Monday, December 16, 2013

Make It Sew

I've been toying around with the idea of putting a name to my creations.  I once called my stuff "Earth Loom Creations". But although I liked that the name incorporated my connection to the earth, the name quickly lost its appeal. It felt chunky.  It just didn't roll off the tongue.

After the break from crafting that I took after I felt defeated by my wrist, I have mostly been sewing. I enjoy the beautiful things I can make and it doesn't hurt! "Earth Loom" doesn't really make sense any more.  Plus, I feel anew. And that refreshing feeling deserves a fresh new name.

I'm debating whether or not to go with something with the word "sew" in it.  It's a bit restrictive.  Just like "loom" rules out anything not woven, it rules out crafts that are not sewn.  

Just before starting this blog, I asked my mother for suggestions, then quickly came up with "Make It Sew" myself. For those of you unfamiliar, I enjoy the subtle reference to Star Trek. I like that it had "make" in it.  Which leads me think why not just go with "Make It So".  It still encompasses the craftiness with "make". Then again, having "sew" in there might keep me focused. 
I'm not thinking about making this into a business.  I'm still in the divorce stage of my last business.  But perhaps a hobby that I could make a little bit of craft supply money off of? ;)  

Consumed by the season

Christmas. It consumes most people at this time of year whether they want it to or not, as it has consumed me.

I have been posting about my Christmas experiences on Twitter. (I tend to use my twitter account for things that I don't actually want people to follow, since I have very few followers.) I've talked a bit about gift wrapping here, but I'll add that I have been busy with window painting,
tree hunting,
gingerbread houses,
photo albums, Yule pajamas
and ugly Xmas sweaters. (Pictures of ugly Xmas sweaters will be posted AFTER the Yule party)

But I digress... I admit that I have fallen into the consumer trap that is Christmas time.  I have bought things for crafts that I had every intention of having ready for stockings, yet will now not have time to finish. I have purchased things for friends and family that I'm sure they really don't need.  I have grabbed green and red packaged candy while I'm waiting in line for the till. I have even stocked up on supplies for baking - something I rarely ever do.

But this year I did something that I have not done before.  I asked all my family and friends to wrap their presents as green as possible - at the very least, any gifts for me. Reused gift bags, paper used as padding in packages, bows made from old magazines. This is how I have wrapped all my presents this year.  And everyone I talked to agreed that it was a splendid idea! 

Here is what I've done so far: 
I quite like the creativity required with unconventional mediums.  I hope everyone else has followed through with the green gift wrap theme, too! (I made that tree skirt, too, by the way.  ;)  )

Monday, November 18, 2013

It is time...

Sometimes a person does the best they can to sneak in little moments here and there where they can be themselves and do the things they want to do. And every other moment is spent doing the things they "have to" do. 

And sometimes this is not enough.

I spend a couple hours here and there making my crafts or supporting HOPE Society, the organization I belong to that runs our local farmer's market and supports efforts to make our town a little more green. These things make me happy, make me feel like, in that moment, I am making a difference using the skills that I have. 

Then I have to go to work. I "have to" because I "need" money to pay bills and buy groceries.  

But it is not enough. Sure I "need" to eat. But I also need an adventure. I need to feel like I am making this world a better place. I need to create.  These things I need just as much as food.  

I have made the decision to sell my business. Yes, I have suffered a wrist injury.  But I truly feel that it is not a handicap, but a sign. It is life telling me that I am going in the wrong direction.  I am not happy.

My mother always told us that it did not matter what we did when we grew up. We didn't have to make a lot of money or be something highly revered like a doctor or a lawyer.  As long as we are happy, it did and does not matter.  I say again, I am not happy.

With this decision, I feel relief.  I see my adventure, my window to make a better world.  The world I will see.  For how can one improve upon he world if one has not seen it? 

