Friday, December 28, 2012

Eco Burnout and Hope

EcoYogini shares some thoughts on acceptance and hope...

Blogger burnout is a pretty common occurrence in the green blogging world. I remember reading about it almost four years ago when I first started blogging and thinking- "No way! That could never be me! I'm a lean green yoga machine! I will LOVE YOGA FOREVER".

haha.

It's true though, that it's difficult to keep up hope and not give in to cynicism. Especially with something like climate change. I feel like our entire society has shifted into a cynical apathy with our relationship (or lack thereof) and belief in our political system(s) and governing figures.

I have no idea how Dr David Suzuki has kept hope and advocating for change over the decades. He's my hero.

Even my LOVE of yoga has faded, or maybe more accurately it's my wariness of what is popular yoga and those people that follow. I'm no longer shouting about the all encompassing benefits of yoga from street corners, shaking people while yelling "JUST TRY YOGA!!!".

So yeah, I'm no longer enraged or surprised that our governments aren't doing jack to protect our planet and our lives. I gotta say, a certain level of acceptance has to be healthy, otherwise we would be running on HIGH ALERT and ANGER and INDIGNATION at all times. That's a high level of stress on the body and emotional state.

Spending four days with the in-laws definitely is a hard lesson on patience and acceptance. I need to constantly draw on my yoga practice, to remind myself to just breathe through the challenging and condescending conversations.

I have to accept that I can't change a family member's views of women, how they disregard my ideas, opinions and thoughts, breathe, smile and let it go.

What we do here, our wonderful and lovely blogging family, is a part of this dance between acceptance and doing what we can.

I feel that the biggest lesson of 2012 has been of moving towards acceptance without giving up on hope. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Recovery

In which the Homegrown Mama hides from the post-holiday laundry to talk millet and kale...

As I sit here typing, the snow is falling and my 3 year old is still sleeping off the holiday hoopla at 930 in the morning. This year, we celebrated at four different locations in four days. We hardly ate at home and bedtimes were all over the place. I finished unpacking the gifts this morning and was grateful to observe that the recycling pick up does actually come this week!  

As we settle into our regular lives again, I'm looking forward to getting some healthy, healing foods in our bodies again. In the past here at the Booth, our contributors have written about the benefits of Aromatherapy  and I'm thinking today would be a good day to fill our humidifiers with some oils and jump start the health. 

In the meantime, we'll be having a salad loaded with cranberries, grilled chicken and kale for lunch. I bought some kale on Christmas eve so I'd be ready to detox all the rich foods we've been consuming over the last few days! The salad is filled with magnesium, calcium, iron and vitamin C. All of which are beneficial for healing bodies that have been thrown for a loop by eating foods we don't typically eat while celebrating the holidays!


Cranberry and Chicken Salad with Millet
• 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast (grilled or baked)
• 2 cups kale, washed and stripped from the ribs
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup millet, rinsed
• ½ cup balsamic vinegar
• ¼ cup. roasted sunflower seeds
• ½ tsp. paprika
• 1 tsp. dried mustard
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 Tbsp. olive oil
Place millet, a tiny pinch of salt and 3 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. When the water is absorbed, remove the pan from the heat, fluff the grains and cover until you are ready to add it to the rest of salad.
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet and bring to a medium heat. Add in the onions, kale, and garlic. Sauté until the kale is limp and the onions are tender. Sprinkle with paprika, mustard, salt and pepper. Toss thoroughly. Slice the chicken and add to the skillet. Stir so that the contents are well mixed. Reduce the heat to low and pour in the vinegar. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the millet and mix the ingredients well. Serve in bowls topped with the cranberries and sunflower seeds.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Last Minute Gift Idea - T-shirt Scarves

The Conscious Shopper pops back into the Booth to share some ideas for free Christmas gifts.

Like last year, I taught a class at my church this year about making gifts out of recycled materials. This year's idea was t-shirt scarves. Made out of old, large t-shirts, these scarves are quick and easy to make, and end up looking pretty cool.

t-shirt scarves

The simplest kind is an infinity scarf.
  • Cut the bottom hem off of a large t-shirt. 
  • Then cut a 2"-3" loop off of the the bottom of the t-shirt. 
  • Stretch the fabric by pulling on the loop. This will make the sides curl in.
  • Wrap around you neck.
You can make several of these scarves from one t-shirt, and you can embellish them by adding a broach if you like. More detailed instructions here.

t-shirt scarves

This spaghetti scarf is a variation of the infinity scarf.
  • Cut the bottom hem off of a large t-shirt.
  • Cut 1"-2" loops off of the bottom of the t-shirt.
  • Stretch the fabric by pulling on the loops. This will make the sides curl in.
  • Holding all of the loops together, wrap around your neck.
You can get up to two of these scarves from one t-shirt. Patterned t-shirts work as well. More detailed instructions here.

t-shirt scarves

t-shirt scarves

The last two scarves require a sewing machine, but are still simple to make. Instructions can be found here and here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

On darkness



It's that time of the year.  Nope, I'm not thinking of the hustling and bustling, of the hunt for the perfect gift, of  decking the halls, and the like.  What's on my mind is that it's dark.  It's that time when I leave the house in the dark, and often don't get home until after it's dark again.

Each year, I'm a little more prepared for this.  I know what's coming as the long, warm days of summer give way to long shadows.  On sunny days, I've noticed the quality of the light changing.  In my bag, I have exchanged the long-sleeved shirt I carry around in defense of enthusiastic air-conditioners for the woolen hat and the mittens that help advancing winter nippiness at bay. I know that, as of today, the in-breath of the shortening light will yield to breathing out once again.

There's another week and a half before we turn the page to a new calendar year.  But, today feels like that new beginning.  I feel the renewal, the recharge, the energy to say "there was much left undone, let it be, and move forward." 

Indeed, there is so much going on during this "dead" of winter!  The compost piles which were, just a few weeks ago, so full that they would not contain one more leaf, have shrunken down impressively.  I see fresh rounds of hairy bittercress sprouting up in the garden.  The flowering tops of the Autumn Joy Sedum are done, but when I look closely underneath, I can already see new leaves.  

The seed catalogs are out, and I'm anticipating the planting season.  My "food club ladies" and I are exchanging growing notes and experiences as our friendships grow deeper over conversations about veggie varieties, sustainability, and preparedness.

Solstice blessings to you, gentle readers!

