We have a chain of thrift stores in Arizona called Epic Thrift. I am new to these, if they aren’t new to our community. (They either popped up overnight, or I just haven’t been paying attention.) Depending on the store, they have a pretty incredible collection of fabrics, which are really, really inexpensive. My favorite find so far is the blue rose pattern. It was five yards for $.99. I have made a couple sets of pillow cases and plan on putting together some curtains with the remainder.
This makes my thrifty, recycling self very happy.
The new craft I’d like to learn is applique. Specifically, I’d like to make a dresden pillow. And then a log cabin pillow. It’s fun to have these bright fabrics when considering how to put one of these together. I know the basics of quilting, but this is a new animal entirely. As such, I’m considering my first Craftsy course. Have you ever taken one of these? And buying this book, which I hear is great for learning applique and quilted pillows.
I love the idea of a neutral couch full of different pillows, with their bright colors. (And of course, one of my mama’s quilts on the back.)
I really miss college. For now, these crafty courses and challenges in patience will do. A big thanks to my buddy Nic for her help in guiding me to the right resources!
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- Domestic Art, Heirloom Hacienda, Reduce, Reuse
Anyone else have a tangle of circular knitting needles that looks something like, oh, say, THIS?
Good times. Or, a tangled nonsense of zero fun. Your choice.
I did a bit of research, asking fellow knitting nerds how they store their supplies. The results varied in methods, with “in a giant mess” being the loudest, most popular vote. I was already winning that race, and frankly it wasn’t working for me.
Looking around my office, I had an old three ring binder full of recipes. (Remember the quaint days of writing recipes and storing them? Awwww. Once again I say: thank God for you, Internet.)
Mayhem managed. Nothing to see here. Carry on, friends.
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- Domestic Art, Heirloom Hacienda, Reduce, Reuse
Recycling in New Jersey is a pain. I can only imagine the book of rules, no joke, was created as a deterrent. That said, I have yet to find a job and I’ve will happily jump through the necessary hoops to see that these items are sent to the right facility, instead of just carried away with our trash can. This involves tying like items together, marking the junk mail in one bag and the newspapers in another, etc. It doesn’t take long, but I can imagine is a huge hurdle for anyone with little time.
I’ve been laughing lately at the news out of NYC. The mayor controversially wants to enforce a “food scraps recycling program.” AKA: composting. Can you imagine how much compost could be created from NYC in one day? Also: for the international readers — can you believe that this isn’t something we Americans inherently know we are supposed to do?
I’ve seen, and previously owned and broken, the Rachel Ray trash bowl that sits on your counter for compost. Rather that spend the $20 to replace this, I spent $1 on a larger plastic bowl that sits beneath our kitchen sink. In our area, you are not allowed to have a garbage disposal. As such, all food waste that doesn’t contain animal products goes in the green bowl:
The perks of composting this way:
1. If you live in a humid environment, like New Jersey, this stuff will compost quickly outside.
2. You have to take out a lot less trash, using fewer trash bags.
3. If you are a gardener, this stuff will be gold, especially if you have patience. Add some worms from your local fishing store and watch out. You’ll have amazing humus. No, not pita humus. This kinda hummus.
4. You’ll get more exercise, especially if you place your composting area wisely a good distance from your house.
5. You will likely think twice about buying sub-par, out of season fruits and vegetables from a big box store that your family won’t finish, leaving you to later compost. The process can’t help but bring you closer to nature — you’ll be begging for the snow to melt so you aren’t digging and dumping your full bowl. And if you are like me, it will give you a deep sense of environmental smugness that is entirely undeserved as a global over-consumer.
1. If you have a dog and haven’t spent the time enclosing your compost area, chances are you will have a dog who finds a way to eat whatever he can out of this area. Yuck.
2. You may attract other animals into your compost area. Shoo!
3. More trash. More trash bags. More hauling the dumb trash can back and forth. Urg!
Morals to this story:
New Jersey — I see your recycling laws and I will meet them. Also, I am composting. So there!
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- Happy Hippie, NJ + NYC, Recycle, Reduce, Reuse
BEFORE: And the commotion begins. I took on a bit too much for this dinner; from beginning to end, it took about six hours to prepare and clean up afterward.
Aztec squash soup
Carbs o’ plenty
Last night’s communiy dinner menu included: crockpot turkey chile, aztec squash soup, buttermilk biscuits, cornbread, carrot cake, brownies, homemade hot chocolate with candy canes and marshmallows and a partridge in a pear tree. The prep for this dinner took quite a bit of time, but it was well worth it. There was plenty of food, lots of cheer and even a dozen friends who stuck around to go caroling afterward. We walked through the neighborhood singing a variety of tunes completely off key and completely enjoying ourselves. We agreed the night was well worth embarrassing ourselves when we came to a house where an older gentleman opened the door and his wife, bald from what we guessed was cancer treatment, cheered us on.
