Feeds:
Posts
Comments

(Yawn)

…stretch, scratch head, rub eyes…

Hello, there! It’s been too too long. I’m looking forward to getting back to this little project here, and hope you’ll come back to see what’s new!

Ch- Ch- Ch- Changes

Sorry about my little impromptu break!  Things around here have been a bit more hectic around here with the advent of summer, the end of school and nicer weather!  But, I’ve been busy!  I’ve been doing a lot of sewing, but more about that later; there have been many changes around here that I think are worth mentioning.

I started writing this blog in January.  It was then that we started ramping up on getting our house in the city ready for selling and waiting to close on 7 acres of woods, just 10 miles out of town.  We made lists of projects for the house and did research about green and sustainable building.  We looked up techniques to collect maple sap for syrup, what would be the best wood stove for our uses, and how to manage a small bit of land responsibly, while keeping ourselves stocked with wood for the stove.  Oh!  The lists were plentiful! (Perhaps, if there were such a thing, making lists would be the best career for me…)

We closed on the land in February (after waiting a painstaking 4 months) and put the house up for sale at the end of March.  We were inundated with prospective buyers for the house, and we continued to do more research, knowing we would be in temporary housing in the city for at least 6-12 months while we developed the site and built our eco-dream.

Well, we didn’t get any offers for the house, we didn’t aggressively market it after the initial market-watchers passed us by, we stopped cleaning the house every night in case another would show up, BP’s oil started spewing all over (this is important later), estimates to prep the land started climbing with the mercury, the sun came out, neighborhood kids started coming out of their homes after a hard winter, and our kids (and their other mommy) got out the scooters, bikes, balls, water toys…and started falling in love with our current home all over again.  I started to make different lists and examine the old lists.  My whole family seemed to be happy, connected and peaceful right where we were, despite all the reasons we wanted to move out to the country.  But, after examining the list (and taking into consideration all the law-breakers who have chickens in the wide open in the city), it turns out that

most of what I want to accomplish in life are
skills and a way of life
that can be achieved right here in the heart of the city.

We aren’t going anywhere.  I conceded that we would give it another shot for a year at least.  I looked around this 140-year-old house.  There are a lot of things I can’t change about it, but it suits us, it’s in a great location and, as it turns out, the kids couldn’t be happier anywhere else. 

The problem?  We’ve outgrown our britches here in this money-sucking house.  We’ve lived larger than we could, and part of selling and moving was to achieve financial sustainability as well as ecological sustainability.  Just as we started to look realistically at staying and the possibility of still having to leave to save our financial selves, a few things started to come into the mix.  I was offered a part-time job that would feed my soul, require no scheduling changes for the household, and provide a little bit of reliable breathing room in the checkbook.  Our local doulas  available started dwindling and I was asked to step up and start taking births to help meet the need for doulas in our area–so I did.  My partner came home one day after listening to the radio about the BP oil spill and suggested we get rid of our perfectly comfortable and convenient minivan and get a hybrid (which would cost a lot less)–so we did. 

Now I’m making new lists. 

And reorienting my attitude about life in this city to achieve the eco-dream. 

And, I’m getting a little closer everyday.

I mentioned briefly before that I dragged a recently hacked tree limb inside and mounted it to my ceiling for our newly christened “Seasonal Tree” to help us celebrate and honor the rhythm and the cycle of the year.  Well, for what feels like the first time, I was able to follow through with it–and on time!

Tonight we celebrated the summer solstice after the day was mostly over, sprinkling in a dash of recognition after dinner and before an evening walk.

I’m sorry I didn’t catch in a photograph of both of my daughters sitting at the table amongst cardboard and crayons, fleece and felting needles, felt and scissors, both creating (along with me) beautiful representations of summer, while we chatted about what summer looks like, smells like, sounds like and feels like. 