I have resisted every urge to just drop everything and leave.  The thought has crossed my mind over and over again.  But I suppose a few extra months won't kill me.  ;) 

It is an old habit to do the "right thing". Go about things by the book. So I will sell my business. Sell it or shut it down. I have feared Houston's response to my leaving the business.  But, as my mother always told me, no one is responsible for my happiness but me. So I will do what makes me happy, after I tie up all my loose ends. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lest We Evolve

I'd like to start off by not apologizing for my opinion.  If you choose to be offended by this blog, stop reading. Hopefully you'll keep an open mind enough to come back for my next one.

I choose not to wear a poppy for Remembrance Day simply for the reason that they are "disposable plastic" (**See below for reason for quotations). This is not an intentional offense. And neither is my choice to Christmas music or decorate before November 12. 

There has been a lot of hooplah this year regarding "respecting your veterans." Yes, okay, if someone spits on your poppy, please feel free to be offended.  But not allowing someone to celebrate a different holiday before another passes is suppressing the rights of others.  You might as well deny someone the right to celebrate Christmas until Hanukkah is over, too.

Now this is only an observation, but I've noticed a pattern.  The only people who seem to be really pushing for obstaining from Christmas until November 12 are those over the age of 60. And not even all of them.  This is evidence of a changing world, nothing more.  And that's okay! Change is good.  Nothing is permanent.  And Remembrance Day should evolve to how our world is today.

This whole "white poppy" thing has received a lot of attention.  It highlights the shift in our mindsets.  I don't necessarily agree with the idea of trying to replace the red poppy with the white.  I do, however, love the idea of focussing on maintaining peace rather than mourning for those who sacrificed themselves for it every year.  Remembrance Day could be a day to embrace the things that they fought and died for... such as Christmas. 

Going back to the poppy... And pretty well any other awareness symbol paraphernalia... I spent more time than I care to admit trying to find how many poppies were produced every year.  I finally found an interview on the Globe and Mail that stated that Canada produces 16 to 18 million poppies consistently each year. And that's just Canada! Every year poppies are worn for two weeks then just tossed out.  And I find it slightly ridiculous that it is this difficult to find the stats. (FYI the British statistics on poppy production was much easier to find)

We are constantly bombarded with awareness campaigns in modern society, to the point that no one has the capacity to really care about anything.  It starts to just depress you that there are so many terrible things to be aware of. We focus on the negative so easily and often. Where are the Bugs Are Cool Awareness campaigns, as opposed to the Endangered Honey Bee? Or the Pets Improve Quality of Life, as opposed to Animal Abuse?  Maybe we would want to spread the joy instead of end the suffering. But I still wouldn't wear a "disposable plastic" (There I go again with the quotations.) insect to raise awareness.  :P

***The reason that I used quotations around "disposable plastic" (Oops! Did it again!) is because "disposable" is not an accurate description of any plastic. It doesn't just go away. "Biodegradable" or "compostable" maybe. But even those are questionable, as there are often very specific environmental requirements to make it true.  No plastic should be considered "disposable" as it harms our planet.  Ending up in oceans and the stomachs of unsuspecting wildlife.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Seeing Stars

Okay, I realize this is a barrage of pictures, but I'm hoping that the extra visuals will make it easier to figure out how to make the stars.  Because they're so freaking cute!
When I was searching online, I had a hard time finding a good tutorial.  (To be fair, I didn't look at any of the video tutorials) I kept getting confused after the first folding step.  A good amount of trial and error brought me to realize it's pretty easy.  And once you've done one or two, you can pump out a good amount of them in no time.

First, cut out strips of paper.  I used strips  of magazine pages (lengthwise) 3/4" wide. Then make a loop with a short end and a long end.
The short end should be just long enough to fit back into the loop with a little left over.
Flatten it so that you get a nice even pentagon shape.
Tuck the end back into the pentagon shape.
Take the long end, now and fold it over the edge so that it runs flat against the adjacent edge.
Keep folding in this way until you run out. I found that the more wraps needed to get to the end (ie: a longer strip) the more sturdy the star is in the end.
You need the end to be long enough to securely tuck into the folds, without scrunching.  You may need to trim.
Pentagon shape!
K, now pinch the corners as shown to pop out the star.
I found that once in a while I'd get a stubborn one that wouldn't pop, so I used a stick pin to just push it out from the inside.
Star shape!
Then I made a garland by sewing a piece of thread through the stars to join them together.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Can Craft!

