Tuesday, December 29, 2009
You can mail your donations to:
St. Jude's Ranch for Children
Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude's Street
Boulder City, NV 89005
Friday, December 25, 2009
This year I decided quietly that I was going to truly 'skip Christmas'. Aside from the 'avoid the malls', no decorating, no holiday cards, I wanted no pressure to be anywhere, to do anything… just be. And when you step back, you see how overbearing Christmas has become. It's now a cliché to say “we've forgotten the true meaning of the holidays” because the “true meaning” still involves commitments and traditions that can easily spiral into too much to do, not enough time to do it and not worth the stress in the long run. So this year, I said 'no' to Christmas and 'yes' to peace and simplicity instead.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Thursday, November 05, 2009
I'm a sucker for any book that poses a year-long eco-challenge to itself (See my reviews for: Plenty, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Not Buying It (okay I meant to review this one, but it slipped through the cracks), A Year Without 'Made in China') but what makes Beavan's book unique, is that he combines all of the challenges posed by these other books and tries them all at once. While living in New York City. With a toddler. A grand undertaking indeed. Now I realize there are people out there thinking “what a presumptuous jerk! There are people who live like that every day, not because they want a challenge, but because they have to.” But the issue is that so many people do not want to consider live as he does—eating locally, not driving or taking mass transit, not using electricity (!!), (there was also some note about also not using toilet paper but it wasn't revealed how exactly they went about this). With the title of the book 'No Impact', it's pretty big boast, but on only page 22 he admits that having 'no impact' is actually impossible, but what you learn slowly is that he can lessen his impact so much that he can make up for what waste and destruction he does create with simple actions like picking up litter along the riverfront. He won me over by not only talking the talk but walking the walk. Shutting off the electricity? That's a pretty bold maneuver. Sure I've got the worm bin chewing up my scraps and I can make less than a plastic grocery bag full of trash a month, but this guy washed his own clothes in the bathtub and read by candlelight for months. And that's pretty cool. He's a minor celebrity now, with his blog and his documentary but I'm happy to support anyone who preaches the gospel of needing to simplify your life no matter where you live and finding creative solutions to do so.
Look, I like to consider myself a fairly environmentally sound person (in the grand scheme of things) but I also don't pretend that I'm something I'm not: we all have our vices and that's a great thing about simplicity-it's not about deprivation. It's about being conscious of your actions and not allowing those vices to get out of hand. I love In-n-Out Burger, and I don't want to imagine giving it up, so instead, I use it as a treat, a reward. I also try to keep learning about creating less waste and lowering consumption and staying mindful about my actions. I also am working on my strength as an activist, so that someday I'll convince those In-n-Out folks organic meat and vegetables are the way to go, or to recycle their paper waste, or to have non-plastic options for eat in service.
Monday, November 02, 2009
Finally was able to track down this little book from the editors of grist.org (“Gloom and Doom with a Sense of Humor” or “A Beacon in the Smog” I can't figure out which tag line of theirs I like better…and no I'm not reviewing just because it'd be nice for them to return the favor, it's all altruism right now, baby.) Originally published in 2007, it's packed with no-nonsense tips on how to start and get through your day a little greener. Even a crusty old broad like me who has “picked all the low hanging fruit” of environmental tips out there was able to find some peaches in this quick (and very funny!) read. Even came across a few “oopsies” that I'll be getting into in later posts once I get my eco-wagon back on the tracks. And even if you don't have time for another book on your nightstand, check out their daily dispatches at grist.org.
Friday, October 30, 2009
So I decided to try and up my Maine karma (and crotchety-old-lady-in-training status) another quart by giving a little purpose to my morning walks and doing a little litter removal. I needed just the right tool, because while I may be simplified, I may be minimalized, I sure as hell ain't touching the McDonald's cup you used as a spittoon, mister. Enter, THE GOPHER™. You know those deelies that old ladies use to get cereal off the top shelf at the grocery store? (Endorsed by the late-great Billy Mays himself!) Perfect for picking up 75 empty cigarette boxes without having to resort to the old “nail on a stick trick”. I'm just wondering how many bags of trash I have to pick up to undo the guilt that I had to go to Wal*Mart to get it!
