SO excited...

we just joined a csa! for those of you who might not know what this is, csa = community supported agriculture. we're paying a direct monthly fee to a local farm (operating 48 miles from our home), and in turn they will provide us with fresh, organic produce every week, in a box that i will pick up only a few miles from my house.  

this has been on my to-do list for over a year, and i am thrilled to have taken the plunge, especially now that spring has arrived and we can expect lots of yummy fruit in our box. i feel great about this decision, especially because of the fact that ever since trader joe's opened near my home, i have become pretty lax about hitting up my farmer's market. it's just too easy to pop into tj's for bread, milk, etc. and walk out with blueberries from mexico, apples from new zealand and spinach in a bag. and really, like many people, i'm not convinced that tj's fresh produce is exceptional by any means. connivence has simply become my current motivator. 

here's what organic produce we can expect through the year (for a monthly fee of $59): 

Summer:  sweet corn, sweet cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes such as Marvel Stripe, Green Zebra, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, and many more... summer squash, basil, cucumbers, melons, watermelons, assorted peppers, egg-plant, pole and bush beans, cherries, figs, plums and pears. 

Fall:  select summer crops; winter squash, salad mix, spinach, beets, fennel, turnips, broccoli, sweet potatoes, persimmons, pomegranates, and apples. 

Winter:  many Fall crops, asparagus, cabbage, salad mix, baby spinach, arugula, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, dino kale, gold beets, leeks, broccoli, garlic, rutabegas, daikon, fennel, oranges, mandarins, tangelos, and kiwis. 

Spring:  select winter crops, snap & sugar peas, asparagus, new potatoes, lettuces, red chard, green garlic, strawberries, and heirloom variety apricots.

the first pickup of our terra firma farms csa box will be may 6th. if there are organic cherries in the box, i think i might die of happiness. anyway, i look forward to letting you all know how it pans out!


laundry day...

it seems like every day is laundry day around here. really, we do a heck of a lot of wash. i'm not complaining (well, maybe just a little), but whether it needs to be washed, dried, folded or put away, laundry is kind of filling up my little world. i fear it may actually overtake me when i'm not looking. 

last july i gave up the dryer entirely for a 3-month span. every little baby sock was hung on the line or on a drying rack indoors if it happened to be raining (rare). now, with a near-toddler in my presence, it seems i barely have time to get the wet clothes from the washing machine into the dryer. yes, teeny babies are time-consuming, but those who crawl and get into everything bring a whole new level of hurriedness into the daily routine. how fast can i get this load into the wash? how fast can lucy get into the dog food? 

anyway, here's how the laundry goes down at our house:

for diapers & wipes, we use 7th generation delicate care. i've never had any issues with this detergent. it gets the diapers very clean, and i don't notice buildup or anything like that. my only problem is that i've never seen it available locally, so i order through drugstore.com. which reminds me, i'm nearly out of cloth diaper detergent. (i did run out once, and ever since, i keep an 8 oz. mason jar tucked out of sight, just in case.)

for our clothes, we use ecos liquid detergent, which is available at costco. love everything about this eco-friendly soap (especially the essential oil fragrance), except it doesn't seem to get jeremy's work clothes all that clean sometimes. 

for cloth rags and towels, we use tide. horrible, horrible tide, a holdover from our less eco-friendly days. thankfully the massive jug is almost empty--the super-strong smell that i used to love now gives me a headache. 

bleach? i use it on very rare occasions, mostly when i'm doing an all-white load of items that are particularly stained. i really hate to use bleach (mainly because it is such a toxic substance and horrible for our waterways) but i have not found anything that removes set in stains. i tried my very best to love oxyclean for this purpose, but it was a no-go for the really set-in stains(though i do find it excellent at whitening yellowed vintage clothing). baking soda does help with some stains, as does setting clothing in the sun to dry. if anyone has another remedy for whiting clothes, lay it on me!

for wool and delicates, we use ecover delicate care. no complaints. love the scent. 

in the dryer, we use wool dryer balls. we used to have 7, now we have about 3 or 4. where do the balls get to, i have no idea. with their use, i have noticed much less static cling on our clothes. this can also be achieved by not overdrying. 

now here's what inspired this whole post (besides the fact that i am mad at myself for not hanging diapers on the line today even though it was 70 degrees & sunny): the back of my ecover bottle states the following: "no optical brighteners – research has shown that optical brighteners bind to the skin irreversibly."

