Saturday, October 25, 2008

simplify!


simplify-look around-observe nature. see in nature the source of art, of craftsmanship of truth, of the beautiful.
~henry david thoreau

Friday, October 24, 2008

frugal friday:: 1

i have a had chance this week to just sit on the couch and think a bit. it has been so necessary just to slow down.

i have been thinking a weekly series of posts might be fun, so i am beginning with what i know and love and what might serve all of us best in this sad economy:

frugal fridays

i am going to begin by sharing today just some of the things we actively did this week that have saved us money.
  • we baked (two types of cookies and 4 loaves of bread), made yogurt, and made meals from scratch, trying 2 new recipes using ingredients we already had.
  • completed 3 more DIY projects for the house.
  • i joined e-rewards through an invitation from upromise, and i completed several surveys for gift card rewards.
  • we went out to a group family dinner, using a gift certificate from restaurant.com.
  • we called to cancel one of our cell phones and instead, we were offered a buy-one-get-one-free (b1g1f) deal, so we still have our two phones, but at the cost of one (savings of $25/month).
  • we worked on some homemade holiday gifts.
  • we did some mending.
  • we hung all of our laundry to dry.
  • we accepted from others...we received a box of yarn, a tortilla press, and a pair of used robeez shoes for free on freecycle. we received a baby gate on loan.
  • we used the library.
  • we remembered to make coffee at home and bring it, instead of treating ourselves to a cup at the coffee shop.
  • we made the coffee using our reusable coffee filter.
  • we washed and vacuumed the car at home.
  • M biked part way to work part of the week.
  • we bathed the kids every other day, together.
in general, we have been brainstorming together how we can use less, make more for ourselves, and use what we already. you know that quote? use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.

and how about we end the week with some freebies?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

thursday

coloring cards for friends. note the recycled-dada-shirt smock. the cards are from the stubby pencil studio.

i just had the best date i have had in ages. with my daughter. (sorry, baby, but it was the best date, since it has been awhile since you and i had a date!)

thanks to an offer by L, J, and L to watch finn, lala and i had some much needed mamma-lala time. i took her to the dentist and then out to lunch.

the dentist, you ask? yes, her first visit, and given her personality, one i expected to go somewhat poorly. i give her too little credit. she was a star! and it did help to be finn-less, as she sat in my lap, in the dentist chair. (hence, i have no photos of the big event, but they took a grinning photo of the two of us for her office chart!)

and on to lunch...her choice. she behaved like such a big girl, and when she asked where the crayons were to draw with, i told her she didn't need them, since she and i were having a conversation, just the two of us. she beamed!

yesterday, well after i posted my self-depricating lament about, well, life, lala had 2 massive tantrums. one on the walk home and one in the middle of quiet time. to give you an idea of their painfulness, there is a woman who walks her dog on the route we walk home and twice now, she has turned around or moved to avoid us, because lala seems to have a reputation for melt down at about the same spot on a semi-regular basis. (if only i would remember eeyore and i were strong enough to carry 2 kids at once, we might head it off. yeah, right.)

the tantrum during quiet time was unescapable. she followed me out of her room, wailing. and i knew i needed to be away from her.

so, thinking back on our lovely tuesday and following it with a clingy wednesday, it was perfect to give myself to just her for a bit today. how do parents with large families give more of themselves, individually, to each child?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

wednesday

i woke to the wonderful sound of wind. you know that gusty, warm, october wind, that makes the dry leaves in the trees crackle? the sunrise turned the sky pink and the day dawned to blue skies and that soft autumn light.

perfect.

and a perfect way to settle the crazies in my head that are restlessly rattling around. i have been feeling ambitious and thrilled by the challenges in my life right now: being a better mamma, economizing more, being more creative, learning new skills, caring better for my loved ones. i have been excited at all the things that come with autumn...preparing for cooler, wetter weather, but enjoying the "indian summers" we get in our area of the country.

but with all ambition, for me, comes the unsettling realization that i am not really good at any one thing. i do a lot, but i don't have even a single skill in which i excel. i have envy and admiration for several women (odd that they are all women?) touching my life right now, who are all at a similar place in their lives, with young children of their own. all of them are talented or educated in some way that makes them stand out. one is extremely smart and well spoken, one practices what she preaches and doesn't seem to have a care for what others think of her (and as a result, they only think highly of her, i am sure), one is artistic in so many ways, and so on. and all express themselves only gently with their children.

