A Few of my New Favorite Things

Sunshine in Seattle! It will be the perfect afternoon to take a house hunting trip out to Vashon. A few new places are on the market, so we are going to check them out…even if it means I have to attend class tonight from my phone. Thank goodness for technology!

On Sunday I had a wonderful lunch with my mother in law at a great place near our house: Chaco Canyon. Everything is organic and vegan and AMAZING! I had a vegan ruben made with homemade seitan…YUM! I was blown away. We will be back again for sure!

After a full afternoon of homework, it was good to relax with Matt and just eat leftovers for dinner. An easy end to the weekend.

Today I wanted to introduce my new sidekick: my bkr water bottle! These glass bottles with silicone sleeves are awesome, and so much better than my metal or plastic ones. I ordered a bright orange one and love it! Late new year’s resolution (again): drink more water!

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car2go

Three cheers for cutting edge transportation options…we are part of the car2go revolution that is taking over Seattle! If you are in the city, you have probably noticed the streets and parking areas teeming with these adorable little blue and white Smart cars. If you are not local, here is a photo to help you out:

Yep, adorable. And convenient. As a one car household, we are often tied to the bus system when the car is in use, and this leads to limited flexibility. Not to mention a bus ride locally will still run you $2.50. That adds up fast!

So add this into the equation: a car that you can “check out” wherever it is, and pay by the minute only for the time you use. Nothing else. Gas, insurance, repairs are all included…you can probably even score a code to waive the $35 one time sign-up fee. With car access areas recently extended to West Seattle (including by the ferry to Vashon), adding this service to our options for travel was a no brainer. It not only gives us extra flexibility, but it makes the “mainland” side of our future Vashon commute that much more comfortable.

For more information on car2go visit their website @ www.car2go.com (and let me know if you want a discount code for Seattle!)

Planning a Sustainable Wedding – Guest Blog Post

I work with an incredible class called Sustainable Engineering and Design taught in the nearby Northshore School District. This is my second year being involved with the class, and it is so much fun to talk with these students about sustainability, buildings, energy…you name it!

Their teacher Mike invited to to guest blog about my wedding plans…and how it is or is not sustainable. Here is my guest post from today. Be sure to check out the other amazing discussions and activities that this unique class is up to!

ȯl-‘tər-nə-tiv skin re-jə-mən

I mentioned my obsession with coconut oil. Well, truth be told I have been trying a bunch of natural and alternative things, particularly with my skin. I have had trouble skin forever. Acne, redness…it has almost always still seemed pretty smooth, but blotchy. I am not a huge fan of makeup, and would prefer au natural as my everyday look. I have tried proactive, tons of different washes, some prescription stuff. I tried washing my face with green tea, then doing honey scrubs. Some have made a difference, but nothing has worked 100%. I was getting fed up with all the trying trying and more trying, and finally started to get back to basics.

Last year I bought a Clarisonic, and I love it. Clogged pores no longer. It is great at removing makeup and other grossness (I use Neutrogena’s basic cleansing bar), and really helped move my skin in the right direction. This year I am switching up the regimen again. I still use the Clarisonic, but am now alternating with washing with hot salt water. Why hot salt water? Well, my skin has always been best when I am around the ocean. Ocean = salt so I figured it would not be too long of a shot. It is working wonderings. I have had maybe 4 actual pimples since I started this routine. My moisturizer is in transition too. I wanted to reduce the number of chemicals and industrial created things that interact with my skin, so I switched to 100% virgin coconut oil. I was a little hesitant to use it at first fearing the grease factor, but it really soaks in well and does not leave me shiny at all! My skin is soft and smooth, and feeling like it may be on the path to recovery.

The secret to a good life: keeping a garden

I have discovered the secret to a good life: keeping a garden.