Down with darkness, up with light,
Up with sunshine, down with night,
Each of us is one small light.
But together we shine bright.
Go away darkest, blackest night.
Go away, give way to light.
 [ Hear the tune ]


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Crafting for the end of the world


Six days till Christmas.
Or two till the end of the world, if you’re into the whole Mayan thing.
I think I’m done going to the store for a while (I am so tired of driving and parking and going into stores and driving some more…), and we are moving into the family tradition part of our holidays. We made roll-out cookies last night and will decorate them tomorrow, we are making labels and cards to go on teacher-gifts—mason jars of homemade granola or apple butter from fruit the kids picked last fall—and the day care center’s Christmas Pageant is tomorrow night. Lots of singing and noise and bowl-licking, and an unbelievable amount of garbage generated.
I have been doing my best to do the Green thing, to avoid disposables and not drive more than I have to and step back from the Huge Consumer Whirl of Doom…with limited success, but more than I have in some years, so it’s sort of a wash, I guess. What is both exasperating and glorious is witnessing my little girl, though, who takes delight in the simplest things that I would otherwise throw away. We were cutting paper circles out of construction paper to go under mason jar lids today (since I’ve run out of labels), and when it was done she looked at the graceful curves of the remaining scraps and proceeded to cut and tape them back together into a long garland she draped over the tree’s branches. (My husband hasn’t seen it yet. If he takes it down, I’ll knock him upside the head.) And she has, in her room, a collection of 30 empty toilet paper tubes. Because she likes them. And might be able to make something out of them.
Turns out, there are a ton of crafts you can make with used toilet paper tubes. An x-wing fighter. Cute animals. And check this site out—the possibilities are endless. (I wish I’d seen this one before December hit!) Which makes me think…how much of the stuff we will acquire over the next week or so could, if nothing else, be transformed into something cool our kids would enjoy, even if it has no other earthly use? The Climate Crusader put up a great post a while ago about the whole reusable gift wrap/bags issue, which will get us a long way (my family still has gift wrap and bags that have been passed from family member to family member for more than a decade; my mother still has some boxes from clothing stores I think closed when I was a kid.), but how far can we take it if we give up a little on “useful” and just go for “fun”?
We will very likely, in the next few days, make paper chains out of cut-up strips of wrapping paper from gifts too small to realistically re-use any further. We might try making a village or doll bed or something out of boxes (with toilet paper rolls as turrets or legs). I desperately need to clean out my sewing room—I bet I could make a cute rag doll or sock doll for my daughter, stuffed with scraps or felt bits too small to save, and let her decorate the face, or even explore some of the adorable no-sew rag dolls on the internet; she would love that. Maybe we’ll even move into making those cool recycled paper beads.
It’s tricky, balancing the “I need to not be weighed down by all this stuff” with the delight of a seven-year-old who doesn’t want to throw anything out, because she sees something beautiful in it. So this year, this week, when I suspect we are all holding our little ones a little closer than we might have a month ago, we will revel in the found objects of the holiday. We’ll cut snowflakes, we’ll craft and glue and gather and build, and we’ll see something beautiful in stuff others would just throw away.
I love it when my kids teach me stuff.
Wishing all a blessed Christmas, a happy Solstice, a joyous Hanukkah,  a safe Mayan end-of-days, and a Happy New Year!
--Jenn the Greenmom

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Holiday Wish List

The tagline of The Green Phone Booth is Where Ordinary People Become Eco-Heroes. But today, as I sat down to write the first post following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I didn't feel like donning my mask. While I believe that the planet needs to be our priority all the time, I'm not feeling very much like the Climate Crusader at the moment. While I live on Canada's West Coast, nowhere near Newtown, Connecticut, like many people I am feeling deep sadness. It doesn't feel like the right time to put on a costume.

This is why, rather than share tips and tricks for going green over the holidays, today I am sharing my holiday wish list with you. Now, more than ever, I feel like I could use a little bit of holiday magic. I'm choosing to believe that if we all wish hard enough - and then pitch in to do our part - we can make good things happen.

Power outage

Holiday Wish List

  1. I wish that everybody would take a moment to sign the Sandy Hook Elementary School National Sympathy Card. It only takes a minute to add your voice and express your sympathies to those impacted by this senseless and unthinkable tragedy.
  2. I wish for tragedies such as this one to cease, so that all families can spend the holidays together, and so that no parents need to lose their children too soon.
  3. I wish peace for those who are suffering, whether because of what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, or for any other reason. The world can always use more peace.
  4. I wish for more time spent with those who matter most to me, and I wish the same for everyone else, too.
  5. I wish for more time spent in nature, for myself and especially for my children. Spending time outdoors helps connect us to this planet we call home, and gets us away from the hectic pace of day-to-day-life.
  6. I wish for meaningful memories, rather than stuff. I don't know about you, but I already have way more stuff than I need.
  7. I wish for a world where we can all work together for the greater good - people, governments, businesses and other organizations. That's how real change happens.
  8. I wish for fair trade, organic chocolate. Just because I like it.
What do you wish for this holiday season?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In case Santa needs some help...

From the laundry basket of the Homegrown Mama...

I'm done with my Christmas shopping. *happy dance* This year, I am excited that I purchased fair trade chocolates, handmade hairbows from Etsy, wooden toys and had a friend make a blanket from organic cotton yarn. I'm excited because this year, I feel that each item was actually chosen for a reason and with my values in mind.

What is your go-to gift for children this time of year? My favorite for sure are either art supplies like the Climate Crusader shared with us recently, or books. Combine those two and you have a gift that not only entertains but stimulates their developing brains. See why it's my favorite? Books are the perfect gift idea because they stimulate and educate and inspire. We read a LOT in this house and so I'm always on the hunt for something new to slip into our shelves that will join the ranks of being read dozens of times throughout the day.
Jack's Garden

The Little Composter



On Meadowview Street
I'm always excited to find an ecofriendly book during my library visits... it's how we test them out prior to purchase. 

But, if your bookshelves are already full or you're switching to the eReader format and need other ideas for Christmas, we here at the Green Phone Booth have a long list.  Check out these posts for more ideas!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Doing Nothing in order to Reconnect over the Holidays

EcoYogini ponders on the importance of doing nothing over the holidays...

Do you ever just want to lock yourself in your room, pick up a fantastic book and disappear into the fluff of fiction?

The holidays tend to do that to us. Everything comes to a point. Work deadlines, children concerts, family obligations and holiday gift shopping. It's like the world conspires to make us have insomnia, break out into hives, constant exhaustion, short fuses and general feelings of hatred towards all things holiday-y by the end of it.

It's really a colossal shame. Cuz no matter your beliefs, traditions or religious practices, this should be a time for happiness, family and friends.

So- how to reconnect?

I truly believe that an important, and often overlooked, step in the process of reconnecting with a joyful holiday experience, is the 'do nothing' and 'let it go' part. We talk about creating meaningful memories, more time for family only- important for sure, but this still requires planning and DO-ing.

During this month of lack of sleep, of GO-ing, of planning of socializing and shopping and DO-ing...

Take one day (or half day) a week and specifically DO nothing on your list. That includes cleaning. Sleep in, eat Kraft Dinner cuz it's easy, practice yoga in your living room, read a book all afternoon curled up with some tasty coffee. Tell your partner your "do nothing" day plans and ask for their support- delegate tasks, pawn off the children if you have to.

