old navy sends response...

a canned response, of course. but that's better than i expected. here it is...

Dear Erin,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding our Stuff and Save promotion. We always want to know how our advertising is being received, and your comments are appreciated.

We have several different campaigns a year, and each one is designed to target various segments of our consumer base. We regularly evaluate our ads for effectiveness and reach because we want to make sure our advertising is appropriate for our customers and our brands. Feedback like yours is an important part of this process, and we have forwarded your concerns to the marketing managers who are responsible for these decisions. We are sure they will be interested to hear your thoughts on this matter as well.

Again, thanks for bringing your concerns to our attention. We appreciate your business and feedback, and look forward to shopping with you again soon. We have a wonderful selection of merchandise just waiting to be added to your wardrobe.



Customer Service Consultant

personally, i love the end part about all the clothes just waiting for my wardrobe. it so cheerful-sounding. a great personification by shelly & team. it just made me want to run out and fill my plastic bag with tons of crap.




my letter to old navy...

i'm not the type who normally goes writing letters of complaint to national companies, but i was super-ticked about some mail i received today from old navy. they sent me a plastic bag as part of their "stuff & save" promotion. it came inside of a fold-out marketing piece. so annoying, because i've done so great at refusing bags wherever i shop, even if it means carrying an armful of stuff (plus baby) out to my car. and since i personally don't plan on shopping at old navy anytime soon, this bag will certainly go to waste. it's not even the kind you can line a trash can with, either.

now, i'm only one person, but i guarantee you old navy sent these bags out to hundreds of thousands of people. how many will get used? how many will get tossed away?

so, in the heat of my frustration (and because lucy happened to be taking a blissful, 2-hour nap), i wrote them a letter. here it be!

To Whom It May Concern:

In a time when it seems that many major companies are ramping up their attempt to “go green,” I must say that I am extremely disappointed in the marketing technique of sending out plastic bags to homes across America for your “Stuff & Save” promotion. My goal is to tread lightly on the planet, for both my generation and those to follow. The fact that I have personally made a commitment to resist plastic bags while shopping has today been trumped by your thoughtless mass marketing. It seems that your company is without concern for the detrimental impact that its actions will have on our environment.

As a copywriter working for a national retailer, I am aware of the massive amount of marketing collateral sent out across the country by any single company. A large percentage of this material is never opened but tossed immediately upon receipt. This means that thousands upon thousands of plastic bags will be needlessly discarded soon, never having served any purpose at all, because of your blatant irresponsibility. I’m sure that you’re aware that in the vast majority of communities across America, plastic bags are not considered recyclable.

Since it’s obvious that the “Stuff & Save” promotion is really just an offer of 20% off a total purchase (no stuffable bag is needed for online shopping, and I have personally used this discount in years past without a stuffable bag), why not go about marketing this discount in another, more eco-friendly way? Customers could bring in their own bags for additional savings, or reusable “stuff” bags could be available at stores. If your marketing team put a “green” spin on a revised program, Old Navy could help to set a standard for other retailers in the industry, instead of appearing thoughtless in the face of an ever-growing crisis. Please consider making a change, and respecting the wishes of your eco-conscious customers.

I welcome any response.


Erin *******

i'll of course let you know if i get a response (yeah right). but it felt good to get it off of my chest.

lucy is 3 months old!

a few pics from her mini-milestone photoshoot...

current hobbies include hanging w/ daddy, splashing in the bath, and trying to get both of her hands in her mouth at once, as demonstrated above.



is the perfect word to sum up our garden this year.

we've got a disappointing crop on our hands, that's for sure. don't know why, either. the weather has been extreme (both cold and hot) but i don't think that's the culprit. we've missed a few watering sessions (babies have a way of making that happen) but nothing is dying. it's just that nothing is growing. we did plant a bit late in the season, i guess (lucy decided to start making her arrival the very day that i bought the plants, so they didn't get into the ground until 2 weeks later). now that i think of it, it's probably a combination of all three of the things listed above. at any rate, it's a real bummer. especially since we used the nice, rich dirt from our compost bin when we planted. i thought for sure we we guaranteed a good crop.

here's a peek:

one of our many volunteer pumpkin plants... slow growth to say the least

these little guys just will not turn red... fried green tomatoes, anyone?

eggplant plants that have grown pretty bushy, but have yet to sport a single flower

basil & cilantro... the cilantro has already gone to seed, while the basil simply refuses to grow

we've got 3 different kinds of peppers, too. none have done much of anything. while it's kind of an annoyance to be watering plants that don't produce (especially since we're in a drought), the bountiful gardens of our families have given us plenty... zucchini, tomatoes and peppers, mostly, with a stray radish here and there. plus, on the fruit side of things we've had lemons, plums and peaches and apricots. apples will be coming in the fall. so despite our personal um, failure, there's been no shortage of homegrown, organic food.


the one major upset is the pumpkins. if you've read a few posts back, you know i've got my heart set on donating around 20-30 to an inner city school... this is now a 2-year old dream of mine. at this rate though, fulfilling it doesn't look likely. i've only got about 5 pumpkins on 3 plants to speak of, and they're still golf-ball sized. the chickens got to the 4th plant, which of course happened to be one of the most promising ones. i did throw some organic fertilizer on the others last week, to try and push them along. we'll see if that helps.


tried it: preserve toothbrush...

dang. i wanted to love this sooooo bad.