i don't like that when i reach the end of a day, it has been a good day if my tones and expressions have remained even throughout the day. shouldn't they be that way all the time? especially with my children.

wednesdays are my chore day, but here i sit, sharing this with you. i am now off to put clean sheets on our bed, because, really, there aren't many things nicer than crawling into a bed with crisp, clean, sheets, that smell as though they have been dried in the sun?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

i forgot my camera


today, the kids and i were invited to a local state park for a grand adventure. it felt more like a vacation. this park is close and easy to access, but once in it, you feel like you are somewhere else. and although we didn't, i learned we could put our kayaks in for a paddle there. it was lovely. my dad rode his bike, while the kids, my mom, and i walked a bit. we then had a picnic by the water. lala tried skipping stones and we learned that finn has no fear and brimming with curiosity. he would have crawled right into the water, if given half a chance. even his big sister called for help, leaned her leg out to block him, and put her hand on his back. very sweet and mature for a 4 year old.

we got some adorable photos, but none on my camera because i left it sitting on the table! so, i share this one with you...my dad made a latte macchiato for me last week, which was so gorgeous, i had to photograph it. it tasted as good as it looked. it must be is la pavoni!

Monday, October 20, 2008

we need a name

M and i are thinking to join the ranks of etsy. we have often talked about trying to promote his woodworking and my eclectic crafts and develop a small business, but we are now feeling motivated to actually try.

would you help us come up with a name for ourselves? (a fictitious name for our business, that is.) we have a list of ideas, but want to hear what your ideas are!

we hope you will support us in this endeavor!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

M's handiwork


i wanted to highlight just the tip of some of M's amazing handiwork. since we have owned this house, the only things we have hired out were 1) termite and dry rot repair work inside the walls, and 2) our deck,which was done by our friend (a contractor) and my brother, with some assistance by M. and those tasks were due to M's time limitation, not a lack of skills. i say that both to exemplify M's plethora of talents and to share the pride i have in how much we do ourselves. (i say we, because i help a lot. and while the DIY could be a frugal post in itself, this post is about M.)

perhaps in another post, i might go on a bit about all the construction/house work we have done, but as i say, this post is about M, so i wanted to share a bit of his woodworking.

he has turned bowls, made cutting boards, sushi sets, music stands, a bed, and endless tables of various types. shown above is our couch side table, made from an old wine barrel. his recycled wood crafts are by far my favorites. i have posted previously about the computer unit he made, the pottery barn style bookcase he made, and the barrister bookcases he refinished. you are one talented guy, M!

Friday, October 17, 2008

from my grandma

yes! this one is from my grandma! and just that fact makes that much more amusing to me. (and no, i am not mad at M. i rarely am. but i am learning to crochet!)

A man and woman had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything.

They had talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other except that the

little old woman had a shoe box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband

never to open or ask her about.

For all of these years, he had never thought about the box,

but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover.

In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife's bedside.

She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box.

When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $95,000.

He asked her about the contents. "When we were to be married," she said, "

my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue.

She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll."

The little old man was so moved; he had to fight back tears. Only two precious dolls were in the box.

She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving.

He almost burst with happiness.

"Honey," he said, "that explains the doll, but what about all of this money?
Where did it come from?"

"Oh," she said. "That's the money I made from selling all the dolls."

a week in the life

back when i participated in online forums, one of my silliest posts was my day in emoticons. the forum i loved most had a huge selection of smiley faces and so i posted all about my day using smilies. how about a more mature form of this? ali edwards proposes a week in the life...in photos. my version isn't quite what she suggests, but the idea is lovely.

these are snippets of our life from last week...

sunday: lala declared it tigger's (finn's "lovey")birthday. she even made him a rack of "cupcakes."

monday: we said a sad, slightly grumpy goodbye to S and finn helped me with the laundry. well, actually, he climbed into the laundry basket.

tuesday: i did some sewing today, and this time, lala asked me if she could sew too. here she is sewing a button onto some fabric.

thursday: miss now-one-year-old LMH joined us for some lunch and play time.

friday: the final weekday of a very quiet, at-home week. lala played doctor, i got a lot of "pokes" and i got "band-aids" to prove it.

