Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Do better.

This quote has become the center of my whole being over the last year or so. As I search out new concepts in agriculture, sustainable living, politics, and life balance, I am learning more and more how important it is to keep building yourself into a better you. 

Using the excuse "well I didn't know" is a weak defense. If you're using that phrase, that means someone has just explained something to you, or brought a new idea into your life. That means now you do know. Now you're more informed. The next question is, what do you plan to do about that? Will you sit back in your safe space, even with this new information? Or will you try to do better?

My opinion on the subject is that we should always do better.

I set out this year to learn more about the world around me, specifically about the food system that we live in each and every day. I've challenged myself to read one non-fiction book a month and, because I'm so intrigued by it, most of them have been about agriculture lately. I've learned about regenerative agriculture. I've learned about carbon sequestration, the "organic" paradigm, and the real cost of all the cheap food out there. I've learned why paying $11.99 a pound for chicken from a co-op is worth it, both because of the meat itself and what it means for the farmer who provided it me. I've come to understand why even though I recycle like mad, I should be pushing to cut out more plastics in my life.

I've learned a lot! Now I know better, so it's time to do better.

So here are some goals I'm setting for myself to "do better" the rest of this year:

* Cut the amount of plastics that I use by at least 25% (shooting for 50%)
* Slowly incorporate more plant-based meals, starting with "meatless monday"
* Start planting fall crops to keep my gardening year round
* Move away from single use items, especially paper products, and buy compostable items for the times we do need single use items
* Repair/reuse/rehome things as much as possible, rather than tossing them out.
* Continue to share the things I learn with all of you!

I look at it this way.

We should absolutely care about politics.
We should care about people, and their rights.
We should care about equality and honesty.

However all of those things become null and void if we damage our planet beyond repair. Without good soil to grow crops, we have no food. Without food, we have no people. Without people... well you get the picture.

I'm going to do what I can, even if it feels like I'm the smallest part of all of this. It has to start somewhere.

Sunday, May 6, 2018


This is a word that I've had to acquaint myself with this year, and it's one that's become the center of everything that I do. I think we, as a society, see this word around a lot and kind of just ignore it. Work/life balance. Sure, when I'm retired. A balanced diet? Obviously you have no idea how busy I am, and how hard it is to plan ahead and eat like that. Too much work. We look at that word, we see it a cliche, and we move on without figuring out why we just can't seem to get things to work out the way we want them to. I've set out to make this word a part of who I am this year and, you know what? It's amazing how well it actually works when you apply balance to your life.

Take today, for example. It's Sunday, which means it's the end of my weekend. My anxiety controlled brain is screaming at me that I need to finish all the chores I won't have time for throughout the week. There are dishes to be done, laundry to be washed, things to put away, things to tidy, a stack of books I haven't touched in two weeks, and heaven forbid that I enter the week without making sure that we have enough snacks for lunches all week. Before I started focusing on balance, I would have spent all of Sunday rushing through chores and feeling like any downtime that I spent doing anything else was time wasted. I'd be exhausted, and unhappy, and go to bed feeling like my weekend wasn't a weekend.

Now, I remind myself to slow it down. For every chore I finish, I take an hour of time to do whatever I want. Or, if I can, I work things I want to do into things I have to do. I slowly work my way through laundry while binge watching Netflix shows. I do the dishes while listening to a podcast, or audio book, and stop periodically to rest or eat something. I pull away from everything, grab a book, and go snag a nap in hammock outside so that I can enjoy the weather. Lo and behold, every chore gets done. Perhaps it takes a bit longer than before. Maybe only 75% of the laundry gets done. Maybe some small amount of dishes will have to be washed tomorrow before I make dinner. But I get me time. I get rest time. I get a weekend.

That's balance.

Eating excellently all work week and taking a Saturday to eat pizza and frozen yogurt sometimes? That's balance.

Spending as much time as possible with friends, but also remembering that it's okay to take an afternoon to myself and just putter around? That's balance.

It's not always easy to maintain, true, but that's part of the balancing act too. I've learned not to be too hard on myself either.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sleep, the tired frontier.

So, I'm usually pretty good at sleeping. I mean, let's be honest, I can pass out and take a nap in the middle of the afternoon with basically no issue. I go to bed by 10 PM every work day, and follow the "don't look at you phone too close to bed" rule. I'm one of those who is a zombie if I get poor sleep, so I just kind of try to get the best sleep possible. I'd guess you'd say that sleep and food are pretty equal on my spectrum. Ha. Important things to this girl.