the idea behind the preserve toothbrush is awesome. the plastic handle is made from recycled yogurt cups (#5 plastic, which is not accepted in many communities, including my own). nice, right? well, it gets even better. when you're done with your toothbrush, visit the preserve website and download a prepaid mailing label to send it back to the company. there, it will be recycled again, this time into plastic lumber... the same stuff our deck is made from.

did i mention that i wanted to love this toothbrush???

unfortunately, i found the bristles way too soft for my taste. the handle feels kinda cheapy too. i felt like i was using a hotel toothbrush... the kind you get for free if you forget your own. the kind you're happy to throw away after only 3 days. no bells, no whistles. no tri-level, colored bristles that indicate the life left in your brush. you know the type.

here's the thing though. before i bought the preserve, i was using an electric toothbrush. it was the most eco-friendly option that i could find, since only the heads need to be replaced and it runs on rechargeable batteries. as an added bonus, it gets my teeth super clean feeling. so i might be unfairly judging the poor preserve. it could just me me... i must admit i've been told (by my loving husband) that i brush my teeth too hard. jeremy seems to like his preserve just fine.

i urge people to try the preserve toothbrush and see for themselves. at a couple of dollars each, it's certainly an affordable product. if you don't like it, send it back and move on to something else. right? right.

by the way, preserve sells lots of other products made from 100% recycled plastics... razors, tongue scrapers, flavored toothpicks (crafted from sustainably harvested birch... the container that holds them is recycled plastic). also from preserve: reusable plates, cups and cutlery. for the kitchen: cutting boards, mixing bowls and more. see the whole line for yourself by clicking here. all items are made in the usa, and stuff can be found at shops like whole foods, trader joe's, elephant pharmacy and target. what a great company. support them if you can!


better, but less?

that's the question that's on my mind. i'm looking into locally raised beef & chicken. super pricey, to say the least. but isn't it worth it? knowing exactly where your meat comes from? knowing that it's being sustainably raised & humanely slaughtered? couldn't it be as satisfying as our trips to the farmer's market, purchasing directly from the very people who help grow our food?

the quick answer is yes, but no. right now, it really seems that we can't afford it. buying locally raised is even costlier than buying organic/grassfed/free range/hormone free from the whole foods meat counter... something that i never do anymore because of the cost.

the long answer is not an answer, but another question. what if we revamped our carnivorous agenda? jeremy and i don't really eat all that much meat as it is. there are definitely a couple of nights each week that we go without, simply because what we're in the mood for doesn't call for meat. what if we took that fact... and pushed it a bit further? what if we ate really, really good meat, but just less of it overall? would there be a difference in our monthly food expenditure? would the difference be worth it in the long run?

more to come on this idea as i do further research. i've found a website listing local farms that sell at farmer's markets (cheaper) and directly to individuals ($$$).

still crafting...

"who made your bib?"

"mommy. who made your bib?"


lucy & teddy modeling handmade sock monkey-print bibs that i made. the bibs are backed with super-soft chenille. each has a pocket on the front for catching all of that food that they don't eat. teddy got one because i didn't enlarge the pattern enough the first time. no matter. they make a cute pair, don't they?

a big thank you...

to jeremy for working so hard on my new banner. not that it was "hard" for him... he's excellent at these kinds of things. anyway, i am much appreciative. love you jeremy!


when you can't scrub-a-dub...

i'm one of those people who uses hand sanitizer. i don't go overboard or anything, but i do like to use it after pumping gas, grocery shopping, etc. especially with having lucy around. when i'm out and about and need to feed her, i want to have clean hands. especially after changing a diaper. and there's not always access to soap & water. however, most hand sanitizers (and antibacterial soaps) contain triclosan, a chemical that "is often contaminated with dioxins, which are highly carcinogenic and can also weaken your immune system, decrease fertility and cause birth defects...") (taken from sophie uliano's gorgeously green). she puts anything with this ingredient in the "chuck immediately" category. while the particular brand that i was using (target brand) did not contain triclosan, it was alcohol-based and really drying. i wasn't aware that there were natural alternatives available until today.

i found something new! the brand is called "clean well," and it kills 99.99% of germies but contains no alcohol or triclosan. in fact, the active ingredient is thyme oil. there are a few other natural ingredients and only one i had to look up: dicapryl sodium sulfosussinate, which appears pretty safe as long as it's not ingested in large quantities.

anyway, this stuff comes in the cutest little spray bottle and it's not all noxious-smelling when used. the bottle i bought has 225 sprays (which is probably around 100 uses) and was $2.99 at elephant pharmacy.

and the company is located in san francisco. supporting local business = added bonus!


tried it: kiss my face ultra moisturizer

specifically, the kiss my face obsessively natural lotion in honey & calendula. while this stuff smells really, really good, i have to say that it's a bit thick for my taste. very white and hard to rub in. i guess that's the "ultra" in "ultra moisturizer." this presents a problem when you've got a fussy baby on your hands (i'm going to pick you up in just a sec... i promise! okay, hang in there. a few more seconds...), but the thickness does seem to serve a purpose once the lotion finally gets all rubbed in. my skin has been just as smooth as it was with my old stuff. anyway, i picked my bottle up at elephant pharmacy. but it's also available on amazon in a 3-pack, as you can see from the image i stole below.

