Saturday, November 15, 2008

It figures when I can get from Navajo, AZ to Groom, TX on one tank, gas finally goes below $2 a gallon again.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Okay I’ve regained my simplistic composure over here, granted I’m still spending money like I have it to spend, but I also am a lot more focused on being able to find alternative solutions based on using items that I already own as well as creative holiday gifts (didn’t you know Christmas season started yesterday). I’m also working on clearing out the back of the freezer by finally thawing out all those old items and converting them to edible dinner—with the help of random late season peppers that are growing (no idea what kind they are but don’t look a gift pepper in the mouth). And also finally rounded up all the haz mat items in the house for the yearly trek to the recycling center. I’m really lucky to live in a community that has its own (pretty much) ‘no questions asked’ hazardous materials center that’s open 3 days a week, and while I try my best to avoid purchasing anything that may eventually become hazardous waste, sometimes it’s unavoidable—burned out light bulbs that came with the apartment, dead AA batteries, old and failing electronics, expired medications. At least I could take some pride in watching my neighbors bring in clearly-dug-out-of -the-ground car batteries.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

More lapsing...

. I’ve been a lapsed simplist lately. I know I should know better, and what’s even worse is that I have the time to devote to making conscious decisions. Not sure why I’ve decided to take the easy way out on numerous occasions. I figured after I stopped working 7 days a week, I’d be better able to focus my attention on making better decisions. But alas no. Instead of asking a friend if I could borrow (have) an old phone that they weren’t using or heading to Goodwill to see if they had a used one I could purchase, I headed to Target and thought a $5 cheap plastic phone was a better idea. Instead of taking time to look up the cat’s vaccination schedule and speaking up at the vet, I let her go ahead and give him his vaccinations at least 6 months earlier than needed and at full cost (remembering afterward that PetCo does them for considerably less.) I brought new foam cushions into the house to finish up the couch, forgetting the effect that the off-gassing fumes would have on me for months and months into the future. And on and on, the list goes. So starting here and now today, I’m going to refocus my attention. I have the time, there’s just no excuse for why I am not more mindful of my actions, especially in these troubled economic times.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Link of the Day: Junk Mail Gems

We’re all about creative reuse here at the Daily Dose, and yesterday I came across this site: Junk Mail Gems which “turns trash into treasure”. Now the best way to get rid of junk mail is to cut it off at the source by opting out of marketing mail and removing your address from their system…BUT, even with those tricks, there’s always going to be some junk mail that slips through. And what Gretchen from Minnesota has done here has created some great examples of upcycling (recycling a material to make something of higher quality than the original product): pins, magnets, wallets and jewelry created using recycled materials, and each piece is handmade and unique. Even nicer is the fact that she gives you hints on how the items are made and provides links and ideas on how you can recycle your own junk mail.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ballgame Week

So it apparently is “Lights Out” night while watching Game 4 of the ALCS… So I’m sitting over here in the dark waiting for the Red Sox to come back from a 3 run deficit. It’s gonna be a long 9 innings if they can’t come back and I have to sit here in the dark. I wonder how many people are actually also sitting watching in the dark as well… the website already has 105,000 registered participants (all probably excited about the prospect of winning a new TV that uses less energy too.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ballgame Week

This might all fall into the “every little bit helps” file. Caught a playoff game in Anaheim last week and noticed that the beer cups are now made from corn and considerably larger (more beer in the cup means less trips to the beer line… uh, and less cups!)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

'Take Me Out To The Ballgame' Week

To celebrate the baseball playoff season, I thought I’d round up a few attempts by the national pastime to “green up” their sport.
First, I caught this bright idea from the perfectly coifed & chiseled Anderson Cooper during the ALDS game 4 between the Red Sox and the Angels: As part of his “Planet in Peril” series he is trying to rally the viewers to turn their lights off during game 4 of the ALCS. But be sure to leave your TV on. Maybe someone mentioned the irony of this request, because doing a Google search, I can’t find anything about it online.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

We're Back

Well the ‘Daily Dose’ has been a little dark for the past few months what with our office’s mandatory ‘take the summer off’ policy, followed immediately by ‘get back to work to pay off those summer bills’. But we’re back up and running now and hopefully back on a regular posting schedule.

