Archive for the ‘resources’ Category

When Life Hands You Lemons

Be on the lookout for this lemon!

Be on the lookout for this lemon!

Tomorrow, do not be surprised if you run into a walking, talking lemon that will be wandering Downtown. This lemon will be promoting Worktank‘s “Embrace the Lemon” campaign, whose goal is to promote pragmatic optimism.

This innovative campaign seeks to leverage the abundance of lemons in the public psyche to “make lemonade” on an unprecedented scale, creating a community of optimism to turn things around and drive positive change.

Pragmatic optimism (link not related to Worktank) promotes the idea that most of the time in life, the good outweighs the bad. A good summary of how this concept came about comes from a comment in that link: “Because many people do not deal with truly bad events on a regular basis, it is easy for them to adopt a false sense that ordinary circumstances or events are somehow bad.

You can find the Lemon wandering around the metro bus tunnels starting at King Street Station from 7:00 a.m. to10:00 a.m., at Westlake Center and Pike Place Market from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and outside Safeco Field prior to the Mariner’s game from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Stop by and say hi, share some lemons-to-lemonade stories, maybe take photos and drop them in our Flickr pool.

Bathroom Access Bill

Damn Hell MC Chris by PunkJr

Damn Hell MC Chris by PunkJr

Consumerist points out that starting this summer, Washington State will force companies with 3 or more staff members clocked in to let customers use their restrooms in times of need. Previous horror stories likely prompted the bill.

The bill goes into effect on July 26th. The Seattle Times points out that “Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, testified for the bill earlier this year.” Woohoo celebrity endorsement!

Reporting a death in Seattle

Back on May 5, the West Seattle Blog reported on a death at the Roxbury Safeway, or, more specifically, a dead body at the Safeway, a woman who’d died elsewhere and was brought to the store by two men looking for a phone to report the death.

Reading this story it struck me that if I somehow came across someone who died, I’d have no idea whom to call. I’ve never been in the company of someone who’d passed away without also being in the company of someone who knew what to do. It dawned on me that I might not be the only one who was at a loss as to how to handle a death, so I turned to the Seattle Police Department for answers.

Per the helpful Lt. Jim Dermody, Homicide/Assault Commander, the best and most efficient way to report a death is to dial 911. You should tell the operator the situation and where you are and he or she will determine whether to send both the Police and the Fire Department. The SFD would definitely respond as it is their duty to attend to the medical needs of the person found or to determine that they are, in fact, deceased. If the person is definitely deceased, the SPD will then get involved to investigate what happened.

Should the details warrant, the Homicide/Assault Unit might be summoned as well. In any case, the King County Medical Examiner’s office would be called, as the KCME has jurisdiction over all bodies in King County under RCW 68.50.10, a law that specifies people in otherwise good health who die unexpectedly, people whose death appears to be caused by unnatural means, people whose death occurs in suspicious circumstances, people whose death occurs by violence, and so on. Simply put, if you find a dead body somewhere you weren’t expecting to find a dead body, the KCME is going to take charge of that body.

Hopefully, none of our readers is ever going to stumble across a body, but if you ever do, keep in mind that the law does require you to report it and now you know how. Just dial 911.

H1N1 virus (swine flu)

Fight the Swine Flu! by Archie McPhee Seattle - from our Flickr pool

Fight the Swine Flu! by Archie McPhee Seattle - from our Flickr pool

Since I am about to head home due to “minor ‘flu symptoms” I thought I would check with Public Health: should I get tested for H1N1? Should I just go home, make soup, and go to bed?

Is the CDC tracking all cases, or just those that exhibit severe symptoms?

The answer is behind door #2. I should go home and the CDC is only interested in severe cases of the ‘flu.

If you are similarly paranoid, and don’t wish to take my word for it, you can check the Public Health H1N1 website [LINK] for updates. You can also subscribe to e-mail updates on the same page.

Hunger Challenge Day 5

This is likely my final post on Seattle Metblogs regarding the Hunger Challenge. It’s been a pretty good week.

A friend left this comment earlier and I wanted to address it in full here.

I personally think using any kind of kitchen machine is cheating. If we are doing this hunger challenge to bring attention to low income families and their eating dilemmas, I wouldn’t expect most of them to have such machines or the will to want to make such foods.

