Thursday, May 6, 2010

How do you fit a block of tofu into a tiny spice bag?

Be determined to stick to your pledge of NO NEW PLASTIC BAGS!!

I found myself at the co-op..... requiring tofu...... forgetting to pack a re-usable container (with a well sealing lid)....
and in my shopping totes, I found 3 small plastic bags originally used to haul bulk spices home. It was messy, I considered just grabbing a "fresh" plastic bag, I was concerned about tofu liquid leaking all over everything, but I stuck to my pledge. I shoved and squeezed and pulled - tofu juice trailing up my arms. I spent 5 minutes cramming that block of tofu into the tiny bag, and then triple-bagging it to minimize leakage. I did it. What satisfaction! I re-used those old bags, got tofu, and did not bring another bag into our home!! This thrills me because I know myself and how easily I can cave on some things. It isn't pretty, but it worked.

My reward: caraway, mustard, and celery seed flavored tofu!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

zoom to the moon

that's what the camera was set on. a bit fuzzy, but so was i...... making chocolates until 1am.

Up at 7am for physical therapy and now I am seriously dragging.
Leeks await

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


A series of string bags in all sizes... for treasures, to buddies, blocks and stones. I love the double-sided feel and reversible options. Leaf chose the fabrics and string. Now they are all filled and she is hoping for more!
I made a few single layer bags for grocery shopping, seems like we are always running out! These are so great for fresh produce and bulk goods. I custom size them for collard greens and celery!

We also planted some carrots, yesterday (as it was a root day on the biodynamic calendar), made new bibs (with snaps instead of velcro), sewed loops into coats for easy hanging, embroidered fabric for "Gigi's house" (will post pics when finished), purchased a used learning tower from a local family, made frozen fruit cubes, did a little guerrilla gardening with seed bombs (seed balls), washed and hung 5 loads of laundry,.... the list goes on! All of this accomplished without drinking any coffee. Must be some full moon energy.

seed bombs, made after the Earth Day parade with friends

Today I feel like coffee might help.

Monday, April 26, 2010

busy spring

Not much time for blogging these days! Our lives have been so full, I am grateful. April has been a month of planting, wandering, picnics, Earth Day parade & activities (Leaf was a red fox), making lots of chocolates, getting the business finances in order, and cleaning out the sheds and crawl space. The guys have been busy updating and maintaining the alternative power with new batteries, components, and rebuilding the wind turbine. Whew!

Leaf and I started our herb garden. Our small change for April is to grow our own herbs and medicines. The April frosts are keeping everything indoors for now, except the sweetgrass we planted last year - which has seeded!! I love that my daughter joins me in dancing and singing for the plants. I am excited about this project.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

78 degrees Fahrenheit, and climbing!

My dear friend and former companion, visiting us for saturday afternoon bird watching! I love you and miss you, Berkana.

It feels like summer! It was almost too hot for me yesterday as I battled clotheslines. We made the (lazy) mistake of leaving the lines up all winter - even though I had promised the anchoring trees that I would take them down. Oops! The wind whipped sheets and t-shirts, and in cooperation with the sun, dried everything in record time (seriously... 5 minutes for the bedsheets!). And, of course, not to make my laundry task so easy, 4 clotheslines broke and 2 of the newly hung ones came down, and again today. It makes me laugh. I step back and watch myself climbing the ladder and trees, battling the very poke-y pine needles, getting tangled in rope, sweating, and the occasional exclamation, "Aw, are you kidding me?!" Where are Laurel and Hardy when you need them?
It was worth it, though. The sheets smell like wind, the towels soft, and I lay in a heap of beautifully fresh laundry.

It has been a very busy life for our family since Jayson's injury. The home rhythm has become a bit uneven. I have put in a lot more hours at work than I had originally envisioned (it's really hard to say no to making more chocolate). With the sudden onset of very dry earth and intense sun, there is much to do on the land. I have so many projects bursting out of me, but am very limited on places to create them in.

