eat local (it's hip)...

every tuesday my mailbox gets jammed with mailers from local grocery stores. we have four of them, not including the trader joe's, so it's a lot of mail. mail which normally just gets tossed into the recycle bin, as we do 99% of our shopping at tj's and the farmers markets. 

well, i happened to have a bit of time last tuesday (yes, this topic has been on my mind for awhile), and decided to read lucy the ads (she totally dug it--brand new picture books, in her opinion). i was surprised to see that 3 out of the 4 supermarket ads featured "locally grown" icons on their produce pages--making it clear which items were grown close-to-home as opposed to, you know, new zealand and the like. 

i'm interested if this kind of mainstream awareness (a.k.a "hopping on the locally grown bandwagon") is happening in other parts of the country. i know that here in california, we're home to a lot of farms that grow a LOT of food--much of what the supermarkets carry is local by the very nature of things. but i've never seen it called out before. and i kind of like it. 

then i stopped into trader joes and saw a sign that said "locally grown in brentwood" on an apricot display. i was doubly surprised, because i've suggested to the tj's management on several occasions to label locally grown stuff and was told that they cannot do it since they don't have knowledge of where the product comes from--everything is shipped from a remote warehouse. all they see are the same labels we see: product of u.s.a., product of mexico, etc. i wonder then, how did they know those apricots were brentwood apricots? and is it safe to assume that my apricots (i bought them) went from brentwood (40 minutes away) to the warehouse (who knows where) back to the store for stocking? is that still considered local?

the apricots rotted quickly. just sayin'. 


vinegar = miracle liquid...

last night i was plagued with itchiness from 2 bug bites on my lower back. the itch was so bad it woke me up--and then i couldn't get back to sleep. after tossing and turning (and scratching) for nearly an hour, i decided to get up and try a remedy i'd recently read about online--vinegar. a couple dabs and i was back in sleepytime business, with no itch at all. a miracle (or at least it felt like one at the time). i'm definitely bringing a bottle of the stuff on our upcoming camping trip!


farm box wednesday: failure alert.

we took a day trip yesterday and didn't make it back in time to pick up our csa box. major bummer. with advance planning, we could have likely found someone to pick it up for us (bribing with organic produce, of course), but we were footloose and fancy free and didn't think about our fruits and veggies until it was too late. 


well, at least we know it got donated to someone in need. still, not being able to enjoy our pre-paid produce isn't easy. especially because we'll miss this weekends farmer's market as well. 

and of course i find myself plagued with curiosity as to what was in the box... what are we missing? i know this week was supposed to bring the first slicing tomatoes--which would have been greatly welcomed, as our tomato plants are still not sporting much fruit, and what there is of it is still very small and green. what else did we miss out on?


hooray for h20...

we recently received notice from our water management company that as of july first, we'll no longer be subject to drought rates on our bill for usage deemed to be "excessive." it seems that we got enough rainfall to lift us out of the danger zone--a good thing. especially since our usage was deemed excessive from time to time, despite our wholehearted efforts to cut back (including minimal lawn watering and dropped rinse on the cloth diapers). it's nice to know that our water bill should be a bit more manageable this summer.

here's my thought though: when basically given the green light that the "drought is over," won't many people automatically become little more lax about how they use h2o? i mean, i consider myself fairly conservative on the water usage spectrum, but already we've been letting lucy play with the hose, and are filling up her bathtub a bit higher at night. we're also running the dishwasher approximately ever other day, and have added back that extra rinse into our cloth diaper washing routine. most of these things are purely coincidental--she's more active in the tub and needs more water. our cloth diapers were having some smell issues that stemmed from detergent residue. lucy is using plates, bowls, silverware and sippy cups--all of which take up lots of room in the dishwasher. but i do find myself thinking "well, if we're out of the "danger zone"... what harm will it do to give the flowers a bit more water? or let lucy toddle through the sprinklers? 

sending out extra charges reflected in a monthly statement is a very effective measure at getting people to cut back on their water usage. it worked for us--not because of the expense, necessarily; i think it worked because it made us feel extremely guilty about the amount of water that we were using vs. the amount that was deemed "enough" for a household of our size. 