this stuff has zero parabens, no petrolatum, is made in the u.s.a. and is 100% biodegradable. the bottle is a #1 PETE so i can recycle it. swell. still, the ingredient list is pretty lengthy... lots of floral extracts and other natural sounding things, but some chemical-y sounding stuff too there at the very end of the list. i will definitely use up what i bought. but i might try something else when i'm ready to rebuy.

side note! jer & i celebrated 4 years of marriage today over buttermilk pancakes and a "farmer's scramble" at bette's oceanview diner on 4th street. yummy. lucy says we make a good pair. who are we to disagree with that?


ick. we've got ants...

this has been a bad summer for bugs. ants, specifically. we've had them in every room of the house. we've had them in the backyard. we've had them in the garage. heck, i've even seen a couple in my bed here and there. they come in to get out of the heat. they come in to get out of the cold. they come in for water. for food. for teensy, infinitesimal crumbs. and most recently, they come in for poopy diapers. gross.

i spent a fair amount of time cleaning up an infiltration of ants this morning. they found the dog food that we keep in the kitchen. i vacuumed them up and sprayed the dog food bucket with dr. bronner's peppermint soap. this is a pure castile soap (fair trade, organic, 100% biodegradable) and can be used in a wide range of ways... for dishes, as a bodywash or shampoo, for making your own household cleaners, as a fruit & veggie wash, etc. i have dr. bronner's in both almond and peppermint varieties and love them both. the oils in the peppermint variety supposedly work as a mild insecticide. we've used it on and off to help deal with the ants. it kills them on contact, and if you let the soap dry on surfaces, they don't seem to come back. the problem with leaving it, however, is that it creates a kinds of slick, sticky soap residue. not something you'd really want covering all the surfaces in your house.

but i certainly don't want to be spraying raid, either. so when they got into the dirty diapers today, i sprayed the dr. bronner's all around the floor and diaper pail to kill the ants. but i didn't want the soapy mess on the floor. so i wiped it up and sprinkled cinnamon around the pail. supposedly it burns their little feet so they stay away. (can you picture this?) anyway, it seems to be working. no ants at the moment. i mean, i have a fair dusting of cinnamon on my floor, but if it's safe for the baby (and the rest of us) than i guess that's okay.


my latest project...

another fleece diaper cover with super-pretty cotton linen sewn on the outside. (by the way, i got the linen for something like 75 cents!) okay. i'm totally proud of this one. extra bonus points for the fact that it fits her, and will continue to fit her for awhile. can i just get rid of lucy's pants altogether?

the mutt is here...

very pretty. very soft. very absorbant. lucy put it to good use after about 15 minutes. i'm happy to report that it contained all the mess. my only issue is that it has about 1 gazillion snaps and i'm fairly certain that she's not wearing it correctly. but it worked anyway! now i'm off to read a tutorial about how to fasten the damn thing...

mom. it's just a diaper. back up off me.

some lucy pics...

just 'cause she's cute & all.

the energy audit...

was kind of a letdown.

three young guys showed up at my door. they came in, and, in a whirlwind of lightbulbs and showerheads, were gone before i knew it. this was definitely not the 2-hour, in-depth assessment that i was picturing in my mind. they didn't look at the caulking, weatherstripping or appliances. basically they replaced a few lightbulbs (we have mostly cfl's throughout the house anyway), changed out the showerhead with a low flow model, and put an aerator on the bathroom faucet. as they were leaving i gently mentioned that we had a 2nd bathroom in the bedroom. so they made similar improvements there. i asked about the attic insulation (was told when i signed up for the program that qualifying homes can get new insulation on the cheap) and the guys sighed and poked around a bit up there. i was told we qualify, but they didn't mention how to go about getting it done.

they left me with a paper that instructed me to clean the back of my fridge and turn off the lights when not in use. and that was it.

so disappointing! i mean, i love the fact that we got some free stuff (and the showerheads are actually a major improvement over what we had) but the level of detail was sadly lacking. i'm thinking that maybe i just got stuck with a group of young kids who didn't want to be working on this lovely day and were just rushing through. i'm bummed!


saving money...

we got our energy bill (billing period through the first half of july). i was excited to find that our bill went from $67.00 to $42.00. that's a big decrease! i'm thinking it has lots to do with no-dryer july. and while it's not our cheapest bill ever (our checkbook log shows $32.00 in july of 2006), it is our cheapest bill so far with little lucy as the third member of our household. i am really interested to see what next month's bill will be. i'll be staying dryer-free until then.


we've got people coming to the house tomorrow to do a free energy audit and tell us how we can cut back even more on our consumption of electricity and water. the entire thing is supposed to take 2 hours, so i guess they're pretty thorough. i look forward to reporting the details!

wanna know what happens to all that plastic?

have some spare time? click here for a super interesting article on craptastic plastic and how it's junking up our earth in a major way.


plastic cups blow. literally.

jer, lucy and i went to an outdoor barbecue this afternoon. lots of yummy food and drinks. as we were heading out the door on our way to the party, jer decided to bring along his sigg water bottle so that he wouldn't have to use a plastic cup for the beer keg. smart guy. it was windy at the park and those half-full cups were prone to blowing over. with his sigg, not a drop was lost.

we got our reusable water bottles about a month or so ago, and love them.

jer's sigg holds 32 ounces:

i have a 40 ounce klean kanteen:

lucy has a mini kean kanteen of her own, for when she starts on water and juice.