I’d be remiss if I let this weekend’s sad news go by without a mention. Anyone who knows me, knows that I have been a Paul Newman super-fan for many many years and the sad news this weekend that he had lost his battle with lung cancer is still touching my soul tonight. More than just celebrity ‘hero-worship’ Paul was a man who truly represented what I’m trying to extol here on the blog, in my book and with my daily actions. He was someone who did not just talk the talk. He put his money, his time and his reputation on the line for helpless children who are suffering from disease. He did it all with dignity and class. He did not live in a glass tower and look down those he was trying to help—he was there, in the trenches. He was a truly passionate individual that took a hobby for driving fast and turned it into a second career that delighted him until his final days. He was a truly brilliant actor—so good that I don’t think people truly realized his talents, thinking that maybe he was truly that roguish cad from Hud, or that sly trickster from The Sting. In fact, he is probably a little of each of the characters he played, but none is a complete picture of the man.

The world is a little sadder now that he is gone, but I hope that his legacy lives on. Thanks for the memories, pal.

(LA Times posted the official obituary here)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A little R n' R

So the blogger is off galavanting across the country for a few weeks this summer—probably not the most cost effective move when gas is averaging over $4 a gallon, but sometimes you just can't let life stop you from livin'. So I am off first for my first trip to the Pacific Northwest: San Fran, Portland and Seattle, then down to Utah and hopefully the midwest will dry out by the beginning of July so I can make my way across the plains to the east coast. I'll try to come up with some simplist observations while I'm on the road, but for now, please enjoy the musings of the Los Angeles Roaming Gnome instead. He's good comedy, and always seems to bring a smile to whomever he meets :)

Happy summer on and all, stay cool!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mid June updates!

So we’ve hit mid-June here in LA, and remarkably the weather has been fairly mild so far (hottest it’s gotten is about 90º but it cools down at night so it’s bearable). Been managing to ride my bike everywhere lately since I’m working at Disney this week, a straight shot down Buena Vista. Gotta somehow make up for the fact that I’ve got about 7000 miles worth of gas to buy in the next two months on the great American road trip, during the worst possible time…ever. My drinkin’ and swearin’ challenge this month is going pretty well—I have not had a diet coke since May and I’ve only had 4 beers total in 16 days. Swearing, well that’s another matter entirely. I catch myself every so often and slap myself on the wrist, but sometimes it’s just the only way to express oneself when navigating southern California freeways. Still got half a month to make up for it though.

Also sad to be leaving town, just as all my crops started coming up. Here is the very first jumbo cherry tomato of the year…the mini-cucumbers are coming in but won’t reach maturity until I leave town. Here’s hoping the sprinklers keep them all hydrated until I get back!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

12 Resolutions June: Vice-free for 30 Days

So in preparation for my upcoming job at the end of June working in Provo, Utah where the producers have requested that while staying on the campus of Brigham Young University we refrain from swearing, drinking alcohol, and smoking, I’ve decided to issue my own personal challenge to see if I can give up a few of my own personal vices for the whole month. The smoking ban is of course the easiest one for me, as I’d rather do pretty much anything rather than smoke. The swearing and the drinking might be a little tougher (hey, I’m a WASP, what can I say?) I’ll throw in a ban on Diet Coke too to keep me right with the Mormons.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Water Month: The LifeStraw

Came across this story on my favorite mental_floss: about the LifeStraw, an amazingly simple idea that truly could change the world. Basically it’s a straw that contains a filter that removes diseases and bacteria from water as it’s being used (it doesn’t filter out Giardia yet, but they’re working on it) Cost per straw? $3, which is more than most of the people who truly need the straw can afford. Here's hoping my economic stimulus check comes through soon so we can redirect those funds to get some of these devices out where they really need them. How wonderful is it that a simple little device could make such a difference?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

12 Resolutions May: That is not a sign of a healthy lawn.

We’ve been doing our own water conservation here at the Burbank bungalow—seems the reason our front lawn has turned to dried hay was my neighbor deciding the sprinkler timer needed to be unplugged without realizing what it was or without telling anyone that she had done so. So, while we’ve conserved some water (and her electric bill—[so she claims]) we’ve got a dead and crispy lawn that probably isn’t coming back this year. Finally realizing that the sprinklers weren’t on at all does have an added water conservation benefit: now I’m in charge, for the time being, of watering the lawn. The timer can’t decide to take the day off because it’s raining like I can (which believe it or not, it’s actually raining today. In May. In L.A. OMG, it actually just THUNDERED as I typed that!). It also called to light the fact that we were missing a sprinkler head and had created essentially a geyser that bypassed even the corner of the lawn and drained directly into the street. I was also able to redirect the sprinkler heads so they’re pointing We’ve got a little dribbling problem at one of the sprinkler turn-on valves, but it’s a work in progress people.

