Thursday, July 22, 2010

Crafty Money Management

Heading back to school, I am a little worried about sticking to a budget. At this point, I usually intuitively know if I am overspending or on target with my current income. But cutting my income drastically has me worried I may continue to spend without having the income to back it up. So I have decided to switch to a cash only envelope system, a la Dave Ramsey. Its where you take cash for all of your non-fixed expenses (groceries, gas, repairs, etc.) for a given pay period and put it in separate envelopes. When the money in a particular envelope is gone, it is gone until the next pay period. This process eliminates outspending your income.

I set up my system tonight with paper envelopes and a little plastic holder for the envelopes. I thought I was so smooth. Then I went and found this...

I love this as a sewing project! It will make use of the odd scraps I have started collecting from other sewing projects. And I can manage to avoid using zippers, my least favorite aspect of sewing to date.

Now, to figure out how to repurpose the plastic holder I already have...

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Here are some photos of my latest soaps.

I've made lemon sage poppyseed soap, oatmeal soap, and Crisco soap colored with cocoa powder. I made two patches of the Crisco - one half clear- half brown, the other entirely brown. The oatmeal and lemon sage poppyseed soaps are castile soaps (80% olive oil/20% coconut oil), while the Crisco soap is 50% olive oil/50% Crisco (soybean and palm oils).

My favorite is the oatmeal - it lathers well from coconut oil, but exfoliates (oatmeal) and is a gentle moisturizer (olive oil).

Any suggestions for the next batch?

Learning to Roll a Kayak

Last night was my first attempt at rolling a kayak - I did it, but not without some assistance. I am looking forward to trying this again. It was fun!

Here's a video demoing a roll. This is not me - I do NOT look this good.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Consequences of Oil Not in Our Backyard

NIMBY = Not In My Backyard

NIMBYism is what happens when a homeowner's association or community bands together to protect their property values and environment against an undesirable construction project, power plant, Wal-mart, etc. The downside of this is when the demand for the undesired activity remains, which results in it being installed elsewhere, somewhere with less regulations.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is horrific and of proportions that Americans have never witnessed. But this post is about what happens when oil spills don't happen in our backyard. We don't see the consequences of them, as they are happening somewhere else, to someone else. Unless we (the demand source for energy) curb our oil consumption, NIMBYism will continue to allow this to happen.

These photos show oil pollution in the country of Nigeria - a country rich in oil and other natural resources, but with high poverty levels and limited environmental regulations. People in Nigeria have to live with the long-term consequences of oil pollution.

Listen to the audio clip below, to hear how Nigerians are responding to the cleanup efforts in the Gulf. It is disheartening to realize that oil spills are always happening in Nigeria and without associated cleanup efforts.

Living With Long-Term Oil Pollution in the Niger Delta


There is another acronym I just ran across, NOPE.

NOPE = Not on Planet Earth

This concept means that rather than pushing the undesirable consequences onto someone else, no one should have to live with undesirable consequences.

While this might be a little naive, given our continuously increasing consumption of energy sources, it is a goal working for - No one should have to live in such conditions, regardless of your income level or political power.

The Eco-Justice Ministries in Denver, Colorado has an interesting article about this concept, which inspired this post. Check it out at

Photo sources 1, 2

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Staying Put

“Americans are said to thrive on change and novelty. But do we? Are transient families more emotionally secure and financially stable than those who put down roots?...Humans are curious creatures and it’s natural for us to want to explore new terrain. Nevertheless, a compelling case can be made for resisting this impulse. Thriving also has something to do with settling in.” Michael A. Shuler

My dad came to visit a few weeks ago, but I forgot to give him one of his books back. So I had better comment on it quickly, before he realizes.

The second section of this book, Making the Good Life Last, Four Keys to Sustainable Living, refers to staying put. Michael Shuler talks about staying put in a location, in a vocation, in your personal life (hobbies, friends), and in relationships.

I have been thinking about this key for a while, because I have moved a lot growing up and in my early adult years. I’ve only been in Charleston for a year and a half. I love it here, but I am leaving to search for a new twist on my vocation, a PhD program in sustainability at University of Maine.

It has been a while coming to make this decision – I have tried on a few hats since I finished undergraduate work, each one teaching me a little more about what I do and don’t want to do career-wise and with my life in general. I have learned more about myself than I knew or understood in my twenties. And it has changed my choices and desires for how I live my life.

So staying put seems a difficult thing to do when you are young – I think it may be something to be aware of, but to grow into as you learn more about what you want and need. It is hard to commit to something that you do not know well. There was a church service at the Unitarian Church of Charleston here a few months back where the sermon referred to this. At coffee hour, I met someone new to the area and in their early 30s and he remarked on how unlike his life the sermon was and how it made him feel a little bad about his life. I replied that these comments about staying put seem to come from people that have moved around a bit and learned from their own mistakes.

Indeed, Michael Shuler moved around a few times, both in vocation and in location before arriving as minister at the Unitarian Church of Madison, Wisconsin. So that gives me hope. I hope that I too may find a place, vocation, and community that I can grow into and stay put in.

Monday, May 24, 2010

To Cap and Trade or Just to Cap, Which Is It?

Cap and Trade is a Big Scam?

The Story of Cap & Trade from Story of Stuff Project on Vimeo.

Or, it is the best we have to work with?

The Facts of Cap-and-Trade from Clean Energy Works on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

To RE, GRY, and KG, celebrating their first Mother's Day, and to my mom and grandma who already have some under their belt.