**Note, “The Gopher” is no longer available, but “The Reacher” (it "Reaches So You Dont [sic] Have To") is…and they're exactly the same product. I smell drama here…
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
• Home Depot accepts CFL bulbs and rechargeable batteries
• Brita has a plastic filter return program. See their website for mail back options.
• Some US Post Offices have mail back envelopes for small electronics and ink cartridges
• Nike recycles old athletic shoes
• Staples, Ikea, Best Buy all have recycling programs for ink cartridges, rechargeable batteries, small electronics.
Thanks to the latest version of the Burbank Public Works newsletter for these tips!
Friday, October 16, 2009
WATER WATER EVERYWHERE
So I'm not gonna lie, the water here smells like rotten eggs. There, I said it. I was left a note saying it's “Safe for drinking, cooking and bathing…but here's 25 gallons of bottled water just in case that's your preference.” I'm going for the drinking and cooking with bottled and hoping if I smell of sulfur everyone here is too polite to mention it. Bummer that in the land that provides water to the eastern seaboard, I can't even filter to drink what comes out of the tap.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
What many people don't realize is just how big New York state is…on this trip, I have driven more miles in NY than I have in Colorado or Nebraska. I did a double take as I crossed the state line after leaving Erie… 450 miles to New York City?! The additional wonder of the New York Thruway is the deceiving toll ticket you get as you enter the state: wow, only $3… but that only gets you to Buffalo. They have graciously waived the toll fees around the Buffalo area, but continue on through and that toll ticket the size of a Pop Tart is back in your hand. And while other states have adopted the exit number equals the road mileage, the NY Thruway has 59 exits spread over that 450 miles. There were also so many vehicles with Ontario license plates I wondered if Canada was closed for the weekend. Not even the promise of the end of the journey could make this day finish soon enough. It rained from start to finish and worst of all, the only traffic I encountered in almost 3,000 miles was on the last 30 miles of today as I sat on the Mass Pike and inched toward my friends and family.
DISPATCHES FROM THE ROAD: Day 7
And on the 7th day, we will rest… eventually. Just a short jaunt up the Maine Turnpike and we are home for the month. One of those beautiful New England fall days that make you gasp from how beautiful it is-rainbow of foliage colors, backed with a bright blue sky peppered with just-the-right amount of fluffy clouds. And for the first time in a long time, I can breathe.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Nice to awake to a fairly easy day of driving-and break it up in the middle with lunch in Chicago with my sister. The “I” states are smooth sailing-hit cruise control and sail on through to Ohio… well stopping for tolls of course. Wish I was able to order my automated toll transponder in time for this trip, they save so much time when you're on the road and plus it helps take your mind off how much it actually costs you in tolls when you're not forking over the money at every toll booth. (FYI cost of tolls from California to Illinois? $0. Cost of tolls from Illinois to Maine? $52.05. Maybe California wouldn't be in such debt if we started charging the people who drove more. Just sayin'.)
Day 5 (Elkhart, IN to Erie, PA)
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Speaking of which, I popped the audio book of On the Road into the iPod and got to listen to Matt Dillon read to me for 2 straight days about the Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity. Not a bad way to pass the empty miles. Nebraska is amusing in that you will drive over 400 miles of interstate and not see one vanity license plate… until you get to Omaha, and then it seems everyone has one.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Yes, it’s true, I’m a big old National Parks dork. I read all of Nevada Barr’s Ranger Anna Pidgeon mystery novels. I’ve got the handy-dandy little passport book that I can have stamped at every park I visit. I’m kinda proud of this fact, which probably makes me an even bigger dork. So imagine my glee for the premiere of Ken Burns’ 6 part documentary series: The National Parks: America’s Best Idea on PBS this week (all episodes are also available online as well). Oh how excited a NPS dork like myself is. Say what you want about Burns’ style (that it never changes, that he only seems to interview old white male writers for their opinions, that he’s a narcissist for having his name attached to the title of all his documentaries), he does spin a damn good narrative. And there’s something about his technique of taking photographs that are well over a century old and making them more beautiful than anything the most current and most expensive equipment could take.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
For your reduction in junk mail: visit
Direct Mail Association’s Page: (Good site that covers a whole lot of unsolicited mail that you may be getting. You can select what type of mail you want to get (or not get) magazine offers, credit card offers, etc.)