Monday, May 19, 2008

May Resolution: better late than never

I’ve been a little MIA in the blogosphere lately—too much work, too much heat and just not enough energy to do the little things that aren’t essential to day-to-day living. Here it is 3/4 through the month of May and I haven’t even had the wherewithal to come up with a monthly challenge. (Or possibly recap my April successes and failures). Temperature reads 87º here today, but feels much, much warmer in my kiln…er, apartment. But we’ve got a few weeks left on the month, so I probably can come up with a challenge that I might have even been observing all along. May apparently is some sort of water conservation month here in California (I think every month should be water conservation month, but we’ll go with it…) I’m a thirsty gal (I usually drink at least a gallon of water a day) so I know the importance of making every drop count. I’m usually pretty good about the conservation: recycle the gray water for non-edible plants, use the bucket in the shower to catch water to use for toilet flushing, water the crops early in the morning to prevent evaporation. This month’s challenge will be to find a way to cut back even more so, while still remaining hydrated.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

TLC should always be organic.

I’ve always known the hardest times to stay simplified are: when there’s an emergency, when we’re in a rush, when we’re on vacation, any time we’re distracted, when we succumb to peer pressure, and when our beliefs contradict each other. This week I would probably add another situation to the list: when time is of the essence. With two very dear people in my life in the hospital this week, I want to support them but not at the expense of my beliefs. I don’t want to just grab a bunch of flowers from the supermarket to express my “get well” wishes. So instead, I stopped and thought for a little bit about what I would appreciate if I was laid up for awhile. The organic bouquet was the first thing that was a must (

Next was to devise a pampering care package for my pal Marla, which was very cathartic to make because it made me think of all the wonderful things that she has done for me for so many years. It also feels good to make something that doesn’t betray my beliefs. Recipe for a natural and clear-conscience “get well soon” care package:
• Some nice Pomegranate white tea (lots of good anti-oxidants)
• Some Trader Joe’s lavender body oil (good for keeping skin moisturized)
• a few lavender sachets for under the pillow or in the clothes drawer (relaxing scent, without chemical fragrances)
• one of my infamous soothing eye pillows (relaxing & soothing; can never have enough of either)
• (shameless plug) a Simplicity Connection exclusive “simplify” tee (made in the sweatshop of my living room)
• a pink ribbon ball cap (donated by one Lesley Davis, paid for by donating much of her sassy blood & platelets)
• and my favorite item by far, the “Guess Who’s Kicking Cancer’s Ass?” mix CD. (Had to share the play list because I’m quite proud of it. ☺ (Clicking the graphic makes it larger, so it can actually be read!)

(P.S. Re: #22 on the CD: If you’ve never seen the Joss Stone/Melissa Etheridge Janis Joplin tribute from the Grammys 3 years ago, it’s an amazing representation of what kicking cancer’s ass can do: see it here on Youtube.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Two days ‘til Earth Day! Two days ‘til Earth Day! While I always advocate for spending more time outdoors, the TV’s (FINALLY) got a whole slew of green-themed programming to fill up one’s Tivo queue for those rainy Sunday afternoons. This article from gives a long list of upcoming environmental programs.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

More wire hangers!

One of my favorite days of the year is here: Saturday April 19th is National Hanging Out Day! Now I’m pretty fortunate I live in a climate where it makes it very easy to embrace the practice of line drying, but even if I didn’t live in sunny So-Cal, I would still try my best to avoid using the clothes dryer. It takes a little more creativity, but it can be done. Retractable hotel style clothes lines can be purchased for under $10 and fold up drying racks for under $20. I usually hang hangers on any available door jamb. The sun isn’t cooperating very much today, but I think the breeze is enough to get three loads of laundry dried before nightfall.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

