Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nature Walk

We're going on a nature walk,
I wonder what we'll see,
We're going on a nature walk,
Oh won't you come with me?

The sky is blue, the clouds are white,
The birds in trees do sing,
I'll take your hand and you take mine,
Let's do some wandering.

 What special treasures lie in wait?
I'll take them home with me,
A special stone, a little stick
A leaf felled from a tree.

I feel the sun upon my face,
The breeze is warm and soft,
The ants are marching one by one,
There are butterflies aloft.

 Alas, it's time to turn toward home,
My bag is filled with gems,
Small trinkets that remind me,
Just exactly where I've been.

We just went on a nature walk,
I hope we'll go again,
We just went on a nature walk,
Oh won't you join me, friend?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Give It Away Now

So first of all...I am back! And sooner than expected. We have rigged up a borrowed computer so that I don't slip into writing withdrawals. However, there is no photo editing software to be had. I can barely rotate the images, much less fix red eyes and over exposure. So until I get a more permanent solution to my technical problems, you will just have to deal with my crummy photos!

I've been nesting. The kind of nesting that usually occurs right before one gives birth. I'm not pregnant of course, but the urge is there, all the same. Perhaps it's the episode of Hoarders I watched last night in which they found 13 dead cats under piles of waste and clutter. Perhaps it's the much anticipated cooler temperatures that have finally snapped me out of my sweaty stupor. Whatever the reason, the disorganized state of my house is seriously thwarting any attempts to live a simpler life. Of course, it's always difficult to get rid of one's possessions. Big or small, each item in our home was chosen by us in hopes that the object would become a useful and integrated part of our daily rhythms. Unfortunately, many items just don't make the cut. Too much stuff takes up our space and our time and ultimately leads to a more complicated way of living. Time to purge my friends!

I started with the linen closet. Actually, in our house it's the linen/extra towels/board games/candle closet. I think I need more closets. Anyway, the whole thing was just one big jumbled mess. I cringed at the thought of opening the door, much less finding what I needed in there. The final straw was when our Scrabble Deluxe game came crashing down on my head while I was rummaging around for clean sheets. Game over.

I pulled everything out and got to sorting. I found several crib sheets we won't be needing anymore and a couple of throw type blankets that could be re-homed. I also discovered that I own 29 pillowcases. Yes. 29. I counted up the pillows in the house that might need a case and only came up with 10. Do I really need 19 extra? How did I accumulate 29 pillowcases? And why did I let 29 pillowcases take up valuable space in my closet for so long? I set aside a reasonable amount of pillowcases to keep, tore up a few for the rag bin, salvaged a pretty dove gray one to make a dress for K, and put the rest in the Goodwill bag.

I then moved on to children's books and toys. Books are the hardest of all things for me to get rid of but I also believe in having a good rotation of stories so that my kids always have something fresh to read. That and reading the same books over and over again kinda drives Mommy to the edge, ya know? I had planned to do this whilst my angels were sleeping to avoid any possible meltdowns that could occur upon seeing their possessions in a box. My daughter, however, insisted she could help. With her brother napping soundly in his room, my four year old gave me a confident "keep" or "donate" as I held up books and toys one by one. No tears. No protests. Just a "I don't play with this anymore" or "I'm tired of this book" and even a "My toys will make other kids happy" comment that almost made me cry. What a selfless gesture; to give of her own things to make others happy. That's a very big lesson for one so small and my heart is proud that she's already learned it!

In the style of Katy over at the Non-Consumer Advocate, here's a brief farewell to some of the other things that will no longer be cluttering up my life.

The Brown Dress. You haven't fit since college and you never will. And even if I could fit into you, I doubt I would. No one wants to see a mother of two in a dress like you. You're kinda...slutty.

The sparkly shoes I stole from my Mom. I love you guys but can't wear you for more than twenty minutes without getting some wicked blisters.

The Pottery Barn duvet cover. I don't have a duvet. Enough said.

The candle tray with the unidentifiable sticky stuff on it. May your next owner have the magic formula with which to remove whatever it is that makes you sticky.

The Elmo Book. I really hate you and your sound buttons that stick and play repeatedly and randomly.  

Ahhhhh. So much better. I feel ten pounds lighter and a lot more centered. How about you dear readers? Is it time for you to dig out from under a pile o' possessions? Leave me a comment and tell me all about it!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Technical Difficulties

My computer is done. Kaput. Finito. We are in the process of trying to save her but I think it might be time to abanadon ship. We are attempting to rig something up so that I can continue posting in this space but who knows if that will happen. If things are quiet here for the next week or two rest assured, I have not abandoned you! I've been doing lots of cool stuff and can't wait to show you! Stay tuned...