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 07, 2009
Huzzah! After much ado, we are finally in print! Wasn’t quite expecting that it would take 9 years of blood, sweat and tears, but looking back I wouldn’t change how it was done at all. Self-publishing has allowed me to keep control of my creation (and doing my own book layout taught me a new skill that I could probably turn into a small sideline business). It’s a great feeling to finally see something you’ve worked so hard on come to fruition. And as the big show winds up it’s run, I hope to be better about updating and organizing my thoughts. Lots of time off on the horizon, so watch this space!
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Followed by what to do if you lose a head light:
And last but not least—in fact this one is actually pretty aesthetically pleasing, and I can see Restoration Hardware mass-producing these for next season:
All of these ideas are great because not only do they keep a product that might otherwise be thrown away still working, but they use materials on hand to make the fix. The ultimate in recycling!
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
It’s been a good week for ‘playing things by ear’, another favorite benefit of having a simplified life. Granted I’m quasi-unemployed this week, but having a simplified life makes being quasi-unemployed a lot less stressful. So when I hear a friend is in town for only 24 hours, it’s not an effort to hop in the car and grab a quick lunch down by the beach. And if I needed to kill some time, I can always do my daily exercise by taking a walk on the sand. (I also delight that I actually travel with a few bathing suits in my gym bag and sunscreen in my purse, so that I could have spent the whole day out there, if it had not been so windy) Always traveling with a book makes waiting in line or having my oil changed not so much of an inconvenience any more. And preparing myself for having to spend the day at jury duty with enough projects to keep me entertained for a good 8 hours means it’s a nice surprise that I can hang out at the Central Library (one of my favorite places) when I’m released early.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
This homesteading thing is going pretty well—after being out of town for 11 days and just allowing the crops to get watered by the sprinklers, look at this! I made lettuce! (see it there, it's on the far left) Snap peas are coming up and the tomato plant is about 5 times the size it was when I left. I could get used to this lazy gardener thing.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
• After trying a bunch of times to get rid of several years of calcited water on an antique piece of Spode China, after scrubbing and scrubbing, to no avail, just simply submerging it in a bath of vinegar for less than 12 hours, the residue wiped right off. (Saw the same cup and saucer on eBay for $32!)
• Inspiration struck while feeling “facially congested” tonight: My pores feel so stuffed up, that my forehead is literally lumpy! Knowing that sugar is a great facial scrub, I mixed it with about 2 tsps of Dr. Bronner’s soap and made a nice paste to scrub the dead skin away and open the pores. I don’t know why more facialists don’t use sugar in their treatments, your skin never felt so soft!
• Another beauty tip—adding a teaspoon (or two) of olive oil makes any body, hand or foot lotion even better. One use and I already have smoother skin.
• I hate, hate, HATE, cleaning my bathtub—doing the dishes used to be my least favorite chore, but I’ve learned to enjoy the Zen-ness of dishwashing and there’s also the fact that it is a productive chore—you start with dirty dishes, you end with clean dishes. With the darn bathtub, it just never seems to get fully clean, unless you start with all new tiles. So after ripping out the old crusty black grout, I wondered what the best way to keep the new grout looking white and clean. The answer was so simple and there all along: I’ve been a tub squeegee-er for years, but everyone knows that squeegees get most of the water, but not all of the water. The solution, squeegee first, then wipe down with an old towel. So easy, why didn’t I think of it years ago?
Thursday, March 26, 2009
*GASP* I was floored. Too floored to even storm out shouting, "That's highway robbery," dramatically, with a flourish of my cape. So I handed over my money and drank that bottle of water (at 16 cents an ounce), in 2 minutes flat (it was a 1.5 mile walk from home to the airport) and resolved never again. I headed to the restroom and promptly filled my aluminum bottle and the empty Crystal Geyser bottle with tap water. And you know what? It tasted just fine. I didn't grow gills on the plane.
