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Reduce Your Use Challenge

Earth Day is about two weeks away.  In the last few months, I have been working on reducing my use of plastic.  I wish I can say that I have reduced my use by a considerable amount.  I have been phasing out the plastic food containers in my home.  I have been using glass containers, mason jars, and metal containers.  We do use reusable water bottles instead of purchasing water bottles.  Unfortunately, I am still guilty of using plastic sandwich bags, not bringing my reusable shopping bags when I go shopping, and not bringing my many reusable travel mugs when I buy coffee.

We can turn a blind eye to this plastic problem, or we can face some of the facts (1):
     - at least 8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans yearly,
     - there is more mincroplastic in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way,
     - more than 60% of marine litter is plastic based,
     - the average U.S. citizen consumes 167 plastic water bottles each year, and only recycle 25% of

It doesn’t stop there.  Most of our clothing are made with synthetic fibers which are made with plastic. And these fibers go into the ocean when we wash our clothes.

Plastic doesn't just impact our environment.  Plastic is also toxic to our health.  There have been links to plastic and many health issues such as cancer, birth defects, encodrine disruption, and so much more.  These fibers that go into the ocean are eaten by the fish which we consume.  Plastic has contaminated not just the oceans but has crept into other food sources. I urge you not to take my word for it and do your research.

Plastic is so convenient, but I think it is time that we think about whether or not the environmental and health effects are worth the convenience.  We are called to be good stewards- of the world around us as well as our own health.  When God created the earth, it was good.  Yes, we live in a fallen and broken world and we cannot completely be free from the use of plastic but each of us can do our part and be responsible for the "Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of the Earth," (Genesis 1:26, MSG).

In the next two weeks, I am working on reducing my use of plastic even more by using reusable sandwich/ storage bags, my reusable shopping bags, and using my reusable travel mugs when I get coffee outside of my home.

Here are some ways I will be reducing my use of plastic.  A HUGE shout out to my friend, Christa, for her recommendations (the straws, bamboo toothbrushes, water bottle).

1- Reusable coffee mug.  Even paper cups are lined with plastic.  Stay away from plastic tumblers and instead go for glass or stainless steel tumblers (not aluminum).  This is my favorite travel mug which was given to me by my Secret Santa this year.

2- Reusable water bottle.  I love my 32 ounce Klean Kanteen, 24 ounce MyBevi water bottle, and my 17 ounce S'well yoga bottle.  These are all insulated stainless steel bottles and keep my water cold all day long.  Although I have links to these for Amazon, I suggest that you check out the clearance section at Target.  I paid about $7 for my MyBevi.  I also paid under $5 for son's MyBevi.    S'well bottles are pretty pricey.  I found mine at Target's clearance section for under $10.

Christa loves her Life Factory water bottles.  I had one of them but lost it somewhere.  My boys can't bring glass to school and this is why I opted for the stainless steel bottles.

3- Store food in glass or stainless steel containers and mason jars.  You can get these from Amazon, Target, Walmart. I love these because they are sturdier than their plastic counterparts.  I purchased these stainless steel containers for my boys' lunch.

4- Reusable shopping bags.  Almost all retailers sell shopping bags.  These bags usually cost no more than $1.99 depending on the retailer.  You can also purchase insulated shopping bags, which are even better for cold or frozen food.  At one point in my life, I was a shopping bag hoarder.  I loved buying them whenever I go to a store I haven't been in. I haven't purchased a bag in awhile but I have over a dozen of them.

ImageCredit: Amazon.com
5- Reusable covers by Beeswrap.  You can purchase a pack with one small, one medium, and one large wrap.  You can use them to wrap food and even to cover containers.  They last a little over a year and can stick to most containers.

6- Packing regular utensils instead of plastic utensils for my lunch and the kids' lunches.  I love these cute utensils with chopsticks since I sometimes make makis (Japanese rolls) for my boys' lunch.

7- Reusable stainless steel straws. I have not used these yet but this is one of the items that I plan on purchasing these when we do eat out.

8- Bamboo toothbrushes. Plastic is used for EVERYTHING.  Replacing your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo one is one less plastic that ends up in the ocean.

There are SO MANY WAYS we can reduce our use of plastic.  It can be overwhelming to go cold-turkey with your plastic usage.  That's why I urge you to pick two or three items that you can replace with non-plastic alternatives.  Let's be good stewards of God's creation.  Which of these are you committing to use?


1- McCarthy, J. (2017, June 12). 9 Shocking Facts About Plastic in Our Oceans.  https://www.ecowatch.com/plastic-oceans-facts-images-2436857254.html

Healthy and Easy One-Dish Meals

Spring is here! It doesn't feel like it here in the Northeast.  Some areas still have snow on the ground.  In fact, as I write this, snow is falling gently outside.  I cannot wait for the warmer weather to finally be here so that we can start enjoying the longer days.  With the change of the season, I like to change up my weeknight recipes.  And of course, because I want to enjoy the longer days and warmer weather (whenever the warm weather gets here), I like simple one-dish meals.