Friday, October 22, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} 

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment you want to remember. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I must have fertile friends. In the past week, I've welcomed one beautiful baby girl into the world, and found out about three more debuting in the spring. Since I am done having children (and not quite at peace with that decision yet) I will live vicariously through their experiences. This is also the perfect opportunity to immerse myself in all things baby.

When I was pregnant not so very long ago, I didn't know how to sew. Or crochet. Or do much of anything really. Boy, have I come a long way! There's something very satisfying in knowing you can make everything your baby is going to need. Knitting booties, making diapers, piecing a quilt for their crib...I didn't do any of these things. Everything my kids had was store bought with the exception of a few thoughtful gifts from those more endowed with creative craftiness. Now that I have the skills to produce handmade necessities, I feel like I kinda missed out. What a lovely, sitting in my rocking chair, my belly protruding from under a blanket, a hook in my hand and half made booties on my's all very romantic, yes? 

Six months pregnant with my son
So now's my chance to make up for it. I may not have a protruding belly anymore (okay, maybe I do but it's because of cake, not babies) but I still have that rocking chair and the crochet hooks. It's time to get crackin'! Those babies need me! Here's what I've been working on...

Opal the Owl
I've always wanted to make my own stuffed toys. The homemade kind are so much cuter than the store bought ones and can be customized according to the child or even to the decor of the nursery. Plus, you have the option to use organic materials so when baby dearest is slobbering away on it, you don't have to worry about any nasty chemicals on her favorite toy! I found a tutorial with pattern here. I altered it slightly by cutting out my own beak, stitching the feet and using buttons instead of felt for the inner eye. Opal is my first softie and will certainly not be my last. I may not be able to give her away!
 Cozy Coverlet
These were my Mom's idea actually. My Mom is big fan of fleece no sew blankets as baby gifts and who wouldn't be? They're soft, they're easy and new mommas love them. I like them too but prefer a "cleaner line" to my blankets. So we compromised. A yard of fleece, a yard of minky dots, rights sides together and stitched all around. The result? Ridiculously cute, luxuriously soft, supreme baby comfort. We rolled them up, tied them with an up-cycled ribbon and stood back to admire our cleverness. However, while basking in our crafting glory I neglected to get a picture of the finished product. Oh well....there will be several more where that came from!

My Momma sewing up storm!
Front and back sides

Blingin' Bibs
Babies are messy. From the moment those little things pop into the world, they are peeing, puking or pooping on something. Diapers catch the mess down under but for anything from the other end, bibs are godsend. Personally, I feel like you can never have too many.  I was inspired by a tutorial I found here. Always looking to make use of what I already I have, I cut up my husband's holiest work pants to make the front of the bib. And to make them really special, I bribed my friend Brandi (who will soon be opening her own crafty web shop!) to let me use her embroidery machine to add names, initials, and girly, cutesy graphics.  I love them! All I need to do attatch cotton fabric to the back, add some snaps, and one very special girl will have her very own, personalized, blingin' bibs!

My Favorite!
So so cute!
 And the list goes on. There are still fluffy dresses, a car seat blanket and possibly a Hooter Hider still to be stitched. And of course more toys.There are hundreds of crafty blogs out there, many who focus on up-cycling and using recycled and/or organic materials. If you'll notice over to your right(------------> that way), I've listed a few of my favorite crafty blogs for your perusing pleasure. Happy creating!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Life That Feeds You a meat eater. Many of us are. And for those who aren't, I'm sure you have your reasons. But let me make this clear: I don't harass you for eating vegetables. Don't harass me for eating bacon. It's as simple as that.

Today, over at SouleMama, she announced the addition of two sweet piglets to their family farm. The pig's jobs are to a)root and fertilize a patch of grass intended to be a garden in the spring and b)to provide meat for her family. Oh my. You should have read the comments. Though that vast majority of the vegetarians who voiced their opinions did so in a poignant, mature fashion, there were a couple that were rude and downright nasty.It was their comments that inspired me to write this post, not to defend the meat eaters of the world or even to condemn the vegetarians, but to give my humble opinion on the subject in what I hope to be a safe and judgment free space.