saturday: we joined LMH's first birthday celebration at the pumpkin patch.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

world food day


today is world food day. in a time when food prices are rising, incomes are steady or falling, and the economy is flailing, it seems particularly important to take notice.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

what are they up to now?

she knows all, now. "i know. i know, i know!" she can go from gentle and sweet to tantrum in seconds, although perhaps that trait is decreasing a bit? she can whine with the best of them, but eeyore can soothe a lot. mamma's kiss doesn't always make an owie feel better anymore. she knows how to get a rise out of mamma and sometimes appears to take pleasure in doing so. she loves her little brother and looks out for him, but he is beginning to take notice and become a bit more hands on with things she would like his hands off of.



he is becoming a little person. he loves to explore. he has finally learned to crawl. he stands up and has now learned to sit down. he hasn't caught on to signing yet, so has discovered, with a little finn grin, that attempting to rock his chair until it nearly tips over gets mamma's attention. he cannot seem to put his cup down gently. chucking it across the room is more his style. he plays a flirtatious, coy game of peek-a-boo. and he has three teeth, with a fourth on its way.


and both of them are having a love affair with bananas. i cannot seem to buy enough.

financial festering

we've all be watching the financial markets over the last week. how can we not? even if we don't fully understand what is happening (i don't), i do know that what has occurred is unprecedented, and if it continues down a negative road, we could all be in serious trouble.

M has been worrying about the economy on and off for some time, but this past week has him very concerned. i feel a little at a loss of what i can do to be prepared for continued troubling times, so i fall back on what i know best: disaster preparedness (already a necessity here with natural disasters) and our budget.

here is my last post on budgeting. now, further into life on one income and immersed in a search for land to own, we are very aware of the distinction between current cash flow and savings.

we have always been good savers. we have worked from there to become better investors. so coming into a single income, we felt comfortable with our safety net. with a review yesterday of our most recent statements, our savings, which we have grown for various reasons (safety net, education, retirement, and desire to buy property), has taken a hit in this market (and that doesn't even include the dips last week). what has been a bigger wake up call has been our cash flow. although more frugal than most people we know, we are in need of further economizing, to make our daily budget work.

so we are left to decide: do we hold off on purchasing property in order to reserve more of what is left of our savings in case M loses his job? or do we purchase property as planned, as a (non-stock market) investment, at a time when prices are low?

and to loosen cash flow, we need to slash the budget again. we tackled that during a preschooler-less car ride this last weekend, came up with several areas to cut, including: cell phones, miscellaneous and gift spending (sorry, folks), groceries (obviously working on already), and our home (by limiting immediate projects to those we already have materials for, which will help reduce clutter, too).

for some reason, the conversation and M's worries switched me from dreading the challenge to renewed excitement. i made a list of my tasks for cutting the above items and pulled out two of my favorite basic, frugal, nutritious cookbooks (photo above) and started flagging recipes.

i will start where i can and hope if worst comes to worst, we'll spend the time together camping on a chunk of gorgeous land somewhere.

quick sew


for awhile (since she got this bike in february?), lala has been asking for a basket or bag for her little bike. after a ride with her bike-basket-adorned friend yesterday morning, she and i whipped one out. again, that free fabric from nunu comes in handy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

new on the 'net

quilt give-away

lizzy anne is giving away an original quilt on her blog pigtails and snails. check it out!

6 more things i am loving right now

1. autumn. my favorite season.


2. our deck, the freshly mulched yard beyond, and autumn sunlight.


3. ikea bibs


4. my rocking chair. one of the few new pieces of furniture we own, a joint gift to me from M and S, after they got tired of my coveting it for over three years! i love love love love love this chair. and i will likely post about it again. and again.


5. my musicians. here is one of them.


6. freecycle (the rocking horse in the guitar photo and the mulch were both from FC, for example)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

creative:: anytime


one of the things i have been working on these past few weeks is a better balance (not even sure that is the best word) within my own little life. my goal is to be a less grouchy, more fun mamma and wife, who is also filling a little bit of my own creative needs. so i have been working on more projects. not the house-needy kind (the list is still long on those), but the ones i feel good about: gardening, sewing, photo projects, cooking projects, etc. i even want to learn to crochet and/or knit. (and have a mom with crochet hooks to loan to me to get started! i should have had RGW teach me when i had the chance!)

and...drumroll...i am now the proud new owner of a serger! i posted a 'wanted' ad on a local buy/sell/give/get list and someone replied with a brand new one. i researched it and it generally got good reviews, so i own a new serger at less than half the cost if i had bought it on sale in a store! so now, i have to learn how to use it. this may take me awhile!

in the meantime, since i can't learn all of this at once, and what i do know and am creating right now is all being set aside for the holidays (so i cannot post about my creations), i leave you with etsy. may i find all that i desire on etsy to fill in the empty gift spots this holiday season.