I resumed work on making a refrigerator for Leaf's kitchen, and finally had to let go of a lot of my vision and the details just to get it done. This was a great find of a little cabinet/shelf $2 at a garage sale last spring, but it sat lonely on our deck all year. The wood has seen better days, but I feel that it is about to see its best days! I am still short a tool - I need a grinding disk for the Dremel to cut off the screw ends. Thankfully, Leaf is not picky about the grain of the wood or the remaining paint that would not sand off - I will not use a chemical to strip the wood. So, Leaf and I made beeswax and olive oil polish and coated the multi-surfaced little fridge. She is very excited. Until I get the screws filed down, I have candle stubs over them (photos to follow when I have more light).

We are taking a mini vacation this weekend, close to home, but truly a retreat. A good time to re-balance.

I look forward to sharing more about our continued evolution toward sustainability with the One Small Change Project and our upcoming April changes.

Enjoy these beautiful days and star-filled nights!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

fitting it all in

In the last week, I have had very few moments to work on my own projects. I feel like I have been away from my home and rhythm for so long. This week I will strive for active stillness and feel less like a sandbag in the morning! I look forward to being done with the taxes so I can get back to enjoyable computer time. Until then, here are some photos from this week.

The PeaceLily bloomed

Washing Rocks and crystals from all over the world in Grandma Hoppy's geodesic dome

St. Patrick's Day Party with Song of the Lakes... music for all ages

Leaf invented a game called "Mulleins" where you hop and skip and run circles around mullein stalks. Great fun! (and the hair.....)

A hike in the woods...

...little hands... the lakeshore...

...aaaahhhh. I love that feeling

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Our family loves books, especially Leaf. She has been flipping pages since about 4 months of age, I have not seen anything quite like it! She will read for hours alone or with anyone. I listen to her reciting stories almost verbatim after hearing them just once! I will hear them from her over and over and over, and then she will act them out as well. It is such a joy to witness (and really cute).

Jayson and I are careful with what books we have in our collection. Many stories undergo word changes as we read to her. I would like to just write over the words, but I don't want to set the example of writing or drawing in books. At times, we cringe when a guest is reading with Leaf and we hear a passage unaltered that we find inappropriate. Censorship? Well, somewhat, but she is so impressionable and there are things we believe she just does not need inside her. It is censorship that I feel is my job right now.

Back to the nature of this post.... we look for magical books to fill the shelves with and gradually filter out the less than perfect books. Here are some of our favorites!

By author Kate Banks:
And If The Moon Could Talk
A Gift From the Sea

By Barbara Helen Berger:
When The Sun Rose
A Lot Of Otters
Grandfather Twilight

And the all-time favorite, a story of a Navajo Weaver and her process for making a traditional rug:
The Goat In The Rug
as told to Charles L. Blood & Martin Link by Geraldine

I hope to share more books each month. We are off to play with friends and visit the library today. Happy Reading!

Monday, March 8, 2010

"...a bright sunshiney day.."

We opened the windows and doors, washed every pillowcase in the house and hung it on the line outside, unearthed the slide, and got a light tan! What an amazing day! I am so thankful for gifts like these and the ability to enjoy them.

I have been in an interesting flow. Last night was full of overlapping synchronicity which culminated with witnessing a giant ball of flaming blue light streaking across the sky in the east.

The deer herd has been licking seed out of the birdfeeder and they are increasingly unafraid of us watching them through a window 3 feet away. One doe is exceptionally beautiful.... I will try to remember the camera once in awhile.

Jayson almost left without the shopping bags today. Since the One Small Change Project began, I have been impressed with my own deeper commitment. I actually got up to chase him down and hand over the bags. Moving through the heaviness of an early moontime, as well.