It's been a long time since I've done any serious crafting.  The last item I was working on was back in January when I was working on my first knitted sweater. (Knitted anything, really. At least since I used to knit my Barbie blankets.) 
I was so proud of it.  I was part way through the second sleeve when my wrist gave out. Couldn't knit. Couldn't crochet.  Couldn't even do my job any more.  It didn't seem like it at the time, but I was devastated. I stopped all crafts.  
It was only recently that I made anything and it was out of necessity. I needed more pads. And I don't do disposable, as you probably know.  My supply wasn't lasting.  So I made some more. 
I remembered my love of creating! And the sewing machine doesn't hurt my wrist! So I finished up my bandana-scrap-dog-kennel-mat quilt. My partner says that it's too nice to have a dog shit on it.  I thought that was a pretty good compliment after he couldn't even recognize the pillow box as a birch log. :P

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Green Gift Wrapping

Through HOPE Society, I will be doing "green gift wrapping" as a fundraiser at our huge local craft fair that we run every year right before Christmas.  This is my first attempt at this.  Sure I usually reuse old gift bags or wrap my presents with newspaper, but those are for people I know and know me.  Now I get to try to do it in a way that doesn't look... well cheap!
The Serendipity Sale (as it is called) isn't until November 30, but I'm getting in some practice and some prep.  Today, I'm making toilet paper rolls into pillow boxes.  
So I started by cutting the corners off, slightly rounded at the end. Then I painted them white.

A few more details and a gold string to tie it all together (pun intended) and voilá! A pillow box that looks like a birch log! I think it's cute.  Hope everyone else thinks so, too!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Story of Stuff

If you haven't heard of The Story of Stuff Project, I highly recommend you look it up.  ( Annie Leonard started the original video, The Story of Stuff, years ago as a way to increase awareness of our over-consumption as a society and the problems that arise from it.  She has since expanded with other videos such as The Story of Bottled Water and others.

I'll admit, I haven't watched them all.  But tonight I did watch The Story of Solutions.  To sum up, it basically expressed the need for us to find solutions that change the way we think about stuff rather than simply make it seem like we're helping.

Her main example was a rewards program for recycling versus petitioning to ban the plastic bag.  The former encourages more consumerism for a minor dent in the garbage that reaches the landfill. The latter stops garbage at its beginning so there is no chance for it to end up in the landfill at all, or on the ground, or in our oceans.

This video sparked up quite the conversation between myself and my husband.  He feels that taking away someone's right to CHOOSE whether or not to take a bag is immoral. And my standpoint is that a person should be educated on the fact that that choice doesn't stop after they put their groceries away.  It affects everyone on the planet.  And not just today but for many many many generations to come.  I feel it would be immoral to make the choice that would harm others.  So why make that choice available? 

It was quite a conversation.  And I believe conversations like this are great! Even if they don't always end in agreement, it gets people thinking about the choices they make.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Stepping Stones

I keep everything.  Some call me a horder.  I just can't handle the thought of something that could be potentially useful just being tossed out.  I don't buy a lot of stuff, so I don't feel like I have a plethora of "crap", but I keep every little thing that I think I might be able to do something with some day.

This stepping stone is a good example of what I view as garbage potential. All the little bits are pieces of broken glass that I have kept because they might have been useful one day.  The cement is leftover from a mixture I was using for something else.  I had to think quickly.  "I have leftover cement! Quick! What do I do with it!" And this is the result...

Not the most beautiful stepping stone. I suppose it isn't bad considering that it was my first attempt, that I learned the process from google, that I didn't have all the materials suggested on the website (I substituted packing tape for contact paper). Still, not super attractive.

So now what do I do with it?  I don't have a garden to put it in. (Well, I have a community garden plot, but I don't feel it would be appropriate to adorn my section with knick knacks.) It's not exactly beautiful enough to sell or give as a present.  It seems that the pieces  had more usefulness BEFORE I created something out of them. 