 i did a bit of googling around but couldn't find much research on this. the best info i could find was here which still doesn't have much information. personally, we're in the clear. none of our detergents have brightening agents. thank goodness--i don't need anything permanently bound to my skin. really, isn't the idea of it just kind of unsettling? 


my little state...

california certainly isn't without its problems, but here's a bit of nice news for the state: 

california adopts nation's first low-carbon fuel rule. "california air regulators on thursday adopted a first-in-the nation mandate for low-carbon fuels, telling the petroleum industry it must help combat global warming by offering cleaner-burning alternatives."  regulations state that fuel companies must "cut the carbon content of the fuels sold in california by 10 percent by 2020. it does so using a groundbreaking approach, by counting all the emissions required to deliver gasoline and diesel to california consumers - from drilling a new oil well or planting corn to transporting it to gas stations.

the article goes on to debate these new regulations, stating that they will unfairly impact manufacturers of biofuels such as ethanol. it's a short but interesting read if you've got some extra time to kill--and proves that there's always 2 sides to every store. 

i don't know. of course every little bit helps, but 10 percent in 10 years really doesn't seem like all that much to me. you? 


i neglected to blog on earth day. someone must be neck-deep in birthday party crafting... 

happy (very belated) earth day!


it's hot!

temperatures have taken a steep climb into the mid-nineties over the past few days. which means we're all hot, sweaty and looking for a little relief. well, lucy found some in the form of an oversized birdbath/urn that's been sitting in our yard for awhile. big plastic pool? we don't need no big plastic pool!!!

i guess lucy probably will grow a bit more during her childhood--which means this birdbath thing is only a temporary fix. i think it'd be an old claw-footed bathtub or antique horse trough for "swimming." i'll have to find a killer deal in order to make this dream come to life--i've seen both out at our antique fair--they certainly aren't cheap!


paper towel watch...

#16 & #17: used to drain bacon
#18: compost bucket
#19: more bacon (blt's w/ avacado & cheese--so good!). 

thanks to some smart comments from you readers, i now have a plan to start using newspaper in the indoor compost bucket to absorb some of the "food-scrap runoff." no idea if this will work as well as paper towels, but we'll see! we don't take the paper, and i meant to grab an old one last time i was at my parent's house, but forgot. 

another reader tip i can't wait to try is using warm bread to pick up those miniscule glass shards that come every time we get a dish tossed over the side of the highchair. while i love not having to worry about popping lucy's plates & bowls into the microwave, or transferring warm food into them, there sure is a risk involved with handing baby something so very breakable. she's getting much better about this though--it only took 6 months, but today she ate cereal out of her glass bowl without so much as picking it up. till the food was gone, anyway. then all bets are off:

mmm. trader joe's organic raisin bran crunch. good to the last drop! 

now, what do you non-paper-towel-users do for draining bacon & hash browns? 


no peeking, lucy!

i'm so excited about part of lucy's birthday present that came in the mail last week--just had to share. how cute are these from lucette on etsy?

i originally purchased only the cupcakes, but this kind seller threw in the breakfast goodies as an apology for shipping a mere 1 day late. talk about great customer service! the quality of these crocheted treats is excellent, and the price was right--only $6 for the set of 3. score. i hope lucy loves them as much as i do--i see tea parties on her green toys tea set in our future!

i hoped to make something for lucy, but i am super running out of time. i might issue her a rain check for some felt letters like these, (though for the work involved, i think i'd rather just shell out the $30). as consolation for my procrastination, i am also trying to take into consideration the smart words of my own mom, who, after hearing me say "i haven't even made anything for lucy's birthday yet!" said, "honey, you're making her a party." hmm. is that why i'm so tired?

jeremy has built lucy a sandbox (which she won't yet touch with a 10-ft. pole... uh-oh!), which will be her big gift. and we've asked guests of her party to bring only themselves. it'll be interesting to see how many listen to our wishes! 


what's up for earth day?

you had to know that there'd be something special cooking up around here. and there is. four little fluff bugs is happy to be collaborating with square pea baby. we're putting together 2 adorable sets--each with an embellished diaper and coordinating custom-sized woolies. if the sets are purchased by noon on earth day, four little fluff bugs is throwing in a set of matching cloth wipes. here's a sneak peek of the cuteness...  please note that actual sales are being hosted at squarepeababy.etsy.com.

blue for the boys... 

and also available in girly colors for the girls... not that boys can't wear purple and pink...

now, if you'll excuse me... i've got to get busy finishing up these diapers!


how good does this look?