Spending the week on location in New York, I put my new tap water only theory to the test, where, it didn't matter so much because New York City has one of the most highly rated municipal water supplies in the country. Of course, I was lucky enough to have someone running to the spigot for me every hour to refill my bottle, so first chance I got, I picked up a new SIGG 1 liter bottle... which is almost as light as a plastic bottle, is washable, reusable and a fashion statement and conversation starter. The $25 price tag is small potatoes, especially when I can recoup that cost in less than 10 bottles of airport water.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Reading List: "Greasy Rider: Two dudes, one fry-oil-powered car, and a cross country search for a greener future." (Greg Melville, 2008)
The whole book feels a little thin—it feels that he had to fill it up with a lot of side trips that had nothing to do with the challenge (who cares if a college friend they visit turns out to be gay?) The “errands” that Iggy challenges Greg with are interesting enough (a trip to Google headquarters would make any eco-nerd salivate) but we’re still left wondering what happened to the bio-wagon after the cross country trip. It’s a nice story that does prove it can be done, you just have to WANT to do it; to quote Iggy “…if two goobers like us can actually get in a car and drive across the country without fossil fuels or putting a lot of carbon into the air, the answers for sustainability are easier than people think.”
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Saturday, February 28, 2009
While she insists that their lives were more than planting, hoeing, weeding, watering, picking and canning, the reader is left somewhat in doubt. (There are just not enough hours in the day to hold down a full time job and support a farm this size.) But for the average American with a small corner of land or room for a few containers for gardening, it is an otherwise inspiring tale of truly creating your own food supply.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
For a farmers' market near you: click here for the searchable site.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
While being waylaid with a chest infection, I’ve had plenty of time to sack out on the couch and catch up on some light reading. Well, and with the absence of any fluffy tomes on my reading list, instead I picked a couple of “where my stuff is from” books. Both “Where Am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories and People That Make Our Clothes” (Kelsey Timmerman, 2008) and “Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff” (Fred Pearce, 2008) give the reader an insight into where and how everyday items are created. Both books covered “sweatshop” conditions but both challenged the notion that “sweatshop” is always a bad concept. Timmerman traveled to China, Bangladesh, and Honduras to uncover how his favorite items of clothing were made. What I liked most about his book was the photographs and stories he included about the real workers. And while the conditions that these workers are exposed to are what we consider low pay, long hours and toxic working conditions, he debates that if there was a boycott on the items that they make, these people would have even less than they have now.
Pearce’s book expands the search from clothes to other consumer goods such as coffee, computers, where his trash goes and even where his wedding ring came from. His book also opened my eyes to things I never knew existed (did you know there is a gold mine in South Africa that has supplied more gold to the planet than anywhere else on earth and that at any time there are 60,000 men working underground?) but also changed my mind on conventional thinking: (they have noted that it takes less energy to make virgin paper from trees than it takes to recycle old paper into new, that if everyone on the planet emitted as much carbon as the average Chinese person, there would be no climate crisis, that around polluted sewage drains there seem to be a higher abundance of thriving wildlife as compared to clean areas, and that if current population rates continue, the only population crisis will be that there are not ENOUGH people to support the human race.)
Both books are good examples on why we should never stop learning about where our “stuff” comes from and where it goes to once we’re done with it.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
FLOW is a riveting documentary that covers all aspects of the global water crisis—from chemical pollution that is causing fish and frogs to spontaneously change sexes, to the corporate take over of water supplies, to large scale dams redirecting the natural flow of rivers for greed of the rich, to lack of access to clean and safe drinking water in the world’s poorest communities (where contaminated water kills more people than war or AIDS). “Water=money=power” is evidenced by the fact that only 3 major corporations (Suez, Vivendi and Thames Water) control not only the global water supply, but also created and control the World Water Council, an organization that has taken upon itself to be voice of authority on global water supply. We as Americans rarely think about where our water comes from and where it goes to, but in less than 10 years many American aquifers are in serious danger of being completely drained. Could you imagine having to wait in line for hours with a bucket for the mere possibility of clean water? It may be a reality if drastic changes are not made to our consumption habits. Another staggering statistic: Nestle owns SEVENTY percent of the bottled water brands (such names as Poland Spring, Ozarka, Deerfield Park, and Arrowhead) and supplies these brands by setting up in local communities, extracting the water from the ground and then selling back to consumers. I hope this documentary widens the discussion of who really owns water and how we all need to change our habits to keep it clean and plentiful.
Sign the petition for “the right for water”.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
So now the ottoman sits in my living room, and I convince myself that it is a nice addition to the space, damage and all. It serves as a reminder to be more accountable for my actions. I’ve also decided that I need to fill it up with a comparable amount of “stuff” to get rid of to justify its arrival. I’m also going to try to save the comparable amount of money spent, since now I still have to get another wedding present!