if i'm already beginning to take a relaxed approach to my own water usage , what does it mean for the guy down the street who hoses off his driveway every day, drought or no drought?


thank you...

for all of the carrot recipes! we've been on the go for the last few days and actually haven't cooked dinner at home (besides leftovers) so i haven't gotten a chance to try any of them. but knowing our csa, we'll have carrots again this week--and i'm ready to get cooking!

the donation station...

first off, sorry for the lack of posts. it's been hectic around these parts with some new crafting endeavors, an on-the-move lucy, and a garage sale this weekend. the sale went well--part of being eco-friendly is figuring how to responsibly get rid of stuff junking up your house. with a baby on the way, we've got a LOT of stuff to go of. our sale was a pretty last minute endeavor, but we got enough items together so that most people stopped & got out of their cars to look instead of just driving by. we made $150--not too shabby. but what was even better was seeing our unwanted things find new homes. 

of course, not all of the junk can go. which is where the rest of the work begins--what to send and where to send it. normally i send everything to the goodwill, but this time around am listing a few big-ticket baby items on craigslist with the hopes to make a bit of money so that we can purchase new things that we need. 

we managed to get rid of a full-sized bedframe, mattress and box springs by posting in craigslists free category. never underestimate the power of free--it was off of our lawn (thank goodness) within a couple of hours of making the post. i mean, how can i make fun of my neighbors for keeping a headboard on their porch when i have an entire bed on my front lawn? 

i'm donating old pillows, blankets and rugs to my local animal shelter (or attempting to, anyway). i've heard that shelters are often hard-up for things to keep animals cozy, while goodwill-type places are often overrun with blankets and the like. 

the rest of the stuff is set for an upcoming goodwill pickup. in a perfect world, there's probably a better way to go about donating certain items (women's clothing, for instance, could go to a battered women's shelter; art supplies could go to a low-income school) but the level of work involved totally exceeds my capabilities at the given moment.

as far as other donations are concerned, here's a story for you. i've been saving up all of my #5 plastics lately, as my waste management company only accepts #1 & #2. my local whole foods (which is not really so local at 20 minutes away) accepts #5's in a partnership with preserve--the company that makes toothbrushes, razors, etc out of recycled plastics. 

well, i didn't know too much about the program, but i decided to save up my stuff and bring it in. on donation day, i had a large garbage bag filled with #5's. i expected there to be a large drop off station in the back of the store or something, but during my shopping didn't see anything. so at checkout, i asked the clerk where to bring the bag of plastic. he advised me to go to customer service, and that they would take it upstairs for me. okay. sure thing. 

after loading my groceries into the car, i shlepped the big bag of (very clean) plastics into the store. this is whole foods, remember? filled with (generally) snooty shoppers who stare at people who are bringing large bags of trash into the store and standing in line with it. they especially stare when a pint-sized person tries her best to tear into the bag and remove said plastics. anyway, finally it was my turn at the desk. 

me: you take #5's, right? the plastics?
guy: oh, yep, sure, just hand it over. 
me: (lifting big bag). here you go. 
guy:( totally speechless). uh. 
me: what? what's wrong?
guy: (starting to laugh). that's a lot of plastic you have there. 
me: isn't this where i can recycle them?
guy: uh, i guess. 
me: what do you mean, you guess? 
guy: (pointing to a miniscule collection bin--the size of a milk crate). it's just so much!
me: (feeling a little dumb). oh, well, i guess it's alot. i don't really live close so i kinda saved it up... 

at this point a very lovely whole foods worker intercepted the conversation and assured me that it was quite all right to bring so much in at one time, they'd just never seen anyone do it before. 

that's right, people. i'm well on my way to setting an example for everyone down there at the whole foods. leave to to me, your loyal blogger, to lead the way. next time you use your preserve toothbrush, just think: it might be my old salsa or yogurt container that made your brush. 

to see if your local whole foods accepts #5 plastics in partnership with preserve, click here.  


farm box wednesday...