i personally prefer the klean kanteen because it has a wider mouth than the sigg... easier to clean, and you're able to toss a few ice cubes inside if needed. our aluminum canteens have replaced disposable plastic water bottles--we no longer buy them at all, despite the fact that they are recyclable. (by the way, 30 million water bottles hit american landfills every day). we also got rid of our reusable polycarbonate water bottles. with all the hype surrounding bisphenol-a (bpa) in plastics, i wanted to play it safe. plus, i found them awkward to drink from anyway.

a word of warning! since they're crafted from lightweight aluminum, these bottles do dent when they're dropped. for the perfectionists out there, neoprene canteen cozies are available (i guess they help insulate, too). personally i say a few dents add to the charm and go about my day. cheers!


eco-friendly attempt = oops!

i was working out in the garage about 10 days ago and noticed that the dryer, though unused, was still plugged in. knowing that appliances suck power even in their resting state, i unplugged it. i got a real blast of satisfaction from doing this, too. like driving a nail into a coffin or something.

fast forward to this morning.

jer: "when did you unplug the sprinklers?"
me: "i didn't unplug the sprinklers. why would i unplug the sprinklers?"
jer: "well, they're unplugged."
me: "i didn't do it."
jer: "well, the power cord to the sprinklers is sitting on the dryer."


me: "oh. the dryer."

so the sprinklers run on a timer, which i apparently unplugged in my haste to save energy. the lawns have had no water in 10 days... and now feel more than a little crunchy underfoot. but the good news is, they're not completely dead. and i think we can treat this as a learning situation, gauging just how little water they need to stay alive during the california drought. we've never really had lush lawns, anyway. at least not since they were first put in. i'm thinking that we can cut 2 days off of our watering schedule, after an initial week of heavier watering (resuscitation is kinda needed at this point). because really, it seems that no matter how much we water, the lawns just don't look that good.

we did let a small patch of lawn die this year. it wasn't on the sprinkler system and hand-watering proved ineffective. we're now looking into planting a clover lawn in that area next spring. clover supposedly needs minimal h20 and has a lush, pretty look. it's an aggressive perennial that chokes out weeds. best of all, there's no mowing required as clover only grows to 8 inches high. and how cute would it be to take lucy hunting for lucky 4-leafs? sweet.


am i stinky?

after learning that the active ingredient found in most anti-perspirants (aluminum) is linked to alzheimer's disease, i decided to give up my asian pear-scented standby in search of something less hazardous to my health. let me start by saying that i'm not the most active person in the world, but i do work up a sweat from time to time. after reading tons of mixed reviews on all sorts of aluminum-free deodorants, i decided to try the crystal stick.

made from 100% natural minerals, this crystal thing is basically like a clear rock in the shape of a deodorant bar. you wet it and rub it under your arms. no fragrance or anything. it's supposed to keep you from stinking, not from sweating. but before i made the switch, i took a few days off from deodorant altogether. while i was camping, no less. i'd read and heard on many occasions that ceasing the use of anti-perspirants and deodorants often results in the following: 2-3 days of super stinky wetness as chemicals work their way out of the body... eventually tapering off into less stinky wetness... which eventually tapers off into no stink at all. just wetness. which can be combated most naturally with baking soda.

anyway, i figured camping was the perfect time to be stinky. dipping in and out of the river all day, it truly wasn't noticeable. could it be? all this time using deodorant and deodorant was what was making me stinky? hmmm. in fact, one of my most non-stinky friends told me (while jogging at the river) that she never uses anything under her arms. i also heard julia roberts say the same thing on oprah. swear.

the crystal stick was already en route to my house though, so when it arrived i decided to give it a go. i've been using it for about 10 days now. it's a little strange, wetting it and putting it on. but i don't find myself sweating or stinking too much. and i've been hanging laundry, going on walks, etc. i mean, i haven't run a marathon or anything, but i think this stuff is working. i actually forgot to put it on today in my rush out the door and did notice the difference. and at $5.99, this thing is a total bargain... as 1 stick is supposed to last a year or more.

a couple trips to the gym would put this stick to the true test. but the gym is so not on my agenda. however, if you know me, and see me, and find that i smell, please tell me. do not let me be walking around in this world with stink!


an exciting idea...

my brother emailed me today to see how no-dryer july was going. it's going good, by the way. jeremy installed a new clothesline which is 3x longer than the old one. which means, instead of pinning clothes on top of each other, i can now fit about 2 loads of laundry on the line at once. much more convenient. it's a bit farther away (the old one was right outside the back door, on the deck) but the added length is worth it. it's also in a very windy spot in the yard. did you know wind removes wrinkles??? had i known this, i would have been hanging things out a long time ago. wind, of course, also speeds the drying process. the only downside to this new clothesline is that it crosses over the lawn. which means i can't leave clothes out overnight, or the sprinklers will get them wet again in the morning. but i try to bring the clothes in at night anyway, b/c of the bugs.


my brother nick has decided to do a "no-drive august." this includes not only driving but riding in a car at all. i'm super impressed! granted, he lives in near a college town, so there are shops within a short distance from his home. he can also bike to work, which he often does anyway. but going a month without riding in a car... that's a big commitment. i hope he can stick it through. and i hope that he can write a little something about his experience for the blog!