Which is why I've been so annoyed with my sleep lately. For about the last 2 to 3 months, I've been going through long periods of really restless sleep and waking up groggy and cranky. I've gotten pretty addicted to coffee, because it's the only thing that makes my brain function so early in the morning. Not that coffee is bad, but I felt like I needed to do something. Why would I have gone from such a great sleeper to a terrible one?

I downloaded an app to find out.

For the next three weeks I'll be tracking my sleep every evening.

Here's what a fairly good night of sleep looks like! You don't want to see last night. Ugh. Trust me. I'm trying to pinpoint what I'm doing right/wrong, or what I can do differently.

The other cool thing about this app is that it wakes you up naturally, during a period sometime in a half hour that you set, when you're already headed towards being awake. The three days I've used it, regardless of my actual sleep quality, I've been way more awake and alive when I finally get up. It's a NICE feeling.

Isn't it crazy that we live in a world where there are apps for everything?

I was telling B that it's crazy how we barely go to the grocery store anymore. Everything is mailed to us. Which is kind of nice, actually, because it limits impulse buys. We had to go into Winco for our party last week and.. I bought bear claws. Because they were by the front door. Oh well.

So yeah, sleep tracking is a thing now! Let's see how this turns out.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

All about food. Seriously.

This is going to be a post pretty much entirely about food, just so that you know what you're getting yourself into. If you don't know me that well, you might not know that I've challenged myself to decrease my carbon footprint this year, and use my spending to promote ethical, sustainable and organic food. It's something that I've been aiming to do for a long while, but I was busy working on myself first. After all, good mental is the cornerstone to any other endeavor! Last year was all about me, and this year is still about me (hey, I won't lie), but also about things important to me. So how have things been going? Let's check in!

The first step into this whole thing was Blue Apron.

We picked up a subscription to the meal delivery box in the middle of last year, and it quickly became a brilliant way for us to kick food waste to the curb. See, here's the thing: We don't actually eat all that much food anymore. Blue Apron meals give us just enough food for the two of us for a dinner, and possibly an additional serving of leftovers for the next day. We don't throw tons of veggies away. We don't waste condiments. That specialty herb I had to buy for a recipe doesn't turn to black mush, hidden away at the back of the fridge. Definitely a plus!

The other cool thing about Blue Apron was that it was a baby step into the world of sustainability. This company partners with farmers, and plans their meals around what's in season. They source ethically raised meat (which tastes AMAZING), and there's even a little label on every box that you get showing where the items inside came from. It always makes me smile when I see a nearby farm on there that has sent me my brussel sprouts. It's a cool feeling knowing that an actual farmer, who is getting paid a fair price for his crops, has sent you food.

The downside? The packaging. Blue Apron tries really hard to make all of their packing materials recyclable, but the truth of the matter is that there is no good way to keep food frozen without using ice packs. And, alas, ice packs aren't very easy to recycle. So, Blue Apron is still part of our rotation. It actually makes up 50% of what we eat. I still want to see them push for more conscious packaging though.

Next, I signed us up for Farm Fresh to You.

If you've never checked out their website, go do it! Organic veggies and fruits, as well as jams, jellies, nuts, and so much more, all delivered straight to your door. Again, it was an easy way for me to make sure that we were eating sustainably and organically. All the food comes from local farms, and you can only order what is in season. Better still, I could get fresh, free range eggs directly to my door. There's no excuse to be lazy when the food comes to you.

We've had this subscription for a year now, and I've loved every minute of it. I've discovered new types of apples, had a finger lime for the first time, and experimented with new types of carrots. I still love the farmer's market, and go as often as I can, but this is a nice alternative that accomplishes the same goal.

Are you still with me? I warned you this was all about food!

Now we've come to Thrive Market.

Once you've made a goal to eat REAL food, that extends into snacks as well. One of Michael Pollan's food rules is "Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce." That's pretty hard to follow at a lot of supermarkets, especially if you snack on things other than simple fruits and vegetables. I admit it, I'm a snacker. I like granola bars, chips and snack mix. I try not to eat it too often, but if it's going to be a normal part of my diet then why not try to get something better for me?

We'd try to shop at Trader Joe's as often as possible but, let's be honest, their parking lots are all terrible. So I found Thrive Market for the in-between times. Everything on there is real food. They cater to paleo, gluten-free, vegan, and so many more categories! They carry food from Califia Farms, KIND, Annie's, and all the things I love. It does cost $50 a year to join, but your membership provides a free membership to a low income family. So, why not? I even found compostable coffee pods from Ethical Bean coffee and, I can tell you right now, that coffee is GOOD. It's a win/win.