in our box this week: 

a head of cabbage
2 types of zucchini squash 
a container of yellow cherry tomatoes
a bag of apricots
a bag of plums!
more carrots... any ideas on what to do with carrots other than eating them raw? i'm not sure i'm much of a fan of cooked carrots--wonder if they can be sliced lengthwise& grilled? this is our 3rd week of carrots and they're starting to get a little... ho-hum. 


making it mandatory...

san francisco passed new legislation earlier this week that makes composting a must-do for homeowners and businesses. read the article here. what do you think? i'm of the mindset that even though fines won't be imposed (at least not until 2011, and probably even then, very sporadically) awareness is always a good thing. composting has been a way of life for me--my parents did it while i was growing up and i never gave it too much thought. composting now is simply second nature--we keep a bucket in the kitchen, a larger container near the back door, and our main compost bin is at the back of the yard. nearly every food scrap that we generate (excepting meat) goes to compost, along with hair, lint, untreated paper (like tp rolls) and the occasional paper towel. 

to be clear, san franciscans wouldn't actually be required to actually keep a compost bin--food waste and other compostables could go directly into their green container. i like to keep tabs on the trash in my neighborhood. it's interesting to go for a walk on garbage pickup day and see who's put out what, between the brown (garbage), green (yard waste) and blue (recyclable) cans. who's brown can is always overflowing? who never puts out a green can? my across-the-street neighbors are notorious for having trash blowing down the street because their garbage can is too full. much of the crap that gets away is actually recyclable, too--milk containers, cardboard, junk mail, etc. and if you're wondering, yes, they still have the mirrored headboard on their front porch. 

anyhow, i do think that this new legislation--though realistically not likely to be enforced--is a good attempt at furthering an eco-awareness among city-dwellers that might not give much thought to the afterlife of their table scraps. this bit of the linked article really struck home with me, especially because of my own decades-long experience with composting: 

"Ballard predicts that recycling food scraps eventually will seem as ho-hum as saving aluminum cans and newspapers.

"That used to seem like such a chore," he said. "Now we do it every day."

isn't that the truth about so many lifestyle changes?


great finds...

i spent quite a bit of birthday money out at the alameda antique fair last weekend. i tried to spend mostly on myself--but of course with lucy in tow, i couldn't help but pick up a few things for her as well. check it out... 

the greatest find by far was this vintage potty chair. lucy has been showing a bit of interest in potty learning, so the time was right. we knew we wanted a wooden one, but assumed that jeremy would build it since wooden potties are very expensive. well, for $20 we got ourselves a teeny toilet--missing only the bowl. i dug up an enamelware pot at home that fits perfectly, so we're set to go. here's to hoping i won't have 2 in diapers at once!

meet lucy's new dollie friend! i think this little guy is just too sweet, and so does lucy. i call him a "guy" because we actually found him some clothes at a garage sale this weekend. he now sports a pair of striped overalls, matching cap, and red kerchief. very cute! i have been looking for a non-breakable vintage doll for lucy. this was one of many out at the fair, but a sweet vendor gave me a discount for making an additional purchase--the rocking chair pictured below. 

lucy already has a pint-sized chair, but this rocker seemed too adorable to pass up. she loved it, i loved it, i had money in my pocket... what else can i say? check out the detailed decal on the back--perfect shape!

there's nothing like coming home from the antique fair with a bunch of new (old) stuff! of course, the only problem is where to put it... does anyone have a winning lotto ticket i could borrow? i need a bigger house. :)


a handmade happy birthday...

we were a flurry of activity this past weekend! our outings included not only my own birthday celebrations, but also two first birthday parties--fun stuff. gifts were handmade: a 30-ft long flag bunting for little maggie (see previous crafting post) and an adjustable smock for the darling luna.

of course, i had to let lucy try it on for size. she much appreciated the pocket (perfect for holding gorilla munch) and was pleased with how the whole thing came out. it's a perfected version of the smocks i made at christmastime, and i am thinking of listing 1 or 2 in the etsy shop at the upcoming stocking. 

a year ago, i would have undoubtedly been running off to gap or children's place to buy these gifts. making them is good fun, and allows me to save a bit of money (most of the time). we've got another 1st birthday party coming this weekend--i've got to get busy on little lincoln's gift! 

farm box wednesday...

