Sunday, February 17, 2008


another great article in the New York Times

For Eco Moms, Saving Earth Begins at Home

in case that link breaks again.. or the article is moved...

February 16, 2008
For ‘EcoMoms,’ Saving Earth Begins at Home

Correction Appended

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. — The women gathered in the airy living room, wine poured and pleasantries exchanged. In no time, the conversation turned lively — not about the literary merits of Geraldine Brooks or Cormac McCarthy but the pitfalls of antibacterial hand sanitizers and how to retool the laundry using only cold water and biodegradable detergent during non-prime-time energy hours (after 7 p.m.).

Move over, Tupperware. The EcoMom party has arrived, with its ever-expanding “to do” list that includes preparing waste-free school lunches; lobbying for green building codes; transforming oneself into a “locovore,” eating locally grown food; and remembering not to idle the car when picking up children from school (if one must drive). Here, the small talk is about the volatile compounds emitted by dry-erase markers at school.

Perhaps not since the days of “dishpan hands” has the household been so all-consuming. But instead of gleaming floors and sparkling dishes, the obsession is on installing compact fluorescent light bulbs, buying in bulk and using “smart” power strips that shut off electricity to the espresso machine, microwave, X-Box, VCR, coffee grinder, television and laptop when not in use.

“It’s like eating too many brownies one day and then jogging extra the next,” said Kimberly Danek Pinkson, 38, the founder of the EcoMom Alliance, speaking to the group of efforts to curb eco-guilt through carbon offsets for air travel.

Part “Hints from Heloise” and part political self-help group, the alliance, which Ms. Pinkson says has 9,000 members across the country, joins a growing subculture dedicated to the “green mom,” with blogs and Web sites like and Web-based organizations like the Center for a New American Dream in Takoma Park, Md., advocate reducing consumption and offer a registry that helps brides “celebrate the less-material wedding of your dreams.”

At an EcoMom circle in Palo Alto, executive mothers whipped out spreadsheets to tally their goals, inspired by a 10-step program that urges using only nontoxic products for cleaning, bathing and make-up, as well as cutting down garbage by 10 percent.

“I used to feel anxiety,” said Kathy Miller, 49, an alliance member, recalling life before she started investigating weather-sensitive irrigation controls for her garden with nine growing zones. “Now I feel I’m doing something.”

The notion of “ecoanxiety” has crept into the culture here. It was the subject of a recent cover story in San Francisco magazine that quotes a Berkeley mother so stressed out about the extravagance of her nightly baths that she started to reuse her daughter’s bath water. Where there is ecoanxiety, of course, there are ecotherapists.

“The truth is, we’re not living very naturally,” said Linda Buzzell, a therapist in Santa Barbara who publishes the quarterly EcoTherapy News and often holds sessions in her backyard permaculture food forest. “We’re in our cars, staring at the computer screen, separated most of the day from the people we love.”

“Activism can help counteract depression,” Ms. Buzzell added. “But if we get caught up in trying to save the world single-handedly, we’re just going to burn out.”

Like many young women, Ms. Pinkson’s motherhood — her son Corbin is now 6 — coincided with Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and the advent of and A favorite online column is “Ask Umbra,” whose author weighs in on whether it is better to buy leather shoes or “pleather” ones that could contain solvents.

Shaina Forsman, a 13-year-old daughter of eco-mother Beth Forsman, said the alliance branch in San Rafael helped her mother take action at home. Her mother turned the thermostat down so low that Shaina sometimes wore a jacket inside, she said proudly. She was also monitoring time spent in the shower, so as not to waste water.

Shaina said she tried to get her mother to compost, but “we got ants.”

One of the country’s wealthiest places, Marin County, is hardly a hub of voluntary simplicity; its global footprint, according to county statistics, is 27 acres per person, a measure of the estimated amount of land it takes to support each person’s lifestyle (24 is the American average).

Members of the EcoMom Alliance “are fighting a values battle,” said Tim Kasser, an associate professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., and the author of “The High Price of Materialism.” “They are surrounded by materialism trying to figure out how to create a life more oriented toward intrinsic values.”