G colored a cardboard bird red, Em felted an acorn and finished up some bunnies, berries, a butterfly and a carrot and I fashioned felt flowers and a bright yellow sun.  We scavenged around the house for other items that spoke summer to us and came up with a beautiful rainbow-colored felted caterpillar, a mischievous fairy who was begging to swing on the branches and added the final touch after our neighborhood walk: some clippings of flowering lavender from our front yard.

All in all, though not perfect, it was a perfect evening. 

Welcome back to the world, our gentle Moon Goddess,
may your graceful journey each year be mirrored in our hearts.

Exactly What is Needed

My eldest’s jewelry pile is getting out of control.  And, because she has a toddler sister who is fascinated with everything she does, they have managed to spread this massive amount of jewelry all around the house from one playtime to another.  I love to see them get all dressed up, G trying so hard to mimic her sister and Em loving dolling up her sister.  But, the mess had to go.  At least to a centralized place.  So, I pulled out my most handy book, One Yard Wonders, and looked for a solution.  What I found was a sewing notions travel mat, which was close to what I was thinking with a portable, flexible place for all the jewelry to be stashed, moved, emptied, refilled and put away again.  So, I improvised, using the sewing notions pattern as a guide.  This is how it turned out:


getting things pinned down and figuring which stitches to do first for the “overlapped, but separate pockets” look


Ta-Da!

 
a little closer detail

I was able to make it in less than an hour!
(After, of course, lots of time trying to figure out the right fabric and thread…)

Go Green: Save Water

Water is the most precious resource we have on this lonely planet, and we’re squandering it away.

Nothing exists without water, either directly or indirectly.

A while back, I put together a post about saving paper here, and now thought I’d post something about saving water, as it has been on my mind a lot lately.  We are a culture that, some say, is incredibly arrogant and wasteful.  When it comes to water, I emphatically agree.  One of my favorite new paradigm shifts came recently from the Organic Sister blog, where she shares a favorite idea:

There are two kinds of people in the world. 

People who shit in clean drinking water

and

those who don’t. 

It reads funny, but, if you truly think about it, it’s profound.  It’s safe to say that the majority of the Western world falls in the latter category, but it is also safe to ask: “When’s the last time you thought about where your water comes from?”  “Does it make sense to shit in the same kind of water that we drink?”  Or, should we get over our phobias about human waste and get real while we still have a planet?  I dream of the simplicity of 5-gallon-bucket composting sawdust toilets, but back here in semi-urban reality, we have two decently-water-efficient toilets (1.6 gpf).  So, what more can we do while we are here in this house and not dreaming up big plans for all the water-saving features we could do if we were, say, building a new home?  Water-saving ideas are relevant for everyone–particularly the 99% of households who are living in older homes, or have no intention of moving, for whatever reason. 

On that note, here are a few things we do in our home:

Since I cannot shower in 5 minutes, I take a shower every other day.  Shortening your shower time and using a low-flow shower head also helps.

When we had to replace our tub, we replaced a gigantic claw foot tub with a 4′ tub instead of the standard 5′.  When the children get baths, this saves quite a bit of water.

“If it’s yellow, let it mellow,” is a great saying for a reason.  Don’t flush unless you have to!  But, be careful if you have really old pipes–there’s only so much toilet paper (if you use it) that they can take per flush.

Turn off the tap while humming toothbrushing tunes.

Water used to cook food (i.e. pasta, grains, corn, etc…) should be used to water plants.  Pouring water down the sink only wastes water!!   Water that is enriched by cooking food is good for your plants and causes you to use less to water those plants…(not to mention lower your water bill).

In the same vein, water leftover in drinking glasses are used to water plants.  I swear this is the only way plants get watered around here!

Made our own rain-catchment barrels.  Those things can cost well over $100 for half-barrels!  I built mine (with help) out of $12 55-gallon food-grade barrels purchased from an outdoor store.  Your local junkyard, grain store or grocery might have them too.  I went to the local hardware shop and purchased a couple of pieces to install a spigot at the bottom (though you can siphon the water out manually) for less than $15.  I now have a fully-functioning rain-catchment barrel (55 gallons!) for less than $30, installed.  Here’s an even simpler way to do it.  While you’re at it, get a couple of concrete blocks to elevate your rain barrel, please don’t spend $30 or more just for the “stand” they sell at those Big Box Home Improvement stores.  Take that, Home Depot.  Don’t forget: use rainwater only for plants–it’s not potable!