I am lucky. Much of the meat we eat is home raised and slaughtered. Not here in suburbia of course although it might be interesting trying to butcher in the garage. All of our beef and most of the pork we consume is raised on a ranch, scratched between the ears on a daily basis, and killed humanely. I know exactly where the animal came from, what it ate, how it was treated and how and where the animal was processed. Not many people can say the same. For most, "meat" is something laid out neatly on a styrofoam tray and covered with plastic wrap at their local grocery store. It's quick, it's convenient and it tastes good.

But really....can you blame them? If you've ever seen an animal slaughtered and butchered, it's not an easy thing to watch. It is infinitely less complitcated to just not think about it. There are scores of new books and documentaries that reveal the true nature of today's modern food and let me tell you friends... it ain't pretty. Animals are being abused, tortured and held in the most vile and disgusting places you can imagine, all so that we can indulge in a hamburger. Animals are living, breathing creatures. They share the earth and sky, drink the same water, breathe the same air as we do and as such, should be treated with care and respect for the things they provide.

So why eat them at all? How does frying animals up in a pan demonstrate care and respect for their place on this planet? Well, I don't really have an answer for that. But I do believe that respect and honor can be shown to the animals by partaking in the process rather than allowing factory farms and multinational corporations to  make those choices for us. I realize not everyone can just raise and butcher a cow in the backyard, but even city dwellers have options. Buy humanely raise meats. Research. Just because it says "organic" on the label doesn't mean that cow wasn't stuffed in a teeny holding pen for most of its life. Investigate local co-op groups. Do what you can to be responsible meat eater. Get as "close" your food as you can. Feed it, watch it grow and watch it expire. Respect the life that feeds yours.

My Husband's Grandfather's Ranch...Where Our Beef Comes From!
I make no apologies for eating meat. I like it. Always have and always will. I suppose now though, I'm much more conscious about exactly what I'm tossing on my plate. Since becoming a greener and more sustainable family, we certainly eat less meat than we used to. With fresh eggs and a garden full of veggies, meat is more often a side dish than main course anyway. Yes, there are times when I feel guilty about the steak on my plate, especially when I know the animal by name, but I take comfort in knowing that he was raised in a clean, caring environment and lived the best life an animal raised for meat could have lived. I offer a prayer of thanks to both heaven and cow, for sacrifices made and bodies nourished. Amen.

Friday, October 15, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} 

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment you want to remember. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Apple Chips and Sore Thumbs

The best laid schemes of mice and men, go oft awry--Robert Burns

At the time, it seemed a perfectly logical and more importantly, a totally doable plan. Go to orchard. Pick forty pounds of fruit. Take fruit home and dry it in the dehydrator. Add yummy fruit chips to our pantry stock for a rainy day. Easy peasy. Well.....

Upon arriving home from our orchard trip, I realized that I had lent out my dehydrator to a friend who wanted to experiment with it before committing to a purchase of her own. I put in a call, chit chatted about this and that and then, as casually I could, asked when I might be able to get my dehydrator back. She was in the middle of a batch but promised as soon as it was dry, it would arrive, clean and ready to roll. With nothing to do but wait, I tied up the bags and pushed them back on the counter to await preparation. This was on Sunday.

On Wednesday, my dehydrator arrived, along with a jar of delectable nectarine chips for my trouble. I nestled it into it's "spot" on the  counter, pulled out the cutting board and was just about to start washing apples when I realized just how much forty pounds of fruit is. It's a lot, in case you are wondering. Also, I failed to take in to account that I would be slicing, coring and peeling all by my lonesome since hubby had committed to a previous (and lengthy) engagement. It was just me. Me and forty pounds of fruit.

Luckily, I have a handy dandy little kitchen tool that slices and cores my apples for me. Then, all I have to do is halve those slices and they're ready to go on the tray.  Things started out fine, but just a few apples in, the handle completely snapped off leaving a jagged (and sharp!) edge. I'd be damned if I was going to core and slice all those apples with a knife so I pushed on, using my thumbs to push the slices through. 

When everything was sliced, cored and halved, and after I attended to  my raw and bleeding thumbs, I started filling the dehydrator. I bribed K with extra bedtime stories, hoping she would help me arrange the apples and get it done faster. By the time she finished her one tray, I had filled the rest. Sigh. So much for efficiency. We flipped that bad boy on and I breathed on giant sigh of relief.

