Friday, December 31, 2010

No Resolutions, no hair-dye philosophy

I've spent the last week creating a super detailed life-plan on Google Docs. I'm not much of a spreadsheet maker, but I'm hoping that by putting in serious time planning, creating routines, and writing lists ahead of time, I can make 2011 a year of focused, intentional living. It's about creating measurable goals, not resolving to improve. A resolution is the desire and the intent. The goals are the map. The routine and micromovement lists are the pedals and handlebars. Now I just have to mount the bike & ride.

 I've been flitting from project to project for the past 7 months. Now it's time to delve deep into life and actually accomplish something. Last year I was a water skipper. This year I am leaving the surface, it's the year of the beaver, baby. I'm building life-structures with roots that go deep this year. A life lived on the surface is disposable. When I live on the surface, I can easily hide my values, revert back to the old me, or give up. I want to live life with values that are twined around my alveoli, submerged in the chambers of my heart, and tattooed in my pores. I need to dig my heels in and really commit to a low-impact lifestyle. This means deep fundamental changes, supported by daily routine.

For a first step, I'm doing a carbon cleanse. Join me, please. It's only one week, but it could spiral into a lifestyle overhaul...if you let it.  I will be blogging my experience here next week.

And if you need a swift kick in the pants to get moving: Calling all Fanatics

I 'm headed into 2011 with excitement & purpose. Thanks to awesome & inspirational friends who've helped me begin this journey. Thank you , Mom, for sewing, creating, and getting worked up  with me. Thank you, John for supporting all the changes I'm implementing around here, and running with them. Thanks to Lauren and Nick for your links and posts to inspire and move me toward action  & growth. Thank you Rob for reading all my random blogs & feeding me ideas.   You all push me to be better.  Thank you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Garden aGlow

We took the kids to the Winter Garden aGlow at the Idaho Botanical Gardens on Monday. This year they've started "Carpool Mondays" so a van-load of people can get into the Gardens for $20. With adults usually costing $8 and kids $4, we'd normally have to pay $32. Good deal!

It's pretty out there at the gardens, lots of lights wrapped from trees, hanging from trees, sitting in bushes, lining walkways. It's not something I'd feel compelled to do every year, but it was nice. We stopped to see Prancer, who looked like the weight of his antlers was a bit much for him.

When I read online that there are 250,000 lights out there, I was a little uncomfortable. Once you're aware of the energy drain things create, you see it everywhere. Sometimes it's hard not to be a little Scrooge-ish if you focus on the green factor. I decided to use the trip as a research opportunity, to learn, rather than to judge. I wrote up my findings in a review. You can see it here. (Well,'s awaiting review. I'll repost the link when it's functional.)

The kids had a great time tromping through the mud, seeing Santa, and ringing the big bell they have hanging in the middle of the gardens. I think it would make a really great trip in the summer, to show the kids the ecological diversity, and to teach them about local versus exotic plants. They've decided that a botanical garden is a zoo for plants, and they're kind of right.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

RRR Room by Room- Main Bathroom

The laundry system is working out beautifully. I like that I have two specific days in which clean laundry is put away and dirty laundry appears in the laundry room. It gives me a deadline to work towards, and I can see my progress. Instead of trudging from bedroom to bedroom collecting the laundry every day or two and never seeing the end, I just have to get through what was brought in. I can look and say, "I've washed all the laundry that was brought in since Wednesday. Sweet!" It's a nice way to see progress, which I find motivating.

So, with one success under my belt, I move on down the hall to the main bathroom. I would love to post a picture of how nice and clean I got the room, but alas the camera is missing. We had it Monday, now it's gone. I suspect the girls, since it isn't anywhere obvious. They like to put things in the pantry, behind the couch, bury stuff in the dog food...

Here's an older picture Girl 1 took of me in the bathroom a while back:

Anyway. Ways to make the bathroom more efficient.

