Musings of an UN-professional..

September 01, 2011

Showering With Rainwater

I live on a dirt road and catch rainwater to shower with. Something I never thought I'd say and certainly not something I thought I'd enjoy.  Several folks have asked me about how exactly this works, so here goes..

Our rental house in Hawaii runs on a cachement system, meaning that rainwater is collected, stored and used as the sole source for water in the house.  Although the area I live in gets over 200 inches of rain per year, homes are built over relatively "young" (we're talking geological years here) soil that is primarily hardened lava. It's not exactly easy to drill for water, and with so much rain, there is no sense in doing so.

Water is collected via gutters lining the roof - just like houses everywhere else except instead of being routed somewhere in the yard, the water is routed underground through a plastic pipe that eventually goes through a filter (to get out big stuff like leaves and other debris) and flows into a large holding tank in the back yard. As needed, it's pumped back into the house for use showering, cooking, washing dishes, etc. With appropriate filters, this can also serve as drinking water. We've gone eau naturel without the filter and get our drinking water from the nearby village water spigot, which is another adventure in itself.

In addition to the plus of no water bills, being great for Mother Earth, I've found the natural water to be easy on my hair.

Last weekend, I had a 3 hour layover in the Minneapolis airport. Since I'm no longer ATL (Attached To Laptop) I browsed a couple stores and whipped up this drawing of my house and how this all works. Enjoy!

~ Rachel

Amateur attempt at drawing cachement system  - not to scale :) 

August 26, 2011

The Writing is on the Fridge

The morning after our wedding, my new husband and I settled in to open our wedding gifts. At one point, I came across a simply wrapped, rectangular package without a tag or card. Carefully peeling away the paper, I uncovered a used Mead wide ruled notebook. I turned the top cover and immediately started laughing, instantly recognizing my father's humor. It was full of 80+ pages of my full (maiden) name, handwritten, two full names to a row, double sided.

This was none other than the product of my dad's choice form (an effective one, at that) of punishment - writing. To deserve this particular punishment, I had forged a note signed by "my mother" excusing me from volleyball practice due to a "chiropractor appointment." Somehow, my coach figured that my mom must have nicer handwriting, made a phone call to confirm, and I was toast.  To maintain some honor, I must explain - I wasn't a terrible kid. We had just moved to a new town, and I was invited to hang out after school with a group of kids in the "in" crowd and I was so excited to be included it seemed reasonable to skip practice, just this once. Anyway, my dad figured that since I was getting a nice shiny new last name, I might enjoy having this keepsake on hand. He was right. It was the funniest gift we received.

This notebook was a bit of a twist. Typically, whatever we were required to write was usually in sentence form and was required to be prominently hung on the refrigerator for one whole week for any and all guests to see -and of course, if there were guests, they received a heads up that they may want to look at the fridge. :)

Among my favorite memories..
 ~ I will not jump off of furniture (this was my brother's task after a chair ricocheted into the wall while rehearsing a leaping gymnastic performance orchestrated by me)

~ I will not slam doors or my butt will grow larger (I swear I had to write this - it may be been a threat, but my memory is clouded)

As much as I hate to admit it, I can see myself trying this out. Someday, my dad will receive a mysterious letter in the mail, and he will chuckle knowingly as he sees repetitive sentences in a child's handwriting.

August 14, 2011

Doorknob Kitchen - Veggie Tofu Chili

I've been experimenting with healthy recipes lately, looking for ways to incorporate more protein and fiber into my lunch in a form other than lunch meat and celery. I was also looking for more "grab and go" options, so I'm not relying on frozen meals or the constant rotation of chicken noodle and tomato soup available in the cafeteria.  I love soup, so thought I'd try a new spin on chili. Because this one doesn't have heavy meats, it's great for a lighter lunch and doesn't seem totally out of place in warmer weather. I froze 12oz. servings in individual containers and it's been really handy for lunch on the go.