it's time for another round of fruits & veggies. here's what was in our csa box this week: 

a big basket of yellow cherry tomatoes (especially nice because the plants in our garden are proving slow-to-grow and don't yet have many flowers on them). 

a bunch of stem-topped carrots

2 yellow onions

a massive bunch of basil. i just bought a log of fresh mozzerella at trader joes this week, too. hmmm--tomatoes, cheese and basil? caprese salads are in our immediate future!

a bag of green beans

a bag of apricots

a basket of strawberries

lots of yummy stuff this week--we've now got a refrigerator stuffed full of fruit! jeremy and i bought 18 pounds of cherries at our local farmer's market last weekend. the season is drawing to a close and i was finding it hard to say goodbye to my favorite fruit. at $2/pound, these were even cheaper than when we went and harvested them ourselves. cherries do keep awhile in the fridge, but i'm still thinking we might have overestimated our ability to eat quite so many cherries--we'll see! 



i'm really excited to finally be able to share some of the photos of lucy's first birthday party with you. lots of work went into this party, though the ultimate goal was to make it simple, beautiful, kid-friendly and eco-friendly. we did our absolute best, and were thankful to be blessed lots of help from family and friends, and with gorgeous springime weather. the end result was a bash that will be remembered fondly in lucy-history. enjoy!

ready to greet her guests... the party girl wore a 1950's vintage sundress and sweet bare feet.
with best friend dollie... 

our handmade party hats & crowns were a true hit with parents and kids alike--i'm so pleased with how they turned out and hope to have some in the etsy shop soon!

indoor decorations were simple at best (as in, i scrawled this note on the chalkboard 5 minutes before guests began to arrive).

instead of water in plastic bottles, we offered organic lemonade and ice water in big jugs... compostable cups were close at hand.

other beverages (all in glass bottles) included pellegrino, orangina, tejava iced tea, and mexican coke (made with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup). and don't forget the keg!
outdoor decor included this handmade banner, made by my mom & i. i love this thing and wish i could keep it up year-round, but i don't want it to get sunbleached. i absolutely love the idea of reusable party decorations--we made sure to buy fabrics that were fun but not babyish so that we can get many years of celebrations out of this thing!
lucy's cake, made by your loyal blogger. it's not the prettiest thing in the world, but it fit with our simple theme. the cake, and the rest of the yummy desserts, is displayed on a vintage, tiered side table. it was also used to hold the cake for our wedding. 
the paper banner i made to hang in the studio where food & desserts were being served. the full banner read "happy birthday lucy."

the menu, scrawled out quickly on an old chalkboard... 

a quiet moment with daddy... did i mention she loved wearing the hats?

"so this is what a birthday party is, mommy! i love it!"

the party took place back in the days when crawling was still "cool."

jeremy and his brother went to town recreating a vintage beanbag toss clown that we saw at the alameda antique fair. at $80, it was out of our price range for lucy's party--but those talented guys made it happen anyway! "eric" the clown is another party item that we hope to get lots of use out of in coming years. 

i got the task of making the beanbags--it was a quick, fun project. prizes included bubbles, softballs and organic fruit roll-ups. 

lucy's retro pedal car was a big fun for all of the kids... 

her new "birthday sandbox" was fun, too... 

we brought out her wagons so everyone could have a ride (the rustiest wagon held birthday presents)... 
and of course, it's not a party without a few chickens to feed... 
time for cake! a vintage bib saved lucy's party dress from all that icing... 
good enough to share!
time for all of those great gifts (still a few more to be posted to the blog)!
and a cuddle from mom & dad. happy birthday, baby!

we used compostable plates, cups and napkins for the party, and had enough real silverware to go around, thanks to a few donations. we kept 2 large bins out for garbage--each was labeled clearly to let guests know what to do. we ordered from world centric  and were very pleased with their competitive pricing and fast shipment of high-quality product. we had the pleasure of attending two 1st birthday parties this weekend and both used compostable tableware. looks like the idea is catching on!