Anyone want a stepping stone? FREE! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Follow your dreams

When I moved to Houston, I had a burning passion for the environment.  But I found it difficult to do simple things like recycling paper and cardboard.  And although there is cardboard and paper recycling now, I kept running into more and more obstacles when it came to environmentalism, and it started to weigh on me.  

I started focussing on work.  My business. My dog grooming business.  No.  Not the recycled crafts business that I had started at the same time.  I focused on dog grooming.  

I dropped the crafts altogether.  And as things got busier with the business, I started grabbing food on the go more.  That meant more packaging. Frozen meals, pizza and remade sandwiches and salads meant less dishes to worry about, but now, instead of a garbage bag filled in 52 days (see previous blog), I'm filling one every couple of weeks. 

I succumbed to the "convenience" factor.  It's just... easier.  But every time I took the garbage out, every time I walk past my abandoned craft room, the weight grew on my shoulders.  Now, I am exhausted every day. And I'm not even getting paid well for it.

When Dan lost his job recently, I kept asking him what he WANTED to do.  Encouraging him to search for a job that he WANTED.  Then it hit me.  The thing that is holding him back is the same thing that is holding me back. This business.  We can't even seize an opportunity if t presents itself because it's such a long process to sell or close a business.

So, it has to go.  The business is for sale.  That is the first step in the process of following our dreams.  We are hoping to be able to move by spring.  Where? Doesn't really matter.  Somewhere in southern BC.  

I have already applied for a position in Vancouver.  It's a long shot, but within reach and something that would be VERY exciting for me if I do get it. (WHEN! When I get it.) Change is in the air!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Moral choice, but no social right

I'm lying in bed, unable to sleep.  Every time I try to quiet my mind, I can't help but replay an unpleasant event that occurred today.  Or, rather, imagining all the terrible things that are being or will be said about me because of it.

I am not the kind of person to create conflict.  In fact, I tend to avoid it if at all possible.  But today, I got angry. I actually felt a bit of rage inside me that came out in an I-don't-care-what-comes-of-it sort of way.  Unfortunately, I do care.

Story is: there is a specific dog, whom I've groomed four times now, and every time I have groomed him, someone other than the owner has brought him in and paid for him to be clipped.  Today was no exception.  The only thing is that today the person who brought him in asked for his nails to be clipped because the dew claws had grown right into the pad by about a half inch.  

So I did.  There was blood because of it.  Poor dog took it well.  He hasn't been groomed in over a year.  He was matted to the skin.  The lady who came in with him said she might also make an appointment for him.  I said it wasn't her responsibility to pay for the groom, but that I would do a quick shave down to get rid of the matts for free.  It wouldn't be pretty, but the dog would be more comfortable.  She was like, "Yeah okay."

So I did.  He took it well, yet again.  He's such a good dog and doesn't deserve to have to live in that state.  Within half an hour I got an angry phone call from the owner. 

"What the @;$( did you do to my :@(,ing dog!" 

I said that it wasn't pretty, but that the dog was more comfortable this way.  And he replied, "Say that to him when we're out in the bush! He's going to get sick because you took away all his hair!"

I explained that if it's that cold, he's better off shaved than matted.  At least the short hair will dry out rather than cause skin problems such as frost bite.  

Then he proceeds to tell me that if I'm going to do the job to do it right.  Well, even if I had taken the time to make it look good, he would have been the same length because of the severity of the matts.  And I said that to him.  

"Don't ever touch my +}!~ing dog again!" 

Okay I won't.

But that leaves the dog groomer-less (almost). So now this dog gets to live out the rest of its life matted and uncomfortable? I'm such a bad guy for trying to prevent further issues for the dog. (Oh, did I mention that on top of the two nails that I had to remove from the dog's pads, I also uncovered a cyst or something on the dog's foot that needs to be drained?) Yeah, I'm the one putting the dog at risk.  

I wish I had taken more pictures.  I usually do when I get severely matted dogs. But I was in a blind rage where I just wanted to help the dog and I didn't care what the owner thought. But it still hurts to be accused of putting the animal at risk.  