As for our March changes, it has been too nice outside to be in the kitchen making salve. I do have a dear friend with an outdoor kitchen. It probably has not been set up for the season yet, but perhaps we could help with that and make salve with a magical woman in a very special place: The Eco-Learning Center. And "silent night" is going to take a bit more coordination with my partner and the work he is doing in preparation for a busy work season, not to mention the business taxes I need to finish. I think there is also a part of me that is resisting the shut-offs, I see it in my words. Seems silly to me because of how much I enjoy the peace, yet it is reality. There is a worried voice inside that wants the cell phone on "just in case." There is the computer calling with communications from dear friends, the radio chanting out news of the world, the very dark bathroom and thoughts about candle safety. Now that I am writing this I am feeling sillier, yet more grounded about it. I can start so easy tonight, with everyone safe at home, and it cold enough to keep our valuable frozen foods frozen (I worked so hard to keep food this year). I need to do it just once, and then it will be simple.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

emerging spring

I feel it so strongly.
Leaf said today, "The snow isn't sippley, it's just crunchy. Crunchy and good." And it turned to slush as we walked, cross country cats, through the woods following deer tracks.

march change: homemade salve and silent night

I finally figured out which changes will be most important to me this month (and most realistically realized). With our parenting roles temporarily switched, Jayson decided that it was easier to not change pants with only one arm so Leaf had a lot of naked time this week. Consequently, little Leaf developed a chafed little bum. I agonize over which salve or lotion or balm or oil to use for her extremely sensitive skin - even the "best" and all natural products have something extra in them. Well, I just happen to have calendula flowers, olive oil, beeswax, and vitamin E in the house..... I also have lots of little glass jars and a pot dedicated for melting beeswax! How simple things really are when we just pause and look around. So, homemade salve it is and an end to spending a lot of money on others' products that we can do ourself.

As for "silent night," I am determined to have times when everything is off. Everything. With the alternative power set-up and grid connection, we can actually flip a switch to stop the juice flowing into the house. Ahhhhhh, respite. In the summers I often turn it all off in between loads of laundry, yet we have left it on all winter while enclosed in the house with the hum. I know it will help us all: Jayson's shoulder will heal more beautifully without the electromagnetic buzz, Leaf will be calmer, and I will just revel in the peace. It is so hard on our bodies to deal with all of the stimuli coming in, that's why I will not allow wireless internet in our home. There is so much electromagnetic pollution in our world, some days I find it so difficult to swim through and that is why I stay at my little home in the woods.

Enough of my rants. It is too beautiful a day to stay inside any longer!

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Creative projects on hold for a short while, no fun photos,..... been working as much as I can at Grocer's Daughter making truffles and chocolate bars (yum yum yum!). Jayson dislocated his shoulder while snowboarding, so he is out of commission for a few weeks and not able to teach. I'm pulling double duty at work and home and trying to keep it all together. I do love where I work - best smelling job ever! Leaf came to work with me today, she loves it, too. A special, special place where magic happens.

I am winding down a bit while Leaf is resting. Thinking about Biodynamics and sending energy to our land for the plants we hope to grow and welcome this spring and summer. The snow has stopped falling for a little while. We had about 16 inches Tuesday night, another 12 the next two days, and probably another 10 inches last night plus blowing and drifting. It was quite a chore shoveling out to the wood pile and the compost. Leaf decided to read every book about snowmen that she has and played with bears. How fitting, of course!

I have been thinking about what change I will make for March in our move towards sustainability. January's and February's have been so successful. Jayson remarked the other day what an amazing change the family cloth has made in toilet paper consumption. I am loving the ToGoWare stainless food storage and satiating my creative needs with knitting and sewing. Some ideas for March include establishing regular visits with elders in our community, always remembering our own containers to bring food home from restaurants (not that we have been out at all lately, but I am hopeful), learning to make pasta from scratch to eliminate that purchase with packaging, and having designated shut-off times when absolutely nothing is using power in the entire house and all is quiet. Wow, the last one is really appealing. I used to live without any power or electric hum or cell phone emissions. What happened?

This change will take effort from everyone in the house. I will post more when I am able.
Peaceful evening to you~~~~

Saturday, February 13, 2010

knitting on....

Leaf's hat was finished in an afternoon while she napped on my lap. She chose the yarn (100% wool), and I am pleased with how it turned out. Jayson's is next.... I actually had most of it knitted, but could not live with a mistake in it and unraveled the entire thing. I suppose that is where the term "knit-picky" might come from. Ha-ha!
I am envisioning a sweet pair of pants to make next. I hesitate to write any more about it, lest it lose some magic.
My other challenge for Feb is keeping up with the housework while satiating my compulsive knitting craze.