We spread a bit of cheer and walked off those calories in the process. I had a lot of fun and am really thankful for my friends. I realized last night as we tromped through the street that I have some incredible people in my life, willing to do the ridiculous to make me happy.
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- Africa, Community, Domestic Art, Earth Mama, Flora and Fauna, Journal, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk, Public Health, Recycle, Reduce, Reuse, Uncategorized
DC was excellent; I had such a great time at the Green Festival with Mike and Sam. Let me tell you — these two know how to hosts guests.
The adorable Tuck home.
They not only drove me around for three days, set up a hotel room in the city so we could walk and enjoy our time without worrying about driving back to the burbs, and spoiled me silly with chocolates on the pillow, awesome food and gobs of time, but they did so graciously. They didn’t make me feel like a guest, but like someone they’d really been looking forward to seeing and I couldn’t be more thankful. We also spent a night in Georgetown singing Billy Joel songs at a piano bar, surrounded by hot men in suits. (Seriously, DC? Good work on the men. Well-dressed eye candy abounds.)
It was a blast, and I’m pretty sure everyone within a five-foot distance — as far as my shouting voice could carry over the piano — knew that there were no such venues in Maricopa County. Phoenix, we need a piano bar, lots of Billy Joel and more suit-worthy weather.
Spicy chicken wrap with local veggie salad: $10. This was about three bites and the one thing I’d change about the festival was the commercial angle. They charged $1 for a cup of water — as in they charged you for the cup and then you used the faucet. Pretty silly.
Africankelli bag being rocked at the festival by Ms. Sam.
Books for sale a the fest. I didn’t buy any books. I spent my cash on an ionized foot detox instead. The photos are here, but be forewarned, they are horrifying.
We also heard Marion Nestle and Amy Goodman speak. Nestle is one of my public health heroines and she did not disappoint. Goodman gave me an entirely new perspective of the media. I learned gobs and felt right at home with my fellow Birkenstock-wearing, earth-loving, tree-hugging friends.
My notebook, ready for some Marion Nestle insight…
Dr. Nestle, who within five minutes of taking the stage made me reconsider everything I eat. In a nutshell: the US now imports the majority of our foods (and preservatives and pharmaceuticals) from China, India and Mexico — noteworthy because of their lack of quality control in areas such as preservatives and pharmaceuticals. Or so she and the recent dog food/melamine/baby formula scandals would suggest. Scary. Her talk made me sit up straight and think of all the foods I’d eaten in the last two hours that had countless preservatives, most of which probably came from an unregulated source. Yikes. Time to make some serious pantry changes.
In response, we decided not to go out for dinner after the conference. Instead we celebrated with a homemade meal and lots of local incredients:
Roast acorn squash filled with apples and garlic…
Turkey, sage and squash simmering with onion and olive oil.
Voila — the perfect meal to end a fantastic weekend. We included local Tarara wine, which was excellent.
There is certainly something to eating fresh, local and eventually vegan.
Three cheers to the Tuckers at Washington DC. I’m smitten.
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- Happy Hippie, Journal, Public Health, Recycle, Reduce, Reuse, Travel
I have two friends who are new moms and have been saving their baby food jars for me. I have a vision of making a path of tea light luminaries through my garden this winter. In the meantime, we are all about celebrating autumn, pumpkins and cooler weather for the time being. $4 later, I have treats for today’s staff meeting. Jars of Renewal recycled jar count: 40+.
P.S. If you are thinking about the holidays, buying small, supporting artisans and local business — check out Funky Finds. Jess does such a fantastic job with finding the coolest handmade stuff online. If you have a second, check out the site and drop her a line. She is a great girl in need of some much deserved support.
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- Domestic Art, Happy Hippie, Journal, June Cleaver, Recycle, Reduce, Reuse
So, you are going celebrating a three-day fabulous summer weekend with a BBQ. May I make a suggestion? Take an hour while the meat is marinating, the beer is cooling and the cake is in the oven to make homemade BBQ sauce. This is a family recipe that I can promise BBQ lovers will not soon forget.
My grandfather Trevor has been perfecting his BBQ sauce recipe for years, including many spent in Louisiana where he learned to master gumbo, crepes and a variety of other delicious plates we’ve come to expect at our truly eclectic family table. Plus, it freezes well and is another great way to use up some of those jars you’ve got hanging around — you know, the dusty ones in the back of the pantry.