  • I would like a dual flush toilet, the man likes low-flow. I think in this bathroom we will probably get dual flush, since this is the bathroom that is used the most.
  • In the meantime, I am going to put a bottle of water in the tank to reduce water use for each flush.
  • We use vinegar and baking soda to clean all the surfaces
  • When the Windex runs out, I'll start using vinegar to clean the mirror
  • We've already switched to cloth towels and rags to clean everything, we haven't had paper towels in the house in months. I have a separate set for bathrooms, just because I don't like to use the same cloths to clean the toilet as I do the kitchen counters (imagine that). We have colored wash cloths for the kitchen, and since I'm using Econobum cloth diapers, I use my failed Gerber cloth diaper experiment  to clean the bathrooms. 
  • We need to put a faucet aerator on the sink. This is especially important since Girl 1 sneaks in there all the time to play in the water.
  • No one uses this shower, so a low-flow head isn't at the top of the list, but it would be nice at some point for the random house guest.
  • There is no shower curtain (again, we don't shower in here) but it would look better if we had one, and then guests could shower here. We'll need to stay away from PVC or nylon/vinyl curtains. I'd like a hemp shower curtain, or an organic cotton one. These are crazy expensive though. 
  • We have a frosted energy efficient window in this bathroom, so that's good.
  • We need to switch to biodegradable soaps. Many soaps have petroleum in them. Biodegradable/organic soaps don't. 
  • We need CFL vanity bulbs for over the mirror
  • We need to give up my beloved Charmin and switch to toilet paper made from recycled content
This is a tiny room, and look how many things there are to do. It's a little overwhelming. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

RRR Room by Room- Laundry Room backcasting


Last night we were pretty sure school would be cancelled today. The snow was piling up, and there was no sign of it stopping. We woke up this morning, and sure enough, school is cancelled. At this very moment the boys are calling their neighborhood friends & planning to walk across the street to the school & build massive snow forts on the field. That way they'll have forts to play in when school is back in session. So. Fun.

 I jumped on the snow day opportunity to have the kids put their laundry away. I'm not going to spoil their stay-at-home fun by making them clean all day, but I couldn't pass up the chance to get the laundry room cleared out. The deal was, put away all your laundry (including hang ups) and you have the rest of the day to yourself. A pretty sweet deal, if you ask me.

Tops cleaned off
I've been doing load after load of laundry since Monday. I've kept it going every waking moment. Literally. We have these giant capacity He machines, and I am thrilled to announce that the laundry is d.o.n.e. There is a start on a new load of darks, and there is a load in each machine right now, but that's it. I have officially caught up.

All the laundry that is left to wash

Rediscovered the floor

I haven't put the girls' laundry away yet, you can see it there on the shelves. That's because they decided to pull EVERYTHING, all the bins, containers, everything, out of their closets and dump it all in the middle of their room. Once that is cleaned up (hopefully after nap) I will have everything put away. Except the socks that I've washed since Monday's Sock Go Fish game. All those left socks you've lost? They end up at my house, I think. Still, to have it this close to totally done is unheard of.

I have serious doubts about keeping it this way, but greenness, cheapness, and cleanliness demands it. We have a TON of clothes. It's wasteful and silly. Once everything is put away, it's obvious that "I don't have anything to wear!" is completely untrue. I don't need to buy more, and if I keep the laundry up, I'll know when I do.

Beginning with the end in mind, imagining my ideal goal of a laundry room that looks like this all the awesome.

The Dream: To have no more than a load of laundry waiting at any given time. To have no more than a week's worth of wash on the shelves or hanging up at any one time. To be able to leave the laundry room door standing wide open, even when company is coming over. To have a eco-friendly, organized, sustainable laundry system.

Steps, from last to first

  • We need to put our clean laundry away at least twice a week. Wednesday night and Saturday morning might work. 
  • I need to do each load from wash to dry to fold immediately.
  • I need to wash a load of laundry every day, to keep it going.
  • I need a bin for each type of laundry in the laundry room.
  • I need to tell the fam the new routine, and enforce it until it is habit. 
  • I need the dirty laundry sorted into towels/bedding, darks, and whites.
  • I need the dirty laundry brought up and sorted at least twice a week. Let's combine this with the putting away of the clean, so as to minimize fights.
  • I can make the run around during the day if I need more clothes for a load.
  • Efficiency demands only running the washer/dryer when there is a full load.
I'm finding making a list of steps backward like this kind of confusing. At least for laundry.

Side Steps/Extras:
  • When I get to the bedroom RRRs, I am going to switch us to the file form of clothing storage.
  • I'd like to bring some things of beauty into the laundry room to put on the shelf behind the machines. No reason the room has to be a dungeon.
  • I've put a bowl on the dryer to throw in the random pocket flotsam that appears in the wash (like erasers, little toys, money). 
  • I have a bag for donations in the closet, for things that I'm not going to hand down.  

Green Goals:
  • We have high efficiency machines, so that's great.
  • We have blinds up on the window that the sun shines in. 
  • We need to switch the light bulb to a CFL when this one burns out
  • I'd like to try making my own laundry detergent. Keep thinking that, never get around to it.
  • Switch back to line drying in the spring. There isn't time or room for indoor air drying all our wash.

This must not be allowed to happen again. 
It can be done. Oh yes. It can be done.