Friday, October 10, 2008

one of my favorite scenes

i was telling a friend this morning, that, lately, one of my favorite scenes has been our dining room or deck table littered with art supplies, drawings, and various other creative tid bits. on the best of days, lala and i spend chunks of time sitting at one of these two tables, being together, but working independently, me with my paperwork, she with hers.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

jon and kate plus 8

for months, multiple people have told us about the show, jon and kate, plus 8. so we finally queued the first season on netflix. all i can say is...i am ashamed of my complaints with two kids. sigh...

peanut noodles


honestly, i am not sure where i adapted this recipe from, but here is my recipe for peanut sauce. it goes well over asian rice noodles, regular long pasta (like linguine), or even over whole wheat pasta. i sometimes toss it with shrimp and i always toss it with mixed vegetables. (frozen vegetables are one of the few "convenience" foods i purchase. i buy large bags of them at costco and man, do my kids like their broccoli!) if you chicken or beef, those would taste wonderful with it as well. i often cook an entire pound of pasta and serve it over a couple of days with different sauces, this being one of them.

peanut noodles
1 clove garlic
2 T oil
1 T sesame oil
2 T rice vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1/2 C peanut butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 t red pepper flakes

blend in a food processor.

hands

another children's book review. hands, by lois ehlert. lala loves this one. i do too. not only is about working with one's hands and being artistic, but the dad is a woodworker and the mamma is a sewer and both parents garden. fits us just right.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

hope and peace

Lotus flower photo by Abedan, Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries, found at www.writespirit.net

the lotus flower represents hope and peace, so i thought it appropriate for this post as i ponder over the future of our world and our country, leading up to the elections this year. i hope for peace. i hope for a world that is safe and fair and healthy and equal for my children.

and i wish we were closer to those hopes than we are. on npr's talk of the nation today, the discussion was centered around racism and how it plays into this presidential election. i cannot believe there are people who will not vote for obama because he is part-black. and yes, i can believe there are people who will vote for him simply because he is part-black. this is historic. we have only ever had white, male presidents. doesn't that seem wrong in the united states in 2008?

i hope i regain my faith and pride in our country and in americans. it has been awhile since i lost both.

and today...a very happy first birthday to LMH!!! may your future be as bright an equal as we adults can possibly make it for you!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

daily good deed

by simply clicking this link to the breast cancer site,
you donate a
mammogram to a woman who needs one.

personal grocery challenge check in


$240. 59 spent on food, health, cleaning, etc. as of today
budget: $400
goal: $300

i did 2 very large shopping trips already and we should be okay through the month, with the exception of fresh produce and milk. just one more reason to increase our garden size next summer. we are trying to grow some cool season vegetables now.

and about milk...we finally found a source of "cheap" bulk dry milk. the costco near M's work still carries it, but the catch is that it costs twice what it used to, so dry milk is no longer a savings over fresh milk. in fact, dry milk now costs $1 more per gallon! we actually love dry milk as a convenience with a shelf life. i use a lot in baking and in homemade yogurt, so we will buy some, but not as much as we would have if we were mixing it to drink.

mini happy list

6 things i am loving or grateful for right now...

  1. handmade soap that RGW made.

2. living near the ocean. and family.


3. a change. in the simple form of a clean, rarely used linen table cloth and napkins.


4. being able to walk to and from school, and the nature she always collects along the way.


5. baby hands. soft, smooth, sticky. amazingly strong.