What bothers me most is that the owner really does believe that he's acting in the dog'a best interest.  It's really a matter of education.  Of getting people to put themselves in the dogs' shoes. They cannot talk.  They cannot tell us that they are uncomfortable or in pain.  

And I get to see first hand how much they suffer when it does come time to remove the matts.  They scream, wiggle, fight, bite, yelp and twist to get away from the pain.  The pain that wouldn't exist if they came in more often and/or got to see a brush at home. There are fantastically well behaved dogs that end up biting because of the discomfort.  But because they aren't sitting there screaming all day, it's the groomer's fault that they feel pain at the salon.  *sigh*

The terrible things that are being said about me right now.... Well, I guess I'll have to live with the consequences of my actions.  In that moment, I felt like I was doing the right thing. But I feel like I might have been doing the dog a better service by going about it differently.  And maybe I would be in a better state of mind right now, too. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013


It's amazing how words can affect a person's mood.  How they can hurt or encourage.  I had a really good day.  All day and then I stopped by to ask my husband a simple question and the following half hour, nothing could go right.

"Are you coming to the meeting tonight?" It was two minutes after closing and he was surrounded by coworkers, each with a beer in their hand.  All that I needed was a simple "yes" or "no", but everyone had an opinion.  

The meeting was to discuss the direction we would like to see out town go.  It was a public meeting, so anyone could attend and give their opinion. Apparently, this was a bit of a sore spot for a couple members of the audience to my and my husbands conversation.

"It's a useless meeting." "Change for the sake of change is just stupid." "It's been done that way for a long time, why change it?" 

I feel very strongly that this is not just "change for the sake of change." Our town has been run the same way for decades and it just isn't working any more.  The world has changed and we need to adapt.

But in that few minutes I felt belittled, mocked. I felt like caring about the future of my town was childish.  I simply said, "Enjoy your beer. I'm going to a meeting." 

The following half hour, it seemed that nothing could go right.  I was rushing to make it to the meeting on time, but I had to get home and start laundry, get a few groceries, including something to eat for dinner, get that home and head over to the district office by 6:30.  

I grabbed a salad and lost half of it to the wind as I attempted to eat it on my way home.  I ran inside to get my water bottle and drop off the groceries and spilled water everywhere.  Cleaned it up as quickly as possible and headed over to the meeting to find out it starts at 7, not 6:30.  *sigh* All because I felt flustered at a few words.  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Garden Update

Yes! First garden! And I deem it a huge success! 

I have to laugh. I was reading my last blog only to realize that the pea plant that I was so proud of turned out to be a weed.  What can I say, it's a learning experience.  The peas are in full bloom now and I imagine that there will be pods sprouting any day now.

I now have broccoli and Brussels sprouts  showing signs of actually being vegetables.  I also ate a handful of carrots today.  They were pretty spindly, but I picked them to allow space for the remaining specimens.

But the pride of my garden by far are my squash plants.  I have counted more than a dozen squash growing on the two plants.  Everyone kept saying that you can't grow squash without a greenhouse,  but I have! (Admittedly I originally had 16 plants of different types of squash, pumpkin and cucumber and only these two survived. The kabocha squashes.). Not sure what to do with them, other than maybe some soup...
Last night we had our first true meal from the garden.  We've had quite a few salads, but this was three separate dishes, each with something from the garden.
We had hash browns (potatoes), salad (lettuce), and cabbage rolls.  Except that instead of cabbage, I used Brussels sprout leaves.  Yes, apparently those are quite edible.  A little tougher than cabbage, but with very little flavour so you can thoroughly enjoy what's wrapped up inside the leaf. It was all quite tasty!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dirty knees! Look at these!

Well!  It's official.  I have a garden! My experience so far is I LOVE THIS!!

It's only been a couple weeks since I first went to my community garden plot and started plucking away at weeds. (They're everywhere right now, but tiny and I don't want to pull what might be seedlings.) I absolutely love getting covered in dirt.  I would like to invest in some gardening knee pads, among some other tools, but it certainly didn't slow me down to get right in there with my hands and on my knees.
My nice jeans!! Meh... It's only dirt...

