fits and starts.

“…do this with humility & discipline.

not in fits & starts,

but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love.” ephesians 4:1-6

 

alright, so this message has a bigger purpose BUT what if the acts of love you need to show are for yourself. and also if maybe, just maybe, a call to kindness and service would be amplified in effectiveness if I started at home; home being myself.

today, I updated the Pursuit of Joy Project post with moments 50 & 51. halfway through. and, to be honest, I’m surprised I have been able to keep up with it. sticking to something isn’t a quality I would list for myself. I guess I get excited about too many things or I hit a roadblock and reevaluate or the enthusiasm dissipates. it’s not that I have trouble committing, it’s that I can’t seem to allow myself the follow through. forever a work in progress. but joy, gladness not based on circumstance (peter 1:8-9), is a full-hearted intention. even if I update a few days late or a few days at a time, instead of posting on a regular schedule. 51 moments of joy in 59 days. i’ll take it.

in typical-of-me fashion, I find that I am subconsciously sorting these moments to make sure I have given everything in my life it’s proper attention. compartmentalizing and balancing are qualities I would list for myself. motherhood moments. friend & partner moments. work or family moments. I am still working on the lack of attachment to circumstance. rather, the lack of attachment to my joy having to belong to others as well as myself; that my happiness should be mutually beneficial. this is a multi-layered realization. at the root, I am grateful to be at a place in my life where I have enough to offer. for many years I did not. but as it extends, I am still not always comfortable giving myself the love I give to others. that’s where I reach too far for the idea of  happiness. it can create resentment and selfishness that are hard to shake.

we/I do this in all sorts of ways. staying busy, being materialistic, seeking companionship/attention (ahem, social media), or competitiveness. it seeps in all the time. and while I think I’ve done a pretty good job of removing most of the exterior negative from my life, the hardest work is still looming.

these shared moments are not any less joyful or appreciated. I don’t think that’s what is being said but I do think that the combination of joy, humility, and discipline is a life goal hat trick achieved by few. so, I set out a new project within a project for myself this week. live more simply and find the magic in that. I want to see what I can cultivate by stripping happiness down to it’s very basic form. to hopefully find a bit more of it. to hopefully find a way to keep sharing it. moments of joy brought to AND from yours truly. this will be an extra challenge with Halloween this week so a few little human moments might trickle in but…

I’ll be back next Monday morning with the results of my week or they can be found on the original post linked above- moments 52-58.

 

warmly,

Eliot.

 

autumn eats.

the palate of changing seasons.

for fall, everything gets heartier and more indulgent, for me at least. so, over on my garden to goodness  page I am adding a few fall-friendly recipes as well as some staples in my kitchen.

first up is the much requested oat milk tutorial. it’s so creamy and delicious AND simple. there is nearly zero waste involved in this process, which I love, and it can added to pretty much everything. I recommend making it EXTRA vanilla and pouring it over cereal or adding it to your bread dough for added earthiness.

stay tuned for more additions & share you results if you try these recipes out!

100 joyful moments.

they say that bad things come in threes. that when it rains it pours. or that you will never be given more than you can handle, even when it feels like you’re drowning. I get frustrated and distracted and even detached. sometimes I feel like it’s 11pm before I get to sit down and everything out of my mouth is negative and covered in thorns. my littles have had to make their own Pb & J for dinner while I take a grown up time out, to salvage what small amount of my sanity still exists. my friends and partner know that I sometimes shut down completely regardless of how good things are around me. and there are more than a few memories that aren’t so sweet.

but, at the end of the day, I hope that I am still able to hold on to at least one moment where love won out over everything else. I’ve decided to share, over the next six months or so, at least 100 of those moments of joy. the simple, the adventurous, the completely silly. inspired by the pursuit of joy project. to hold myself accountable for my own happiness and to cultivate as much of it as possible by calling it when I feel it…

  1. unexpected evenings off, dodging rain, and patio weather {09.01.2018}

2. fireworks {09.02.2018}

3. a full day spent with different groups of friends {09.03.2018}

4. sleeping in on a work day… thanks little humans {09.05.2018}

5. diy spa night with Kiwi & Cookie {09.06.2018}

6. a rainy night in {09.07.2018}

7. surprise lunch & coffee with babe {09.08.2018}

8. all our friends & family together for cookie’s birthday party {09.09.2018}

9. froyo with the littles {09.11.2018}

10. flexing my skills on a new task at work {09.12.2018}

11. a room full of sweet friends supporting my art. {09.14.2018}

12. spending time with a friend who was in town from Chicago {09.15.2018}

13. sunflower fields {09.17.2018}

14. warm brownies. compliments of Chef Kiwi. {09.18.2018}

15. starting a new book {09.19.2018}

16. being in pajamas by 6pm {09.20.2018}

17. half days at home that include finding a new bakery & farmers market hopping {09.21.2018}

18. watching babe DJ the biggest show of her career- also my first big EDM show {09.22.2018}

19. super quick snuggles with Freya & chats with my fav couple ( thegemcitymama.com ) at Oktoberfest {09.23.2018}