6. my budding photographer (big sis took this of little bro)

Monday, October 6, 2008

new on the 'net

redwood trees at our local regional park


what's new on the 'net?

letting my brain do its thing


i am supposing this will be a week of pausing to take mental stock. this morning, i am feeling melancholy. the past months have paddled by me more quickly than i feel like i have been able to comprehend, despite my consciousness and awareness of each moment. (well, as much as possible of as many as possible!)

this weekend, we celebrated the first anniversary of M's dad's death. we celebrated finn's 10 month birthday. and today we say goodbye, again, to S.

when i think of each of the moments that stay most closely in my head, i cannot believe how long ago each were. that we have been without tom for a year. that finn's first birthday is around the corner. our weekend to the yurts was half a year ago. my mom's diagnosis was 4 months ago. the lake was 2 months ago. memories of a week long property scoping/camping trip were 18 months ago. it is when i think of how lala was in her little life during each of these moments, that i realize how big those jumps in time really were and how much things change quickly.

i am sad to say goodbye to S. i feel like this is the longest stay we are likely to have from him for some time, yet i don't have a lovely collection of photos to show for it, just snippets of memories. i suppose that is all that counts. we will miss you, S.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

going green

i clearly have "green" on my brain, so it seemed fitting to go out and check on the garden. on friday, i checked out the volunteer squash (or cucumber?), clad in my funky, fuzzy green pants, which matched the vine green almost exactly.

and that evening, it rained. i wish i could capture the smell and sound for you.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

one year today

dear tom,
you have been gone a year now. so much has happened since you died. some wonderful. some not. but we think of you in some way every day and my belief is that you are out there somewhere, keeping tabs on us. (in fact, i swear i have heard "god damn it, n-----" in my ear, more than once, when i haven't been quite on the ball.)

and rest assured, your granddaughter remembers you, recognizes photos of you, and talks about you. often.

b & k are coming over this evening. we'll try and eat some of your favorite foods....ice cream and wine are on the menu.

peace, n

Friday, October 3, 2008

just hide it


so much of simplifying for me has been purging things. but there is some stuff we need or want to keep and my goal is to simply get it all organized. so when S and i were running up and down the stairs for office supplies, i thought, "that's it! we need it on hand!" so i used the empty shelf in the middle of the barrister bookcase for my "office space." the barrister bookcase is directly across from the computer, for which i made a simple curtain (using fabric from K&D!), to hide the printer and all the various computer bits and pieces. both pieces of furniture are in our dining room, and the space just feels so much more organized and less cluttered, even if not much has left the room!

(and by the way, something i should blog more about...M is a hobbyist woodworker. he made the computer cabinet and the top to the barrister bookcases, as well as refinished the cases, which were stained green and in disrepair when he found them at the salvage store.)

a day redeemed

for every bad day, may there be a good day to follow. we were all much better behaved and enjoyed each other's company today. and i did remember to live in the moment.

finn is sick, and although LH generously offered to come over here to hang out at least while the babies napped (it was my friday morning to leave finn with her), it just didn't feel right. to impose a sick baby on her or be apart from him. we had a lot of mamma~finn time and that was lovely.

and lala...well, she is not taking quiet time quietly these days. i really need that break, so i drew the line today and when she came out, she asked if i would make her baby chloe a baby carrier. so i did. that very moment. she came and "supervised." (notice that bolt of fleece just keeps on giving?)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

reminder of joy

oh, how this day sucked. i was able to redeem it by 4:30. after major meltdowns by both kids, an early exit from the zoo and friends, due to a gas leak at home, my being very worn out, and sadly admitting to a friend that i am not enjoying my kids.

and then i read this post at down--to--earth.

oh, how lucky i feel to still be in these moments. with the chance to redeem myself and my pleasure in my children and the fleeting moments i have with them. while they still want to be with me. and i am here to be with them.

and i do know what we talked about today. what we ate. what they looked like as they reached for me. what they look like now that they are snuggled into their beds. and i am so very lucky.

good night. tomorrow is a new day.

those books you always reach for

do you have certain reference books you always reach for? here is finn checking out a few of our favorites. the dictionary, atlas, and our health almanac also see a lot of use. we are so lucky in this age of internet, for all the information that can be found with a few clicks, but there is nothing like the unique, practical, heavy feel (and smell!) of a book.

one(?) more thing

about my two posts below. i realize i am opening myself up there for comments and criticism, but matching what i want to buy and what i am able to buy has been stressful and a real concern.

i should have mentioned (again) that our grocery budget includes food, health, body, cleaning, etc. products, not just food. it also includes our costco membership fee. the overall budget also includes my belief that we should be buying certain products organically and more sustainably. my budget reflects this as we spend less in other areas to allow our grocery budget to be as high (!?) as it is.