When I tried scouring the web for healthy, one-dish recipes, I often encounter carb-heavy dishes with pasta or rice or dishes with cheese or dairy.  For me, healthy means a meal that is heavy on the vegetables, with lean or grass-fed protein, some good fats (low fat isn't always a good thing) and healthy carbs.  White pasta or rice is a no-no.  I also stay away from cheesy recipes or dishes with dairy because my teenage son cannot have dairy.  It frustrates me when I look for healthy recipes and get these recipes carb heavy, low veggie meals.  That's why I decided to do another recipe round up.  This time, it is healthy one-dish meals.

photo credit: peaceloveandlowcarb.com
Sometimes, I use this chicken sausage or I use our own homemade pork sausage.

Photo credit: Paleo Bailey
You can serve this as-is or with brown rice or cauliflower rice.

Photo credit: Real Food RDs

Photo Credit: Paleo Bailey

AANNNDDD, what's dinner without dessert?  My latest love is this Hazelnut Frozen Yogurt from my favorite dessert blogger.
Photo Credit: Chocolate Covered Katie

Do you have your favorite one-dish meal?  I'd like to know what it is even if you don't think it's healthy.  I might include its healthier version in a future blog post.


Just a Housewife

 This weekend was my son's high school drama club production of the musical, Working.  It is an older and lesser known musical, but it is a touching one.  It is a musical about the
"uncommon common man."  The characters included a steel worker, parking garage attendant, migrant worker, waitress, sociailite, housewife, and many more.  Every monologue and song was touching and I'm sure strikes a chord with everyone.  One song that struck a chord with me was "Just a Housewife:"

All I am is just a housewife
Nothing special, nothing great
What I do is kinda boring
If you'd rather, it can wait
All I am is someone's mother
All I am is someone's wife
All of which seems unimportant
All it is is
Just my life
Do the laundry, wash the dishes
Take the dog out, clean the house
Shop for groceries, look for specials
God it sounds so, Mickey Mouse
Drop the kids off, pick the shirts up
Try to lose weight, try again
Keep the troops fed, pick their things up
Lose your patience, count to ten
All I am is just a housewife
Just a housewife, nothing great
What I do is "out of fashion"
What I feel is out of date
All I am is someone's mother
Right away I'm not too bright
What I do is unfulfulling
So the T.V. talk-shows tell me every night
I don't mean to complain at all
But they make you feel like you're two feet tall
When you're just a wife
Nowadays all the magazines
Make a bunch of beans
Out of family life
You're a "whiz" if you go to work
But you're just a jerk if you say you won't
Women's Lib says they think it's fine
If the choice is mine
But you know they don't
What I do, what I choose to do
May be dumb to you
But it's not to me
Is it dumb that they need me there?
Is it dumb to care?
Cause I do, you see
And I mean, Did ya ever think,
Really stop and think
What a job it was-
Doing all the things
That a housewife does?...
Do you feel this way?  Although your family may not always show their appreciation, they do. What you do matters even if you can't see it now.  I know it sounds so cliche, but this is what I tell myself as I clean up my kitchen at night knowing full well it will be a mess again in the morning.  Or as I spend the day driving my teenage son to drama, drive to the store with my tween to get a present for his friend's birthday party, drive to tween's friend's birthday party almost an hour away, then go home to do laundry that grows like spaghetti.

Maybe you aren't a housewife.  Maybe you are a broke college student.  Maybe you are working in a job that wasn't your first or second or third choice.  Maybe you are a mama juggling two or three jobs. I want you to know that regardless of what you do, YOU matter.  You are not "just" a housewife.  You are not "just" a mom.  

You are not "just" a housewife.  Not "just" (fill in the blank here).  I struggled for so long with the label of being "just" a housewife... "just" a child care worker... "just" a mom... "just" a greeter... "just" a substitute aide.

What helps me remember that I am not "just" whatever role I have is remembering who I am in Christ:

"God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them,"
(Genesis 1:27).

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, 
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations,"
(Jeremiah 1:5).

"Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, 
he gave the right to become children of God,"
(John 1:12).

"But you are a chose people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him
who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light,"
(1 Peter 2:9).

These are just a few truths that have helped me.  I also remember that no matter what I do- at home or in a work setting- I don't just do it for my family or for my employer:

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not man,"
(Colossians 3:23).

In the past, I struggled with being "just" me.   But I have come to learn that I am much more than what I do.  I am not "just" a mom, "just" a college student, "just" a greeter.   I am a child of God. And that is what keeps me going.

How can you overcome the label of being "just" a (fill in the blank)?