7 Days 'til Earth Day

With Earth Day 2008 just a week away, I’m trying my darndest to come up with some new and exciting links for the occasion. First up: loving this Sierra Club re-imagining of the Rosie the Riveter poster and the links they’ve got on their “We Can Do It!” site.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Recently one of my best friends, a woman I have known and worked with for 10 years was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was heart-breaking news, but she is facing it with dignity and humor (her slogan is she’s going to “Kick cancer’s ass” and she’s blogging every little detail here:
Her announcement has got me thinking though, instead of “so many people have cancer” I start to think, why doesn’t everyone have cancer? It is a dirty and dangerous world we live in. Even if you try to be good, try to eat healthy, try to limit your exposure to toxins, there are just so many unknown variables that you can’t plan against. Here in California, we’ve got something called Prop. 65 or the Green Labeling Law: passed in the mid-80s, it requires that every building or product containing an chemical known to cause cancer must be labeled with a sign. I’ll admit when I first moved to California, it was a little intimidating passing those signs every day on my way into work…or into the grocery store… Today they’ve become so common that I barely notice them anymore. Every time you you’re your car with gasoline, you expose yourself to a carcinogen. Every time you purchase, use or come in contact with plywood, particle board or wood veneer, you expose yourself to a carcinogen. Livestock hormones in meat used for human consumption, prescription medications showing up in drinking water supplies, lead in children’s toys, the list goes on and on. When is the world going full realize that we are creating our own medical tragedies?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Today’s addition to the monthly packaging reduction goal: no more plastic utensils or paper plates at work. I head to the kitchen for some morning toast, not 10 feet from my office. I grab a paper plate and a plastic knife, both which will hit the trash can in less then 15 minutes. Worse yet, at that desk of mine, not 10 feet away, I have in my drawer, silverware and a heavy plastic dish that can easily be used as a plate. Since 95% of my meals lately are eaten at work, I can easily make a difference with the simple step of saying “no” to disposable cutlery and plates. (I’m also going to try to be better about composting my organic garbage… seems I only eat fruit now when I can find it in the work kitchen!)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

12 Resolutions March Wrap/ April intro

Well March has come and gone in a blur… I guess I’m lucky my life is reasonably simplified or else I would be drowning in a mess of chores, projects and deadlines. Oh, wait. Even with a simplified life, spring has ambushed me with too much to do, and not nearly enough time to do it. My March goal of avoiding Chinese products was slightly successful, in that I bought next to nothing for the entire month (one perk of working 70 hours a week, too tired to shop). Hopefully it will continue to make me conscious of what I buy, when I do need to buy.

My April goal is also pretty ambitious… I wanted to try to reduce my packaging footprint—ambitious because everything we buy is packaged. Shrink wrapping, paperboard boxes, impossible to cut open plastic containers. All one-time use, all destined for the garbage bin once we’ve ripped open the product. I know that glass is heavier than plastic and therefore a product in a glass container needs more energy to transport than the same product in plastic, but the recycling opportunities for glass are so much greater than plastic. That glass jar also is a lot safer to reuse for leftovers and storage. I’m pretty good about making sure all my plastic packaging makes it into the recycling bin, but how much of it actually eventually gets recycled? My goal this month is: "glass and paper-okay, plastic-no way".

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring has surely sprung here in L.A.—sprung forward to summer actually, as this weekend temps were in the mid-80's already. Air quality is still what I can only imagine as 95% pollen but hopefully my body will adjust soon and put an end to this 2 week-long allergy attack. Managed to get out for a good quick 2 hour hike in the hills this morning—so unusual to see the hills so green. I know that won't last much longer with more 85º days. Crops are coming up, well something's coming up. At first I believed it the seeds I planted—basil, pansies, cucumbers, lemon balm—but the seedlings all seem to look suspiciously the same in every pot (the hazards of making your own compost, invariably what you thought was dead last year is back after a winter hibernation in the worm bin.) And finally, we have what seems to be some sort of lover's serenade outside—each evening at around 11:30pm, a bird shows up and begins his call and answer—so loud and clear you'd think it was in the room with you. What is most unique is that this bird changes his call over and over, repeating each call only about 5 times before moving onto a completely new call. Ornithologists, assist!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Reading List: "Stirring It Up"

Just finished reading Gary Hirshberg’s new book “Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World”… Hirshberg is the founder and CE-Yo of the Stonyfield Farms Yogurt empire and long time fighter of the good fight in terms of organic farming, recycling and all-around ecological goodness.
Hirshberg is positive about our ability as a society (and specifically business owners) to turn things around and I think that’s an important trait for this type of book. Too much of the ecological reading of late is all doom and gloom without positive solutions to back it up. He presents other companies that are also making headway into making a difference (many of the usual suspects are recapped here) Clif Bars, Patagonia, Newman’s Own, and Timberland but a few others that one might not expect like WalMart, who have come a long way in their struggle to no longer be deemed the root of all evil. Overall, a pretty good quick read with positive themes and important details on why we should all take a little more interest in how companies do business in the age of climate change.