Double the recipe and you’ll have two great Fall gifts ready to go. Just be sure to leave yourself a couple inches at the top of the jar before you stick it in the freezer. If you decide not to freeze your batch, the sauce will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
Pap’s BBQ Sauce
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 green bell pepper
1 large celery stalk
1/4 white onion
3/4 to 1 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1/2 can of tomato juice
Cayenne pepper to taste
Using a three-sided grater, or your food processor, finely grate the bell pepper, celery and onion. Put the oil in heavy pot on medium-high heat. Add the grated vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring. Add sugar, vinegar, sauce and juice. Let simmer for 15 minutes and add cayenne and garlic powder. Taste and see if you want to kick it up with a bit more of each spice.
Let simmer for 40 minutes. If the sauce isn’t the thickness you desire, add 1/4 cup of corn starch to a cup of cold water and mix thoroughly before adding to sauce pot. Bring to a boil, stirring carefully. Take off heat.
Adding a dash of liquid smoke is great too!
P.S. Big thanks to Miss Colleen for yet another kind, thoughtful and creative logo! Please feel free to download it here and use it for your own Jar of Renewal projects.
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- Domestic Art, Happy Hippie, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk, Recipes, Recycle, Reduce, Reuse
Call me a sucker, but lookie what I just bought:
May I present, Ms. Olive Oil. Aptly named because she is a mean, green, healthy machine. We’ll just call her Olive for short.
Holy guacamole! Isn’t she lovely? Granted, she’s not a Townie and I’m no longer an Electra wannabe. Alas, I rode the Townie and the fit wasn’t right for my height. For $500, you better get a darn perfect ride. I was about to leave REI empty handed — with my Blackberry ringing off the hook with comments reading, “Buy it!” and me laughing, thinking, “I’m trying!” when the cycling stars aligned.
With complete resolve I wasn’t going to make a foolish purchase, I was headed out the door when out of no where, my Kryptonite entered the picture. A beautiful man appeared, chatted with me about bikes, triathlons and if I’d considered a commuter bike instead? He had gorgeous eyes and I became exceptionally self-conscious all of a sudden that I was standing there in yoga pants and a sweaty t-shirt. Didn’t seem to matter though. The Novarta was really nice. Had I ridden it? Would I like to?
Nearly two hours and a lot of eye lash batting later, Ms. Olive Oil and I were riding home. Oy vey I should have looked at the price tag. Thank goodness he wasn’t selling cars. I’d be driving home in something I really couldn’t afford. Regardless, I’m thrilled with the purchase. She’s perfect for what I need. I’ll be giving her a fair shot tomorrow for the first time — riding to the gym, to work, to a few appointments and then to a dinner date with friends. I’m bound to be sweaty (it’s still August in Phoenix) but most happy hippies are. It’s a title I’m loving more and more these days.
Thanks for your encouragement!
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- Get Fit, Goals, Happy Hippie, Journal, Reduce
I’ve been dreaming of buying a new bike. I gave Esme away because the fit wasn’t right and after spending weeks of my life on Ruby, I wasn’t willing to ride with a cramped bike. Riding Ruby to work isn’t practical for a dozen reasons, namely clipping in, leaving her downstairs in the bike rack and having to ride her on the street. Sweet Moses, you wouldn’t believe how many people I know who have been hit by cars lately, including one man in front of my running group this week. A car pulled right in front of him and we watched him hit the pavement. Phoenix must be the worst city for cyclists.
So, I haven’t been wishing for just any bike, but a dreamy, pretty, comfortable, stylish ride. Isn’t she glorious? I could ride her on the sidewalk when there isn’t a bike lane and wouldn’t worry as much about losing this investment vs. her older, much more demanding high maintenance sister. She’s also one pricey mama. At $500 after taxes, the basket and lock, it is the equivalent of 12.5 weeks not filling up my car with gas. The inherent frugal monster in me is screaming, “Are you crazy? Go to Target and get yourself a $100 beach cruiser and suck it up.” The realist in me is standing in the corner coolly whispering, “If you don’t love this bike, you aren’t going to ride it. So why bother with some cheap Target bike?” The environmentalist is hugging a tree chanting, “DO IT. You drive less than 15 miles a day. A bike would be a great way to make your carbon emission zero. And the weather is only going to get cooler. Do it!”
What to do. What to do?
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- Get Fit, Happy Hippie, Journal, Reduce
What to do with all those jars? Tempe doesn’t recycle glass in my neighborhood, so I’m often scratching my head in my kitchen trying to figure out how to put yet another perfectly good glass jar into use instead of into the trash. Let’s just say after several months of research, I’ve got a plan. If you are interested in a Fall craft and art series that will help tame the craziness that is holiday gift-giving, stay tuned. Start saving your jars and lids of all sizes. This week, wash them with hot water and rinsing them in a cold water and vinegar mixture will get them squeaky clean. Next week, we’ll get cooking.
“To cherish what remains of the earth and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.” — Wendell Berry
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- Domestic Art, Happy Hippie, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk, Recycle, Reduce, Reuse