Put everything on pause for a good chunk of hours. The world won't implode if you put the shopping for tomorrow. I have discovered the world won't end if I don't sweep, or bake cookies or do all my shopping RIGHT NOW.

Take a step back, plunk down and take a deep breath. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Outdoors in the City

Julia from Color Me Green reflects on wanting outdoor space in the city

Ever since reading David Owens' Green Metropolis, I've felt that urban living is more environmentally friendly than rural living in many ways. The smaller and more compact our homes, the less stuff we have, the less heat and electricity we need, the less natural habitat we are replacing, and since the distances we travel are shorter and public transportation more efficient, the less gas we need to use.



Yet, when I went apartment hunting earlier this year, I was set on finding a home with outdoor space. I would have been happy with at least a balcony to grow a few plants, but ended up with what seemed like the holy grail of New York City outdoor space - a private, grassy backyard.

So how then, do I justify wanting outdoor space? If everyone in New York wanted and could have a yard, it would be a sprawling suburbia and not a city anymore. I can only have it because I can afford to be picky about where I live. Community gardens are the solution for many farm-lusting urbanites, but they often have long waiting lists in NYC. While it's nice to have a private yard, at the same time I sometimes feel bad that I can't share it more with my upstairs neighbors or let neighborhood friends have their own little raised bed (the only access is through our apartment).

And why do I want the outdoor space? Because I grew up watching my mom garden and raise goats. Because our culture tells us we should want our own house with a white picket fence and a yard, and bits of that have stuck with me. Because I've been inspired by people like the women in the Green Phone Booth and other eco blogs. Because I'm the kind of person who likes to do things the from-scratch-eco-friendly-DIY way and my visions for my life involve being able to spend time outside doing urban homesteader type activities: Hanging clothes to dry on a line. Bringing my food scraps to my own compost bin. Planting flowers in the ground and growing vegetables from seed. Hosting barbecues and potlucks.

However, it turned out that my Brooklyn yard is subject to unusually high levels of mosquitos that swarm you when you step outside. I did my gardening this summer while sweating underneath long pants and a mosquito head net. I planted fall vegetable seeds that only grew into seedlings and then refused to grow anymore - my best guess is from too much tree cover. I can't grow herbs directly in the ground and watch them grow bigger each year due to high levels of lead in the soil. Though we did turn a trash can into a giant compost bin, which will hopefully produce black gold for the raised beds we'll build next spring. I realized that a clothesline doesn't make that much sense when I would have to a bring a load of wet clothing home from the laundromat down the street. I have the room for a chicken coop (and it's possible the chickens could help eat the mosquitos) but not the time to take care of them. So it's not exactly an urban homesteading dream come true.

Are there things about where you live that limit how you can use and benefit from outdoor space?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Reusable Gift Wrap: Yay or Nay?

The Climate Crusader considers reusable gift wrap.

A number of Christmases ago I made a decision: I was good at sewing, so I would sew some reusable gift bags. It seemed like a winner of an eco-friendly idea. When I went to look at the big plastic bin containing all of my wrapping supplies, though, I realized that the last thing I needed was more gift bags, reusable or otherwise.

My gift wrap collection, a number of years ago

Good-bye Wrap, Hello Bags

As paper and plastic gift bags overtook gift wrap in popularity, I amassed a massive collection. Each Christmas, birthday, and other special occasion I only added to it. I decided, instead, that I would use all of the gift bags I had on hand, since reusing something I already owned would surely be the greenest gift wrap option. I even had lots of tissue paper, which was still almost entirely wrinkle-free after its brief trip in a bag.

The Bags Keep Rolling In

Some four years later, I still haven't used all of my gift bags. In fact, with two young children who are well-loved by their extended family, I have even more. Many of the bags in my collection are on their third or fourth go-around, having been passed between family members over the course of a number of years. Once again this year I considered sewing gift bags, and once again I opened the bin and saw that new bags are the last thing in the world I need.

Reusable Overload

I love the idea of buying reusable products rather than disposable products. This is why I used cloth diapers, why I carry a stainless steel water bottle around with me, and why I have a lot of reusable bags. However, I think it's important to know when to draw the line with buying more reusable products. For instance, this summer I had to pass along some of my reusable bags, because I had more than I could ever use. People keep giving them to me, and having a bunch of them sitting in my closet collecting dust isn't really doing the earth any favours.

When to go Reusable

I feel the same way about gift bags as I do about shopping bags. If you don't have any gift wrap, opting for reusable over disposable seems like the obvious way to go. But if you have a whole bunch of gift wrap that will just go to the landfill, it makes more sense to get as much use out of it as possible, rather than buying something new. This is why, while I try to be as green as possible, you won't catch me sewing my own reusable gift bags. Although if someone wanted to use them for my gifts, I would absolutely keep them and reuse them, along with the rest of my gift bags.  

Do you have reusable gift bags? If so, what do you do with the disposable bags that come into your home? And do you ever suffer from reusable overload, when you just have too much of a good thing?

Friday, November 23, 2012

This Black Friday: Channel Your Inner Canuck

EcoYogini reflects on the Americanization of Canadian consumer culture...

As a Canadian, Black Friday has never really held a lot of importance in my holiday planning. Our thanksgiving happened in October, and holiday shopping kinda happens after Remembrance Day (November 11th). A few years ago I had to get my husband to even explain what the heck it means (ahem, in case you're unclear, businesses move from being in the "red" to being the "black" in sales).

I'd say Boxing Day, in Canada, looks a bit more like the whole "Black Friday" phenomenon where there are line ups etc. Still, it must be our British heritage, the entire RUSH, BUY, TRAMPLE, SHOVE aspect of Black Friday (or at least, how the media portrays this) isn't even close on Boxing Day. It's just not that polite... This is especially true in the maritimes.

Blogging has really brought a sense of international connectivity beyond the "American" television that is such a part of Canadian media consumption. Which I find pretty darn neat. However, that same globalization, shrinking of our world, means that in the past few years "Black Friday" has crept into Canadian rhetoric.

I type this post from a conference on French Health Care in Ottawa (Ontario) and Black Friday has been mentioned (with a thick French accent!) several times by presenters while signs in various shops around the hotel shout out BLACK FRIDAY SALE! My favourite was a Walmart radio commercial featuring a "consumer" who suggested that at Walmart they are calling it "Happy Friday". Right.

There are no line ups, no rushing, no screaming, no trampling.

I'll be honest, after listening to talks on American innovation regarding integrating multiculturally sensitive and diverse systems of Health Care (CLAS Guidelines), I'm sad that what is adopted much more easily into Canadian culture is an event based on individualism and consumption.

That said, I'm in Ottawa and tonight is the ONLY night I have free... so guess what I'm going to be doing... ? I'm a hypocrite.