I was incredibly ecstatic to see my first little pea sprout.  It looked so determined! I was all like "Go little pea plant go!!"  I have yet to see any carrot sprouts.  I'm starting to get a little worried, but I'll give hem a few more days to make an appearance.  

I am very anxious to see some produce.  I didn't get any starters done before planting season started so I went and purchased a number of plants from a greenhouse.  Maybe this fall I'll be able to collect seeds to use for next year.  And I'll do my best to get some of them started ahead of time. 

I was a tad disappointed at the plastic containers that my starters came in. But I kept them to use for doing my own next year.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Blood!

It's amazing how hard it is to resist the influence of those around you.  When I first moved back to Houston, I was ready to get this town in shape!  I wanted to join up with the few other environmentalists in town and make a difference.  I was ready to dig in!

Less than three years later I feel bogged down by the lack of enthusiasm in reaction tomy efforts.  Sure I've moved up to treasurer of the group I've joined, but really, there wasn't much competition for the position (Or any).

It gets hard not to just throw up my hands and give up. Sometimes I feel like we're not really accomplishing anything.  Just wasting our time and effort.  Such energy put in for little result.

But new blood is always a pick-me-up.  We have a new market manager this year and she is over and above our expectations.  She cares!  She wants to see something get done about the lack of recycling in our town.  And she's coming up with creative ways to incorporate it with as little cost as possible.  Recycling bins at the farmer's market!  How simple!  Yet, no one in our group (which is supposed to be about recycling and the farmer's market) has thought of this before.

She's a delight!  And I can't wait to work with her more!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Thoughts on thrones...

I've been road tripping for about a week now and as such have seen a lot of public toilets. I've seen everything from the grubbiest rest stop outhouse to the marble-walled stalls in the parliament building.

My favourite were the composting toilets we saw at a few of the more secluded rest stops on Vancouver Island. They flush like a real toilet. Well, sort of like a real toilet. More like the ones you see on buses and airplanes where they have a little door that opens when you flush. But they are definitely not stinky and gross like outhouses. I don't entirely understand how these work, but the idea is fantastic. More research will be done into this style.

My next favourite can be found at most Tim Horton's restaurants. These are the ones with the two buttons. One for number one and a slightly bigger button, suitably for number two. This is becoming a popular option for water conservation. And I think it's brilliant. You need to be able to have enough water to get the coilers down, but that is not necessary for every trip to the little girls' (or boys') room. I can see how this would be the more popular option, but maybe they should combine these two to make a super eco toilet!

Then there's the auto flushing toilets! I hate these with a passion! Not only does it require more energy to run the damn thing, but often, if you need a little extra time on the john, it will flush while you're still on it! Or before you're completely done wiping, so you have to make it flush again. This is such a waste of water. And there's often a bit of back splash if it goes off while you're still sitting down. Ew!

If I ever get the chance to build my own home, I think I'll go for the composting toilet. As long as I can convince my husband. :P

Friday, April 19, 2013

Earth Day 2013

Earth day. Long story short: I'm missing it.

Long story long:
I'm going on vacation tomorrow. Earth day is Monday. Although I'm an advocate that every day should be earth day, I also believe that having a specific day every year is a good reminder. It causes some people to think about the planet for a day and other people to push their limits on what they can do. This year, I will be away from home.

Pitch-in happens every year during earth week. This is when garbage bags are distributed to different groups and everyone is asked to take a different section of town to pick up all the trash that accumulated over winter.

To be honest, this isn't my favourite Earth Day activity. I feel that we are picking up trash we can see and moving it somewhere that we don't see it. It's not really making things any better. The trash is still there, just outta sight outta mind. Maybe if we didn't pick it up and had to look at it all the time, we would make a greater effort not to make so much in the first place.

Regardless, it is very much a societal symbol of environmentalism. No one from HOPE Society will be taking part as most of us are away. (Actually one member will be but she will be representing the library, not HOPE.)