Use an energy-efficient dishwasher.  There’s a controversy about whether dishwashers actually save or waste water, and it mostly depends on your dish-washing style.  I waste a ton of water by running the tap while washing, because I can’t stand the idea of using a tub of dirty water to wash dishes.  For me, the dishwasher saves water and my relationship (I h-a-t-e washing dishes).  Win-Win.

Only wash laundry when there’s a full load.  Enough said.  Be sure to replace any old or broken washing machines with Energy Star appliances.

 

If you want to take dramatic steps, try:

Using a solar shower outside.  A finite amount of water significantly restricts your ability to use a ton of water.

Replacing your flush-toilet with a composting toilet.  Composting toilets, whether incinerating or sawdust, use no water.

Take a sauna instead of a shower.  It’s not unheard of for people to use a sauna in the same way most would use a shower.  And, apparently, just as effective.

Install a greywater system (used tap or well water from dishes, etc…) for garden irrigation, flushing toilets and anywhere else it doesn’t matter if the water is really clean.  (Note: Make sure dishwashing soap is biodegradable and non-toxic or plants will be contaminated quickly.)

Do you have any crazy or wacky ideas about reducing or eliminating clean water usage?

Projects!

Well, after lamenting about life in general and coming around and sending out gratitude for life and all her creatures, the creativity spark returned.  I feel like it can sometimes be a closed loop: no time for creativity leads me to feel stifled, which halts my creativity, I wallow a bit, and then *SNAP* — It’s back!  Feeling better, finding time to create and get my groove back.  So this is my upswing.  I’ll warn you, it’s only a start, but a start nonetheless!

Bloomers inspired by my eldest’s obsession with skirts and dresses.

I made a quick pair of pants and matching gift bag/reuseable sack for some friends who just had a baby.  Best part: they were made from a 50c t-shirt from the thrift shop, and I had everything in my fabric cabinet–no money spent!

   

This photo is the promise of renewed commitment.  I have talked about trying to follow a more Waldorf-style for my young children and family, but quickly got buried in the day-to-day, as new ideas often do around here.  Here’s my nod: our new Seasonal Tree, just in time for Summer Solstice.  It was pruned from a young tree in our front yard (much to the disappointment of Em) and after letting the leaves dry, I hung it from the ceiling (preserving space but keeping it in our constant sight).  We are currently gathering seasonal items that represent summer and will decorate it as part of our homage to the rebirth of the moon goddess.  Will post pictures when that happens!

I want to take this time to honor everyone in my life, both real and virtual, who help me, inspire me, and give me cause for reflection…

For my favorite bloggers: You are an inspiration for me everyday.  I check in on you before my coffee, take in the beautiful, serene moments you have captured and file your tips in the back of my mind as I start the day.  It is the picture of how life can be which you paint every day that inspires my creative adventures and pulls me out of my funks, which all help the days go smoother, no matter what the journey looks like, nor the outcome.

For my family: You teach me more about patience, love, frustration and craziness I ever thought possible.  It is for you that I strive to be a better wife, mama, and person overall.  You foster and create space for all the wonderful things that come out of me every day.

For my friends: Most of you have fallen away into Facebook friends, texting friends or those whom I catch up with every few years.  For sticking around, even when my life gets so hectic and unpredictable that I don’t return phone calls, texts, private messages, emails or telepathic waves, I honor you, for you have no idea how much my life is boosted by your mere presence in the world.

 

I am filled with love today thanks to all of my sisters and brothers in the world, even though you are not nearly all mentioned above.  I am enjoying the open windows, gentle breeze, forgiving sunshine, blooming flowers, fruiting plants, peaceful laundry on the line, being a mama, being a part of this whole web called life.