before we had kids, M and i routinely spent less than $200 per month, so if i can manage $100 per month, per person, in our house each month (and the number of people varies!), this is ultimately my budget, with my goal being lower.

oh, and on the tangibles for health and cleaning i am marking the date i begin using each item (right on the container) so i can learn how long each lasts. just out of curiosity and a desire to simply use less or only what we need.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

budget. brains. beliefs. BUST!

for those of you who come to read my posts on money and the environment: listen up. this is the post where i admit that i am really struggling to practice what i preach on both. (see my grocery budget post below.) this isn't to say that i don't know how to, it is just right now, part of why i post about both of these topics is that they are near and dear to my heart and they are a struggle. i know that i can live my beliefs through previous practice (especially the frugality part), but despite all the ways in which thrift and earthy living overlap, i am struggling with both in the areas where they diverge and for which they require extra time.

for example, i am now armed with information on cleaning, health, and beauty products that are safer for the earth (what goes down the drain impacts all of us) and safer for us, but $6 a bottle versus the -$1 bottle we were 'paying' (free after rebate, then minus a coupon = money back), i am struggling to make my budget and brain and beliefs all match. how do you eat the right foods, buy the right products, purchase from the right places, all within a limited spending pool? and how do you know what is environmentally right anyway? there is so much conflicting information! something has got to give.

with long discussed dreams of buying property potentially becoming a reality, we re-evaluated our budget and finances and came to the conclusion that our daily/monthly budget isn't being met. we have always been excellent "cushion" savers, but with only one income, our daily cash flow has changed significantly and we need to work harder to meet that reduction.

i need to start walking the walk instead of talking the talk. again, making my budget and brain and beliefs all match is tough.

whole foods lotion and shower gel, unpetroleum jelly, safe shampoo for kids, dr. bronner's unscented, oxo brite versatile powder cleaner, whole foods glycerin bar soap, and that cute insulated lunch bag is a from whole foods ($1.25! )


so what have i learned? you have to read labels!! you can learn from all my obsessing and stressing, though...
  • we have long been using homemade cleaners. we are happy with these and they are safe all around and gentle on our wallets. i bought a small tub of oxo brite to try as a stain remover on our clothes. the tub cost $3.99 and i already mixed up a 16oz bottle of stain remover using just 1 teaspoon of powder, per the instructions. if it works, that is a bargain!
  • coffee - we switched a few months ago to san francisco bay brand organic shade grown coffee. $4.44/lb at costco. much cheaper than the peet's we would like to buy and reasonably tasty.
  • liquid sink dish soap - costco just began carrying their kirkland brand environmentally friendly version. all plant based ingredients, no phosphates or coloring, and it works wonderfully. (so well, i need to measure the soap, because it suds so well and i otherwise add too much.) the bottle is partially recycled and totally recyclable. i am sensitive to smell and their (natural) lemon doesn't smell great to me, but it doesn't bother me enough in comparison to the price savings.
  • shampoo and body soap for us and kids - whole foods has their own store versions (and their own premium product label they apply to all health products that pass their organic/earth friendly standards, which includes exclusion of the dirty dozen). and their store brands are surprisingly affordable. this coming from the FAR gal, who calls the store 'whole paycheck.' the whole foods shower gel in my photo contains SLES, but is otherwise much "cleaner" than the products we were using. it was $2.99 for the huge bottle. i spent quite a bit more for the shampoo for the kids. $9 for the 18 oz bottle, but it is free of everything and it will last them awhile, though.
  • lotion and sunblock - i have mostly switched from petroleum jelly to alba's unpetroleum jelly, although we will continue to have petroleum jelly in the house, because there is a time and use for it. i continue to use shortening (yes, food shortening) as a diaper barrier for finn. although both contain parabens, i will be sticking with trader joe's moisturizing cream and their sun block. (i will contact tj's and ask if they plan to remove that ingredient!) the parabens are the last ingredient on both bottles and the sun block ranks a safe 2/green by the EWG. i know both work well for my sensitive skin and they are affordable. neither kid uses the cream and as far as sunblock, i am undecided on how often to use it for them. skin cancer runs in my family, so i have always made daily sunblock a part of lala's routine. now i worry about which is worse...the sun damage or the chemicals in the sunblock! (i did buy a large bottle of completely safe whole foods lotion to try, for $4.99, so i will switch to that if my skin is okay with it.)
  • we'll be putting our 'has lasted forever' bottle of dr. bronner's to better use. we passed it to my brother and i bought a fragrance free version for us.