I will say, that like the irony and non-ownership present in the hipster culture, "I'm not shopping because it's Black Friday, I'm shopping because I'm in Ottawa": so I don't really own up to my actions. (hah)

So no judgement on all of us who are feeling the pocketbook pinch, but if you are going out there today I would ask you channel your inner Canuck and:

- be polite and smile: seriously missing the last Beibs doll won't bring on the END. People always respond more positively when we respect each other.
- Hold the door for someone.
- Say "Thank You" :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Three Fun and Sustainable Gifts for Kids

The Climate Crusader is sharing three green holiday gifts that are sure to be a hit.

I'm already thinking about what to get my kids for Christmas this year. While the holiday is still a little more than a month away, I don't relish the idea of battling the crowds and doing a lot of last-minute holiday shopping. Also, I prefer to do much of my shopping online, since I've found a much wider variety of eco-friendly gifts there than I do at the mall. This requires a little planning ahead, which is why I'm working on it now.

As a mom, one of the things that I run up against over the holidays is keeping the season sustainable, while also making it magical for my children. The truth is that my children have a strong love for beepy plastic toys with blinky lights. I can't really blame them. I remember being five years old and liking the same things myself. Each year I try to come up with something that I can fill good about giving, and that my children will enjoy receiving. Here are three of my personal favourites.

1. Eco-Friendly Art Supplies

My children love to create, and there are a lot of great, sustainable options when it comes to paper, crayons and pencil crayons. From soy crayons perfect for little fingers to paint made from dirt to recycled art paper, there's something for every age and ability. Plus, you get bonus points because you're nurturing your child's creativity. What's not to love?

2. Dress-Up Clothes

What kid doesn't love to dress up? Dress-up clothes can make for hours of fun, plus lots of smiles from strangers when your four-year-old insists on leaving the house wearing his cowboy costume. Second-hand stores are treasure troves when it comes to outfitting your own little princess, pirate or doctor-in-training. If you want to go higher-end, there are lots of online shops that sell gorgeous dress-up clothes made from natural materials. Etsy is also a great option.

3. Cardboard Play Furniture

Last year my kids and I were lucky enough to try out a cardboard playhouse, made by Boutique Cascades here in Canada. Made with 100% recycled cardboard, it was itself recyclable and biodegradable. My kids painted on it, drew on it, ate snacks inside it, and more. There are lots of other manufacturers of cardboard play furniture, which ranges from playhouses to puppet theaters to tables and chairs. It's all totally fun and totally eco-friendly.


What about you - what are your favourite eco-friendly holiday gifts for the little people in your life? We can all use more ideas!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Back to our roots

From the laundry basket of the Homegrown Mama

This is the time of year when in North Central Ohio, it's go time for getting the garden finished up and things ready for the winter. On tap for me this weekend is to dig up the last of the carrots and beets. I also need to make up my mind about where to plant the daffodil bulbs.

Some root vegetables make it obvious when they are ready to be harvested. Onions, parsnips and shallots are generally ready to be harvested once the leaves die down. The onions and shallots should stay in the ground for an additional 2 weeks after the leaves fall over.  After that, you can dig them up, shake the dirt off and store them for the winter. Parsnips can be dug up and eaten as soon as you notice the leaves falling over.  If you aren't ready to harvest yet, you can toss a layer of hay over their tops to protect them from frost, but in my opinion, it'd be better to just dig them up.

Carrots, turnips and beets can be harvested when they are still fairly immature, such as when you thinned them earlier this year.  I hope you were able to enjoy them while they were so tender.  As they grow, you want to look for the tops to sprout on the carrots and the beets to be close to the size of a golf ball before harvesting.

So here you are and you've already harvested all your root vegetables or you are preparing to and now they are just piled up on the table... what should you do with them? Well, this is my moment for shameless self promotion. Dice up those parsnips, carrots, onions and add in some apples and spinach and you've got yourself a lovely side dish. Add in some chicken or white beans and it's a full meal. Healthy. Hearty. Filled with those hardy root vegetables that hid underground while you harvested the rest of your garden.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sustainable Poppies for Remembrance Day

EcoYogini Remembers...

Since the last Friday of October, small red poppies can be seen dotting the crowds and streets in Canada.

Sunday, November 11th, is Remembrance Day (the Canadian equivalent to Memorial Day) where Canadians all across the country remember those who have died serving our country. The Royal Canadian Legion actually proclaims the poppy as the "sacred" symbol of remembrance and donations from poppies fund an important part of veteran rehabilitation and helping the families of those who have passed.

I may not be a fan of the political decisions surrounding the military, but I will honour and respect those who have died for my country.

In particular, I wear my poppy in honour of my grand-père Albert (who passed away 5 years ago) who fought in the infantry in World War II. Remembrance Day meant a lot to him.

The entire system of the Poppy Campaign  however, necessitates waste. In order to raise money, the Legion counts on people throwing away their poppies and purchasing new ones each year. If 70% of Canadians wear poppies, that's a lot of wasted plastic.

(photo from Fredericton blog Kandise Brown)

Recently, several knitting groups, specifically one in Fredericton New Brunswick, were asked to stop knitting reusable poppies by the Legion. One reason being that a reusable poppy means that person won't purchase one the following year. I think it's a shame a compromise couldn't have been found.

For the past two years, after Remembrance Day, Andrew and I placed our poppies in a drawer where they are protected and bring them out the following year... As they are plastic they last through the rain and snow of November and look virtually the same as the day we bought them. No extra waste.

I do believe in giving back to the Legion, as they have helped my grandparents as well as myself (with a scholarship during my undergraduate degree).

So, instead of taking a poppy, I simply give a donation, smile and continue on my way.

Albert d'Eon WWII 1945 in Holland
J'taime grand-père, et je me souviens...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Three Tips for a Less Hectic Holiday Season

The Climate Crusader is sharing her tips for making meaningful memories this holiday season.

With the arrival of November, we're running the Meaningful Memories Holidays Challenge. And I'm going to come right out and admit it: I'm feeling challenged.

What I Don't Want Over the Holidays

I know very well what I don't want for the holidays. The list remains the same every year:
My little angels
Keeping it angelic
  • No last-minute gift frenzy
  • No swearing while the Christmas tree goes up and my over-excited children accidentally break a few ornaments and run off with the angel
  • No toys that come with tons of plastic, styrofoam and what seems like billions of little twist ties
  • No guilt-inducing family politics
  • No driving from event to event to event, scheduled to within an inch of our lives 

Tips for a More Meaningful Holiday Season

Needless to say, the reality is that I encounter most of these situations every year. Life isn't perfect, and the holiday season is no exception. However, there are a few tactics I employ that make the holidays a little less harried, and a little more meaningful.

