Thursday, September 30, 2010

Eco Challange Day 1

A lot of my friends and family have already heard the news - but for the next 15 days we are working as a family to take an Eco Challenge. As a family, we are challenging ourselves to live a more sustainable and lower impact lifestyle. Each and every day we are talking about ways that we can do this. 

This is a real tough one because I already feel that we do a lot of eco-friendly things so I want to try and improve on some things in the next few weeks...but also difficult because we are not in a position to make drastic improvements in the next two weeks like leave our cars behind (though we will be trying hard to drive a lot less). 

Why are we doing this? Well, aside from the obvious benefits to our earth and family - we are doing this because it is a major fundraiser for the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI). If you don't know about NWEI - I HIGHLY recommend talking a look at their site at - I have personally been a part of several of their discussion courses which have offered me and my family new insights into how to live better more sustainable lives - and have been forever changed by the people we have meet and discussions and articles that have educated us! I'll actually be trying to blog a bit about this over the next few weeks.

Back to the challenge. If you want to know more or help support NWEI then please take a look at our challenge page,there you can contribute even just a few dollars to help them in their mission. 100% of the funds we raise will go to NWEI as a tax-deductible donation to further their efforts to create a sustainable future for us all. All supporters who donate $35 or more will receive a free annual membership to NWEI too. (I'll be taking this deal and if you do plan to participate in future discussion courses this is a terrific deal).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hula Girl

A few weeks back my older daughter's school was having a luau at school. We were also looking for something to pass the time and so I put two and two together and searched the Internet for a fun craft. I came up with this super fun hula skirt made out of a recycled t-shirt!

The skirt is basically a large 4-5 inch bottom strip of the shirt folded in half. Then I cut ~1 inch strips across and let her STRETCH them way out. Then we cut little holes in the folded band and slip knotted the strips to hang down. Tied in a bow in the back and viola - a grass skirt. Shortly after that she started wearing the bottom shirt "band" around her neck - so I got the idea to cut out some flower shapes, cut a hole in the center and "string" up some flowers to make a lei necklace. I know these aren't the best instructions ever - but feel free to ask me more questions. It was so fun and if our Halloween was actually warm this would be the best costume ever. For now it makes for some really fun dress up dance cloths!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Learn a new skill

I would suspect most of you who read this realize that saving more...often means doing things yourself or at least investing your own time, sweat, etc.
So this post is simple - learn how to do something you don't already know how to do. Learn to knit, sew, cook, repair things....

For several years since starting my garden and doing lots of u-pick I have been dying to learn how to can. Most things I just look up on the Internet (seriously, where would we be without it these days), read up, then try it - but for some reason canning scared me to death. So I finally got up the guts to ask a friend to teach me this new skill! I had a blast. I have lots of yummy jam. I can't wait to try more.

I dare you - learn a new skill!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Where are we now...

I'm trying to get back into the swing of things but I thought I should update you. After a hectic summer filled with more highs and lows than I can post here we are on yet another bend n the road that we are traveling on as a family. Several weeks ago our younger child went back to daycare and this week Dad went back to work.

It was amazing to have dad at home for several months. I blogged about it a while ago and I'm still a bit sad when I think about it being over. I suppose this is our new age - one where job and financial security is harder to come by - one where families have to struggle a little bit harder to find work life balance. So though I'm a bit sad - I'm also feeling a lot grateful. Grateful for a family with the means to have food (good healthy food), a home, cloths, shoes, time together, a wonderful town, community, friends.... I could go on and on.

We will face new challenges both in time and finances - some different and some the same, but we will not change our journey to live more as a family on the values we hold dear - which will continue to include using, buying, spending less, treading less on the earth if we can, doing more with each other, with what we have, and continuing to learn more and share it as we do. I hope you continue to enjoy our crazy ride.

Recycle those batteries

While you are out taking old medications to the take-back sight....drop off those batteries you've got sitting around too. If you are anything like us you have a small box somewhere of used batteries or old rechargeable that just aren't well, charging anymore.

Join Call2Recycle in the challenge to recycle 1 million pounds of batteries by October 1st. Their site lets you plug in and find places to recycle them - turns out my own local Ace and Radio Shack - withing walking distance of my house both offer a place for me to take my batteries to be recycled. Yea!

Don't want to go out to recycle stuff - Earth911 has a whole list of mail-back options here and even list options for light bulbs, toner, and other items as well.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meatless Monday - Edamame

Our garden had been... well lets just say I'm so thankful this year that we have grocery stores. It has been a a colder than normal summer and the garden has suffered for it. Well, that and the fact that we have 2 kids.

Still, there have been a few plants that have made my summer happy. The way too many zucchini and the early artichokes and strawberries were again the early highlight of the summer...but here at the end - the item that made my week last week was our edamame.