nick's idea makes me wonder how i can lower my own driving. unlike my brother, i do not live close to very many shops. i could walk to a few places, including a (crappy) grocery store, but not the trader joes where i hope to do the bulk of my shopping. the farmer's market is a bit of a trek as well, especially with a baby. because of gas prices, i already try to consolidate my trips when i'm out. for instance, that fabric store trip i'm taking later in the week was born out of the fact that i'm meeting up with a very wonderful friend (hi laura!) for dinner. the restaurant we're meeting at happens to be very near the shop.

all i can think of in terms of reduction would be to have one day a week where i don't drive (or ride) anywhere. speaking of which, i didn't go anywhere today, except for a walk with lucy and the dog. perhaps wednesdays are a good "no-drive" day... i've already got one under my belt!

i hate the fact that, based on where i live, i pretty much have to drive if i want to go anywhere. the problem partially stems from the fact that everything is just... spread out. smeared across hills and valleys. this is a huge downside of suburbia... it's all big chunks of housing, interspersed with strip malls and halfhearted shopping centers. which makes it hard to go one place and find everything you need... groceries, banking, drugstore, coffee, etc. even if you can find this, (like a quaint little downtown or something) it's likely that the area is too far from your home to get there by any means other than a car. no wonder lots of people shop at supercenters like walmart. it's one-stop. wham-bam. i don't shop at walmart, but i understand why people do. the fact that the public transportation system in the area is majorly lacking only exacerbates the issue.

so, in august, i'll be committing to some form of reduced driving, in support of my brother. just how i'm going to work it out remains to be seen. i'll keep ya posted though. no worries.

a better fit...

another attempt diaper cover-making yields a success. lucy rocks the look, don't you think? as for me, i'm fast becoming addicted to this sewing thing. too bad i don't know very much about how to actually do it. oh well. i'm learning. taking a trip out to to a specialty fabric store in berkeley later this week. i was "tipped off" to this place by a very nice old lady while standing in line at the fabric counter in joann's. of course, this lady had a pile full of various animal prints, plus john deere tractor fleece, so her idea of "really delightful, hard-to-find fabrics" might not coincide with mine. we'll see. and here's to hoping i don't spend too much money!


yea, i'm crafty...

the sewing bug bit me. i spent a fair amount of time yesterday making lucy a fleece diaper cover and matching swaddle blanket. i think they're charming. but, *sob*, the diaper cover doesn't fit. she's modeling it here without an actual diaper underneath. and i still kinda had to stuff her into it... see picture #2 (can you say buddah belly!?). the swaddle blanket is perfect though. she slept in it all night without busting out her little arms. as for the cover, i guess it's back to the drawing board. bummer!


crunch confession #06...

we make our own dirt.

jeremy and i started composting a year or so ago. it's a really good way to make use of kitchen waste. i was surprised to learn that because of the lack of oxygen in a typical landfill environment, regular waste that one would consider easily biodegradable actually breaks down quite slowly, releasing methane gas into the environment.

we started with a biostack from smith & hawken. this contraption, though very nice and absolutely convenient, isn't entirely necessary. lots of people have great luck building their own bins out of scrap lumber and netting. i like the biostack because it's neatly contained and holds quite a bit of waste. we set it in a sunny spot in the yard, and it seems to heat up well, which is supposed to help speed decomposition.

into our biostack goes all kinds of kitchen waste... fruit and veggie scraps, eggshells, shrimp peels, teabags and coffee grounds, to name a few. pretty much anything that's not meat or dairy. we also throw in used paper towels, dryer lint, whatever "house dirt" our vacuum picks up, hair from my hairbrush, pet hair, shredded newspaper, starbucks cups, paper plates, brown bags, etc. grass clippings can go in too, along with any other non-weed yard trimmings.

the result is an ever-decomposing pile of crap. which turns into this lovely, dark & rich dirt that is great for the garden. the whole process takes minimal effort, really. we keep a stainless steel compost bucket in the kitchen and empty it about every other day. jeremy rotates the pile about once every month or so. this is important to get the air flowing (or we'd have the same problem as the landfill does...). i spray the pile with a bit of water while i'm watering the yard. that's it. surprisingly, it really doesn't stink.

there's tons of information on composting. enough to make the process seem difficult. it's really not. i don't pay attention to ratios or temperatures or any other rules except this one: keep the pile as wet as a well-wrung sponge. a too-dry pile won't break down. a too-wet pile will reek.

best thing about composting? you get "volunteer" plant in your yard. last year, i decided i was going to grow a huge pumpkin patch and donate all the pumpkins to an inner-city school. i started the plants from seed, early in the season. we went on vacation. no one watered the seedlings & they died. ever eager to help less affluent kids have a happy halloween, i started another crop. they were growing beautifully in little seed pots on the deck. i transferred them to the ground and the chickens plucked them right out of the ground about 10 minutes later. determined as ever, i replanted... but it was too late in the season. the result was a halfhearted couple of odd-shaped pumpkins that were ready in december. sigh.

anyway, the point of this story is that i ended up composting those pumpkins. and now i've got pumpkin plants popping up all around my yard. in containers, in flower beds, and in the veggie garden itself. i've given a couple plants to my dad and have some ready for my sister-in-law as well. and i'm tending to the 4 hardiest plants of the bunch, hoping for a bumper crop timed just right for halloween. now i just have to pick a school to donate them too. sweet.



we had a very yummy dinner tonight. and, since lots of it was local, i thought i'd post. one the menu was...