  1. Don't get overly-ambitious with the handmade gifts. I love the idea of giving lovingly-handmade holiday gifts, but the reality is that I only have two hands. And so, I try to focus on a few homemade items that won't be overly taxing. I may sew - but only one or two things for my kids. I may cook - but just a couple of batches of peppermint bark to give to several of the people on my list. The holidays are happier when I'm not staying up way past my bedtime every night to knit.
  2. For that matter, cut back on the gifts altogether. I've found that my own children appreciate their gifts more when they're not overwhelmed by stuff. By choosing a few select items, I'm reducing the environmental impact of the holidays, saving money, and reducing the commercial aspect of the holiday. In my husband's family, we do a holiday gift exchange with the adults, where we each draw one name instead of all buying each other gifts. It all cuts down on the volume and brings the focus back to the time spent together, which is the real gift of the season.
  3. Be selective with the events. Just like with gifts, I've found that my family enjoys holiday events more when we're not inundated by them. By choosing to attend only a handful of events, and no more than one or two on any given weekend leading up to the holidays, we can keep the activity level reasonable. We're all happier, and it allows us to really appreciate the time we're spending together at the events we do attend.
As I said, I still have a few things to learn when it comes to creating a meaningful, enjoyable holiday season. But I've found that these three changes have certainly helped. I hope that you find them helpful, as well.

Now it's your turn - how do you make your holidays less hectic and more enjoyable? Leave a comment and share your tips!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Meaningful Memories Holiday Challenge 2012



Halloween, my least favorite holiday, is finally behind us. Hopefully folks will now stop throwing handfuls of candy at my children. My son attends a dual immersion elementary school with a large Mexican-American population, and it has been interesting to be part of a Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration for the first time in my life. My son and I made a poster about my grandfather, for whom my son was named, for a class project for the holiday. I would love to trade Halloween in for Dia de Los Muertos permanently: instead of teenagers at my door demanding candy, a kind of festive Memorial Day where families and communities celebrate loved ones who have passed. Next up (for us Americans) is one of my favorite holidays: Thanksgiving. 


Pretend this says 2012 until I get
a chance to update this button.

And on that note, it's time to kick off the Booth's Meaningful Memory Holiday Challenge. Time to reflect on the kind of holiday season we want to enjoy. What do you want your holidays to be like? Perhaps you are looking for
  • less stress, more time with family and friends
  • less spending and shopping, more handmade and homemade gifts
  • less waste, more appreciation of nature
  • less stuff, more memories
  • less commercialism, more community and charity

Please share your aspirations and ideas with us! You can participate in our challenge by:

  • Spreading the word! The more, the merrier. We look forward to sharing ideas with and learning from all of you.
  • Sharing your ideas for more meaningful holidays in the comments on our posts or on our Facebook page.
  • Writing about how you will be making your memories more meaningful on yourown blog. We will be hosting a Meaningful Memories Link-up in the coming weeks, or you can include a link to your relevant post in the comments of any of our Meaningful Memory posts.
  • Writing a guest post to be published here at the Green Phone Booth. Email us at greenphonebooth [at] gmail [dot] com with your topic idea, and we'll put you on the calendar.

We look forward to hearing your ideas!

Photo credit: wikipedia

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Day in the Life of Julia from Color Me Green

Hi, I’m Julia. I blog over at Color Me Green about my slow food, eco-friendly life in Brooklyn. I will be filling in here while the Emerald Apron takes a little maternity leave and am excited to join the Green Phone Booth community. I figured what better way to introduce myself than to share a day in my life.

Although, this week has been anything but typical. Hurricane Sandy hit New York hard. I personally felt lucky to be unaffected and thankful for all of our modern infrastructure and conveniences, which meant I was snug in my apartment on high ground without even losing power, able to monitor the news via internet throughout the storm. For me, the hurricane has meant days of getting to just relax, cook good food and do some work remotely at home, while we wait for power to be restored to lower Manhattan where my office is located, and for the subway stations to be pumped clear of flooding. In New York, the forced relaxation that comes with severe weather is a welcome relief from my busy life. So on to a typical day in my life...

Morning
My boyfriend wakes me up around 8:30 to say goodbye. He is a morning person and has to be at work earlier, so he gets up nearly two hours before me. I indulge in snoozing time before slowly waking myself up by checking email on my iTouch in bed and finally get up sometime around 9am. I'm not good at getting up on time, so I'm late to work most days.

Around 9:30, I leave for work on my bike. It’s a 5.5 mile ride, around 40 minutes, through nice brownstone streets in Brooklyn, over the East River, and into downtown Manhattan. I try to focus on just enjoying being outside on my bike. I ride to work about 3 days a week, since I work from home one day a week, and I take the subway if it’s raining or if I have plans that will keep me out at night after work. In the wake of Sandy, I’m happy I can use my bike to get around even with the subways down.

When I arrive at work sometime between 10 and 10:30, my first stop is the office bathroom to change. Later this winter, my office is moving to a new location that will supposedly have showers on site, which will be nice. However, in the meantime, I don’t find it necessary to shower after biking. I’ve written about my strategies here. I bring a change of clothes, and since I don’t wear make up, I just brush my hair and reapply my homemade deodorant and am good to go.

I typically start my day at work with a small bowl of my homemade granola and a good cup of sustainable coffee while I catch up on my google reader.

Work
I work in the fundraising department of an international environmental nonprofit that promotes sustainable land-use practices around the world. My days are spent writing grant proposals and reports, writing correspondence with donors, scheduling and preparing for my boss to meet with donors, and fighting with our donor database to make it work the way we want it to. There is pretty much always too much work to do, so even though it's not a corporate job, it's still a stressful office job where I sit at my desk for eight hours a day.

Lunch
I often feel too busy to take the hour lunch break I am allowed, so I usually eat at my desk. Being in New York with delis and bodegas everywhere, it's easy to be lazy and buy lunch, which I did a lot last year, but I felt bad about it because it gets expensive and wasteful with all the packaging. For the past several months, I’ve been good about packing lunches most days. My boyfriend is currently on a no-processed-wheat kick lately, so my lunches lately have involved a simple mix of quinoa, beans and some sort of vegetables with a little cheese.

On the couple of days a week I can motivate myself to get out of the office for a “lunch break,” I run errands or go to a gym nearby to lift weights and stretch, but it's not as often as I'd like.

Evening
The workday officially ends at 6pm, though I usually leave around 6:30 and sometimes not until 7 or 7:30 because I want to keep getting work done. I change back into my biking clothes and ride home, in the dark this time.

On Mondays, my boyfriend and I are usually both home in the evening. Most other nights of the week, one or the other of us has band practice or plans with friends. Since we both enjoy cooking, we cook dinner together, using ingredients we picked up over the weekend from the farmers market or coop.