Every summer I have a hard time getting it going with birds constantly pick at my seeds I'm amazed that I even have plants. Then magically at the end of the summer these little bushes make the sweetest dinner side with just a quick steam and a little salt. My kids love them and they are so they are the highlight of my meatless Monday post this week. You can put them in salad, have them as a side, put them in soup, add them to your meal (they are awesome added to burritos - really). And if you want to grow your own then next summer check out a few varieties sold to grow locally from places like Territorial Seeds.

Drug Take-Back Program

I have actually been thinking about this one a lot lately with all the recalls on baby Tylenol. I hate putting this kind of thing in the garbage and it is a definite no in the pipes! So, special thanks to Green Living Tips for posting this:

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced a nationwide prescription drug “Take-Back” initiative.

"DEA will be collecting potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs for destruction at sites nationwide on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, from 10 A.M.-2 P.M. local time. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked."

Follow this link to search for the location closes to you and be sure to take any old medicine you have around your house now!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Everyday More Or Less Crises

I have said several times before that I am not writing about living cheap. Though I like to find ways to save money, there are lots of blogs out there that can talk about coupons and deals way better than I can. In fact there are great blogs out there about natural living too (maybe a blog roll of blogs I follow will have to come soon).

My blog, at least in my mind, has always been about my everyday struggles and achievements to keep our family working towards our more or less values and goals. We are not poor (and for this every day I am grateful) and with two incomes we are likely to once again be upper middle class and hopefully be financially secure again (something most of America is struggling with - so again, a huge relief).

There are plenty of days where straying from the more or less lifestyle that we want for our family and for our environment is way too easy. Buying everything at target we need or want, eating out any place we please, going through “stuff” just to fill the time is a struggle still for my family. This is especially true in times of crises or lack of time which as any double working family will know – is about all the time (and unfortunately has been us lately).

So once again I find myself looking to slow down and think hard. To teach my children to see that “stuff” doesn’t satisfy and do look around the house at the 1000’s of items too many that are in it and see what we can do. To get out and enjoy life, or snuggle up and relax – to play with friends and family, share stories, and all pitch in to help make the family work…not just shop or throw things away.

I’m not going to say we haven’t been to target lately, or that we have implemented our vision and have the ultimate eco-hip-family (I'll have to blog latter about my daughters rant about not having enough books - not cloths or candy - but books :).... BUT I am going to blog over the next few weeks about a few of the things that we have found to do with our food or our stuff lately - even in the midst of change.

Look forward to:
  • Ode to Edamame
  • Our “half garden” family meatless Friday meal
  • The whole foods my family has tried and loved
  • Recycled t-shirt dress up
  • My adventures in making dryer balls
  • Looking back on how this all got started (this might have to be a blog series)
...And hopefully some other fun adventures with new recipes, crafts, and probably more family thoughts and struggles along the way.

Have a personal story you want to share? This doesn't have to just be me talking - feel free to let me know if you want to chime in!

Friday, September 10, 2010

When you are connected to your food...

When my family started down the path of looking to live our "more or less" lifestyle we were very blessed to come upon an amazing local meat buyers club through a friend. I have blogged in the past about our half a hog and the bond that my family has felt for our "farmer" for the last few years. My older daughter and several friends visited Abundant Life Farms just about this time last year and we have all lovingly cooked food from them and referred to this visit and the farm nearly weekly.

Sadly, tragedy has stuck this family and the local food movement itself with the loss of this farming couple (you can read a moving tribute to them here). I am so thankful to have known these people and shared in the food they tended. I care about their animals and family and am moved to tears when I think about the loss of Marilyn and Scott Jondle. This is not something I would have ever felt had I continued to purchase my meat from a grocery store.

I hope they are at peace - that their family finds peace - and that others will take up the movement where they left off. I am so honored to have been connected to them and if you are not connected to your food source now - I hope that the message you receive here is to do so! 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Meatless Monday - Anyone can do this!

I have been raving to my parents about the changes my family has been taking over the last few years.... spending more time as a family focused on less stuff, and more on what we eat and how we tread on this earth (yadda yadda - you know this part already). I sometimes wonder if they think we are "cute". As if we are going through a phase. But nowI think some it might actually be sinking in ;)

This week my mom has been staying with us to help out while daddy is away (another story for another day). This has been an amazing blessing and the fact that she is helping me with cooking and cleaning hasn't lead me to say one single thing about the food on the table (beggars can't be choosers - isn't that what they say). So man was I completely shocked by tonight's easy meatless meal - a la mom! I never would have dreamed that this one would have come from her - thanks mom.

Sausageless Sausages (from Trader Joe's) cut up and simmered in TJ's marinara sauce (frankly, my favorite pre-made from a jar). Spooned over a big plate of fettuccine noodles with a side of broccoli (frankly, I preferred mine mixed right in) and a little garlic bread for dipping. For the baby - a little cubed zucchini from the garden (still trying to get rid of this stuff) in some plane old tomato sauce and she was a happy camper too.

I may be taking my family on a crazy journey - but is sure was nice to have my mom join us this week!