What do people think they need to have a good, happy life? Most would probably say something like good relationships, staying healthy and in shape, more money, a sense of security, and the feeling you get from doing good. People go about obtaining these things in some very unusual ways these days, many of which are not connected in any logical way. Every day I am challenged at work to help people draw connections between their activities to understand how to make the system more sustainable. My own discovery was that bringing balance to one system that you have control over: YOUR LIFE, has a very simple answer: grow a garden.

1. Relationships

Having a garden immediately gives you the opportunity to expand and/or deepen relationships. This could be with you neighbor who wants to trade cuttings, or the elderly woman next door who really appreciates extra carrots or zucchini. Gardens also give you a go-to conversation topic that almost everyone can relate to. Gardening is also a good group activity. Get your kids involved (and outside!) by having them help water or weed or pick flowers. It is a good bonding time for spouses too…I know my fiancé likes to be needed for moving heavy stuff or helping me outside.

 Gardening gives you time to also cultivate a relationship with someone else important: you. Gardening, even with others around, is a great time to think and enjoy some solitude. Well, solitude until you cat comes by to lie in the dirt. Then you get to bond with your cat.

 2. More Money

We would all like to make more money, or at least have more to spend. How much do you spend on groceries every week? Having a garden can help reduce the amount you are spending on food because you can grow some of your own produce and herbs. This can be done on any scale, and every little bit counts to save you some green while putting green on your plate.

3. Get that Vitamin D

 The natural feel-good drug! Getting outside to work in the sun will boost your mood…essential for being happy and healthy!

 4. Exercise

 Gardening is hard work. Have a gym membership? If you have a garden you could probably ditch it. With the work you are putting in outside you probably don’t have time to go anyway, and it will save you $$$ too (see #2). Hauling weeds, digging, carrying plants, pruning bushes…it’s a workout! Hello toned arms and back! If you need more, how about go on a walk down the street to look at other people’s gardens for inspiration…you may even meet some more neighbors and friends (see #1). If this is still not enough do some old fashioned sit ups and pushups in the front yard. This will also help you get your vitamin D (see #3).

5.  Bettering the Planet

Having a garden makes you feel good. You are reducing your carbon footprint by growing some of your food at home (no matter how little…it all helps!) and cultivating plants that make the world beautiful and take carbon out of the air. You feel accomplished when you look out and see your progress, and find new challenges to achieve (I CAN get the stubborn weed!). Gardening just feels good.

Now that you have the reasoning, go find yourself some dirt and play in it! I promise it will help you find yourself on the path to a better life.

Washington Ferries Bound for Tanzania

I was reading about ferry schedules for our weekend trip to Vashon Island, and came across an article that highlighed the next life for some retired Washington State Ferries. Two of these hard working vessels that are a common sight in the Puget Sound are going to be transported by cargo ship to Tanzania, where they’ll provide passenger ferry service between the mainland and Zanzibar. Cool! Ferries from my backyard may take me back to another island that I love!

Island Wood

Today I got the chance to visit Island Wood…an environmental education center nestled on 255 acres of beautiful Bainbridge Island. I went with some other people from McKinstry and Northshore School District to gather ideas for sustainable building ideas to implement in the school projects we are partnering on. I had never been across to the island, and so was pretty pumped to go for work. We took the 7:55 ferry over and had a pretty good tour. The main building was the first LEED Gold certified building in Washington state, pretty cool, and really demonstrates some of the best in sustainable design, from materials selection to the use of a living machine to process their waste water. I think my favorite was a river rock encrusted rain water cisterne…I am totally advocating for my parents to make one on their property. Also, it is a very beautiful campus, providing overnight camp like environmental education programs for local kids. Very cool. I was pretty impressed, and really wish that every person could experience education in a facility like this. There are so many important lessons, from understanding how water works, where food comes from, where waste goes, how ecosystems function, and then how you fit into it all. Very cool. Kudos to Island Wood for helping get this message out there.

Weekend plans…really just a run Saturday and then a run on Sunday. We will see what else comes up!