By the time we clean up dinner, there's only an hour or so left before my boyfriend wants to get ready for bed. We'll watch a little TV courtesy of the internet or play some music together. My boyfriend goes to bed around 10:30, but I'm more of a night owl so I stay up for another hour or two at my computer, wasting time reading blogs and writing and always wanting to eke out some more worth from my day before it's time to go to sleep and do it all over again.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Why Being a Tourist In Your Own Town is Cool

EcoYogini brings you on a virtual tour of the colours of Nova Scotia and why you should be a tourist in your own town....

Part of why I love Autumn is all the beautiful colours in the maritimes. When we lived in BC I really missed all the reds and oranges as the majority of indigenous trees were pine and yellow leaves only.

Since Andrew and I don't have lots of money to travel on cruises or down south (it happens a lot here in the maritimes, escaping the winter weather), we've decided to take opportunities to enjoy our own province!

Last weekend, Andrew and I along with two friends and their 3 week old baby (he was so good!), drove down to Wolfville and Kentville in the Annapolis Valley region of Nova Scotia to see the gorgeous, fiery forests, hop a few vineyards and see a few pumpkin people!

(sadly, no photos of the pumpkin people, but basically every year on a theme, the people of Kentville create these scarecrows with pumpkin heads scenes on their lawn. This year was Pixar- it was kinda creepy yet fun!)

Our first stop was at JustUs!'s main roasting building. They were the first organic fair trade coffee bean roaster's in Nova Scotia and they have a little museum all about Fair Trade and Organic certification (and coffee bean growers), including these FRENCH comic strips which I thought were hilarious. I love living in a country where we have two official languages!

Then we stopped at Luckett Vineyards (first of four that we checked out. Nova Scotia has more than a dozen little vineyards!). The view was gorgeous, vineyard, farmland and then the Bay of Fundy!
We stayed for some delicious, local and healthy lunch, tasted some wine (no fee!) and explored their vineyard.
Because randomly, this vineyard has a red tartis phone booth in the middle of the vineyard...

Where you can actually call ANYWHERE in North America for FREE on the rotary phone... Yep. Just because. We all called our parents. We are such great children.
Also fun was that during wine season the town of Wolfville provides a "Magic Winery Bus" Tour on Saturdays and Sundays that vineyard hops... I love that it's a 'clin d'oeil' to the "Magic Schoolbus"!


Although this red existed in BC, it was always in yards or cultivated areas. Here, these reds and oranges take over the hill side, making the entire wooded areas look like they are on fire. 

This is Grand Pré Vineyards, named after the region: Grand Pré which is the origins of the story "Évangéline" and where the British rounded up the French Acadian settlers who had been in Nova Scotia for over a 150yrs to announce their deportation. It's now a UNESCO site.


This is the church (and Andrew standing in front of the Évangéline statue) where it the deportation was announced in 1755... effectively destroying thousands of peoples lives. I'm descended from the only village allowed to return and reclaim their original lands... Before this weekend I had never had the opportunity to visit Grand Pré, I was surprised just how much it meant to me.


Yep, being a tourist in your own village is fantastically fun, easier on the gas miles (and carbon emissions) and a way to reconnect to your local community.

This Autumn, consider vacationing in your own town, province or state. Be a tourist. You'd be surprised just how much fun you'll have!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ketchup for health

In which Truffula explains how nearly every pot and bowl in the house was pressed into service... at the same time...

In our state, Health is one of the required subjects for homeschoolers.  One of the ways we fill that requirement for the TruffulaBoyz is by taking it to their tummies.  We cook and learn about nutrition. This year, we're taking a more focused look at fermentation and its uses and benefits.

The mamas in our small coop got excited about the prospect of learning about kefir, kombucha, and kraut.  However, our childrens' collective attention was likely to zoom right out the door at the mention of those lovely ferments.  I thought that the word "ketchup", on the other hand, might cause ears to perk up.

This is how I ended up with 5 boys in my not-so-big kitchen, slicin' and dicin' ingredients for their very own batches of lacto-fermented red stuff.  5 cutting boards... 5 paring knives... 5 mixing bowls... 2 compost containers for gathering their scraps... 5 stirring spoons... lots of measuring spoons... and 4 pots.

Yes, 4 pots for the 5 kids.  To make the experience more "advanced" for TruffulaBoy the Elder, the oldest guy in our gang, I assigned him a different recipe.  His recipe was raw, and avoided the cooking step.  To make his batch, he had to step through the ingredients and instructions on his own (with lots of consultations along the way).  Also, before he did anything, he had to work the math to halve all of the ingredient amounts.

Excitement built as each boy announced that he had assembled and stirred everything he needed in his bowl, transferred his batch to his pot (or not, in the case of the raw recipe), jarred it, and carefully labeled his  product. Then came the disappointment: the waiting period!  It would take a few days for the bacteria to work their fermenting magic...

Here are the recipes we sampled:

Which recipe is better? They are both good.  In our family, each of our cooks deemed the one he made to be the tastier one.  Of course.  I found the additional spices in the "Lacto-Fermented Homemade Ketchup" to lend a more complex flavor to the end product.   I also have another ketchup recipe in the wings for even more taste comparisons.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Day in the Life of the Grownup Grad Student Soccer Mom


