Monthly Archives: August 2010
Besides…he’s so pretty.
When we bought our house two years ago, we were adamant that the first thing we’d do would be to tear up the carpet on the first floor and replace it with some kind of nice hardwood flooring. Umm…well, it’s been two years, and we haven’t done it yet. But we’ll get there.
So this article on MNN was interesting–a company in Florida that sells sort-of-affordable reclaimed wood flooring. Food for thought.
Then there’s bamboo–sustainable and affordable, with tons of potential places to get it from.
I love that when one goes looking now, there are ample resources and places selling various sustainable flooring options...this one is even woman-owned, which I kinda dig.
Anyone have floors made out of any of this stuff? Any experience or recommendations?
This is the month the Conscious Shopper challenges us to be non-consumers to whatever extent possible. I have blown it.
Now, in my own defense, I was in a place where there was very limited internet, and I still have a backlog of entries to read. So I hadn’t read the challenge when it happened. And even without it, it’s something I have aspired to fairly regularly for a long time. I buy very few clothes–every year I seem to break down and get a couple of shirts at retail, because a couple of my previous years’ ones have spots or tears in them and are no longer wear-to-work-able, but primarily I do my shopping through ebay, thrift stores, and hand-me-downs.
But there I was in the Hemporium, one of my favorite quirky little shops in Bar Harbor, Maine, walking around enjoying the place as usual. I knew I was safe with all the adorable flowy “free size” dresses and skirts from India, because my ample behind is just a little too ample to look good in those. But then…among a bunch of just sort of normal-cute hemp shoulder bags and briefcases, I saw….The Purse.
Now, I have never been one to lay down ample sums of money on a variety of stylish or seasonal purses. I am honestly somewhere between bewildered and envious of my friends who have these coordinating bags that seem to just work with whatever they are wearing, especially when they have those cute “C” insignias all over them. To me, the purse is a utilitarian item that must have many zippers and pockets, which makes it possible for me to schlep the Various Stuff I need to get through my day. Wallet, iphone, checkbook, inhaler, lip gloss, and two semi-massive sets of keys, along with the other crap that always seems to accumulate in there. I have in recent years made an effort to at least have a “summer purse” and a “winter purse” and accommodate to some degree of social competence, but it’s always an effort.
And the thing is, despite this, I feel like much of my life has been a search for the Perfect Purse. I’d never seen it, but I’d know what it would look like. It would be full of pockets and compartments, have a zip-top (so when it fell over nothing would spill out), and a dedicated compartment for my iphone. It would have at least two good-sized compartments, one for basics (wallet, checkbook, etc.) and one for The Other Stuff. And at least one little discreet zipper pocket for Woman Things and a little makeup. It would have a nice wide shoulder strap, adjustable, and it would be a nice happy color.
So I walk down the side aisle of the Hemporium, and there it is:
I hemmed. I hawed. I convinced myself I didn’t need it. I even left the store, figuring if I really wanted it I could always come back later. (It was the only one of its kind.) About half a block away I apologized to my husband and went back for it. It cost way more than I would ever normally spend on a purse. It cost way more than I had spent on the entire body of clothing I was wearing at the time, in fact. And yet, there I stood in my ebay khakis, my inspired-by-this-awesome-blogger thrift store linen dress-turned-blouse, my thrift store awesome Clark sandals, and my Goodwill purse (it’s a cute Goodwill purse, but I still only spent $4 on it), plunking down my credit card for The Perfect Purse.
I have no buyer’s remorse at all, honestly. It may sound like rationalization, but it still makes sense. Buying the purse meant I supported a local business I have always enjoyed, I supported the production of a material (hemp) that is sustainableand awesome and really deserves to be far more in the mainstream than it is. Besides, just LOOK at all these crazy little pockets inside!
It may not be a classy designer thing, it may be the One And Only Purse I carry for the next six months or more, but I love it.
I hate to cop out here, but this will be another of those posts where I basically point readers to a couple of other posts and opinions. Because the general topic at hand annoys me enough that I can’t really be unbiased.
Short summary: an op-ed piece by Stephen Budiansky in the NYTimes blasted “locavore math,” dissing the movement as “one of those self-indulgent — and self-defeating — do-gooder dogmas.” (I’m like, okay, have an opinion if you want, throw around all the questionable statistics you feel you need to, but is it absolutely necessary to be so condescending and, well, generally pissy about it?) (Plus, dude, way to totally miss the point of locavorism!) He weighs the question of locavorism solely from the perspective of “food miles” and allegedly breaks apart the math involved, demonstrating how locavorism sucks and industrial farming is the answer to producing and delivering the most food to the most people for the lowest amount of energy usage. He also neglects to link to studies or footnotes of any kind to detail his statistics or calculations, which in my eyes makes them very suspect.
Lots of folks are weighing in on this. Elanor Starmer at Grist has a very intelligent post pointing out how energy usage is only part of the locavore rationale; there’s a lot more going on, and a lot more to the question than trucked out of season tomatoes vs. hot-house local out of season tomatoes: “The local foods movement is not so much about choosing between what’s grown here and what’s grown elsewhere. It’s about having any sort of choice at all,” she says. Good article, with a lot of good points. (And it’s followed by a series of other articles on the same topic; click the “next page” link at the end of each article.) Erin at The Green Phone Booth has links to other folks’ takes on it–Arduous and Crunchy Chicken among them. And of course Jill Richardson at La Vida Locavore could not possibly have let this go by uncommented.