check out this trailer for tapped, an upcoming documentary that will "illustrate the impact of the global water crisis on america and what we can do as individuals to enact change sooner rather than later. tapped [will] examine the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil."

watching this trailer made me think of 2 things:

first, i think i forgot to mention that we won't be serving bottled water at lucy's party. instead we'll keep pitchers of ice-water available near the other beverages.

second, my latest three-to-four-times-per-week-indulgence has been lime-flavored sparkling water from trader joes. i used to buy the brand in the blue glass bottle (forget the name at the moment), but trader joe's is now offering their own label of the stuff (in a plastic bottle) for .25 less. this trailer made me want to switch back to my old brand. like, immediately.


let's play catch up...

someone's been MIA for a moment. oops, i guess it was me. here's a catch up post to get us back on track:

we had a fantastic easter. lucy was in the greatest of spirits all day long, and looked simply adorable in a vintage dress and bed jacket with little embroidered bunnies on it. her hair is finally getting long enough for little pigtails. they stuck right up, but kind of resembled bunny ears--perfect for easter. babies can pull anything off...
lucy's easter gifts were small and sweet: shoes, socks and a book from grandma, more tub toys from me. instead of plastic easter grass, one of lucy's baskets was filled with scraps of organic bamboo velour leftover from diaper-making. the other was filled with crumbled strips of paper kept from a previous year. i have to say, the scrap filling didn't quite work out the way i envisioned--it wasn't fluffy enough or something. no matter, lucy didn't seem to mind. i wish i'd gotten a better photo, but she tore everything apart soon after laying eyes on her baskets. 

we did happen to get a real easter egg this year, thanks to porter, our brown-feathered hen. those girls have never yet failed to deliver us an egg on easter!
if you look carefully in the background of the above photo, you'll see that lucy's party banners are starting to take shape! thanks to my mom, we have nearly 30 feet of colorful little flags we'll use as decoration for her birthday in years to come. now they just need to be sewn to a piece of binding (they're currently hanging on my clothesline w/ clothespins).

in other party news, i have to thank you all for your suggestions and other comments regarding our party utensils! i'm happy to say that my wonderful friend (and diaper-making business parter) molly has volunteered to bring 60 sets of flatware to the party. this is saving us money, not to mention resources, and i am incredibly thankful for her generosity. 

in paper towel news, we have used up a few more. here's the breakdown: 

sheet #11: compost bucket
sheet #12: used to dry off a colander full of fresh berries for fruit salad. in retrospect, a clean dishtowel may have been just as effective. 
sheet #13: used to drain bacon grease for eater brunch. i can't believe we only used one, for 2 boxes of bacon? no wonder i am feeling large... 
sheet #14: compost bucket again
sheet #15: used to clean up teeny bits of broken ceramic off of the floor (lucy dropped her dish of blueberries). i have always used a paper towel to help pick up the teeny fragments left behind from shattered glass, as an extra measure to sweeping and vacuuming. with little hands and knees all over my living room, i want to make extra sure i get every last splinter of sharp stuff. 

one more thing to report. it's time for old navy's stuff and save promotion again, and i did receive a card in the mail instead of a plastic bag. if you've followed my blog for awhile, you'll recall that i wrote old navy asking them to "green up" their promo. not long after,  a friend told me that she'd gotten a card in the mail from old navy, good for a reusable tote in-store. i was excited and called to company to find out more detail, their customer service team told me that this improved promotion was demoing in select markets. it seems that they're making another go-round with it. good news. i only very rarely shop at old navy anymore, but i have to applaud them for their continued attempts to improve their stuff & save promotion!

i think that's it. for now. 


new (old) finds...

we had lots of fun out at the alameda antique fair last weekend. i picked up a few appliques and things for future diapers, but the real finds this month were all for lucy. lucky girl--i hadn't planned on buying her a single thing!

isn't lucy's new boombox the cutest thing ever? you know you're getting old when "antique" applies to toys you used to own yourself, but what can you do? the vendor picked up on lucy's(and possibly my own) adoration of this non-battery operated toy, and gave it to her for free. we did drop some cash in his booth on a few other things, but still, it was a completely unexpected and appreciated gesture!

next we stumbled across a massive box of vintage baby clothes being sold for $1-$2 per piece. it was an unheard of bargain for that particular venue (most pieces are at least $5-$15), so i snatched up a few. lucy's closet is totally overflowing with vintage frocks, or i would have gotten more. here are a few of my favorites... 
someone's fingers have been on the camera lens... wonder who?