Here is a wonderful poem I read about once a week; it is me and is the source of inspiration and continued renewal of energy for what I am doing with this life.

I Will
Listen, I've decided:
Life is too precious to ponder
the petty details any longer
and to put it bluntly
I will not participate.
I will not be coming to the party.
I will not be returning the call.
I will not be anything to anyone.
I will stare at the gray sky till it is blue.
I will walk in the green fields and
smell the wildflowers.
I will imbibe this life the way
it was meant to be imbibed.
I will listen only to my body
and the black crows.
I will live by the true laws of the Land.
I will pick wild blackberries and pet cats.
I will write poems I share
only with the wind.
I will raise a child
on the edge of nowhere.
I will nourish her on magic and honey.
I will teach her
the language of the fairies.
We will play in
the forest at twilight.
We will hurl all hardship
downhill to the sea.

-Marni Norwich

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

One Small Change for February: Self-Reliance

Not exactly a small change. On our path to sustainability, my family must learn how to do many more things ourselves.... especially where we live.
Last week I read a knitting tutorial and learned how to knit. Soon, the family will have new hats that fit well! This is a skill I promised myself I would acquire this winter.
I also inherited a sewing machine last month. Three nights ago we unearthed it, only to discover it was not running! Jayson took it apart, figured out how it works, cleaned it, oiled it, fixed it,..... and now I am learning to use it! Leaf has two new stuffed mouse friends made from an old pair of jeans.... and clothing for Leaf and me is on the way!
I am taking a woodworking class later this month (we bartered with a friend for tuition), and I can finally get some tips to make my projects better executed. Hopefully some playstands will come of this.
I am finally getting my head and rest of me in gear to get creative with bringing more income in, or at the very least, have more bartering items. I feel like a bear that just came out of my cave. Motion has begun with the quickening in the earth.
And we are planning our garden!

All of these elements are helping to bring us closer to sustainability. And the most beautiful part is the feeling of making something, creating something, out of re-used materials, and made with love. It just feels good.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

plastics update

Here is the link to the Diane Rehm show, I believe if you click on the left side where the show is listed it will play the audio.

I am so glad that I listened to this last night. Good info and an important discussion. I did some of my own research, too, because I have many more questions. Leaf and I then cleaned out the tupperware cupboard. We kept a few containers to store/freeze leftovers in. Most of what we had in there is #5. I found numerous sites on the web stating that #2, 4, & 5 are safer plastics to use for re-use. They do not contain BPA. However, they do contain other chemicals that can be carcinogenic of heated. We do not use a microwave and have always washed our re-used plastic by hand, so this aspect does not concern me. What I did think about is putting warm leftovers into containers.... my solution: just let it cool completely. We use glass (pyrex) for storage as much as we can, but run out sometimes. With the addition of stainless containers for picnics and going to work (they won't break like glass can), I feel good about our system for now.

We had held on to a few plastic children's dishes that my sister gave us for when they come over, but after what I heard and read, I posted them on freecycle (not really wanting anyone else to use them and feeling a bit of contradiction within myself about it). We have wooden bowls that visiting children can use if their parents feel they would not do well with the china dishes. As for drinking vessels, we use mostly glass and ceramic. I am working on getting a few more tiny "Todd mugs" from our friend Todd Springer whose mugs have withstood numerous drops to the concrete floor! Leaf can also share her Kleen Kanteens if needed.

A big concern that I am not sure what I will do about is BPA in the lining of canned goods. We have a shelf of canned beans, some pumpkin purees, and a few soups. I have always liked having these on hand for when I haven't soaked beans overnight. I learned that Eden Foods is the only company that has BPA free cans. While I will contact other companies to inquire about their cans, what do I do with the food on our shelf that we have been eating? I think I will use them sparingly, really try to plan meals ahead so that I have time to use the dry beans, and maybe donate some to a food pantry. I do feel a bit strange about giving other people things I do not feel safe using or eating, I have concluded that it probably better for them to at least be eating organic beans instead of the other kinds that may be available to them.