Worth a read, all of these. Many important questions being asked and answered. I’d still like to know where the good Mr. B’s statistics are coming from–But I guess that’s part of the wonder of the web, isn’t it? Anyone can say anything?
Except that the Web is dead. Seriously. I read it online.
Except that maybe it isn’t. I read that online too.
Aah, who knows. I’m going to go read a nice novel where I know nothing is actually factual; it’s comforting to not have to wonder.
Okay, over the past few weeks I have made a few pickle attempts, various veggies and stuff that I’d put up in jars and brine, to sit and, well, pickle.
Tonight I broke open all three to see how they turned out, and how they tasted; last week we tried one of the others. In general, a fairly successful set of experiments–going three for four, anyway.
By far the most successful experiment was the spicy zucchini pickles. Bright, spicy, sweet, absolutely lovely. I wanted to just stand there with the jar and eat them all. I want to go buy more zucchini to make more. And more. (And wouldn’t this be the year my garden decided to be stingy and deny me any giant green behemoths? This would be the perfect recipe for the big tough suckers that have grown too much to just sort of eat.) I altered the recipe a little, choosing not to peel or seed the zukes and making them in spears instead of chunks–but it worked just fine. It’s a sweet-spicy recipe that reminds me a lot of the spicy watermelon pickles my mom used to make every once in a long while. Really lovely. (Beware using too many cloves…they will make your tongue numb.) But totally, totally, try these!
The caponata I made two weeks ago also had a little time to let the flavors blend and meld–and they blended into a really awesome condiment that didn’t really taste like any of the individual ingredients but had a lovely taste of its own. Verrry nice. I could get used to eggplant if it’s in stuff like this.
I also had made a very impulsive sweet pickle relish recipe from The Art of Preserving…or sort of . With pickles I’m not as worried about following recipes exactly. The recipe called for apple cider vinegar and bell peppers…I used white vinegar and carrots instead. Chopped up a mixture of cucumbers, half an onion, and a few carrots, put them into a half pint jar. Made a brine out of white vinegar, 1.5 times that amount sugar, 1/8 that amount salt. Into the jar with the veggies I put a teaspoon or so each celery seeds, mustard seeds, and half a teaspoon of allspice. Poured the brine over it. Processed in a water bath. I had some on a hot dog tonight; it made a very creditable relish, a little crunchier and fresher than traditional relish, but that may be because it only pickled for a couple of weeks; I’ll try it again in a month or so. (Yeah, I know, the seal’s broken now, but it should still keep for ages.) It’s good. And I know exactly what went into it–no weird ingredients, none of that bizarre radioactive-looking dye that turns it such an improbable shade of green (or sometimes almost turquoise–is that only Chicago where that crazy blue-ish pickle relish turns up?)…just fresh nice veggies pickled in my own brine.
The least successful attempt was just ordinary pickles, in my own pickling spice and brine. They aren’t bad, but they also aren’t anything to write home about. Which goes to teach me that I really ought to stick with recipes someone else developed.
I never thought of myself as a pickle person…but I could get used to this.
Today at The Green Phone Booth I have a fairly rambly post about a computer game I used to play…come check it out!
I’ve been thinking, lately…there are a number of things I haven’t dared try on the “green” front, and others that I do pretty much without thinking. Taking the “Practically Green” quiz got me thinking, both about what is easy and automatic, and what is still a real effort.
Food, as anyone who reads this blog can easily figure out, is one of my big priorities. I really, really am trying to keep processed foods out of our diets, to the extent where today when we took my mother-in-law to Baker’s Square for lunch, and my husband got the “mixed berry pie,” I could taste the articificial fruit flavor without even trying–it was just so completely in my face that I couldn’t even pretend it’s not there. Cooking well and simply is a change we’ve made that has actually shifted into “lifestyle;” it’s not an effort. We shop differently, we cook differently, we eat differently. Maybe not a huge amount of variety, and maybe what we used to spend on delivery pizza we now spend to upgrade our ingredients to organic, but it’s almost all very simple and as unprocessed as we can possibly manage. Even the rare takeout pizza doesn’t taste as good to me any more (though Chinese is still a great and fat-laden guilty pleasure).
On the other end of the spectrum: I could name a couple of things, but one of the biggest is plastic. Ziploc bags, especially. Buying food in plastic. Plastic all kinds of stuff. Intellectually I know I should cut back on my plastic use, and I do recycle whenever possible (which is most of the time), but I can’t yet break myself of using it.
How about y’all? True confessions time, free of all judgment or interpersonal criticism: what changes have you made that have been easy and even fun? What are the ones you try but just can’t seem to click into?
Today at the Green Phone Booth I published my list of links for All Things Preserve-y–if any of my ramblings about jams, pickles, home canning, or whatever interests you at all, I have links over there that will go way further than just getting you started. Come check it out!