But wait! What's this I see on the counter behind me?? Ten more pounds of apples! And of course we can't forget the Asian Pears. Good grief. This was the most poorly planned attempt at food preservation I have yet to attempt. I need a bigger dehydrator....and a band-aid!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Snarky Snacks

With as much data as there is pouring in about how we are wasting our planet's most valuable resources at a terrifyingly rapid pace, you might think that most people would "get it" by now. You know. Using CFL's instead of standard light bulbs. Trading the giant Hummer for a smaller, less gas guzzling model. Recycling at the most basic levels. Simple stuff, really. Even my most un-green friends have a basic understanding of why sustainability and green living are important, even if they're not quite ready to buy recycled toilet paper yet. Because if anything, being green is cool. It's hip. And more importantly, being green is marketable.

Claiming planet love really rakes in the dough. Of course, there is nothing wrong with making consumer products for eco-friendly. There is a market for these products after all, and I'm one of the consumers they are after. I guess what bothers me is that if there were no major profits to be had in making chemical free cleansers of low VOC paints, the companies simply would not manufacture them. Case in point: SunChips. The snack food giant Frito Lay had recently revamped it's packaging for SunChips. The new bags were made from a biodegradable material that could be composted, thus significantly lessening the environmental impact of SunChips production. It seemed to work. However, some idiot (I'm not a professional....I can say what I want!) started a Facebook group about how loud the new SunChips bags were and the company, fearing a drop in sales, nixed the biodegradable bag and switched back to the original packaging. 

That's right. The bag made too much noise. Seriously? So instead of saving millions of pounds of non-compostable plastic from being thrown into a landfill, we're going to revert back to the old packaging because a small number of consumers complained about noisiness whilst partaking of our snack. Okay. First of all, if you start a Facebook page about how noisy your snack bags are, you have waaaay too much time on your hands. Secondly, I can't believe that there are still so many people who refuse to give up an ounce of comfort for the stability and well being of generations to come. Are we really so selfish that we can't see the much bigger picture?

Yes, I'm standing on my soapbox here but really. There are times when I am ashamed to admit that my generation, recently dubbed "Generation Me" are a self centered, shallow, entitled, and all around clueless lot of people. There is no foresight, no thought to the future. Giant corporations like Frito Lay hold the power to make huge changes across the industry but in my opinion, they have seriously dropped the ball on this one. They are putting profit before planet And for what? If there was a legitimate concern with the bags....say, the new biodegradable bags made the chips taste like feet.....then yes, I say switch back and revamp. But because they are too noisy? Money talks...apparently louder than a biodegradable SunChips bag.

P.S. I know there at least 58 of you who read this on a semi-regular basis. I want your opinions. What do you think? Please leave a comment!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Apples and Cowboys

Fall is refusing to show it's pretty face. It's still swimming weather here in the valley, and though the stores are plastered with pumpkins and decorated with sprays of golden (artificial) leaves, I have yet to really transition from sweltering summer to my most favorite season of the year. The solution? Road trip!!

We traveled east to Wilcox, Arizona for a little orchard hopping and pumpkin picking to really get us in the autumn spirit. We visited Apple Annie's, a family owned and operated farming operation. The day was warm in Wilcox but a far cry from the triple digits we've been suffering for months. The shade of the orchards provided a welcome respite from the sun and made the perfect playground for two children much deprived of quality time in the great outdoors. 

Fun in the orchard

Put an Asian Pear on your head!

Not only did we manage to pick twenty pounds of both Asian Pears and Rome Beauty Apples (my dehydrator will be running for WEEKS!), we were treated to acres of pumpkin vines, fields of sunflowers, and of course, a hay ride around the property. After a picnic in the shade of a monstrous peach tree and some hand churned apple ice cream and apple cider doughnuts, we loaded our tired and very sticky children in to the van and headed toward our next destination: Tombstone, Arizona.

Home Churned Yumminess!
Rome Beauties
Asian Pears
Sunny Girl
Tell me you've seen the movie! The eye candy cast is enough to warrant a rental if you haven't (Helloooooooo Val Kilmer!). Tombstone was home to the most famous cowboys in the west. Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, the whole gang.I know what you're thinking. What does Tombstone have to do with getting in the autumn spirit? Well, nothing actually. It just happened to be on the way home and I've always wanted to see it. And, I feel that exploring the past is an excellent was to prepare for the future. I may very well need to know how to lace a corset or drive a stage coach in the near future!