Those are my thoughts on this cold and snowy day. To balance all of the cerebral work, we had a day full of art and tactile bliss~~~~~
baked 3 dozen vegan cookies, 2 loaves of bread ( and Leaf made a mini-loaf), sculpted with beeswax, and painted for 4 hours!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

another small change

My intention for change this last month was to stop the influx of new plastic produce and other food bags into the home. So far.... it's working!! I'm not referring to what we bring the groceries home in, we have been using tote bags and boxes for years; I mean the bags for spinach and dried cherries. I am loving the Ecobags for kale, bulk beets and carrots, herbs, dried beans,.... and they are easy to wash. I am happy to report that I enjoy each time I do NOT reach for a plastic bag. So glad that I finally implemented this overdue change... and that I am no longer washing plastic bags. Ugh. With the addition of a portable dishwasher from J's parents (thank you thank you!), our kitchen is much cleaner. We have a great recycling business locally where I can retire the old plastic bags.

About a week into January, I was inspired by Suzy from HipMountainMama to bring back the family cloth.

Leaf was already using only cloth, a leftover habit from diapers, it only made sense to have the rest of the family on board. I decided to ease into it with just for #1 or for the final cleaning after #2. This can get graphic so I will leave it at that. We have both options set up in the bathroom and a small stainless trash can with a removable bucket for the used cloths. This way, guests can choose their own method, as well. I am pleased with this set-up. So far, our toilet paper consumption has significantly decreased, especially because I drink a lot of tea!

Now we move towards the next month and another small change. There has been a lot of discussion lately about research done on chemical additives in plastics and other products. Noteably, the book Slow Death by Rubber Duck. I am so glad that more people are talking about this. I missed the interview on the Diane Rehm show, but will look for the transcript.
While driving home last week, I began to think about what I have in my household that is "unknown plastic" to me. Not much, but one comment I did catch from the authors is the importance of keeping it away from consumables. Well, the only place we really have plastic is in the "tupperware cupboard." Re-usable food storage containers, or re-used yogurt and other containers. I don't know if these plastics contain harmful and leaching chemicals. Last summer, I moved to storing most leftovers in glass bowls (with plastic lids), and now I will be moving farther with the addition of stainless steel containers. I ordered some and hope to have them tomorrow. I don't think this will be our only change for the month, especially because there is a lot more I need to research, but it is another step. I question the use, procuring, and production of steel as well. With almost anything, I want to know everything I can about it before making a choice I feel I can promote to others. And sometimes all of this thought and time seems ridiculous to me because it feels like it is spent on things. Things that are insignificant in the long run. Not that protecting my family from toxins is insignificant, what I mean is why don't I just go out and carve a bowl from one of the fallen trees near our house? I can go so far with my thoughts that I need to just pull back and recognize that I need to take steps, too.

I will be pondering what other changes I can make towards a truly sustainable lifestyle.

Tonight, we enjoy another meal of leek greens we harvested last spring. Enjoy the picture from then and thoughts of the seeds that are busy within the earth. Now is a perfect time to dance outside, it helps to wake those seeds up and to honor mother earth. I recommend a good stomping dance to celebrate Imbolc!

Friday, January 22, 2010

january picnic

Beautiful days of sunshine, no time for the computer! We spent the day as a family (a rare thing with Jayson's work schedule) creating and laughing. We hiked into our woods and all worked on the "nest," the recent addition to our special space - made from downed branches. I will post pictures when I have some (they are on J's phone). After a magical hike home where Leaf was the Cross Country Cat (yow meow!), we had a picnic in the snow. Such magical and memorable moments. J went to work and Leaf and I sang songs about sunshine for the remainder of the day.

We spent the weekend at the lovely Neahtawanta Inn for a Bioneers planning retreat - the work for the annual October conference is underway!
Today is a gray slushy day, good for baking cookies and reading stories. I usually have somewhat of a slothy day when I return from being away. I enjoy the slow pace and lots of tea!