Spring Fever

I must have spring fever. I am making plans to garden and have even been thinking about building my own raised garden bed. I do NOT have a green thumb and our current garden area has been reclaimed by weeds and grass. But, in my free time now, I’m researching seeds and plants and when to grow them and how and ideal locations… hoping that one day, the ground won’t be frozen and maybe something green and delicious will grow out of it. Care to dream with me? What will you plant this year?


Book Review: The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Something that I think about often – about five times a day – is what to eat or what to prepare to eat. I, of course, want it to be healthy and wholesome and tasty and easy. Well, this book is sort of about that. It is really about where our food comes from (or where it could come from) and how it gets to our table. I found it to be a very interesting topic and well researched and written. The author is a journalist, so I expected as much. This is the type of book that will cause you to re-think what you eat and how you spend your food money. If you are happy eating processed corn and aren’t interested in change, then do not bother with this read. I really appreciated all the info on farm industry as well as the history of the organic movement. I learned a lot about mushrooms and grass and more than I wanted to know about corn, chickens and cows in the farm industry.
I think I’ll try to read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food next.

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Homemade Cleaning

For Christmas, Brian got me the book Clean House, Clean Planet and while we were vacationing in AZ, I read most of it and then started to make some products when we returned. I had already been using my own versions sporadically, but found that these recipes are much better than my own. I especially like her disinfectant spray, which is simply water, liquid soap and tea tree oil. I’ve been using the peppermint Dr. Bronner’s soap and love the smell. I also found that her Earth Scrub recipe works wonderfully. It is the replacement for Soft Scrub and was great at cleaning my bathroom and kitchen. The kids sort of helped and everything smelled really good (like peppermint again!).

For my birthday (which isn’t until next week…), I got myself a few months of someone coming to clean my house. She did a great job cleaning my house, but it smelled so strongly of bleach in the bathroom that I had to open all the windows in the house and turn on all the fans for a long while after she left. So, I think that I’ll give her my new homemade cleaners for the next time. Making the cleaners takes a few minutes at most and is really easy, so it shouldn’t take away from the pampering of having someone else clean my house at all!

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This fall I joined the Holistic Moms Network and have enjoyed attending the local meetings and being part of the email loop, but find some of it a bit over the top. I have to keep myself in check to not spend hours a day reading and following all the trends and ideas of ways to be healthier and greener and more natural in everything. I struggle to remember that not everything that I read or hear from these well-meaning women is truth; in fact, most of it is just speculation or humble opinions. Yet, there has been a very interesting thread about how much various families spend on food.

Apparently, most of the families that commented spend about $700-800 per month buying mostly organic produce, grains, dairy, eggs, and free-range meats. Some spend as much as $1500/month for a family of four and some as little as $350/month. Some people included soaps (laundry, dish, and body) as well as vitamins and homeopathic remedies, which I think are pretty expensive. We fall somewhere in the middle, but our difficulty in cutting back on food expenses is not in the grocery store, but in eating out. If we stopped eating out altogether, we could easily halve our food expenditures. I’m not interested in pursuing that budget shortcut just yet. I really enjoy dining out for the break it provides me from cooking and cleaning up after meals, but also for the chance to try foods that I don’t/won’t make at home.

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Cloth vs. Disposable

I feel like there should be more choices in diapering than just cloth or disposable. I know that there are some out there who don’t diaper at all, but that isn’t really a diapering choice although in some ways I can understand the idea of not training a kid to go in a diaper only to untrain them later. It’s the Baby Whisperer‘s mantra of: Start as you intend to go on…

I can’t decide which diapering choice is better. I like the cloth because I feel like it must be more comfortable (when not wet) and lends itself to easier and quicker potty training. I also like the reduction in garbage as well as the cute designs offered in cloth. I didn’t know it before, but I really appreciate not having a scented diaper with cloth diapers. I don’t really like doing laundry at all, so cloth diapering only adds to this chore. I also feel a little bit badly for leaving Joe in his diaper far too long at times as it must be very uncomfortable all wet.

Pros in disposable diapers include being able to hold more liquid waste than anyone would imagine a diaper could possibly hold (but not solid…). So, I like being able to use only one diaper at night and how that diaper is relatively slim. I also like the small size of disposables for traveling and not having to bring them back with me. On the flip side, I can’t stand the smell of disposables and the cost is outrageous!