I guess that's all you need!
Pimp my ride circa 1880

Friday, October 8, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} 

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment you want to remember. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Good friends, good wine, and a little black dress

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pretty New Towels

I mentioned a few posts back that we are in desperate need of new towels. The stringy, threadbare excuses we tried to dry off with were simply not getting the job done anymore. I rounded up every coupon and sale flyer I could find and eventually found a great deal on some very nice towels. And though the passing of our old towels gave me the opportunity to buy something a little more eco-chic, I simply could not afford to pay upwards of $25 a towel for the "organic" label.

Instead, I discovered Linden Street Quick Dry Towels at JcPenney. They are 100% cotton making them super duper soft, and they feature a special and new low-twist yarn that makes them light weight, yet surprisingly absorbent.  According to, it’s this special low-twist design that helps the towel dry faster either on your towel hook or in your dryer. Faster drying means less energy is used. Now, for the better part of the year, I don't really use my dryer. But on those days when it's upwards of 110 degrees outside, hanging laundry on the line leaves me sweaty and sunburned and absolutely loving my energy hog of a dryer. For those few occasions when the towels aren't line dried, these babies dry in about a quarter (yes, you read that right) of their usual drying time. Less energy used=lower electric bill and a happy planet! And did I mention how pretty they are??

Because I love and adore my new towels, and because I want them to last for years to come, I have been taking special precautions to keep them pristine. I have developed a set of "rules" if you will; guidelines for my family so they know exactly what these towels are to be used for (or not used for) should questions arise.

  1. The pretty new towels are to remain in the master bathroom. I got the reject towels as a child and mine will too. When they grow up and get married, they can buy their own fluffy towels. The only exception is when there are guests. Then and ONLY then may the pretty new towels migrate from the master linen closet.
  2. The pretty new towels are to be used for drying PEOPLE bodies after showers or baths. They are not to be used to dry any other kind of body including but not limited to feathery and furry ones.
  3. The pretty new towels are not to be used in the garage. At all. Ever. Period. If I find one out  there...well, let's just say hell hath no fury...
  4. The pretty new towels will not be used for capes, veils, tents, doll blankets, tea party tables, or makeshift mud rugs. There is a stack of older, less pretty towels exclusively for these purposes!
  5. The pretty new towels shall not be marred with make-up stains. Remove makeup BEFORE washing one's face to avoid yucky mascara stains.

And speaking of mascara stains...
Love love loving Organic Wear® 100% Natural Origin Eye Makeup Remover Pads. My old eye make-up remover has, for some reason or other, started burning the crap out of my eyes. My theory is that because I've ditched the chemicals in most of my beauty products, the few that I have yet to switch over are really irritating my skin because it's just not used to the chemicals anymore. Anyhoo, these little pads are great. Paraben free, no synthetic anything, GMO free and CHEAP! And best of all...

No yucky mascara stains on my pretty new towels!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Adventures With Urban Chickens

The following converstaion took place at approximately 5:40 this morning:

Husband: "Hey. Hey. Are you awake? Do you hear that?"

Me: "Huh?"

Husband: "The chickens. Do you hear the chickens?"


Husband: "The chickens! They're going crazy! What's wrong with them?"

Me: (tossing pillow over my head) "How should I know? Go check on them!"

Husband: "I did. I gave them food but they're still bawking like crazy. If they don't shut up the HOA will find us out for sure. The woke up J. Make them shut up!"

Me: "Make them shut up? What do you want me to do? Tape their beaks shut?"

Husband: "You have to do something. Listen. Don't you hear it? Listen!"

Me: "Seriously. I'm not going out there. I have 17 more minutes until the alarm."

Husband: "Maybe they're trying to tell you something. Use your chicken intuition."

Me: (pulling covers over my head) "I don't hear anything. If they have food and water, and there aren't any dogs or snakes they're fine. They're just....spry."

Husband: "I think we'll be eating a spry chicken for dinner if they don't keep it down."

Me: "I want a drumstick."

Moral of the story....don't wake me before 6:30!

Monday, October 4, 2010

10 Things

Ten things that are making me happy, right this very minute....

1.The one and only pecan that our two new pecan trees produced.At least I know they're not dead!

2. Flowers! The crocheted and ribbon kinds in particular.

3. New tires that were purchased with an AWESOME coupon.

4. A borrowed black dress, rockin' heels and a night with the girls.

5. Our newly planted winter garden.

6. New buttons for the button box.

7. A row of "parked" cars in my living room.

8. The unexpected rain that soaked the clothes hanging on the line.

9. No triple digit temperatures for at least the next six months.

10. WaterColors Eco-Friendly nail polish in Hippie Chick. Safe, non-toxic DIY pedicure!

What's making you happy today??