Posts Tagged With: recycle

7 years ago today…

What were you doing on this exact date 7 years ago? I was zipping up my backpack to load up before my mom dropped me off at the Sacramento airport for the first day of an unpredictable journey around the world. I can recall having no fear or at least no hesitation in the adventure I was about to embark on. Just excitement and a new found enthusiasm for life!

As each year unfolded and my passport filled to the rim (with about 80 stamps!) I encountered new friends, adopted cultural traditions and continued to allow my mind to expand. Sometimes it’s surreal when I look back on the photos as it usually feels like I’m talking about someone else from a book I read or movie I saw. If you want to see a clear layout with links of my first exciting year on the road, take a look at the 2012 archives!

I was going to make this post about some of my favorites from around the world, cuisine, music, architecture, etc. but as I began to write I felt more drawn to explore what kind of lessons I gathered from a variety of places. Could be that I’m 9 months pregnant and my sensitive hormones are on high, or simply because I’ve never really stopped to ask myself such a question.

So Erika, where did you learn some significant lessons and how did you walk away from it a better person?

PERU – Although I visited several different cities throughout the country, a little village has always stood out to me. I rarely go back to a place I’ve been, but the magnetic pull was too strong for me to ignore in Huambutio. I was invited to volunteer there in a variety of things from teaching English to painting walls, cooking and even to coach gymnastics.

The lesson here was simple, appreciation for the simple things.

Sounds obvious or cliche, but there were a few events that triggered this conscious thought. First was the toothpaste. We taught the kids how to make their own toothpaste (that they got to take home) and the importance of dental health. The enthusiasm and gratitude they showed was outstanding! Something we may all take for granted or even see as a thoughtless item we look for on sale at Target, but these children guarded their portion like it was gold. Makes me wonder if they had ever used any… ever. Next was meal time. The children’s breakfast everyday was 1/2 of a hard boiled egg with a scoop of plain oatmeal (not your Starbucks brown sugar, toasted nut and cranberry shenanigans, but warm oats and water). We would divide an apple into 1/8 slices in order for everyone to get a bite as a snack and occasionally got to accompany it with a few pieces of toasted corn. Lunch and dinner was whatever we picked that day from the garden. A clear memory I have was the evening they said we were goin to make corn bread. Now, I was aware enough to not aimlessly look for a box of ready make Betty Crocker, but I was on the scout for cornmeal and the rest of the ingredients. I can’t remember how long they let me look before informing me that we actually have to go pick the corn to start the process. After I was done blushing, off to the garden we went! An experience that made every bite of that bread savored as if we had spent hours preparing it… because we did!

I suppose all of this hit me harder than I was expecting when I flew out of Peru into the states to visit family. My first stop was Dallas, Texas… home of everything huge! I had my apple bits, a few nuts and some cash to get me buy as I plopped down in the food court during my layover at the airport. A family sat next to me who didn’t go out of their way to be discreet. The children were clearly mad at the toy they got in the happy meal, a meal that they didn’t want to finish for whatever reason. After fits and French fries on the floor, the meals went into the garbage. I’m not claiming that we need to starve to appreciate fullness, or go without toothpaste to love a good sale at Target. I will admit however, that I may have judged this situation in the moment, but looking back now it was an opportunity that invited me to reflect on my own behavior. Had I carelessly disposed of food that could of been leftovers or compost? How many times did I complain, especially as a child, about the items in front of me with no gratitude that I even had options!?

Moving from food to activity, we ventured to the outdoor area and I was pleasantly surprised at the creative use of items that would typically land in the trash. Used plastic containers, snack wrappers, laundry bottles, juice boxes, warm out shoes and more. I loved it!

This experience as a whole opened a new part of my character to this day (even ask those close to me), it’s left me very aware of waste, unnecessary abundance and a love for keeping things simple. I am that weirdo that has 1/4 of an apple in my fridge with full intentions of eating it. I order a to-go box with my meal whenever we enjoy the luxury of eating out. I choose not to go to Costco and buy a village sized pack of paper plates on sale because I “might” need them someday. By no means am I claiming some sort of award winning lifestyle, just sharing the lesson that 7 years later still sticks in my everyday existence. And now with a little girl due any day, I hope to carry this in our family and raise a grateful human that appreciates her surroundings and has gratitude for our simple luxuries.

Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I eat my leftovers first.

Well friends, turns out I love food. If you’ve been following for long, you’ve witnessed what seemed to be the endless exploring of several different markets and the entertaining lessons during cooking classes.



I’d like to share something that I’ve been doing for years and I’m sure there are many people out there who have had a similar ideas. My grandma’s “refrigerator soup” for example, is all the left overs from the fridge into a pot that magically turns into some sort of tasty stew. My version uses fresh ingredients, that in most households gets pushed aside or discarded to waste.

I now realize that I’ve never given it a name, so here’s my version of “leftovers”. (I’ll have to give it an appropriate title someday).

On this beautiful afternoon I was playing with spinach, cilantro and beet leaves for a salad to pair with garlic roasted butternut squash. Don’t you wish that was the goodness I was sharing? Sorry, recipes will come later. This post is about recycling the part of the herb or veggie that doesn’t get used in the common meal!

Step one: Clean your scrumptious items and cut what you’d like to use for your proper dish. Put that bulk section aside for whatever you got them for in the first place.



Step two: Place all of the stems, guts, limbs, leaves, ends, crumbs and other miscellaneous unwanted parts into a pot with a little water.




Step 3: Add any other veggies from your stash that need to be used before they go bad. Even throw in some seasonings if you want. Today I tossed in the outer edge of an onion and a few garlic cloves that I had laying around. Also, to add some density, I added a few cubes of the uncooked squash.





Turmeric fun facts: (Maybe not fun, but useful… You should look into it)
There are countless internal health benefits of Turmeric – anti inflammatory, diabetes control, liver detox, weight management, reduction in cancer growth, boosts immune system, aids digestion, preventive powers with Alzheimer’s…the list goes on! However, did you know that it’s also a natural antiseptic and antibacterial? If you have a cut or burn, you can sprinkle turmeric powder on the affected area to speed up the healing process.

Step 4: Simmer just long enough to barely soften all of the goodies. (We’ve all been told not to overcook vegetables in order to maintain as much of the nutrients as possible, right?).



Step 5: Let cool, especially if you’re going to be using plastic. Follow by launching (or gently scooping) your veg-o-chaos into a mixer including the flavorful broth left behind. Blend it up!



What to do with it now? Purée it for a sauce, let it be the base for a pasta dish or maybe mix it in with brown rice and kidney beans. Usually I would top my soup off with the roasted seeds from above, however on this day, I ate them right out of the oven. Typical.


To be honest, my usual routine consists of eating a majority of it straight from the mixer then saving the “leftovers” for the main course. Yes mom, I know… You should never eat standing up. I’m working on it”.

Happy leftover cooking to you!


Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reduce, reuse and recycle… Into Art!

The Blue Giraffe was a huge hit last year as I introduced the gift boutique that sits perfectly on the historic road of 30A in Watercolor, Florida. This year, I’m going to go even deeper and expose some of the incredible people that share their work here. With over 90 artists and 70% being local, you can imagine the intimate vibe and comfortable feeling that this shop exudes.

Everything below is from different artist all using recycled material from the beach, the road, and anywhere else something could be left behind. Can you see the random items in these pieces?




This canvas work is made from broken glass that’s perfect placed by the brilliant artist Mary Hong.





Is drift wood always in your way when you’re playing in the water? Try creating an eye catching piece from it!



On this day, one of the local artists have come to display a few new unique pieces that are made out of primarily salvaged and repurposed materials. From bottle caps to collectors soda cans, Alan Moore produces one of kind work… please enjoy!







Below is his 2 eldest daughters, Emma and Isabella who also currently sell their artwork in galleries in Florida and Washington state. What a family!


On this day, the Moore family guided a good ol’ art project and invited the public to join in! They provided the materials and helpful smiles while the participants brought creativity and patience. What a success!







Of course I made one for my dear mom, I chose to use her favorite quote. The fun spirited “thumbs up” in the background is Alan himself!





At the end of the day, the Moore family gave funny faces as we close up shop.


I’m only assuming that several of you are interested in more of Alan’s work, so let me connect you!
Click here to be directed to the Moore Family Folk Art website.

Craving more from the The Blue Giraffe gallery? Push this fancy link!

Categories: Art, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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