A suburban greenmom throws in one last “day in the life” post…
I never got a “day in the life” post up during the month of October when we were focusing on that here at the Booth, which itself is telling in terms of what kinds of days have been in my life lately.  But I wanted to do one anyway, since my days appear to be a sort of marked contrast to other Boothers…
I am currently a full time graduate student, pursuing my doctorate in music in the hopes of finding a university professor type position somewhere down the line.  This is my second of two years of course work; next year will be about exams and orals and the dissertation. My university is 35 miles away from my home, and the degree program is structured so that I have to be there five days a week, every week.  It’s been a huge adjustment for our family of four, who was accustomed to having Mom working ten minutes from home on a flexible schedule—a big change! Now I can’t do the general schlepping of kids to activities, I can’t stop at the grocery store on a whim when we are out of something—I’m out of the house 10-15 hours a day, five days a week. It’s kind of insane.
We get up at about 6am, and the four of us manage over the next hour to get cleaned up and dressed, eat breakfast, gather school stuff, and get out the door.  I make lunches for the kids, depressingly unvaried and all-too-often relying on one of those little plastic pre-packaged cups of yogurt (but I’m trying to move past that), but otherwise waste-free. My husband drives me to the train station and the kids to the pre-school child care center, and then takes himself to work. In the evening he will reverse the whole deal.
I get on one of the fairly fast-moving express commuter trains into the city, where I get off one train, walk three blocks to the next station, and get onto another. Usually I am able to spend this time studying or preparing for the day, which is a far cry from sitting in traffic, and driving would cost me—I calculated it—about $16-18 per day in gas and tolls, before even factoring in parking.  (If I had a Prius or something it would be way less, but I have what I have.) The monthly Metra pass is way cheaper. It takes about 2 hours door to door when you count transit to the actual train station, as opposed to maybe an hour twenty driving in average rush hour traffic, but it’s time I can use, and I’ve gotten fairly attached to it. (Today, I’m using it to write this blog post!)
Where I fall off the wagon is when I stop at Dunkin or something on the days I didn’t get coffee in the morning at home and/or know I won’t have time to go to the nice little fair trade coffee shop with my re-usable cup at any later point in the morning. But usually I do okay and can avoid the disposables. I walk from the Evanston train station to the music building; my first class is another half mile from the music building, so I then hike over there. During a typical day in school I walk about 2-3 miles without even trying, and if there are extra trips to the library it may be more. I will lose about 4 lbs. this quarter without even trying, and will gain a good bit of stamina and strength; I have never been one to “go to the gym” to work out or get exercise, so when I can structure the exercise into my daily life, it makes a huge difference in my overall well-being. (I’m convinced this is why New Yorkers tend to be thinner than their suburban-can’t-walk-anywhere-for-practical-purposes counterparts, especially here in the Midwest.)
I spend two hours in advanced band conducting, where 18 students take turns conducting the rest of the group (a motley crew with something like 3 tubas, one oboe, a few clarinets one of whom plays the trumpet part, a violin, and a couple of pianists attempting to play percussion) while we are videotaped and the teacher keeps a running commentary of what we’re doing wrong so we can go back and watch it later, and cringe at how idiotic we look. (This is a huge exercise in humility!)  Then I trek back to the music building; the choral department is lucky in that we have a little fridge and microwave in our communal office, so I usually bring a container of soup or stew or something leftover from a previous dinner. Since I don’t have anywhere near as much time as I used to for stuff like, oh, cooking, when I do it I try to make it count, and I make a lot. Today I have a nice mushroom and barley soup with a little fresh dill from our CSA box this week; tomorrow it’ll be chili. I invested in a bunch of water-tight-seal containers from www.reusit.com; yes, they are plastic, but I’m afraid to bring glass jars to school with all my trainschlepping and bopping around with a soft-sided backpack. These couple of hours are my time to eat and study, and I try to use them as well as I can.
Most afternoons, for a choral conducting student, are pretty much wall to wall rehearsals: one group I sing in rehearses 2-3:30, and another group that I conduct goes 4-5:30. A couple days a week I then usually have to get onto another train into the city (this time it’s the ordinary Chicago Transit Authority “el” train) to go to my last rehearsal of the day, after which I drag my heavy butt and even heavier backpack home at 10:30 at night or so. The other days I reverse the ordinary commute and take the train back out to the suburbs, where my husband and kids pick me up at the train station once again. Some days it’ll be early enough that I can cook something and we can have dinner together; others my husband is on for cooking for the kids and I get picked up at 7:00 or so.
Nuts. Insane. But honestly, in a weird way—I love it. For one thing, just knowing that I made a choice to follow a dream, and am doing the muscle work to make it come true, gives me enormous satisfaction. And as much work as this all is, it’s mostly work I love. (Even being critiqued on video for some of the weirder flail-y conducting moves I occasionally fall into.) And I’m learning a lot—not all of it about music.
I’ve learned to put my “Mom-time-management” skills to work even more than ever. (You know how once you have kids, first you go insane and feel like you are getting nothing done, and then in the ensuing couple of years discover that you’ve learned how to do in 20 minutes what used to take two hours?) I’ve found that if I use every available during-the-day hour to work and prepare, every between-classes break, every minute of train-time, I can usually come home at night and just Be Mom—make dinner, help kids with homework, listen to stories of the day, and so forth—all the stuff I used to take so much for granted or even get bored by. Now I really don’t want to miss it.
It’s exciting, as a returning student, to see how much technology is at work in making education both easier and less paper-intensive and to learn from my much younger counterparts who have been steeped in it all their lives: many articles and books are available as online full texts, and most teachers simply post handouts and syllabi on the university course management website. Students are more likely to take notes directly onto their computers. In one of my conducting classes last year, a lot of people wouldn’t even play music from printed parts; they would just look up the music online, download it to their iPads, and play directly from there. (Yes, I know, it would take a lot of paper to compensate for the resources that go into making one iPad, but it’s a step!) Printing costs; scanning on any university machine is free to email to yourself as an attachment or save to a flash drive. Paper is becoming obsolete on campus.
I’ve learned how to get through the day with less stuff. Being committed to public transit is odd and unsettling—I basically have to spend the day with all of my daily belongings literally on my back, not even having a car to dump stuff in. This has had a really positive effect on my tendency to amass More Stuff: it only takes a week or so into the new quarter before I start re-evaluating how much of this stuff I really need today. And that pack gets lighter and lighter.
I’ve learned how incredibly important it is to have the support of a community in trying to do things in a smaller, lighter way. If I didn’t have a hugely supportive partner in all this, I could never do it. My husband is amazing, making this adjustment with great grace and willingness, both in terms of taking over most of the kid-schlepping and, even more, in sharing responsibility for plain old keeping track of stuff.  He comes from a very traditional-gender-roles kind of upbringing, and this cannot be easy for him, but he’s my hero. And it’s not just him, either—our friends, both in school and out, have been wonderful about helping each other in a pinch—watching the kids for twenty minutes if there’s a gap between one parent’s departure and another’s return, giving me lifts here and there if I’m caught without a train (on those late nights, one friend regularly drives me back home from the city), carpooling to this or that child activity, and things like that. Knowing we can all be there for each other and share the load is huge, and not always easy to come by in this world where often one might not know the neighbors’ names.
These are crazy-long days, and I’ll be incredibly relieved this June when it’s done and I won’t have to do this any more, because I’m pretty much exhausted all the time. But I like discovering that the brain is a muscle like any other, and that the “mommy-mush-brain” I thought I was stuck with forever after my kids were born doesn’t have to be a permanent state; the grey matter now seems to be firing better than it ever did before. And I love the fact that my kids get to watch this, to see that adults can follow dreams, go to school, make hard choices and follow through. I love sitting at the kitchen table in the evenings while my kids and I do homework together. Yes, I miss trips to the farmstand for tonight’s dinner, leisurely walks around the neighborhood, and being able to combine a day of applesauce cooking and canning with a day of work-at-home on my computer…
But this is still pretty cool.
Jenn the Greenmom

Monday, October 15, 2012

Costume Swap: A Greener Halloween

The Climate Crusader de-cluttered, scored a free costume and prepared for a greener Halloween on National Costume Swap Day.

Swapping my Way to a Greener Halloween

Our old costumes
With Halloween rapidly approaching, many parents are on the hunt for costumes. In Halloweens past I have done it all - I have improvised costumes using items we already had on hand, I have sewn costumes from scratch, and I have bought pre-packaged costumes at a discount store. But this year I came across an idea that may just be the most environmentally-friendly yet: a costume swap.

