Category Archives: lifestyle

Today in Health and Fashion

Standard

Came across two very interesting articles today.  This one is about fashion and recycling clothes. Apparently a machine/sorter is in the works that would be able to take those discarded clothes you either throw away or give to charity and sort them by fiber so that they can be shredded and rewoven into new fabric. The article also gives some very good statistics about the inherent waste in the fashion industry.

Here’s my question – why aren’t more people trying to embrace sustainability? From where I am sitting, this is a problem that is just waiting for some creativity and innovation. New jobs, cleaner communities, healthier workers, I mean why are people fighting this? It is so ripe with opportunity. We have the technology to put men (and women) in space, why can’t we figure out a viable economic solution to the problems that are rampant in the fashion industry? Or in any unsustainable industry. for that matter.

Thanks to facebook, I saw another article today about the link between heart disease and our current diet. Read it here. I’ve overhauled my diet a lot over the past year. I rarely eat processed food. Most of my food is fresh and homemade (the closest I come to process food is my yogurt – although I must confess to a rather long stretch of eating Amy’s Broccoli and Cheese pot pies – YUM). I’m enjoying my food, I’m enjoying cooking my food and I don’t crave sweets and I even use less salt (I was a saltaholic). For me a treat is fresh, seasonal fruit or adding dates to my morning oatmeal. Anyway, it will be interesting to see in the coming years how this all plays out with big agribusiness.

 

Advertisements

Houses from Reclaimed Materials

Standard

Say goodbye to cookie cutter houses!

I just viewed this TED talk by Dan Phillips. He is a builder from Texas. I love these little houses and how much personality they have. This is a great talk and Mr. Phillips is entertaining and truly an artist.

I want one of his houses.

Check out his website

Is sustainability the key to mental health?

Standard

When people talk about sustainability, often the conversation revolves around things like solar energy, alternative fuel sources, recycling, composting, using your own bags instead of plastic bags, etc. These are all very valid discussion to have and certainly anything that you can do is helpful. But for me, sustainability is more about lifestyle choices, values, quality of life and mindfullness.

Once I started delving deeper into the subject, what really got my attention and started turning me around wasn’t necessarily saving the planet (although I am all for that) but ridding myself of the extraneous crap from my life. Not only the physical but also the mental crap. Much of what got us on this trajectory has been external pressures, usually from advertisers, but they aren’t the only ones, that our lives our not enough unless we have the right car, bigger house, ivy league education, brand name jeans. It seems that we are constantly bombarded with messages that we aren’t enough as is. This is a very Western problem.

I came across this post and I think it is very pertinent for our journey inward. I don’t know if we can ever fully deflect the barrage of messages telling us we are not enough, but it’s worth trying, certainly for our planet, but more important for the sake of peace of mind.

Around the Web

Standard

Here are some interesting stories I have come across on the internet:

Why you should pay more for your clothes:

http://thehairpin.com/2012/06/why-buying-from-emerging-fashion-designers-costs-more-money-and-why-thats-okay

Crafty, eco-friendly (and cheap!) business cards:

http://craftingagreenworld.com/2012/06/11/how-to-make-recycled-paper-business-cards-using-your-sewing-machine/

An innovative business concept that uses garbage and helps build a local economy (love the floor cushions):

http://funkyjunkrecycled.com/productindex.htm

Tuesday’s Top Ten: The best things in life ARE free

Standard

Madison Avenue would have us all believe that happiness comes in a shiny new car, white teeth, the newest gadget or whatever product they are trying to sell.

Will any of that really matter when we look back on our lives? I say live in the present and enjoy these 10 little pleasures that we can all share in that make life a wonderful bounty of riches (in no particular order).

1. Laughter. Tell a joke, tickle your fancy, find the humor in a situation, laugh at yourself and delight in the absurd. Laughter is the best medicine.

2. Good conversation. Engage in face-to-face contact with the people you love, listen to them instead of thinking of what to say next, learn something new, expand your point of view, share memories, create new ones. Bond.