trader joe's 'almost whole wheat' pizza dough, topped with:

zucchini from my parent's garden
tomatoes from my sister-in-law's garden
potato from the farmer's market
pesto and parmesean cheese (both from costco, sorry to disappoint).

we could have made our own pesto as we are growing basil in our own garden, but we had this already frozen & i wanted to use it up.

zucchini & potato were sliced paper thin, and sprinkled with salt. potatoes on pizza is something jeremy introduced me to, often topped with lots of fresh rosemary & black pepper. it's quite good.

anyway, pizza was accompanied by a side of fresh organic mixed greens (from farmer's market) drizzled w/ oil & balsamic vinegar. strawberry shortcake for dessert. organic strawberries were from the farmer's market too. and jer made the whipped cream. so much better than fake. and only 2 ingredients (heavy cream & sugar) as opposed to 9 (on the back of our reddi whip can).

i'm adoring the experience of getting our produce locally. the 3 of us (actually 4, cause we brought the dog along) hit up the farmer's market yesterday morning. stopped in at a bakery for coffee & doughnuts, ate at the park while the dog played, then headed over to get our fruit, veggies & bread for the week. apart from lucy wailing her head off for the last few minutes at the market, a good time was had by all. i, for one, felt really connected to the act of shopping, instead of just throwing random things into my cart. already looking forward to next weekend when we get to do it all over again!


dang. the cuteness got me...

i spent $27 on a diaper.


i bought a "muttaquin baby." also referred to as a "mutt." a trendy trend in the world of cloth diapering. as in, the owner stocks the online store on a specific day, at a specific time, and the cloth diaperers of the world crash the site trying to get their hands on these things. they get snatched up within hours. pure craziness.

i had the unfortunate luck of getting onto the site by accident, just after a crash. there were still a few diapers left. in cute girly prints. i got all frenzied. i had to buy one. i HAD to. nevermind that it's a fitted diaper and, in all it's cuteness, needs a cover over it in order to be effective. sucked in. i totally got sucked in. i have to get some willpower soon or we'll all be living under a bridge, using diapers to keep ourselves warm.

sorry, but lucy won't be wearing any pants today. she has her mutt on.


tried it: almost natural polish remover...

dang. why so big?

made by a company called no-miss, almost natural nail polish remover works without the use of acetone or ethyl acetate... harsh chemicals that make regular nail polish so stanky. it didn't blast off my 3-week old polish or anything, but it did get the job done (with a bit of good, old-fashioned rubbing). it's made with only 5 ingredients (all organic, one of which is distilled water). cutex gentle formula, on the other hand, has 18 ingredients (to be fair, water is listed as an ingredient here too). what i like most about this polish remover is that i didn't have to open a window to use it. this is a vegan product. i am not a vegan, but i do support the cause.

recommend it? yep. you can bet i'll be taking it with me to my next pedicure, too. if i ever find the time to paint my toenails, that is.

i found "almost natural" at elephant pharmacy. it's also available at whole foods. i think i paid around $6 for a 4oz. bottle.

let's talk paper...

toilet paper, that is. not too long ago, while jer and i were standing in line at costco, i realized that we had forgotten to pick up toilet paper. he volunteered to run back into the crowd and go get some. i figured he'd come back with the usual gazillion-roll package of kirkland (costco brand) tp. but he came back with something new.

"here," he said, as he tossed the oversized package in the general direction of our cart, "you'll be happy to know it's recycled."

i must admit, i was impressed with his eco-friendly attempt. but inside i kind of groaned. we were finally almost done with a package of recycled tp that i had picked up at trader joes. tp that i was not a fan of. that stuff is rough. literally. but i wasn't about to send jer back to get something else. we bought it. and brought it home. and used it. let me just say, this stuff is pretty good. it's no quilted cottonelle or charmin by any means, but it's definitely usable. it's made with 100% post-consumer waste. and i'm pretty sure it was only marginally more expensive than the kirkland brand.

another great thing about this stuff... upon opening the package, i was pleasantly surprised to see that the rolls weren't individually wrapped. how often have you gotten your tp home to find that the master pack (plastic) has multiple inner packs (plastic) and each roll itself is wrapped, too (more plastic)? what, toilet paper can't touch other toilet paper? annoying and excessive, no doubt. the stuff that jer discovered had minimal packaging. so minimal, in fact, that i'm now unable to tell you the brand name becasue the sole outer packaging is long gone.

all this talk about tp does bring up a small question... have you ever heard of "family cloth?" the idea is generally the same as lucy's cloth wipes. you keep a pile of flannel squares in the bathroom, use them, and then toss them into a container to be washed and later reused. now, i haven't tried this. but in my readings, i do notice that most families using "cloth" only use it for pee. good, old-fashioned toilet paper is reserved for other deeds. makes sense.

here's my thought. it sounds strange. over-the-top. and about as hippy-dippy as you can get. but if you really get to thinking about it, it's not that strange at all. for a civilized society, we're kind of behind in cleaning up after potty breaks. many cultures keep a bucket or bottle nearby for rinsing... and don't forget about the bidet. here we are, wiping ourselves with a bit of dry paper and calling it clean. recently, flushable wet wipes have been marketed to adults. much like a baby wipe, they're supposed to make the user feel a little bit fresher with their one-time-only use. but where do these wipes go? who knows. i'm fairly certain that they aren't designed to break down into nothingness. and what kind of chemicals are in them? i'm sure they've got a few questionable ingredients. it's probably not the best idea to go wiping your most sensitive parts with something like that.