No, I have no specific plans for Earth Day. I will most likely be spending a good deal of the day driving. Driving my 1988 Toyota Corolla. Which is sort of ironic. At least it's fairly fuel efficient.

HOPE has however prepared something for the day. The week actually! I personally went all over town taking pictures of products from local businesses that are earth-friendly, of environmentally friendly practices at organizations, of the town's solar panels and electric car charging station. We took those pictures and made a display that will be available for viewing all next week.

All week while I'm away... I will try to do something extra special for Earth Day on Monday. I just don't know what, yet.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

I want it. I want it! I WANT IT!!

I want a garden. I want to be able to take a seed, place it in the earth, watch the plants grow, harvest the spoils and collect seeds to do it all again the next year.

I don't want a flower garden. My interest is agricultural and ecological. I want to know where my food comes from, that it is grown without chemicals, reduce my ecological footprint by having food that comes from my back yard instead of Mexico and have a personal relationship with the earth.

I find it very sad when kids don't know that carrots are grown in the ground or even that I myself didn't know what part of the plant peanuts grew on until very recently. I actually thought they grew on a tree like other nuts. Turns out they aren't truly a nut at all, but a legume. More closely related to peas than walnuts.

Alas, I am not allowed to grow a garden in my rental unit's yard. I am being discouraged to even keep my compost because it's "ugly". I have secured myself a spot in a community garden, however, am dubious about whether or not I'll actually make the effort to go across town regularly to tend it. I am a busy person and usually end up zoning out with a movie, a book or a bath at the end of the day.

That being said, I WANT a garden. So I am determined to give it a bash. I am putting it out there, to all of you that this is my plan. I am going to buy myself some seeds and get planting! I will try to remain accountable and let you all know how it goes.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Oil pulling

Okay, oil pulling is just bizarre!

For those of you who don't know, oil pulling is the practice of swishing oil around in your mouth as it collects toxins from your body then spitting it out. I have been curious about this for a while now, but have never attempted it due to a fear of the texture. Until today...

I absolutely hate feeling dirty or unhealthy in any way. Don't get me wrong, I like to get my hands in dirt and dig my feet in sand. But I have a nail brush next to my sink for such occasions. I clean my ears with a q-tip each and every day - sometimes more than once. Clean underwear and socks are a must. I can't sleep unless my teeth are clean. As for health, I take 8 pills every day to ensure I get enough vitamins and minerals on top of the 5 servings if fruit and veggies I try to make sure I get. I'm one of those people who goes to the doctor for everything. (Except things like colds. I don't understand why people go to the doctor every time they get the sniffles.) I try to heal myself naturally before taking prescribed drugs, but I feel better having a professional diagnose the issue.

So recently, I have discovered that my canker sores are not just from biting my lip (as I frequently do), but have a deeper cause. So I finally decided to give oil pulling a try.

What a bizarre sensation! First, I dislike the taste of sesame. I regret choosing sesame oil over coconut. I LIKE coconut! But it was suggested from multiple sources and people as being the best oil for the job, so I went with it. Second, my fear of the texture was confirmed. Though it was pretty awful, it only took about 30 seconds of swishing it between my teeth before it was no longer really oily. Then it felt more like swishing milk. But it still tasted like sesame.

I passed the time by listening to my book while I had a bath. The longer it was in my mouth, the less gross it felt, but I could also feel my mouth getting fuller. Instead of the original tablespoon of liquid, my mouth was full! I didn't make it the full 15-20 minutes as suggested. I stopped at 12 when my mouth felt like it couldn't hold any more liquid. So I spit. The oil had changed colour completely! It started out almost black and ended up a milky beige.

That convinced me that some sort of change had occurred. After rinsing my mouth out with some water, I could still taste a hint of sesame, but my mouth felt better. Cleaner. Just... less scummy. Not that I had a really scummy mouth, it's just the best way I can think to describe it.

