither will your ability to lead.”
~ Mike Myatt

In 30 Outdated Leadership Practices Holding Your Company Back, leadership advisor Mike Myatt asks the question, “Are we producing better leaders or just more people who hold positions of leadership? ” and challenges us to broaden how we look at leadership and explain where the focus needs to be moving forward. While we’ve heard many of these buzzwords, companies of all sizes need to let go of the ego involved in the way “we’ve always done things” or what we THINK is working, and focus on getting things right in a way where the people (who create the product) are both happy AND productive.

Too many leaders say “our product is our number one priority” rather than “our people are our number one priority” – and it shows. You can’t have a great product/service without hiring and retaining good people. And you can’t do that unless you open yourself up to the diversity that is out there in not only in the EEO categories like age, gender, ethnicity, etc, but also in diversity of thinking. Way too many folks say “we promote collaboration” or “we invest in our people” when we all know working on the inside that collaboration is usually meant to say “this is where we’re going, now work together to make it happen”, rather than “here are the goals – let’s figure out together where we’re going and how we’re going to get there successfully”, and that investment in people is Friday afternoon happy hours and a foosball table, and not actual training and development.

Myatt’s infographic can serve as a great starting point to audit your company’s leadership – and that means by asking the people who are not in management to tell you the cold, hard truth – without fear of reprisal (we all know that most employee surveys are never wholly truthful). So…are you and your company ready to truly evaluate who you are as an organization and where you want to be?

Here is the infographic, and the only thing I’d change about it is rather than the line about trivializing youth, I would change that to trivializing women and older employees, as well as non-technical staff  – something that happens in the youth- and male-focused tech startup world. Everyone should have a voice and the opportunity to grow,  contribute, and feel they are heard.

What’s it like at your company? What’s it like – for real?

Weekend in Pictures

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Great time attending Garden Fever’s workshop on cane berry pruning taught by awesome local garden educator Glen Andreson, whose classes I’ve had the pleasure of attending several times over the past 8 years. The class started at the store then took us up to Glen’s home where we got to see how he grows and cares for his raspberries (and much more) up close – but of course I accidentally deleted that photo off my phone, grrr! We also got to see his bazillion bees living all around the property. Dan was a huge fan of this – me, I can appreciate them but don’t know about having as many hives as Glen has!!


Check out the cool new chicken coop built by the folks at Project Grow (where my husband volunteers several days a week)! FYI it’s intentionally crooked – the roof is slanted in a way that captures all the rainwater and (you can’t see it from this view) goes into several rain barrels so there’s a water supply. Rad :)


looking at a flower in a new way…


Honey made 2 miles from my house? Yes please!


Cayenne peppers just starting to be harvested – thinking of trying Karen Solomon‘s hot sauce recipe in one of her cookbooks on my shelf.

Yum! Great breakfast at Caffe Destino with the hubby following our bike ride to feed the goats & chickens. That's what a nice weekend morning is all about!

Yum! Great breakfast at Caffe Destino with the hubby following our bike ride to feed the goats & chickens. That’s what a nice weekend morning is all about! (photo source)



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What’s on my radar this week…

* Not shocking, due to lack of connectivity, living in the suburbs is linked to obesity.

* Great article interviewing the awesome Portland ecopsychologist Renee Lertzman, who is keynote speaker at this fall’s GoGreen Conference. Rad!

* Love it – Why We Need Bike Lanes More Than Bike Helmets.

* Great interview with the legendary Congressman John Lewis by my former neighbor and now ProPublica writer, Nikole Hannah-Jones.

* Rare butterflies being saved? Lovely. Check out how the Xerces Society is helping to save this endangered butterfly species.

Workin’ 9 to 5 (and remembering common courtesy when hiring)

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“Service, in short, is not what you do, but who you are. It is a way of living that you need to bring to everything you do, if you are to bring it to your customer interactions.”
~ Betsy Sanders

After hearing of so many bad experiences from folks I know, whether it be candidates or clients or just folks in my network, I am constantly reminded of how many organizations don’t realize that the way they treat their candidates (including NOT communicating) is a direct reflection on their organization. The world is small – treat everyone like a customer and you’ll be amazed at how much faster the hiring process will take.

Below is an infographic that speaks very much to this, including how companies represent themselves on social media.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – we’ve got to do better.

Weekend in Pictures – The Bay Area Edition

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Fun fun fun getaway to the Bay Area this weekend where Dan’s family was visiting from Oz before they head down to Disneyland then Mexico for their grand holiday. We spent the first night in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland where we also met some friends for dinner, then headed into the city to do a bit of touristy stuff with the family before flying home last night. Nice mild weather – a great respite from the heat here in PDX – and really fun exploring a few new areas of the Bay that we either hadn’t been or where it’d been 20+ years.

Fantastic lunch to kick things off in Oakland at Bowl'd BBQ. I'm madly in love with Korean BBQ and their sizzling bowls were the best!

Fantastic lunch to kick things off in Oakland at Bowl’d BBQ on Telegraph in the Temescal neighborhood. I’m madly in love with Korean BBQ and their sizzling bowls were the best!

Awesome art on the street in Temescal. Cool little neighborhood without a ton of attitude, we liked :)

Awesome art on the street in Temescal. Cool little neighborhood without a ton of attitude and still great diversity, we dig :)

Great street art making the husband a bit sentimental for his hometown :)

Great street art making the husband a bit sentimental about his hometown…I’ll do a separate post focused just on the art we saw…

Seriously great breakfast at Aunt Mary's - succotash with bacon? SO good.

Seriously great breakfast at Aunt Mary’s – succotash with bacon? SO good.

Thoroughly unimpressed with the tiny room at the Sir Frances Drake..but the bed was damn comfy, I gotta say. Overpriced though and Union Square we learned is a tourist trap, ugh!

Thoroughly unimpressed with the tiny room at the Sir Frances Drake..but the bed was damn comfy, I gotta say. Overpriced hotel and a tourist trap, ugh! We learned our lesson!

Ladies playing cards in the park in Chinatown - love :)

Awesome old ladies playing cards in the park in Chinatown – love :)

Hanging out Saturday and Sunday with Dan's sister and her family. So fun to see them!!

Hanging out with Dan’s sister and her family. So fun to see them!!

Great dim sum lunch in Chinatown - even got them to try some of the more unusual offerings!

Enjoyed a great dim sum lunch in Chinatown – even got our niece Charlotte to try some of the more unusual offerings!

Chicken claws, mmm!!

Chicken claws, mmm!!

Stopped by City Lights Bookstore. It's cool, but it's not Powell's :)

Stopped by City Lights Bookstore. It’s cool, but it’s not Powell’s :)

speaking of city lights..

and speaking of city lights…

Golden Gate Park

Great hike around Golden Gate Park - climbed up Strawberry Hill with Charlotte for this nice view of the Golden Gate Bridge that she snapped for me :)

Dan & Charlotte causing trouble :)

Dan & Charlotte causing trouble :)

Lovely flowers along the path at GG Park.

Lovely flowers along the path at GG Park.

Phenomenal breakfast at Brenda's French Soul Food in the Tenderloin. Worth the walk for those beignets alone, not to mention the molasses ham and the pork belly & egg on grits!

Phenomenal breakfast at Brenda’s French Soul Food in the Tenderloin District. Worth the walk from our hotel outside of the tourist trap that is Union Square for those beignets alone, not to mention the molasses ham and the pork belly & egg on grits, and the great service! I’d fly back for this place alone!