National Costume Swap Day happened on October 13, 2012 in the United States and Canada. The idea is simple: you bring one or more clean, used costumes. Then you trade them for someone else's clean, used costumes. It combines de-cluttering, re-using and saving money, which are some of my favourite things. Plus, it's a chance to get to know other people in your community.

Frugal, Sustainable and Fun

My little Woody
We brought four old costumes that my kids no longer wear to our local swap. My daughter, who is very firmly decided on her Halloween costume this year, did not find something to fit the bill. My son, on the other hand, scored a great Woody costume, which he hasn't taken off for two days. He is thrilled, and I am, too, because before we attended the swap he was changing his mind at least once a day. Now he's decided, and I didn't have to spend a dime. I also got to see a little girl who was very excited about one of my daughter's old costumes - it was very win-win.

While National Costume Swap Day is over for 2012, now that you know about it you can keep it in mind for 2013. Or else you can organize your own informal swap. Empty out that old costume box that's gathering dust under your stairs, round up some friends, and prepare for Halloween the easy way. Or, if all else fails, refresh your costume box with some cool new pieces. It's green, it's affordable, and best of all it's fun.

Where do you get your Halloween costumes? And what's your favourite tip for a greener Halloween?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Overshare: Google Diagnosing Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding

EcoYogini overshares in the hopes that she is not alone...
(me three years ago, pre yoga class near the atlantic ocean...)

After six years of resisting I just google-diagnosed myself with DUB.

*Warning, this post is an overshare in the hopes of opening pathways for discussion and sharing. Too often women don't talk about these things, resulting in feelings of aloneness and hopelessness*

Because my OBGYN sucks, the internet tells me that I'm probably a weird combo of ovulatory DUB with the anovulatory symptoms. Yay special!

Let's back track seven years down uterine memory lane:

Seven years ago, mid to end of my Master's degree at the age of 24 (ish) I began experiencing mid-cycle spotting here and there. I went through a few bloodwork tests, but student health care as it is, kinda chalked it up to stress and let it go.

Fast forward two years and my 'here and there' spotting was becoming a regular occurrence. More bloodwork (which I hate btw, taking seven vials of blood from someone who feels nausea at the insertion of a needle isn't fun), ultrasounds and a diagnose that something was up with my cervix the options given were:
1) go off the birth control
2) IUD
3) live with it. (nice eh? that is actually what she said).

Two years after that it was so bad that, with the support of my husband, I decided to go off the birth control pill.

Three years of no birth control pill and my cycle now resembles: 6-8 days of no period, 2-7 days of spotting, 7-10 days of full period. It's awesome. Hmm. Seems I was misdiagnosed.

Over the past seven years I have become an expert on the DivaCup. That invention has saved me boatloads of money and made this situation so much more bearable. 

It took almost 2 years of brow beating my family physician that maybe a referral to an OBGYN, some bloodwork and ultrasounds might be beneficial. You know, in case I had a cancerous tumour. She only listened when I mentioned I might want a baby one day. Who cares about the fact that I have the most effed up periods ever. The bloodwork and ultrasounds (external AND internal) took about 5 months to get done while an appointment with the Gynecologist took 6 months.

Wouldn't you know all the tests came back normal. Yay no cancer! So, another procedure that was terrible, invasive and hurt like hell (mostly because I am a big baby with the pain tolerance of 0 and a tilted uterus) and big fat tears quietly ran down my face the entire time, was where they dilated my cervix, inserted the camera and inserted a saline solution to check for malformations in my lining. Zilch. Woo. #Neverdoingthatagain.

So my follow-up appointment in September resulted in a conversation that went like this:
OBGYN: "So... everything looks normal. I'm not sure why this is happening to you. I don't know what else I can offer you."    Awesome.

My new options that are not even guaranteed to work:
1) IUD (not recommended since I want to get pregnant in a year and it will be as painful as the Terrible Procedure... AND it might not work)
2) birth control pill (tried every company out there, they don't work).

Do you think she'd give me a label or reason for why this is happening to me? I only got the term 'unstable uterine lining' out of her, which was enough for Google. According to Google I have 'Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding' or DUB. There are a variety of reasons of DUB, which I don't really fit most of them because mine has been so long AND I ovulate (whereas the majority don't).

I really didn't want to Google my medical diagnosis. I believe in the Health System. I believe in the fact that certain medical professionals (NOT my family doc, she is terrible) have advanced knowledge on how to interpret and diagnoses medical and evidence based information. Now I see that unless I want to go invasive (ablations, C&D, hysterectomy...wtf??), I'm stuck with this. Even pregnancy won't fix it.

I write this post as on day eight of my Yasmin generics, I discover I am spotting, that Yasmin has a lawsuit against them for 3x more at risk for scary blot clots causing serious health damage and I received a follow up appointment letter with my OBGYN.

My Plan:
1. Cease the birth control pill tonight...mid month-three. I have tried every single brand under the sun, I don't want blood clots and none of them worked anyway. Eff that noise.
2. Make an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor tomorrow. Whatever if the OBGYN thinks I'm crazy, she couldn't give me anything and it's covered by my insurance.
3. Write this blog post so other women who are also experiencing this in their twenties and early thirties don't feel alone and scared... like I do.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Unprocessed

From the laundry basket of the Homegrown Mama 

 How many of you are participating in the October Unprocessed Challenge? We did it last year as a family in an effort to get ourselves back to the routine of eating healthy and without convenience foods. To tell the truth, it had been a slippery slide back into the middle aisles of the grocery store, pre-packaged foods and freezer meals galore.

Last year's challenge gave me a lot of confidence and got me in the habit of trying to make my own condiments. If you're looking for recipes that you can make right in your own kitchen and store in your own cute (or functional) glass jars, you've come to the right place. I will tell you that once I started making my own, I was almost a little bit angry. Greenness aside. Frugality aside. Processing aside. This is EASY! If you're a little apprehensive of walking away from Kraft bottles and the Hellman's jars, make a smaller portion so in case your results aren't what you were looking for, you can wash out the jar and try it again.

And also, if you're looking for cute jars, hit those thrift shops! I got my jars from my grandmother's basement, but I always keep my eyes open at the Salvation Army and garage sales. 

Do you have any go-to recipes for condiments, salad dressings, dips that you rely on? 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Eco-Friendly Fall Decor from Etsy

I love decorating for fall and even got some pumpkins today from Whole Foods. Fall decor just makes everything seem so cozy to me. One of my favorite places to get decorations, and everything else, is Etsy, so I thought I'd search some cute things I've found.

Reusable Fall Banner from FabricsandFonts

Soy Candles from BellasBobbles
(I love the cinnamon apple scented ones)

Cloth Napkins from MaryLittfin

Book Pumpkin from AnthologyOnMain

Fall Wreath from janejoss

I just love the great items you can find on Etsy, they are so unique and I love supporting small businesses. If you have found great eco-friendly fall decor on Etsy, post your finds below.

Photo Credit: The photos are property of the store owners.

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