Friday, March 14, 2008

OCA Report on 1,4-dioxane

A difficult article to read today in the LA Times, but something that shouldn’t be ignored: The issue at hand is the Organic Consumers Association, an independent research group discovered that out of 100 “natural” products tested, 47 of them contained 1,4-dioxane, a compound that the EPA has declared a probable human carcinogen because it causes cancer in lab animals. The compound is not intentionally added to products like soaps and shampoos, but is “a byproduct of a process used to soften harsh detergents”. I got the feeling that it was written out of spite (the whole thing has the tone of “ha ha, look we busted all these so-called natural products.) What’s worse, the products listed in the article are all by reputable companies, companies that fight the good fight and that would have (or should have) known better than to let something like this happen. What’s even worse is that because these companies tout themselves as being so environmentally friendly, they will be scrutinized worse than a public official caught with his pants down.

Seventh Generation has already posted a response to the report on their site.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Recycle, Upcycle or No-cycle

Found this link from the good folks at Terracycle, bottlers of the finest worm tea that money can buy:

They have partnered with Clif Bar, Stonyfield Farms, Capri Sun, and Honest Kids to start a pilot grassroots recycling program for energy bar wrappers, yogurt cups, juice drink pouches, and plastic bottles. Each type of material is allocated so many spots for people to sign up to be delivered recycling boxes. (I tried to get in on the energy bar program, since I eat about 300 Clif Bars a year, but they had already filled their 500 member quota by the time I got there. Waiting list here I come.) As incentive, each item submitted for recycling earns .02 to .06 cents for the non-profit organization of your choice. I may track down someone on the list and offer up my collected wrappers, just to get them out of the house. The collected energy bar and juice pouch recyclables are actually "upcycled" into (fashionable?) bags, the yogurt cups are turned into small planter cups, and the 20oz plastic bottles are used by Terracycle to package their worm tea for sale. In fact, while they claim the program as "recycling" and keeping the waste out of landfills, it's actually only delaying the disposal. (Eventually that "graffiti painted flower pot" will have to be disposed of. And they also don't mention anything about what they do with the cups they receive that cannot be used. Direct to landfill then?) A good effort, but this program seems like it's merely something that they can trot out to children to make think recycling is a better idea than conservation.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Oopsie. After judging Sara Bongiorni for tailoring her own China boycott to not include gifts bought by friends, I’m guilty of the same thing. Wanting lamps for our new office, I sent my friend out for them and she came back with two floor lamps and a few packs of CFL bulbs… all made in China. Alas, alack, March’s goal is going about as well as February’s.

Monday, March 10, 2008

March Resolution: Keeping track of where it all comes from

So I’m going to be a little retroactive with my China boycott and do a little check in with my (non-food) purchases for the last 2 months:
Bicycle rack for car: remarkably made in USA
Ikea pillow cases: Ethiopia (not very well made, but hard for even me to turn down at 50 cents each)
Thread (3 different brands): Mexico, USA, and Germany
Cell phone ear piece: China, naturally (there may be no electronics produced anywhere else)
Tin toy box with a handle: China, of course (anything with a cartoon character on it is definitely off the slow cargo container from China)
Northface backpack: Vietnam
Target rug: China, (I’m giving myself a little slack on this one, since it’s made of bamboo, and that’s an indigenous product of China…okay, who am I kidding, it’s a stretch.)
Gap Jeans: I had my hopes, but Made in Hong Kong still equals Made in China. No indication of where the fabric was made, but still hoping since the majority of denim is American made.
CVS brand Band-aids: no point of origin, distributed from Woonsocket, RI
4 packets of seeds: Colorado

Saturday, March 08, 2008

12 Resolutions February Wrap/ March intro

February wrap up:
Well it’s very evident that I am a horrible vegetarian. I started the month off and only 2 days later, a slip. I probably slipped about 4 times before I got to the final week of the month, and there is where it all went off the rails as they say…it was just too easy not to think about what I was eating. (I think I finished the last day with a big bowl of Texas chili, but hey, when in Dallas. I'll have it known, I had the tuna when we ate at Morton's.) So I might revisit this goal later in the year to see if I can try to be better at it, but for now, a definite failure. But March is another day, isn’t it Scarlett?