the greatest thing about vintage clothes is that they are cut very roomily to fit cloth diapers. lucy hasn't worn a pair of jeans in months--they simply won't fit over her big fluffy bottom! 


i need a consensus...

so, for this upcoming party, jeremy thinks that we should ask people to bring their own silverware. i think this is weird. 

a little background: even though it is slightly more expensive, we have decided to go with compostable cups and plates (made from sugarcane) for the party instead of paper. we feel pretty good about our decision, and hope that it will be a good example for our guests--we'll have our green yard waste container set up nearby for them to toss their used dishes into. (i don't think our personal compost bin is large enough to accommodate all of the waste). 

anyway. we're placing our order this weekend and haven't decided whether or not to order utensils. keep in mind that the invites have already gone out. so here are the questions: 

should we ask people to bring their own silverware?
would your answer change if the invites hadn't already gone out, and we could have put a little note in there?

my vote, as you know, is for weird. i get that the one-time use factor sucks, but to me it's strange to ask guests to bring something to a party. but i'm totally open to other opinions. 

we did buy our own silverware for 180 guests at our wedding, mainly because we didn't want to use disposables and rented china wasn't in the budget. we bought our own plates and glasses too. after the wedding we sold everything off to a sushi restaurant that was just starting up... hindsight is 20/20, as they say. we should have kept a little for ourselves!



the best bibs...

every since her first foray into the world of solid foods, little lucy has been quite skilled at making a big ol' mess when it comes to mealtimes. thankfully i have found a bib that can keep up--as much as can be expected, anyway. along with being made in the usa, bumkins bibs are free of nasty stuff like pvc, phthalates and vinyl, and have a nice, non-plastic-y feel to them. they're also waterproof. i swear the pocket at the bottom actually holds water--large amounts of it. what i love the most is that they are easily hand-washable. i rinse lucy's out at the sink and hang it on a hook in our kitchen. it's always dry by the next mealtime. the only thing that could make this bib better is if it came with sleeves... oh wait, it looks like they already thought of that:i always feel like lucy doesn't need another thing, but the bib pictured above could get a lot of use around here. i mean, at first glance it does seem like overkill, but it would be awesome at preventing messes such as these:  

that's steel cut oats with frozen blueberries, if you're wondering about the specifics. blueberry juice out of thermal knit? not an easy task. it's a good thing this girl is cute--i don't mind working for her. 

seriously though, a bumkins bib is now on my personal go-to baby shower gift list. along with something handmade, of course. 


tried it... baby sunscreen...

after a long day spent out at the alameda antique fair, jeremy is sunburned and i am fairly fried. only lucy managed to escape from all-day sun unscathed--she was wearing a long sleeved shirt, capris and sunbonnet, but i slathered all of her exposed parts with avalon organics natural mineral sunscreen. thankfully she's looking a lot better than us. 

sunscreens are tricky. you use them to protect yourself from harmful sun exposure, but often times they are made up of lots of nasty chemicals, many of which are known carcinogens. it kind of defeats the purpose, in my opinion. last year i bought natural sunscreens, including the avalon organics for lucy, but i don't think i ever got around to writing a review. 

for an spf 18, i think this stuff works really well, though it is a bit slow to rub in and not water resistant. it's hypo-allergenic, paraben-free, and fragrance-free. active ingredient is titanium dioxide, which is thought to be carcinogenic when inhaled. (mental note: do not huff the sunscreen). the skin deep cosmetics safety database rates this product as a 3 out of 10 on its safety scale. certainly not the worst, but they do list 27 alternate sunscreens with lower ratings. we're about halfway through our bottle. i'm thinking that when it's emptied, i'd like to give california baby sunscreen try. it gets a ZERO on the ratings scale, which is obviously the best mark that a product can receive. we've had nothing but good luck with their baby wash, conditioner and bug spray. my only curiosity is as to whether or not it will work! have any of you mommies out there had any hands-on experience with california baby sunscreen?


a garden-y day...

much of today was spent working in our backyard, which is becoming more and more lovely as the date of lucy's party grows closer. jeremy has been laboring nearly non-stop getting things looking nice--after all, we're planning on around 50 people, many of whom have never been to our home before. things just weren't up to par for a first-time impression!