still, i have to admit, i'm hesitant to start using cloth. i can't put my finger on exactly why though. it's not like i care what people think. or do i? i dunno. and plus, we have a very small bathroom. i just can't figure the logistics. so for now, i'm sticking with costco's recycled paper. lord knows we have enough to see us though for quite some time. and as for family cloth... well, i think i'll keep turning that one over in my head.


we get a trader joes...

finally! and only 3 months behind schedule.

how is this eco-friendly? well, instead of driving 20 miles round trip to get my groceries, i'll be able to drive just 4. i do at least 90% of my food shopping at trader joes (a little less now that we've committed ourselves to the local farmer's market), and a brand-new store opens tomorrow in my 'hood. they sent out an announcement card inviting local residents to pop in and get a free reusable bag. i'll be there! we've needed milk for 2 days now but i've been putting it off so that i can shop at the new store. hope it's not too, too crowded. the store looks rather big, but the parking lot is teensy.

i told lucy about the tj's grand opening tomorrow. like most of us around these parts, she's over-the-top with excitement.


recycling... i've been doing it all wrong.

i'm very embarrassed to say that i thought all plastic was recyclable. yes, i knew about the numbers in the chasing arrows on the bottoms of containers, but i had no idea that my garbage company didn't process all of them. which means that for the last 4 years, jeremy and i have been throwing ALL papers and plastics into a large trash can in our kitchen, and later dumping them into our recycling bin outside.

what happens after that is kind of a mystery. are there people on the other end sorting out my gross trash from what can actually be recycled? if so, i owe them an apology. and a promise to change my errant ways. i went online to learn that our county accepts #1 & #2 HDPE & PETE plastics, plus all glass, mixed paper, cardboard, tin, aluminum & bi-metal (i don't know what bi-metal is???). they've also got an extensive directory, organized alphabetically, for how to properly dispose of items that they don't currently accept. this includes a wider range of plastics, which can be recycled at a facility about 20 miles from my home.

i felt totally guilty this morning to throw out several containers, one a #5 and 2 #7's. from now on, you can bet that i'll be looking at the number on the bottom of the containers for the packaging i buy. if it's not a #1 or #2, i'll try to opt out of buying it altogether, especially if the container isn't reusable. and maybe, if i do end up having to buy something despite its number, i'll start keeping them in a box in the garage until i can take them somewhere to be properly recycled. yes, i think i will.

here's to changing bad habits!

a few quick pics from our trip...

first dip in the river... she likes it!

lucy's first independence day...


a no-dryer july equation...

no-dryer july + 4 nights in the dirt = lots of freaking laundry hung all over my backyard.

i've come to the conclusion that, while our dainty little clothesline is great for drying diapers, it's simply not enough to handle big loads of laundry. blankets and jeans and all the rest. improvements must be made. i've got sheets hanging from the table umbrella and beach towels thrown over the deck railing. i pulled out an old drying rack that i use indoors during the winter. still, it's not enough. i spent the better part of today rotating damp cotton in the 100 degree heat. now i'm up to my ears in crunchy, sun-dried laundry. but that's okay. it smells nice.

gdiapers. eh.

we're back from our trip! lots of fun was had. lucy, at 9 weeks old, is already an excellent camper. one of my favorite moments was waking up in the middle of the night, with lucy all snuggled up in my arms. looking up at the sky through the mesh ceiling of our tent, big sky all full of bright stars. music was drifting down from somewhere far up in the hills--a peaceful, instrumental version of what i think was the star spangled banner. beautiful, ephemeral music, floating through the air. as i was about to drift back off to sleep, i glanced at lucy nestled in my shoulder. she was wide awake, staring up at the sky, completely quiet. watching stars fall, i suppose. it was lovely.


not so lovely are the gdiapers. well, that's not exactly true. gdiapers are great for pee. lucy is still breastfed, so her poo is super runny. which makes the gdiapers a not-so-super option. it's a lotta work.

here's how this 3-layer diaper functions:

cloth outer layer: acts like a cover. is not waterproof. not disposable.
vinyl inner layer: waterproof. holds insert in place. snaps into outer layer. not disposable.
inner insert: nests inside vinyl layer. looks like a big ol' maxi pad. absorbs liquid without the use of plastic/chemicals. disposable/flushable/compostable.

the issue with the gdiapers is that when baby poos, poo gets onto the vinyl insert. in order to get baby cleaned up, you've got to change that layer. snapping out the messy one and snapping in a new one takes a bit of work. then you've got to stuff the new pad into the inner insert. all this while baby squirms and wiggles and kicks. if the cloth outer layer happens to get dirty, it needs to be washed before it can be used again.

our cloth diapers are very much like disposables, in that you take them off as a whole piece, and throw them into the diaper pail. pocket diapers need to be unstuffed, but that can be done at any time. the g's just seem a lot more complicated. not knowing this, i packed enough diapers to see us through about 2.5 days of camping. i had no choice but to use the g's, as we were gone for 4 days. it was a real hassle at times and i certainly wouldn't do it that way again.