Wendy Murphy, 41, a member of EcoMoms in San Anselmo, became an activist after she noticed that the new tablecloths in her children’s preschool contained polyvinyl chloride. She and a fellow mother, working with the Green Schools Initiative, a nonprofit in Berkeley, developed green guidelines for shopping, like buying chlorine-free cleaning products, low-formaldehyde furniture and toys made of natural materials.

The matter of toys is particularly thorny. At the EcoMom party in San Rafael, women traded ideas about recycled toys for birthday presents and children’s clothing swaps. Then there is the issue of the materials used in imported toys. “It’s ‘Mom, these come from China,’ ” Pam Nessi, 35, said of her daughters’ recent inspection of two of their dolls. “It can be overwhelming. You don’t want them to freak out.”

At last year’s Step It Up rallies, a day of environmental demonstrations across the country, the largest group of organizers were “mothers concerned about the disintegrating environment for their children,” said Bill McKibben, a founder of the event and author of “The End of Nature.”

Women have been instrumental in the environmental movement from the start, including their involvement in campaigns a century ago to save the Palisades along the Hudson River and sequoias in California and, more recently, Lois Gibbs’s fight against toxic waste at Love Canal.

In public opinion surveys, women express significantly higher levels of environmental concern than men, said Riley Dunlap, a professor of sociology at Oklahoma State University.

Lately “local lifestyle activism,” much of it driven by women, has been on the rise and is likely to continue, Dr. Dunlap said. “Just belonging to a national environmental organization, which seemed effective in the 1970s and ’80s, doesn’t work anymore, particularly in an era of government unresponsiveness,” he said.

Ms. Pinkson and her colleagues are well aware of “the mom demographic,” as they call it, in which, according to surveys for the Boston Consulting Group, women say they “influence or control” 80 percent of discretionary household purchases. Thus far, their thrust has been more about being green consumers than taking political action.

The eco life can occasionally spawn domestic strife.

Julie DeFord, a 33-year-old mother in Petaluma, said the high cost of organic produce prompted serious “conversations” between her and her husband, Curt, a lawyer, especially after seven nights of chard.

And ecomotherhood is not always sisterly.

At the EcoMom party recently, some guests took the hostess, Liz Held, to task for her wall-to-wall carpeting (potential off-gassing), her painted walls (unhealthful volatile organic compounds) and the freshly cut flowers that she had set out for the occasion (not organic). Their problems with the S.U.V. in the driveway were self-explanatory.

All the new eco-perfectionism did not seem to faze her. “I look around my house and think, ‘I haven’t changed all my light bulbs,’ ” she said. “But it doesn’t fill me with guilt. I think about all the things I’ve done so far. I just try to focus on the positive.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 19, 2008
A front-page article on Saturday about mothers who promote environmentally friendly behavior misstated the Web address of an environmental news site. It is, not


Tuesday, February 12, 2008


To add a library to a house is to give that house a soul. – Cicero

Friday, February 08, 2008


I have to figure out how to take my son's advice.

We've moved into a house with hardwood floors, which I love, but the lack of carpet means the dust bunnies have no place to hide. (another reason I love it, but sheesh.... ours are doing double duty or something.. we have a lot of dust bunnies.)

my son's advice..

"you could just learn to live with them."

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Gday =)

it was a good day =)

I absolutely love Gdiapers. It's a fabulous product and a company about which I can't say enough good things. Today we all went downtown to visit gHQ for our first Mummy n me tea. How cool is this company? I was able to introduce my hubby and our newest family member to the Gdiaper family. We saw the gdiaper offices and were once again just happy to be part of this diaper revolution.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

napping away...

today was the sort of day where I just wanted to nap.
My little guy felt the same way.
I've been brewing a bit of a migraine all day, which is never fun, so after lunch, I gave in and he and I had a nice long snuggly nap.

Monday, February 04, 2008

wonder wash

This handy little hand cranked water saving laundry machine was mentioned on the Gdiaper yahoo group about a month ago. It was love at first sight. I immediately sent the link on over to my " hubby (who is working downstairs, but hey, it's easier to fire off an email than to remember to mention something later.)