20. coffee deliveries & love notes {09.25.2018}

21. playing games with the littles {09.26.2018}

22. grey’s season premiere {09.27.2018}

23. watching kiwi conquer a tough skill at gymnastics {09.28.2018}

24. a full day of adventures with babe including making homemade ravioli and eating dessert on the couch {09.29.2018}

25. taking a selfie that made me feel pretty {09.30.2018}

26. this is us {10.02.2018}

27. getting a comment from a sweet Instagram friend on my blog post {10.03.2018}

28. first attempt at caramel apples with the littles and babe {10.04.2018}

29. meeting new friends while celebrating a new baby {10.06.2018}

30. lunch with my dad, a good hike, and s’mores! full day. {10.07.2018}

31. paid holiday off {10.08.2018}

32. Carillon Park adventure day for fall break {10.09.2018}

33. baking bread in my pajamas. soundtrack by Joni Mitchell {10.10.2018}

34. keeping up with traditions at Kleather’s Pumpkin Patch {10.11.2018}

35. pen pal letters {10.12.2018}

36. Fearfest with the twin & besties {10.13.2018}

37. a Sunday of rest {10.14.2018}

38. little human chats over ice cream sandwiches {10.15.2018}

39. the sunset & james brown {10.16.2018}

40. listening to my friend Tino on WYSO. so cool! {10.17.2018}

41. taking the boy human to his first basketball practice, even though he wouldn’t let me stay and watch. {10.18.2018}

42. getting a shiny new button with kiwi’s gymnastics photo on it (embarrassing mom here I come) {10.19.2018}

43. finally dressing as the Sanderson Sisters with family for my niece’s Hocus Pocus 6th birthday party {10.20.2018}

44. girls day at Kings Island {10.21.2018}

45. making bone broth with my mama {10.22.2018}

46. hugging my sweet little one after our car accident {10.23.2018}

47. reading kind words and prayers from our friends {10.24.2018}

48. sunrise {10.25.2018}

49. volunteering at cookie’s book fair and bringing her lunch to school {10.26.2018}

50. cooking for my friends {10.27.2018}

51. the sun peaking out for our trip to the Renaissance Faire with the littles {10.28.2018}

52. alone time outside before bed {10.29.2018}

53. letting go of a conflict so I could find peace with it instead {10.30.2018}

54. trick or treating! {10.31.2018}

55. morning meditation {11.01.2018}

56. choosing family over everything {11.02.2018}

57. nature therapy {11.03.2018}

58. expressing contentment with an uncertain future {11.04.2018}

59. taking time to stay organized so I don’t get anxious {11.05.2018}

60. rockin’ the vote! {11.06.2018}

61. sleeping a full 8 {11.07.2018}

62. leaving work stress at work and coming home to my own space {11.09.2018}

63. sushi and Netflix in bed {11.10.2018}

64. the littles coming home early {11.11.2018}

65. braving a big family decision/purchase on my own. the adultiest {11.12.2018}

66. getting up 20 minutes earlier than the littles to a quiet house and coffee, even if it was to work extra {11.14.2018}

vive l’avocat.

as if I needed another reason to love avocados.

here’s a bare minimum, crash course on the botanical/plant dyeing trend…

now, I firmly believe that crafting is equal parts perseverance & blind luck. so, despite the fact that every tutorial I read was thick with fancy jargon like molecular structure and ph balance, and had a laundry list of supplies, I embarked on this journey equipped with only six things: avocado skins & pits, filtered water, white vinegar, a (enamel coated) stock pot, my trusty wooden spoon, and some white clothing items I couldn’t bare to toss out.

I have been saving up the pits and any salvageable skins, making sure to scrub each clean. then left them in the windowsill to dry until I had 8 pits and a fair amount of skins. it is said that you should freeze them but I did not.

it is also said that pure, organic materials dye best. which is probably true. but I used what I had, which was a 55% linen- 45% rayon blend tunic that had many a coffee stain on it and a cheap cotton tank I got on clearance at target. since this blog is about personal experience and is, by no means, an education on plant dyeing, I’m gonna go ahead and recommend that you try it with whatever you got and hope for the best. there are also plenty of legit spots on the internet that will recommend pre-treating the fabric and testing the dye with ph strips, but you came here, and I found it to be unnecessary. to each their own.

the quantity of items you are dyeing and how many avocados you have accessible are going to change the variables quite a bit from here, but again, I’ll throw at you what I did and let y’all run with it.

I filled my stock pot about a third of the way up with filtered water and tossed in the avocado scraps. this needs to come to a boil and simmer for at least an hour with the lid on. you will be able to see the color turn from a latte/tan to pink fairly quickly. the intensity of the color will deepen if you’re lucky to a beet pink/purple. that will get you to the bright blush color that I achieved. if you want a lighter tone, shorten the soaking time or use less pits. darker colors can be reached with an overnight soak and/or super saturated dye. trial and error, of course. at this point, you can add in your fabrics of choice, making sure they are covered by enough liquid. I added in two more cups of water as some had evaporated out. stir it around every 30 minutes for the next two hours on a low simmer. the linen fabric was thicker and partially synthetic- in hindsight, I would have let this item marinate a bit longer bc the color took really well but washed out a bit more in the rinse step.