i imagine that gdiapers are like anything... once you get used to working them, it gets easier. and i think that they'd work much better with firmer poo. i love the fact that you can flush the dirties and compost the pee ones. i also think that could be a good alternative for those who can't do cloth because of access to laundry facilities. but as of now, i have to say that they aren't for us. i'll use through what we've got left when i know she's not likely to poo. and i won't rebuy. sorry to say it. i promise, i wanted to love them.


it doesn't get much greener than camping...

we're off to go camping for a few days. there's a wonderful river about an hour & a half away from us, and we've got the group campsite rented out. should be a lot of people, sun & fun. we'll see how lucy does... here's to hoping she's as much of a nature girl as her mamma.

we're doing some things differently this year. for starters, no more costco flats of bottled water. (where we're going, you've got to bring your own h20... no running water at the campsites!) normally we bring at 2-3 cases of bottles. this year, we're filling up a 3 gallon container & 2 gallon-sized containers... if we run out we'll head up the road (it's not that remote of a location) and fill them up again. we've got cups and our canteens to drink from.

we're not bringing any paper towels! normally we go through about a roll a day. use them for cleaning, cooking, keeping bugs out of the food. this year i've brought along a stack of rags and a few washcloths. we'll see what my friends have to say about the inconvenience... we've become quite used to not relying so much on paper towels at home. grabbing a washrag or dishcloth is pretty much second nature now.

we're not bringing any plastic silverware. we actually donated what was left in our camping bin when we were going through everything for the trip. most of the plates that we're bringing are made of corn, and are biodegradable. in addition, we have a stack of paper plates left over from various superbowl parties & barbecues. once we're through with these, i'll invest in a stash of re-usable plates that we keep specifically for camping. i'm thinking bamboo instead of plastic.

i got 100% biodegradable shampoo & conditioner. i know that the best option would be not to bathe in the river at all... but we're going for 4 nights and a girl needs a good scrub here and there. last year, i used herbal essences, thinking that it was "natural" enough... so completely wrong. this year, i'm making sure that absolutely everything i put into the river is totally biodegradable. i've got enough for everyone else to use as well, so that no harsh chemicals will be going into the water, at least not on my watch.

wish me (& jer & lucy) luck! happy 4th!

second snag...

there's bugs on my laundry. not nice. first, a yellow jacket, looking more than a little disoriented, stumbled out of one of lucy's diapers while i was getting her dressed after bathtime. i hadn't put the diaper on yet... but i was reaching for it. the poor thing had probably been trapped in the diaper pile for a day or so.

then today, while taking diapers off of the line, a none-too-little spider crawled out from the "pocket" part of a diaper. yuck. i sure don't want any kind of bug biting my little girl's tush. i'm going to try spraying a teensy bit of raid where the clothesline attaches to the wall of the house, and the post that holds it up on the other side. it won't stop the flying bugs but at least it'll help with the creepers.

secondly, i won't leave the laundry out overnight again (hey... i have a 2 month old... time gets away). a diaper or sock must look pretty nice & snuggly for a bug looking for a place to bed down for the night.


a snag in no-dryer july...

so i do the diapers today. hang them, no problem. i'm loving no-dryer july. but then! i go out to the dryer to get the clothes from last night and... crappy. they're still half-wet. and it's dark outside and i super want to wear those jeans tommorrow, and there's no way they'll be dry by morning.


i cheated and i dried them. because the way i figure it, those were supposed to be dry last night. i planned according to need and it's not my fault the dryer didn't hold up its end of the bargain.

and really, it might be june still, somewhere in the world...

i'm fully prepared to see this through till the 2nd of august though. just to make up for my sins.

clothespin chic. i like it.

crunch confession #05...

my new face wash is pretty sweet.

i'd read good things about using raw honey in place of over-the-counter face wash. one day about 2 weeks back, while cleaning out the cupboard in desperate search for a can of black beans, i came across a half-empty jar of the stuff. decided to give it a go. wow. i am very impressed.

raw honey is unprocessed, meaning it still contains pollen, live enzymes & bits of honeycomb. the super smooth stuff i'm used to has often been pasteurized, strained & filtered, a process which gets rid of all of the good "stuff" that the bees put in. raw honey crystallizes easily, with a nice gritty layer forming on top of the liquidy honey below. this makes raw honey an excellent exfoliant.

i keep the honey in a glass jar in my medicine cabinet. dig a bit out with my fingers, rub it in my palms with a bit of warm water & slather it all over my face. scrub-a-dub-dub. rinse clean. it's not as sticky as you might think. and if some happens to get in my mouth while washing, all the better.

seriously though, i was using clean & clear daily facewash. aside from having, like, 50 ingredients, clean & clear also cleans with "smooth round microsrubbers." you've heard the teenybopper on the commercial, right? anyway, come to find out that those "microscrubbers" are actually teeny tiny plastic beads (cleverly disguised as the ingredient 'polyethelyne' in that hard-to-read text on the back of the bottle). a common ingredient in lots of handsoaps as well, these minuscule particles are showing themselves with increasing frequency in our oceans and in the bellies of marine life. not something i want to be a part of, thanks. for more info on microplastics & our oceans, click here. http://www.slate.com/id/2193693/

so far so good with the honey. my skin feels as smooth as it always has, yet it's not dry after washing. jer commented that the little bit of rosacea i have isn't as noticeable. and i feel all radiant and dewy every time that i use it. i just love the idea of a 1-ingredient scrub... and supporting the california bumblebees too. bzzz.