When we moved , we considered buying a washer & dryer since the house we are living in has neither. Trips to the laundrymat are no longer the kind of adventure I enjoy, and with a newborn in the house (not to mention a houseful of others who wear and therefore make dirty clothes on a daily basis) we knew we'd need something for that favorite American pastime .... laundry. (it should be a pastime. I spend enough time doing it! )
So we looked into our options. Not wanting to spend a fortune on a washing machine for a house we are renting, we decided to rent the washer / dryer too. This way we are not responsible for maintenance, nor did we have to figure out how to get the darn thing UP the small spindly staircase.

sooo.. we decided to take the plunge and try this little experiment.
We both like that the Wonder Wash uses less water, soap and NO electricity.
I bought it along with the larger spin dryer which does use electricity, but much less than a traditional dryer.

I found many reviews about the wonderwash. This guy really seems to like it, and we're willing to try it for all the reasons he mentions.
We'd like to stop paying to rent our machines, which would be a monthly savings of rental fees, savings on the gas bill for the heating of the water, electric bill, and water bill. Plus this is a much more environmentally friendly option.

And it beats banging our clothes on a rock in the stream, and since we are without such a stream in our immediate location, it's worth a shot.

I'll be posting updates on this little experiment in frugality in the future!

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

uber baby...

I hear it all the time, people thinking it's not possible to be healthy and to eat a vegan diet. I was shocked when my hubby told me that he over heard some employees of Whole Foods saying "you just can't be vegan and pregnant."... don't worry.. he promptly informed them that it is quite possible, and four months ago we had the 8 lb 22 inch vegan home birth to prove it =) .

well.. now.. that little guy has more than doubled his weight.. he's 16 1/2 pounds!!! and about 27 inches long. Our Uberbaby is purely breastfed and doing fabulous!

my most recent pictures are on the camera still... as well as some pretty fun videos. We're in the midst of an upgrade to our data storage situation. When we have the kinks worked out, pictures will come =)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

peanutty tofu...

Tonight I made a family favorite. In fact, this was the first meal I ate after giving birth to our newest little one. Peanutty tofu never fails to please! It's simple.. I brown up the tofu with some ginger in a frying pan. Boil water for the noodles (udon or something similar). The pleasure is in the peanutty sauce! YUM>>
It's really easy.. just peanut butter, water, some ginger (fresh is best, powdered works fine too) and braggs liquid aminos (or tamari sauce or soy sauce). Sound simple? It is! and OH SO TASTY!

Tonight we had it with a salad. Greens, tomatoes, carrots, a handful of sunflower seeds, and some dried cranberries. I made a balsamic vinegar / olive oil dressing (simple, healthy and much cheaper than buying salad dressing).

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Friday, February 01, 2008

peanut butter & bananas

it is a combination fit for the king.. it's good enough for me =)

actually, I have a long standing love affair with peanut butter and bananas. It started long before I knew Elvis loved them... my first pb&nana sandwich..yummm

My tastes have expanded, but sometimes the simplicity of childhood is the best inspiration for new dishes.
I am sure that I could do a weeks worth of posts on dishes with peanut butter alone (heh... that's not a bad idea.. I'll have to come back to that one in the future.) For today, I'll keep it simple and stick with one dish, one post.

Tonight we are going over to our friends' house for dinner. She asked if I could bring dessert. Usually, I'd make chocolate cake for dessert, but my friend is limiting her consumption of sugar. And the fact that this dessert will be eaten by kids at 7 or 8 o'clock at night makes the lower sugar thing a good idea all around. Last week when they came over I made gingerbread. It has sugar.. but the blackstrap molasses is high in iron and a better alternative to table sugar. BUT I DIGRESS>>>
this posts is about peanut butter & bananas.

Tonight's dessert will be a little something I created accidentally one day (the best kitchen creations often come of 'accidents'). Being willing to experiment in the kitchen is a cornerstone my frugal vegan self... I mean you have to be willing to try a recipe and futz with it. Take out the animal products and make it vegan... substitute something that you have on hand rather than running to the store to purchase what is on the ingredient list. (where I'll inevitably see other things we need, making the cost of the trip higher ... ) ((( Again... I see future post material here...)

so.. back to bananas..

Tonight I'll make peanut butter pudding with bananas on top. I might sprinkle a little bit of dark chocolate shavings in place of the chocolate syrup I like on this dish. It's also wonderful with a few strawberries...but it's winter, and I want to use things I have on hand.