so....armed with all of this information...about our budget, environmentally friendly products, my continued need to pare down, etc....i am ready to begin october with a fresh new attitude. join me and see if this time, i can live frugally, live lightly with environmental awareness, and do it all a bit less grumpily. others are doing it, i am sure we can too.

budget buster

remember my september grocery goal of $400? ummm, i am too ashamed to admit what we actually spent. and i knew heading into the month with that goal that we were a family of 5+ for the month, but still, i failed. among other excuses, i didn't anticipate renewing my costco membership, which does pay off for us, but i usually pay that in november. i switched plans and payment cards with them, so now we will additionally be receiving cash back on purchases. (i am fully aware that costco is not shopping locally, but this is an environmental "give" area for me, as i can purchase bulk and organically and be closer to meeting my budget goals.)

so here i go again...for october, i have budgeted $400 but my goal is $300.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

michael pollan's 12 commandments

an interesting article on what michael pollan, author of the omnivore's dilemma (and others), says the top 12 rules about food should be. food for thought...(pun intended)

a supportive contest and....

over at economical baby, she's hosting a contest that supports good4girls. check it out!

Monday, September 29, 2008

being organized

while i am not the most organized person around, planning ahead and being somewhat organized have saved me so much time and hassle (and money). lala asked me yesterday for her trick or treat pumpkin bag. i knew i had put it in her closet. well, i was wrong, i couldn't find it anywhere(?!), but in the process, i emptied and decluttered her closet (trust me, it is, even if you look at it and it looks full to you), then reorganized everything. the result is a big pile ready for donation pick-up on friday. (i did our closet today. whew, that felt good.) in the process, i pulled out the bag storing clothes for finn in the next size. almost all of the clothes my kids have worn so far in their little lives have been gifts (the least number), hand-me-downs, or from freecycle. i sort, wash, and pack them into bags or tote boxes labeled with the size. the photo below is a bag ready to be put away again, with a pile of "might now fit" clothes stacked behind it.


also in the interest of reducing clutter, but enjoying the sweet and heartfelt art lala comes home with, we have a wall dedicated to the art of the moment. we put up favorites for awhile, then i photograph the wall. this lets me save a memory of all those projects, allowing me to recycle more of them and save only the most special.


sun tea

trying to cut down on sodas or other tasty beverages and boost your water intake, but you just can't do it? try sun tea. i have read that brewing tea in the sun invites bacteria, but the speed with which it brews seems hardly long enough to be troublesome. mix and match all sorts of tea flavors, about 4 bags for a half gallon pitcher, and set out in the sun for an hour or so. yum

Sunday, September 28, 2008

if you aren't a democrat...

then skip this post.

sent to me by LH and totally brilliant!

For all of you who support Planned Parenthood and find Palin really scary... Check out the idea below, Worth $10 if you ask me!

Instead of all of us all sending around more emails about how absolutely
horrible she is, let's all make a donation to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin's name.

The cool thing is that when you make a donation to Planned Parenthood in her name, they will send her a card telling her that the donation has been made in her honor.

The Planned Parenthood website is
www.plannedparenthood.org.
Click on Donate and then "In honor of" (not the regular 'Donate Online'),
https://secure.ga0.org/02/pp10000_inhonor You'll need to fill in an address to let Planned Parenthood know where to send the 'in Sarah Palin's honor' card. It's suggested that we use the address for the McCain campaign headquarters, which is:

McCain for President
1235 S. Clark Street 1st Floor
Arlington, VA 22202

another birthday!

happy birthday to JH! i know L will check my blog at some point. was the pie good?

just maybe

we are on to something. after S' first property search (informative but unsuccessful), he took one in a different direction late last week, to the area i prefer a bit more simply because it is a shorter, more straight forward drive. he was successful enough that M and S dropped our plans for the day in favor of driving back up so M could check it out. they are on their way home now, my fingers crossed.




fall color in our area. i loved the height and color transitions of this bottom 'three trees' photo


meanwhile, back at the homestead, i was feeling weary at the thought of another day, anticipated as a family day, but not turning out to be one. i think my mom heard that in my voice this morning when she called for another reason and so they came by and the five of us took lala's bike to the nearest regional park for a little ride and walk. simply perfect.

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