Okay, we're at the end. If you saw my FB post yesterday, you'll know that I just ordered meat through Grass Roots Co-Op.

Between Farm Fresh to You, Blue Apron, the farmer's market, and my fledgling garden, we had fruits and vegetables covered. We had dinners covered. We had snacks covered. But what about those in between times when it's breakfast and you want bacon? Or you really crave chicken strips but it's easier to go to the WinCo down the street, than to go to the Whole foods for ethically raised chicken? Well, I found the solution. Grass Roots allows you to subscribe to a monthly box of protein. They have pasture raised beef, forrested pork, free range chicken, and pastured turkey.

Have you noticed that most of our food is mailed to us? That's not an accident. We're both busy people who work long shifts. We're gone from home 12+ hours a day. I still wouldn't let that be an excuse not to accomplish my goal. Thank goodness we live in a world where food is so easily accessible, if you only look hard enough.

If you've made it to the end of this long post, congratulations! My main goal was to give you insight into what we've been doing, and what you might want to do too. Remember, your money is your voice in this economy. Michael Pollan likes to say that we should "vote with our forks" to push change in the way our agricultural system works. I've just proven that you can do it if you try hard enough. Does it cost more? Yes. Is it worth it? I think so. We are one of the only wealthy countries in the world that spends less on food than we do on anything else, including impulse buys. Aren't we worth more than that? Food for thought.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Rainy Day

It's raining for the second day in a row, here in So Cal. Which, if you've ever lived here, you know means that people are already sick of it. Hahaha. Our "winter" is mostly 60 degree temps, with some occasional rain, and we like to pretend that it's the worst thing ever.

Truth though? I LOVE rain. Especially when I don't have anywhere in particular to be. When it's raining lightly, sometimes I'll drag a blanket out to backyard and cuddle up in the hammock underneath the patio cover. Listening to the rain is so relaxing. It makes me feel like I'm connected to something bigger than myself, which is what I've been trying to find basically all of last year.

Although mass transit kind of sucks in inclement weather, it's also kind of nice to be snug inside a bus and reading a book. It's all about how you perceive things, and my mindset is slowly swinging back towards looking for the good, the calm, and the relaxing.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Blog Resurrection

So I took a huge step back from my normal social media obsession this year. I promised myself that 2017 would be the year that I cared mainly about my well being. I wanted to take a good look at my anxiety, learn how to manage it, and really just get introspective on why I wasn't as happy as I wanted to be. 

As it stands, this year was amazing. At first it was weird to not constantly be on Twitter, posting on my Bookstagram account, and creating massive amounts of content for my blog, but I learned quickly to fill that time with other things. I started listening to tons of audiobooks, started baking more, tended houseplants, picked up cross stitching again, learned to embroider, and spent way more time with friends. It was a lot more tactile, and a refreshing change from constantly monitoring everything online. It was nice!

Now that it's near the end of the year, and I can look back, I realize that I really needed that change. I've got my anxiety under control, I've found ways to positively channel anything that I do feel, I've rediscovered the power of good hangouts and stopped being so flaky on plans. It's been all good, and really something I'm proud of.

I'm feeling good about coming back to this now, which is why I'm resurrecting this blog! I'll still only post a few times a month, mostly to let you all know what's going on, but I do miss doing some fun unboxings and product reviews, so expect those too!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Old British Lady Status

Embroidery is my newest undertaking!

I'd like to pretend that I'm all young and hip, but the only thing pointing to that is my love of expensive, fancy food. Hahaha. All other signs point to the fact that I'm actually an old British woman at heart. Tea in the mornings? Check. Embroidery in a comfy chair? Check. Reading and then falling asleep at a very late 9:30 pm? Check. Yup, all signs point to old lady. I'm okay with that.

When I first saw hand embroidery at work, I wanted so badly to try it. I did some research, found a really cute beginner project, and ordered it all the way from Israel. Now that I've been working on it? Well, I'm in love. I can say however that it's a LOT of work. Cross stitch has nothing on embroidery. This is so precise, so intricate, and I'm in love with how much passion has to go into it. If you own anything hand embroidered, cherish it. Someone really, really worked for that.

I've kind of just been keeping a low profile. I bought a super comfy reading chair, and I've been spending my time sitting in it, musing, napping, and spending time with the puppy. I'm in this place right now where things are good, and I feel content. I'm happy about that! Trying to focus on the good.