I'll post a picture later.

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okay.. I realize that I have a blog creating addiction... I've often wondered if I should scrap the whole thing and start all over...

I have the Frugal Vegan Blog which is supposed to be where I log my frugal ways, in hopes of sharing how I feed my food lovin' family without breaking the bank.

my DC Daily Photo Blog which was a great experiment for myself. I wasn't sure about blogging DAILY! (yikes) and sharing my pictures with the whole wide world .. but I did it. and it was fun, and a fantastic way of documenting our time in DC. But, alas, I no longer live in DC. I know there will be a new daily photo blog in my future, but I'm not sure I'm ready for it yet. Maybe...

& there's this Cre8in Blog which was my attempt to encourage, nurture and allow an outlet for my creative side. (as if that creativity can have only one side!) plus, I happen to love the way I used the 8 in cre8in. okay, i'm a geek. whatever.

and a few other private blogs that I've created for various reasons, all rooted in my desire to write more, to create more, and to keep a record (albeit a loose, fun, not so structured record) of this thing I call my life.

sooo... now, I've been busy with life, and have allowed myself to be a bit more scattered than I normally find comfortable. And, I'm wondering what I want to do with this blogging part of my personality.

I don't think I want to just dump it all. I think I'm ready to challenge myself. What better day to do this than today. On the first day of the second month of a new year. (it makes sense to me, even if it's just a bunch of babble to anyone 'out there')

So... I'll take a baby step here, and try to post every day for a week. I was going to say a month.. but that's just more of a commitment than I'm willing to make right now. WIth this 'everydayforaweek commitment' I plan to post to each of my blogs independently. I've been lazy and copied some of my posts to my different blogs.. (BLA BLA BOring.)

so.. this will be my last (for this week at least) duplicate post.

this is where I get serious.
(for a week anyway!) >> Sheesh.. I'm beginning to sound like commitmentphobic.

let the experiment begin......


Downed cows going to school

It certainly makes it easy to question whether schools have our children's best interests in mind. At least in this case, it's quite obvious they need to set the bar a bit higher.

I don't know how long the story will be online, so I'll past the text here. I applaud the Humane Society of the U.S. for investigating and sharing this information. Please try the link, but be forewarned, you shall see some disturbing footage.

Meat From 'Sick' Cows Could Have Been Sent to Schools

A nationwide animal abuse investigation and it all ends up in your child's school cafeteria.

The investigation showed a fork-lift being used to shove a “sick” cow into a slaughterhouse.

That video is now the focus of a USDA investigation into a meat company accused of supplying 'bad' meat to schools in 35 states— including Maryland.

Fox 5's Sherri Ly is following the school lunch scare.

Just a short time ago, the agriculture department released a letter saying it has indefinitely suspended the meat company involved from providing beef to its school lunch and federal food programs.

All this came after the Humane Society of the U.S. released disturbing video from a six week investigation.

Even more disturbing, the Humane Society says, is that meat from these potentially sick cows may have ended up in schools.

The Humane Society of the U.S. shot undercover video at a California meat packing plant and says workers routinely tortured downed or "sick" cows to get them on their feet so they could be slaughtered for human consumption.

The Humane Society says meat from this packing plant poses a potential health risk and goes to schools in 36 states through the National School Lunch Program – including Maryland.

Federal law bans downed cows in the human food supply because they may have a higher risk of e coli, salmonella contamination or mad cow disease.

The u-s-d-a says there is no immediate health risk but it is investigating.

The packing plant now says it fired two employees in this video and suspended a supervisor. In a statement the company president said “We are shocked and saddened by what we have seen today. Operations have been immediately suspended until we can meet with all of our employees and be assured these sorts of activities never again happen at our facility."

The Humane Society says what they found should worry everyone since an estimated 95% of Americans eat meat.

It's impossible to tell which schools may have gotten meat from this packing plant, because it's shipped to the state and not directly to schools.

The Maryland board of education today said it relies on the USDA to ensure food safety in schools and has no reason to believe there are any problems.

Parents in Virginia and the district do not have to worry as the Humane Society says they are not among the states or cities that receive meat through the federal lunch program.

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