So March’s goal is roughly based on Sara Bongiorni’s book “A Year Without ‘Made in China’.” It was her decision to try to survive a full year without any product purchased for her family bearing that ubiquitous ‘Made in China’ label—a fairly easy undertaking for me who doesn’t shop often and lives alone, but she felt overwhelmed by having to feel like she wasn’t depriving her two children (both under the age of 5). In fact, I disagree a bit with her methods: It is slightly cruel to spend a child’s life telling them that toys are great and wonderful and then all of a sudden change your mind and say “Nope, no more China toys,” cutting them off cold turkey. And then parade them up and down a toy store aisle showing them all the things they can no longer have. When her kid cries to her and asks her to have 2 more children and tell them when they’re born and not when older that China things are bad, even a four-year old gets it. Because nearly every toy sold in America is manufactured in China. Last year’s lead paint scare has probably done little to change the fact that toys are Chinese.

The other issue I have with her boycott is that she is boycotting products that are indigenously Chinese: she feels guilty that she overlooked that Mandarin oranges are Chinese, which seems silly to me—the point of the boycott was to show how China has taken over production of so many products that were originally produced in other places, as far as I can tell, Mandarin oranges are exclusively Chinese.

The Bongiorno’s boycott has made them more thoughtful, more conscious of their shopping habits and that is exactly what I am going to do with my own attempt at a Chinese boycott this year. I’m going with a cold turkey boycott for the month of March, and hopefully continue with a “buy China when it is the only practical option” in the future. But I plan to keep my purchasing traits unaffected: the best way to stay free from China products or (other sweatshop goods) is to stay a conscious consumer: buy only what you need, buy from reputable companies, buy for durability, dual function and take care of it once you get it home!

Friday, February 15, 2008

No More Mylar Balloons...evuh!

I love my local recycling center here in Beautiful Downtown Burbank, so when they send out little flyers with my electric bill I am always sure to read them through and through. (That’s how we got our free energy-saving replacement torchiere lamp and our free worm bin!) This month’s insert alerted me to something I never even considered before: the fact that 20% of all my city’s power outages are due to Mylar balloons. When they escape into the air, if the metallic coating comes in contact with power lines, pop, pop, fizzle, fizzle, out go the lights. (It’s a miracle yesterday’s gale force winds + curb-side Valentine’s Day cottage industries didn’t shut the whole city down.) My pilot friends also attest to the danger of the balloons if they get sucked into plane engines or stuck to the windshield. So on second thought, how about a nice bouquet of organic daisies instead?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

12 Resolutions January Wrap/ February Half-time Report: January

Well it’s been a busy few weeks, and already the shortest month is half over. First an update on my January goal, despite a few screw ups (credit card late fee, parking ticket) and a few uncharacteristic splurges (snowboarding weekend) I managed to cut my spending by not just the 25% I wanted to achieve, but a full 30%. All I can say is, that if I can pare down my meager spending habits that much in just one month, anyone can do it. (I guess bringing my lunch from home every day really does add up!)
As far as my February goal of becoming a vegetarian, I’ve been less, shall we say, successful. Day two and I was already ordering a Chinese chicken salad (at a Thai restaurant, nonetheless). A few days later, a bad day sent me right into the arms of my favorite meal ever (Lala's Argentinian Grill Ensalada Melrose, more chicken) and a few days later a moment of weakness on production and fried chicken strips were totally worth the lapse (in for a penny, in for a pound, I had myself a few pieces of 3-meat sub sandwich that day too.) But since then, I think I’ve been more dedicated to the goal. It’s been a struggle, I don’t usually eat that much meat, but I really enjoy the option of having meat if I so desire. That said, I’m gonna try my best to stick it out for the next 14 days and 10 hours (but who’s really counting). But no one should be surprised when they find me in the drive-thru of In-n-Out Burger at 12:01a March 1st.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

An announcement today from the EPA, that starting September 1, 2008, car dealers will be required to list the fuel economy AND the average yearly fuel cost for new vehicles on the dealership stickers. Also taking effect are more realistic miles per gallon calculations, which use real world travel to gauge more accurately fuel efficiency. These new practices are designed to help remove "sticker shock" so you know what you're getting yourself into when you're shopping for a new ride.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