3. Help others. You think your situation sucks? It may, but you can always lend a hand and maybe it will put your’s in perspective. Get outside your head and put a smile on someone else’s face, comfort them, bring them cheer, raise awareness or just be a friend to someone who needs one.

4. Sex – duh!

5. Kissing. Long, slow languid kisses with your lover, sticky kisses from a child, kiss on the cheek to greet friends, kiss it to make it better, wet kisses from your dog.

6. Nature. Pay attention to the changing seasons, sunrises and sunsets, starry nights, lightning bugs, gardens in bloom, scents in the air, the smell of fresh-cut grass, the calm of the first snowfall, the rush of water. It’s all miraculous.

7. Move your body. Bicycle, swim, run, jump, skip rope, play ball, dance, hula-hoop.

8. Create. Cook, bake, sew, knit, crochet, craft, draw, paint, build, sculpt, write,  take pictures, exercise your creative muscle.

9. Connect with your inner child. Play. Jump through puddles, poke things with a stick, collect leaves, pick a dandelion bouquet, let your ice cream dribble down your hand, smile, ask why.

10. Let it go. Know your priorities and values and live them. Let everything else go: perfection, the need for other people’s approval, to be right, the past.

Downsizing – steps to simplifying my life

Standard

I am 15 months away from downsizing. That’s when my son graduates from high school and I will be able to sell my 3000 square foot house. I’ve been ready for this for a while but it’s important to stay put so my son can graduate with his friends.

There is not a lot in my house that I plan on bringing with me, a few pieces of furniture, kitchen essentials and small appliances and the contents of my sewing rooms will make the cut. The rest is either: too big (I anticipate cutting my living space in half), not my taste anymore or just decorative knickknacks that fill space. In my next home I only want the things I need or absolutely love.

As someone who is trying to be more mindful of her own as well as the companies I deal with,  ecological impact, I could be considered a hypocrite for getting rid of perfectly good (old) stuff in exchange for new stuff. However, I feel that I am handling it in a responsible manner. Here’s how:

1. I intend to sell or give-away whatever doesn’t make the cut. It’s not going into a landfill, but getting a second life in someone else’s home.

2. Not everything is getting replaced. So much of what I have is just stuff to fill space. Letting go of it frees up my time,  (from cleaning and caring for it), my budget and my space so I need less. I don’t want to be a slave to my stuff.

3. The majority of what I do replace will be with second-hand finds. I love the thrill of the hunt of finding a bargain at the thrift store or garage sales. One dresser that will be coming with me was a $30 buy at Goodwill. It was an ugly green but I stripped it and in its natural state it is beautiful and well made. The drawers are put together with dove tails, not nails, a sign of quality.

4. For the things that I buy new I intend to first try to buy it from a local manufacturer. If that isn’t possible, then I will look to quality American manufacturers – I want it to last. It’s important that we support manufacturing in this country. You may think you are better off shopping at the big box stores but those low prices are an illusion. They don’t take into account how they are eroding all of our earning power. It’s not just the menial jobs that no one wants that are shipped overseas where cheap labor markets are exploited to make all that cheap stuff we buy. As we’ve seen with the economy, any of us can be affected. Well, trades people are safe. You aren’t going to call India when your toilet is backed up.

Then there is the hidden environmental costs of all those cheap goods – on the manufacturing and the disposal end. Dyes from jeans are leached into drinking water. Stores like Ikea are cutting down forests for furniture that ends up in the dumpster because it is so cheap that people would rather throw it  out and buy new stuff rather than deal with the hassle of moving it.

I have 15 months to do my research. I expect to pay more for these goods but then I expect that for some, it will be the last time that I need to buy them. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve blown $400 at one time at Sephora, not to mention all the little nickel and dime purchases (meaning under $100) I’ve made over my lifetime for stuff I didn’t need. This time around I am willing to pay a fair price for a quality good that I need, love and will serve me well for hopefully the rest of my life. Everything that I keep or buy will now be evaluated on a strict criteria. My time and money are precious. I don’t want to be a slave to jobs that don’t feed my soul. Adapting this mindset will allow me to pursue my dreams without worrying about how I’m going to pay my bills.