I disagree with this assessment for a variety of reasons. First off, used pasta makers can be found for fairly cheap. I’ve also seen many kitchen machines for free on Freecycle and or for cheap on local Craigslist posts.

Second, not everyone currently on food stamps have always been poor. With the downturn in the economy, visits to area food banks and applications for food stamps have increased, showing the need from many who previously did not need these services. My household for example, has the funds right now to buy kitchen appliances with cash, but if say my husband was laid off and neither of us could find work for a year, we would still have our kitchen appliances (if we hadn’t sold them for food).

Third, just because someone is poor doesn’t mean they do not have the inclination to cook. Consider this: many in the cooking industry do not pull in large salaries, but maybe they just love to cook so much that they make it happen at home. There are also those who are going to school and working only part time (or receiving unemployment) who are eligible for food stamps.

I think there are many different types of people who can be considered poor, due to different circumstances. Those living in poverty very well likely have not always lived in poverty. All in all, these are a few of the reasons why I do not consider it cheating to use kitchen appliances during a hunger challenge.

Hunger Challenge Day 4

Fresh Pasta

We’re heading into the 5th and final day of the Hunger Challenge here and we’re still under our $60 budget. Today’s dinner consisted of homemade pasta (1 cup flour, 1 egg) and cheater’s spaghetti sauce. We use cheater’s spaghetti sauce when tomatoes are out of season; start by sauteing onion, garlic, broccoli (stems and crown), bell pepper, and zucchini, a teaspoon of thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Add jar of sauce (I found a jar of organic sauce at Madison Market for $2.89) and simmer down. Add water. Simmer down. Repeat. As it reduces, it gains a complexity that the regular jar of sauce does not have on it’s own.

Homemade pasta is so cheap, coming it at under $0.35 for 4 servings. It requires a pasta maker though, as well as the time to produce it. It is so easy to grab packaged pasta at the store that I almost picked up a pack (we have enough left in our budget to afford it) but we had the flour and the egg on hand anyway.


When we are not taking this Challenge, we normally attempt to adhere to a diet that is predominantly vegetarian. It saves money and also can be healthier in many respects. Our diet this week can be compared to the vegetarian food pyramid, though we did have bacon and turkey sausage in small portions on a few days.

Overall, this challenge really helped us get back on the “bandwagon”, so to speak, for a healthier diet. One of the biggest fears I had going into this was the chance that I would get really cranky. When I don’t eat right, my blood sugar tanks, and I get a bit irrational. The term I have heard is “hangry”. Earlier I did write a letter to my stomach, but it was mostly in good humor. Usually if I don’t take a snack or eat a healthy breakfast, I will grab something at one of the numerous cafe’s on the UW campus or just head to a restaurant for lunch. I haven’t been able to do this all week and I didn’t have a single instance of being “hangry”.

Lastly, I have been browsing my favorite food sites looking for the very first thing I am going to make on Saturday after the challenge has ended. It’s currently a cross between Lemon Cake or grilled cheese sandwiches w/ a bowl of tomato soup.

Be sure to check out the week’s worth of blog roundups and other information related to the Hunger Challenge here.

Hunger Challenge Day 3

Hunger Challenge Stir Fry

We just wrapped up our third day of the Hunger Challenge with a fantastic stir fry. Here’s how I made it without the need for fancy preservative-packed specialty sauces:

  • 1/2 package firm tofu, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon safflower oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 crown broccoli w/ stem, cut into bite-size pieces (yes, including the stem)
  • 1/2 zucchini, chopped
  • 3 oz sugar snap peas
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup brown rice

In a small container, mix soy sauce, sugar, and 1 clove garlic. Add cubed tofu, cover with lid, and let marinate for an hour, occasionally flipping the container.

In a medium size sauce pan, add rice and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and ignore for 20 minutes.

In a hot wok, add safflower oil and heat. Add onion and saute for one minute. Add carrot, garlic, and jalapeno. After a minute, add broccoli stems, followed by broccoli, sugar snap peas, and zucchini. Saute until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add tofu and marinade mixture, saute until vegetables are coated and tofu is heated through. Serve over hot rice.