Suggested ingredients (The beauty of chili is flexibility - experiment as desired):
Veggie Tofu Chili  "to go"
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 3 gloves garlic 
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • oregano, cumin, ground pepper, chili powder, and cinnamon to taste (start with 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 2 Tb of chili powder, 1 tsp of the others and go up as needed)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans
  • 1 can (15 oz.) corn
  • 1 can (15 oz.) kidney beans
  • 1-2 cans (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes (depending how thick you'd like chili and how much you like chunks of tomatoes - I used about 1 1/2 cans)
  • 3 cups chicken stock (adjust based on how thick you'd like soup)
  • 1 package tofu (extra firm, not the silken kind)
  • 4 scoops Arbonne fiber booster (optional*)
Heat oil in pan and saute onion, carrots, zucchini, garlic and peppers for a couple minutes. When softened, add to soup kettle and pour in all ingredients except the tofu. Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 20 minutes (more is better). Cut up tofu into small squares and fold into the chili toward the end.

Approximate statistics if made as described above:
  8  12-oz servings (nice meal-sized bowl of soup)
  270 calories per serving
  1.8 g of fat (yes, one point eight)
  11 g of protein
  10 g of fiber (~ 1/2 the daily recommended value)

* Arbonne daily fiber boost is a flavorless blend of soluble fiber can be added to any food or drink to help curb mid-day hunger, lower cholesterol and blood sugar and keep your digestive system in check. I typically add it to juice, but I've been trying it out in unexpected places like oatmeal or my morning yogurt concoctions with wonderfully flavorless results.

August 09, 2011

Savvy Doorknob - Corporate Airline Programs

As someone with over a million flight miles under my belt, you'd think I have an unending stash of them saved up. Not really. I've enjoyed using my miles to do things like save money on last minute flights, bring my husband along on work trips to fun places, and upgrade my parents on a trip to Hawaii (best..daughter..ever). I'm always on the lookout for ways to maximize return on my travel and look forward to posting ongoing tips on the blog.

As a business owner, I've found that a few simple steps can also help you earn miles for your business. These miles can be smartly applied to business growth and maintenance activities such as attending or having team members attend industry conferences or training events, visiting clients for a face-to-face meeting, flying a key individual over for an interview, rewarding an outstanding employee, or just like with personal travel, saving money on those last-minute flights that can break the pocket book. Any legitimate business can do this* whether it be a small firm, huge corporation, and in some cases even a single proprietorship, such as my Arbonne business or a photography business (provided you will be conducting business on your trip). It's like double dipping - travelers continue to earn their own personal miles and you as a business can earn additional miles toward future travel. Consider signing up today and registering your own flights and/or providing info to your employees on how they can help the company save.
* you need a federal tax number to enroll

Here is a brief description of some of the programs out there that I'm using and links to more information:

Delta Sky Bonus 
This is the easiest one to use, in my opinion. Travlers can add this to their profile and voila! It will be automatically defaulted for future flights that are booked.

American Business ExtrAA
Travelers need to enter the company's PerksPlus code with each booking.

United PerksPlus
This one only works when booking directly through and when you indicate "Business" as the reason for your travel. Like with American, travelers need to enter the company's PerksPlus code with each booking. Rewards are only kept active for businesses that spend $20,000+ in travel on United per year.

Happy mile building,

August 04, 2011

Doorknob Kitchen - Asian Fusion Guacamole

A couple days have passed since the "avocado incident," and it's time to reap the benefits of my pain-inducing battle with the tree.  Not to be underwhelmed by regular old guacamole, I sought out a recipe that had some pizazz, added a couple of my own tweaks, and here's where I landed. This one makes use of fresh ginger, which has become a staple in the Doorknob Kitchen. At 25 cents a piece at the Farmer's Market, you really can't go wrong.

Asian Fusion Guacamole
The Supplies:
  • 2 large avocados
  • Juice from one lime ( or ~1/4 cup if you are using the plastic lime bottle thingy)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root (I grate mine with the smaller side of a cheese grater)
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi paste, give or take, depending on your tolerance (I upped this a bit)
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers
  • A couple of mint or cilantro leaves, chopped (I used cilantro)
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper,  to taste
Mash up everything except the tomato until it's your desired consistency. I like big chunks of avocado but you're the boss in your kitchen. At the end, fold in the tomato pieces.

Ahhh, sweet redemption.

Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once. ~ Lillian Dickson