So, I cloth diaper mostly at home except overnight. When we are out and a diaper change is needed (rarely), I have disposables in the diaper bag, so that’s what I use. At home, Brian usually uses disposables. Since I’m often the one at home; the balance is toward cloth, for now.

I’m curious. What do you use? And why?

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Eila’s preschool curriculum has a large portion devoted to teaching her about stewardship. When I started looking at it, I really liked it but didn’t think it was so important to start with that principle when being kind and respectful are so lacking in the average preschooler. However, the more I think about the idea of stewardship and with what I’ve been learning as I teach her and study on my own, I realize that it is very important. In fact, it was one of the first commandments really. God told Adam and Eve to name the animals and care for them and the garden (and to be fruitful and subdue the earth) – that is what stewardship is all about – taking care of what God has given us.

Until recently, being a good steward for me meant being smart/thoughtful about how I spend money. It might include how I use the gifts God has given me, like organization skills to help out with needs at church along those lines, but it didn’t involve being environmentally conscious at all. Now, that seems like a tragic misunderstanding of this term as well as a horrid undervaluing of all that God has created and entrusted to us. I often thought that those who were interested in taking care of planet earth didn’t have their priorities right (and sometimes those folks do not, but it’s not for me to judge…) because they must care more about this world than the people in it or God. Lately, though, I am beginning to see that caring for God’s creation in nature is not separate from caring for God’s creation in people or loving Him, but really an extension of that and obedience and respect to Him.

I am glad that the preschool curriculum has stewardship has the first character trait being taught and learned. It is exciting to understand that stewardship conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care m-w.com I still have a long way to go toward being a good steward (with money or anything else) and I’m taking little steps each week, sometimes being pushed into it and sometimes dragging others along.


The Milk Man Cometh

I actually am not sure if the milk man is a man or woman, but I am proudly now part of those having local dairy products delivered to their door weekly. Each Monday, Calder Dairy, brings what I want or need right to my house. I am especially excited about the whole idea and love it!

I love supporting the local economy and not having to go the store for these things that I often need each week. The idea of it all seems fresher and healthier than buying it at the store; although, I doubt there is much to this vague feeling I have. The products we’ve gotten so far (2 types of milk and cottage cheese) are fabulous. I also love that it comes in a glass jar, so there is no waste.

This is another way I am going backwards in time – first cloth diapering and now milk delivery – what could be next?

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How Many Earths?

So, if everyone on earth consumed like we do in our family, we would need 3.5 Earths to sustain life here! That means we have a little work to do – mostly in the food area. For us, it would take 8 planets to maintain our level of food consumption and use! You can play and see your footprint here:


Found on the Internet

I do a lot of reading on the computer (although not anywhere near as much as my husband!) and recently read a few articles that I found thought-provoking. One of them, No More Junk Toys: Rethinking Children’s Gifts, was about changing the culture of gift-giving in America and providing toys that are “timeless” and not morally objectionable in any way (ie. fair trade, etc.)

I found this article a little extreme, but with some valid points. We have so many toys in our house and almost all of them have been gifts. I love that our children have so much to play with and most of the toys are great. Yet, still I feel like I should be a more responsible consumer in regards to the companies and practices that we support – directly or indirectly. Usually, I feel like it’s a lost cause and decide that there’s no use even trying to only buy products and shop at places that have sound financial and moral business practices. Lately, I’ve been thinking about this more and more and want to do something, but now I’m at a loss for where to start. Maybe, I’ll take a trip down to my local fair trade store or look online for a list of companies that invest in or support practices that I am morally opposed to.

By following various links, Brian found out about a want-ad on Craig’s List for a nursing mother to provide milk for 7 adults. While I am an advocate of exclusive breastfeeding for babies and extended breastfeeding past the first year and I know and appreciate all of the health benefits of breastmilk, this strikes me as more than a bit strange. First, I have issues with the logistics of this request. For one woman to pump enough extra milk for 7 adults even to have just one glass a day is nuts – like feeding another growing baby. She’d have to eat and drink so much, she’d hardly have time to pump. Plus, building up an excess supply like that is time consuming. I also feel that excess milk would be much better used on newborns or premies who actually need the milk and not on adults whose digestive systems can handle other foods. I guess I just find these folks a little selfish and bizarre.