12 Resolutions: January update / February Kickoff

End of my first month of resolutions… and I’m nervous to tally up the final number (probably have to wait a few days before the big reveal to allow all my bills to reconcile). I think I did a lot of little things that might add up: paying cash for gasoline saved bank fees every time (and the usual place is cheaper because they only accept cash or debit cards anyway). I implemented a new plan of power for my electronics, plugging them all into a power strip that I can shut off all day until I want to use it, eliminating “phantom loads”, where things like the TV and VCR continue to draw power even when they’re turned off. And paying cash for everything really makes you much more conscious of how much you spend. It’s really easy to throw down your credit card, but it’s a true test if you have to plan your purchases based on what you can afford with what’s in your wallet. I’m gearing up for month 2 of the 12 Resolutions, which is going to be an attempt at going vegetarian. It’s probably not an accident that I picked the shortest month of the year to give it a try, because it’s no secret I do enjoy a good In-n-Out Double Double…and ham sandwiches…and the occasional hot dog…and all things chicken. But the truth of the matter that meat for food production is environmentally intensive—it takes 12 times as much land to raise cattle than it does to grow wheat. It takes 3,500 gallons of water to grow a hamburger and livestock …uh “tailpipe” emissions are one of the leading causes of global warming. So I ask myself every once in a while, “What would it take for me to stop eating meat?” I don’t eat nearly as much as the average American, (who consumes 111 pounds of meat a year) but if I’m eating out, chances are I’m heading to the pollo column on the menu. So we’re gonna give it a try for 29 (damn you leap year!) days and see if we can manage it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dateline: Tuscon, Civano Kids Go Green!

This dispatch out of Tucson, my very own cousin’s residential community Civano has had their elementary school named the “Greenest Grade School in America” by All detergent! Now I’m not the biggest fan of liquid detergents, especially because of the fragrance issue. And their new product Small and Mighty will probably compound the problem (most people use way more than the recommended dose of detergent, which leads to over-perfuming of clothing, with the smaller bottle, extra-concentrated detergent will lead to even more fragrance). BUT…I do applaud their commitment to making an environmental difference (smaller bottles mean less weight for transporting, which means less oil used to transport). All’s contest to find the greenest grade school may just be a publicity stunt, but Civano won $50,000 for their school. What makes them the greenest? Civano collects and recycles rain water, composts anything they can, grows their own organic fruits and veggies, uses solar energy, the school is located within the community so kids can easily and safely walk to and from school, among other solutions. Congrats to cousin Aidan and all his classmates at Civano Elementary! (Photo borrowed from the Civano blog at, courtesy of Simmons B. Bunton from January 2007... couldn't resist this beautiful pic of Civano to illustrate how beautiful it is!)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

12 Resolutions Half-time Report: January

So we’re midway through the first month of my 12 Resolutions plan, and I thought to keep myself accountable, I would do a check in. My goal of cutting my spending by 25% seems to be going okay… I figured the best way to keep it a conscious reminder was to force myself to pay cash for everything. The mere act of having to schlep to the ATM every other day in order to withdraw money is enough to convince anyone stay home and read a library book. I do find myself putting off buying things that I know eventually will need to get (wedding presents, a full tank of gas) and that feels slightly like cheating. I’m very excited that I brought my flat tire back to where I purchased it 6 months ago since the fix ended up costing me nothing. I also have been digging through the freezer to eat those deeply buried leftovers. And I could have stayed home last weekend, but opted to go snowboarding with friends, an expense that wasn’t necessary, but just makes this challenge a little more difficult to achieve. I’ve got some tricky purchases to include on the back half of the month: a check up for my car, a parking ticket I shouldn’t put off, and that freezer’s getting pretty empty!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Move over SmartCar, Here comes Air Car!

I'm always indebted to the braniacs over at mental_floss for culling the best of the web into bite-sized pieces for me. One of this week's tasty tidbits is info on "The Air Car", a super small vehicle that runs on ...air, compressed air to be exact. US production of the MDI Air Car is a ways off, they'll begin manufacturing and distributing in Spain and more importantly India, where a mass-produced pollution-free vehicle could make drastic changes to the air quality. Click here for the overview at mental_floss.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Had to post this water conservation solution list courtesy of The Onion!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I think I've come to truly appreciate a smog-free day here in the San Fern Valley. After a torrential downpour this weekend (of the "Noah, get your boat" variety) the sun has emerged today and it is cool, crisp and clear. I see mountains I never knew existed. The light shades the hills like an Ansel Adams photo in full color. I stand outside and can actually see snow caps on the mountains only 10 miles away, and wonder if there will ever be a day when I will take a smog-free day for granted because they are no longer rare.