i went out today and bought quite a few plants, making sure that each and every one was labeled "drought tolerant," since we are indeed smack in the middle of a drought. after we get these into the ground, we'll be following up with lots and lots of mulch. we've never used mulch before and are hoping that it really will help us save enough water (and keep the plants looking nicer) to offset the cost. also planned is a drip system for areas that won't get a lot of attention water-wise. the goal is to keep everything living this year (which we've not had much success with in the past) so that next year, there won't be so much work when spring arrives. 

in addition to the decorative plants that i purchased, i also started buying things for our vegetable garden. have i mentioned that we're putting the garden in the front yard this year? i have kind of mixed feelings about this plan--i like that we'll be kind of setting a good example in our neighborhood, but i also worry about the possibility of people making off with our crop. oh well, there's usually more that enough to go around, right?

on the list so far are a few different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, watermelon, eggplant and butternut squash. i think there was something else, too. no peppers yet, i want to make sure i get all of these others into the ground first, and see how much room we've got leftover. i also started my pumpkin seeds today! on a tip from one of you wonderful blog readers, i planted them directly into little eggshells. i have never seen this done but it seems like a great idea--i'm assuming that you can plant the eggshells directly into the ground when the time comes?

in planting those tiny pumpkin seeds, and also in some of the snapdragons i bought today, i got to use some of this winter's compost. i'm always amazed at just how our garbage turns into such beautiful, rich dirt with tons of little buggies and wormies in it. honestly, it's not gross at all, even for this valleygirl, and it doesn't stink. we've got a copious amount of wonderful, fresh dirt at our disposal for free--all thanks to composting. which really takes zero effort, i have to say, especially in the winter when nature does the watering. we hadn't even turned our pile since last summer, until about a week ago. 

when i was first getting started in composting, i found this blog  really informative and interesting. i haven't followed it in quite awhile, but in checking back i see that lots of ads have been added to the site, which might be a little annoying, but if you're looking for good information, this blog is a nice place to start. 

i hope to post pictures very soon of our garden once it's, you know, in the ground and stuff. and of course of my little pumpkins in their eggshell houses, too, once they get to sprouting! what are you growing this year?


we're planning a party...

a first birthday party for the girl. it's going to be a backyard kind of shindig, pretty mellow, with lots of food and drink and hopefully good weather. we had really high hopes on making this a super-eco-friendly party: seeded invitations (which grow wildflowers when planted, and are made from 100% post-consumer waste), handmade fabric banner-style decorations that could be used year after year, compostable plates, cups, etc. and a mini pony, which is not exactly eco-friendly one way or the other, but it sure would be fun. 

then i realized that i don't have a jillion dollars. we're now looking some alternate ideas. 

the seeded invites turned out to be the most frivolous-seeming expense, so we're currently searching for 100% recycled cardstock to print our own invitations on. the stuff that big chain stores like staples sells is made of 10% post consumer waste, which to me is not really that good. so the search will go on tomorrow at a few local paper stores. i'm at the point where i have to buy something... invites need to go out this week!

decorations. we're definitely doing a lot of balloons (did you know that ALL latex balloons are compostable... not just trader joe's ones?) but i really wanted to do something a little more permanent that i could pull out every year. kind of like this. and so i ordered a ton of this adorable fabric during a half-off sale at an online quilt shop. i was so excited. the bad news? the quilt shop tanked and most orders were cancelled. including mine. so now i'm trying to pull together scraps that i have that will coordinate well as decoration. we'll see how it goes. 

we're sticking with compostable plates and things, even though it's a bit more expensive than regular throwaway stuff. one step better would have been to get a full set of bambooware, but again, it was super cost-prohibitive. 

oh, and the pony, the pony. everyone told me to hold off on the pony, at least until next year. i am very begrudgingly heeding their advice. humph. 

more to come from the planning front as things unfold!

paper towel watch...

paper towels 11, 12 & 13 ended up at the bottom of the compost bin. i'm telling you, this is such a great way to keep the compost bucket clean but is it really worth having paper towels on hand for pretty much only this?

in related news, i haven't done laundry in awhile and we've got a massive stack of dirty rags in the garage. gotta get to that. 


lucy is 11 months...

new talents include: 

~pointing to things that she wants
~understanding simple directions (bring the book to mommy, put the hat on your head, etc). 
~making use of her new (and still quite nubby) top teeth
~saying and waving hi-eeeee to people passing by on the street
~walking behind anything with wheels (and also her high chair!)
~laying cheek-to-cheek with mommy in the middle of the night. awww. 

i can't yet make my head believe that lucy is nearly a year old. it doesn't seem possible. but you know what they say... time flies when you're having fun. and lucy is a whole lot of fun.