treat bags for the kids were also handmade--though they sat in my living room for 2 weeks i never thought to take a photo. anyhow, each child got a reusable snack bag with snap closure. girl bags were stuffed with reusable cloth wipes/napkins and handmade hair clippies. boys got the same wipes and homemade playdough. older kids got a kid-sized gardening trowel and packet of sunflower seeds, along with a box of jelly bellies, cause what kid doesn't like jelly beans? plus, they are made locally--the factory sits only 20 miles from my house!

well, i suppose that's it! we're officially done with birthday #01... on our way to birthday #02!


farm box wednesday... the thursday edition.

the most important thing about subscribing to a farm box is remembering to pick it up. ours is open from 2-7 pm, a pretty substantial amount of time, right? boxes that aren't picked up get donated to a local food pantry. 

well, while sitting at the dinner table (6:15 pm) last night, and wondering what i was going to blog about, the thought came into my head that it was wednesday, and wednesdays on the blog are now farm box wednesdays. what did we get in the box? i couldn't remember. then it hit me that we didn't get anything in the box, because i neglected to actually pick up the box. oops. 

well, jeremy took the rest of his dinner for the road and managed to get to the pickup location in time. it seems we are true partners in this whole farm box thing--that's a good feeling. 

anyway, in the box this week: a bag of peaches, a bag of apricots, a small bag of cherries, carrots with the tops still on (super cute), some very small zucchini, a huge bag of arugula and a couple heads of garlic. 

this week's recipe is for a summer fruit crisp, using all of the fruits in our box, plus strawberries (which were in this week's larger boxes). i think it sounds delicious--but i haven't made it yet. maybe i should get off my bottom and go do that. 


lucy is 13 months...

i really hadn't planned on keeping up with lucy's monthly photo shoots--then people started asking! so here's to another year of your monthly lucy--brought to you by none other than me, the mama. 

recently acquired talents include: 

~ WALKING! yep, this girl is on the move now, for realsies. photo shoots = a little difficult...
~ making a few different animal sounds--moo, quack, oink, baa, and "cracker" for parrot
~ asking "up" when she wants to be held 
~ climbing in and out of her wagon
~ trying to cuddle with the animals in her books
~ shrieking when she doesn't get her way
~ getting the mail (provided there's someone to lift her up to the mailbox)
~ blowing bubbles in the bathtub

toddlerhood has officially begun. cheers!

p.s. the big flower on lucy's head? her idea, not mine--swear. 


all kinds of crafty...

saturday afforded me about 6 hours of lucy-less sewing time. i woke up early to make the absolute most of it, and ended up getting quite a bit done--here's how it all turned out!

first up: i'd promised a friend the gift of a flag bunting for her daughter's first birthday. the mama had loved the bunting my mom & i made for lucy's party, so i thought it only fitting that she have one of her own. though kind of tedious, these aren't very hard to make. i loosely followed a tutorial found here though my flags were much larger and double-sided. 2.5 hours of labor = 30 feet of reusable party decor. both mama and baby were thrilled with the gift (after all, it has kitties on it, which baby maggie adores). i dropped it by their house today. i look forward to seeing it hanging at the upcoming party, and will be sure to get a photo!

next up: a couple of items for lucy. i recently got my hands on a few vintage toddler clothing patterns (thanks molly) and have been having so much fun making clothes for lucy. the nice thing about vintage patterns is that they've already taken into account the bulk of cloth diapers--no adjustment needed. i whipped up a pair of summer pajama bottoms out of a super soft knit, and then made a pair of bloomers with an embroidered vintage applique on the rear. the applique was taken from an old tea towel--aren't these duckies just too cute?

next, a diaper that i owed for an upcoming etsy trade--in exchange, lucy is getting a pair of custom linen beach pants. aren't they adorable?

as if all that weren't enough for one day, i also made a portable cloth "high chair." i say high chair, but really, it's just a cuter answer to the old-school way of tying a baby into a regular chair with a dishtowel, and uses velcro as a fastener instead of a big ol' knot. we've frequented a few restaurants lately that don't have high chairs available, and lucy and i also have an upcoming getaway trip where packing her wooden high chair won't be an option. i haven't yet gotten pics of this "high chair" in action, but as soon as i do, i'll be sure to post them. 

fun stuff!