The joys of home cooking

Standard

Food is central to all of our lives.  My own relationship with food has had its ups and downs over the years. When I was younger it could create wonderful memories, such as going to my grandmother’s and getting a slice of her homemade banana cake, complete with buttercream frosting. I still make that recipe.

Or it could be a punishment. I also remember when I was about 7 years old sitting at our kitchen table well past dinnertime, locked in a battle of wills because I wouldn’t finish eating my lima beans (I still won’t eat lima beans).

During my teens and early 20’s food was the only thing I seemed to be able to control in my life and it turned into an eating disorder. It wasn’t until a boyfriend checked himself into a rehab facility for alcoholism that I decided to face my own demons. It was an uncomfortable battle. You can live without alcohol but you can’t live without food and it probably took me a year to learn how to eat properly and listen to my body so I wouldn’t overindulge.

I’ve gone through many phases with food. Given what I now know about the relationship between what you eat and your health and information on how our food supply is being corrupted by greedy corporations, I am trying to be a more mindful consumer and cook.  What I’ve learned along the way, and I’m sure I have more to learn, is that your food budget doesn’t have to skyrocket to eat healthy, fresh, unprocessed, home cooked meals and you don’t have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing a meal if you don’t want to. I, however, find cooking relaxing and meditative and I love looking in my freezer and seeing the rewards of all of my hard work and none of it has an ounce of pink slime in it.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way:

1.Learn to cook with the ingredients you have on hand. Look in your cupboard and fridge and my bet is that you can make a meal out of what you already have. I love sweet potatoes and wanted to do some baking with them. I often put them in waffles but decided to make some sweet potatoe burgers (which ended up being pancakes because I got a little too heavy-handed with the blender…) I bought 3 sweet potatoes figuring I’d throw them in the crock pot. What I didn’t realize is how much sweet potates I would end up with. I made the above mentioned pancakes, two different kinds of sweet potato bread and sweet potato muffins. I froze both loaves of bread for breakfast at a later date.

2. Use the internet. I heard about a website that will create a recipe based on ingredients you have on hand. Allrecipes.com is a great website, if not just for the comments section. When I have a leftover ingredient (such as the sweet potatoes), I’ll go on there to see my options. After reading the comments section on this site, I know how I can improvise the recipe to suit my needs or ingredients.

3. Figure out what your staples are and keep them on hand. If they go on sale, stock up. Staples for me are flour, olive oil, grains (rice, barley, quinoa, oatmeal) beans, pasta, vegetable stock, canned tomato products, eggs, butter, sugar (I cook alot of quick breads/muffins for my son for breakfast instead of the sugary breakfast cereals) and my go-to spices.  

4. Plan ahead. It takes less than an hour to scope out the pantry and fridge to figure out what you have and plan at least a week’s worth of meals. Planning really helps cut back the amount of money you spend at the grocery store. I only have to feed two people but almost every meal we eat is home cooked. When I first started out I just assumed that my food bill would be high. Once I started planning out my meals and sticking to my shopping list, I found that I was able to reduce my food bill but it also streamlined my time in the kitchen.

5. Double the recipe or cook and freeze. I work full-time and usually do my grocery shopping on the weekend. When I come home, I’ll usually spend some time preparing meals in advance for the week such as mixing up a couple of batches of muffins for my sons breakfast, some will go in the freezer. Or I will double a recipe – have it for a meal that night and freeze the rest for later.

6. Use a crockpot. Talk about a time saver, just throw the ingredients in the morning and turn it on and come home to dinner. I love it for cooking potatoes and if it’s great for cheaper cuts of meat (if you gotta eat meat, that is).

7. Find meat alternatives. Beans, quinoa and tofu are all good sources of protein and less expensive than meat. They are also better for you.