I shall continue to practice oil pulling. I think I will do it in the morning while I'm in the shower. Perhaps focussing on washing will pull my attention away from the sesame. I hope to see some improvement to my overall health within the next week or so.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Respect the time and skill of an artisan

I have been involved in the running of a farmers market for three years now. I have also taken part as a seller in farmers markets and craft sales in the past. It has been my impression that the majority of people who sell handmade goods are not paid nearly fair for the time they put in and that simultaneously the consumers generally consider the items sold at such markets to be over priced.

One of the best and easiest things a person can do to try to help the planet is to buy locally. Whenever you need something, try to find it from as local a source as you possibly can. If you can't find it in your town, try the next one over. If you can't find it there try within your province. Then within your country.

Try finding items that are hand made, or at least from a small business. Big factories require a lot of energy. Usually, a lot of waste, too. They don't take the time to make sure things aren't wasted if it means that it costs them more to do so.

Big companies often manufacture things as cheaply as possible, meaning they use low quality materials and find quick ways to put things together rather than taking extra care to make them last or make them repairable. When someone makes something by hand, they can probably also fix it if it does happen to break.

I am saddened when I see people react to how costly a handmade item is. Most artisans don't make near minimum wage for the time that they put into their products, let alone the cost of materials on top of that.

"Make friends with a farmer. You're going to need them." Or an artisan. Whatever the case, these were strong words said at a farmer's market conference I recently attended. It's true. We can't keep replacing people with machines or nobody is going to have the skill to make or grow anything and we simply cannot survive that way.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Retail cardboard

I am in a cast. I hurt my wrist from repetitive stress at work and am unable to do my regular job. This means for the last week I've been working at an old job to help them out with a few extra hours to keep bills paid. This job is a retail job and the majority of my time is spent receiving inventory. This means cutting up boxes, lots and lots of boxes.

My store is also a retail store so I'm fairly familiar with this process. The difference is that I take my cardboard (and paper) to the local recycling centre, where as this company I am at currently tosses all their cardboard in with their garbage. They fill a dumpster every week with it. I am debating g whether or not to confront the owner on this issue. I'm sure it would cost very little more, if any, to have a cardboard dumpster out back as well, as they could reduce their garbage pickup to every second week or less! I shall update the blog with any progress...

Monday, January 21, 2013

I'd rather be geocaching

My number one favourite hobby is geocaching. If you don't know what that is, please visit and check it out, because it's awesome. In a nutshell: geocaching is a treasure hunting game where you use a GPS to hide and seek containers hidden by other geocachers. So basically, I use multi-million dollar satellites to look for Tupperware in the woods.

These caches, if large enough, typically hold items for trading when the cache has been found. You take one, you leave one, etc.. Normally, you find little toys and knickknacks. Sometimes you find really cool stuff. I have a cutlery set for travelling that I found in a geocache. There are also trackable items with a code on them that you can enter on the website and see everywhere it's been in the world.

Why am I talking about this? I just wanted to give a little insight for those who don't know what it is before I talk about what I do to make it as green a hobby as possible.

First, all the items I trade are not purchased new, but usually given to me by people who wish to declutter (My mother-in-law gave me a collectors spoon with a lovely First Nations design just last week.), or found at the Free Store (the trade shed at the dump). Occasionally, I will purchase some neat little things at the thrift store. Reusing unwanted items, rather than increasing the need for new materials.

Second, the containers I use to make new geocaches are never new. I use yogurt containers. Peanut butter containers. Margarine, pill and ice cream containers.* I remodel birdhouses to become the container. The bags I use to help keep the logbook and trade items dry are usually bread bags that I get my mother to save for me. (I also use these for my litter removal.)

And anyway, this hobby usually requires hiking or canoeing or they are right in town. So it gets me outside, which I love and is good for me. It's a little harder in the winter, especially since I have already a found every cache within 50km.

So! What's your hobby? And what do you do to try to make it as green as possible?

*I would like to add as a side note that these containers are purchased due to no alternative for these items in my town otherwise. Believe me, I miss having my milk in reusable glass jugs. But we just don't have those amenities here. I will be purchasing my peanut butter from the next town over in a reused glass jar from now on, but my husband still loves his Skippy. And I try to buy the largest size of everything possible. More volume typically require less surface area to contain it per unit.