Happily, I feel better about using a wider variety of vegetables today. For breakfast, we had an egg, a pear, and a slice of bread. Lunch was leftover red beans and rice (which has gained a nice zesty flavor from sitting in the fridge due to the hot Italian turkey sausage). For snack, I had an orange. Fruit, vegetables, carbs, and protein. I think we did fairly well today.

The last two breakfasts this week will consist of (rolled) oatmeal. Not very imaginative, but good for us. We have a bit of fruit for snacks. Lunch will be leftovers. Dinner either Thursday or Friday will be spaghetti with homemade pasta (using our last egg and a cup of flour), marinara sauce, and the rest of the vegetables we didn’t use in the stir fry (broccoli, yellow onion, garlic, zucchini, and red bell pepper).

Total spent so far is a whopping $54.50. That leaves us with $5.50. I was thinking I could pick up some cheese to use in a salad with the spaghetti. We have one small pear left, so maybe I can afford a wedge of blue cheese. We only have oil, salt, and pepper to make salad dressing with, so I’ll likely skip the dressing entirely (which is what I typically do anyway).

I am curious how much everyone typically spends on their weekly groceries. On a good week, we average about $100 (including alcohol) for our household of 2, though we occasionally feed friends. I tend to try out new recipes fairly often and we do love our cheese, so some weeks we blow the budget. My husband mentioned yesterday that he heard of a woman who can feed her family of 4 on $800 a year, I believe using coupons and very careful planning. That is $15 a week. *whistles*

Hunger Challenge Day #2


Day #2 has gone rather well. For breakfast, we had an egg, a small slice of homemade bread, most of a piece of bacon, and 1/3 of an orange. Light breakfast, but we had an unanticipated guest last night who stayed over, so we shared our meager breakfast with her. Our goal today was to try to incorporate some fruit and more vegetables into our diet. For snack, we had an orange, and for lunch we had leftover red beans and rice (which actually turned out more like jambalaya and was very tasty!). For dinner, I whipped up yet another lentil dish: Megadarra. Megadarra is the ultimate cheap and healthy food: 1 cup lentils, 1 cup brown rice, 2 cloves garlic, salt, pepper, and 2 whole caramelized onions, cooked separately and then baked in the oven. We served this with a spoonful of Greek yogurt over a bed of freshly washed lettuce leaves. We are going to split a pear for dessert in a bit.

One of the rules for this challenge is to not accept free food from friends and family. When I went to my volunteer job today (I volunteer 5 hours a week at a local women’s shelter), it turned out to be volunteer appreciation week. I accepted a slice of cake. I know it is not a huge transgression, but I felt that it somehow violated this rule. My husband broke down and partook in the free coffee at Microsoft. I also slipped and bought a cup of coffee at school today for a dollar, which I am adding to our $60 budget.

Hunger Challenge Food Breakdown

Here is the current breakdown of food. We have just under $28 left for the week, which gives me some leeway to pick up a few more vegetables and some tofu for tomorrow’s stir fry. For lunch tomorrow, one of us will have leftover lentils from Monday and the other will have leftover red beans and rice. Thursday, I think we’ll have leftover Megadarra for lunch and I’m still thinking of ideas for Thursday’s dinner: maybe a simple winter squash soup with some of the Greek yogurt.

All in all, we have so far thus avoided buying packaged or prepared foods, and overall we are eating fairly consistent with the way we normally eat. Our portion sizes are a bit smaller, we are more mindful of random snacking, and I am planning our meals a bit more than normal. I believe we’re going to pull this off with enough money left to buy a beer at the end of the week.

Hunger Challenge Day 1

Lunch Day 1

Today started out earlier than normal when I woke up an hour before my alarm and immediately panicked over what we would have for lunch. I haven’t done all of our grocery shopping yet, and only made a loaf of no-knead bread yesterday in advance. Using what I had on hand, I put together a simple lentil soup (enough for 4 servings if we add rice & zucchini to the leftovers) in 30 minutes. Here’s the breakdown of today’s meals: (more…)

Hunger Challenge: Preparation



Reference: I am participating in United Way’s 5-day Hunger Challenge, starting Monday.

I’ve been writing down meal ideas w/ ingredient lists and today I scoped out prices at Madison Market. If we use leftovers for most lunches, we should be able to pull this off w/out resorting to Top Ramen. (more…)

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