I made several laps of excitement around the kitchen and shouted several proclamations of magic while these colors developed.

nature is pretty cool.

remove the pot from the stove and let it cool down just a bit. a half hour maybe, before adding in the vinegar. I did a 4:1 water to vinegar combo. this will help set the color just like when dyeing easter eggs. give it another good stir and then leave it be. it was a sunny day that allowed for an additional two hours of soaking time on my deck. you can also just set the pot aside anywhere convenient and allow it to cool and soak for as long as you’d like. trial and error, of course. my rule of thumb would be to let it do its thing until the fabric is a few shades darker than what you want the final outcome to be.

for extra fun… while it all rested outside, I grabbed a few mason jars that I had saved from our easter egg plant dye experiment in the spring. just to see what we could make happen. I didn’t put these on the stove at all, sun bath only. and the results were mixed. I’d say the heat is a must going forward. anyway, here are some other good options for dyeing that I’ve tried and tested myself …

  • turmeric and curry- bright yellow
  • coffee and cayenne- rust orange to brown
  • onion skins- range from yellow to brown to orange
  • dried chamomile flowers- a very pale green/grey
  • red/purple cabbage leaves- bright blue
  • cocoa powder- a mauve brown
  • spinach leaves- pale yellow
  • hibiscus petals- bright pink

now, here are some untested ingredients that the fancy bloggers say will work: beets, black beans, almost any berry, cosmos flowers, goldenrod, dandelion roots, or onion skins.

Godspeed, but you’re on your own with these for now.

the last steps are to rinse with cool (not cold OR lukewarm) water until the excess runs clear and most of the vinegar smell is gone. I’d suggest air drying at least part of the way. I put mine on the drying rack outside in the shade but you can toss it in the dryer if you must.

after care tips- hand wash gently in cold water. air dry or toss on low heat.

see, that was pretty simple. I did this whole process while taking small breaks on a work from home day. it could have been even less hands on if I weren’t so fascinated by the whole thing. it has opened up a whole new world of dyeing possibilities, especially with spill-prone little humans. (and spill-prone adult humans too, for that matter)

I may never look at white fabric the same again!

 

À plus,

Eliot.

too broke to go green.

balancing an ethical budget…

listen, we live in a society that tokenizes good deeds & healthy habits only to toss them aside a year later for the next big trend, sometimes with a rather villainous exit. consumerism and social media are mostly to blame but we can’t be let off the hook either, with our short attention spans and seemingly good intentions. depending on where you get your info it can be a whirlwind of conflicting misinformation.

soy or no soy? what if recycling is just another big business scheme? is it too late to save the great barrier reef? how do I compost in my space?

I don’t have the answers. what I do have is a responsibility to do what I can within the capabilities of our family. resources are limited around here from time to time but I get asked a lot about how we choose to live a simpler life on a budget. truth be told, it’s an expensive habit in our economic climate. not only do most one-income households not make enough to invest in all eco-friendly products, it can be difficult to know what is worth the investment when you’re ready to make it. nothing bums me out more than being recommended an “affordable” ethical brand only to see that they charge $65 for a hemp/cotton kids tee. or following an instagram influencer who only uses $80 dollar face cream & eats all organic from their local boutique grocer. quality and time do have immense value but it just isn’t practical for me and I know I’m not alone.

recently, I took to the ‘gram for a fun little poll: cost vs. organic/ethical when choosing brands for your family? the results were slightly in favor of organic/ethical. not surprised. I often feel guilty for choosing the less expensive option or fall victim to social media competition or I go without the product entirely if I can’t make a good choice. not ashamed to admit that there’s a lot of pressure to keep up. what do you do when you just can’t spend the extra now to save it later. a lot of the mamas I know have made those investments in their family and my friends come from all kinds of financial backgrounds. I love watching them craft a life that works for them. for me- I grow/make my own, use coupons, and shop smart/second hand. to each their own.

but, I’ve got some tips. in list fashion. as I would. because this mama is on a budget…

  1. use what you have or get rid of it, without guilt. odds are you don’t have a sentimental attachment to every antique find or little human outfit that is three seasons outgrown. pass it on to someone else. trade it for something you do need. sell it to a stranger. minimizing serves a multitude of functions in our lives both mentally and practically.via My New Neighbor on Pinterest

2. do your freakin’ research. I’m sure my little humans get tired of me holding up traffic in the grocery while I google an ingredient or brand before tossing something in the buggy. but they’ll get over it. this also applies when embarking on any home upgrades or making fashion purchases. you have to remember that going green has become a softly regulated labeling and sales device. resulting in qualifications that might not meet your personal standards. marketing has a way of jazzing things up and watering them down at the same time.  I’d love to go in to some of my favorite brands but there are too many and everyone has differing opinions on what means the most to them when shopping. but there are a lot of sites that do the research for you. below are a random assortment of product/food/clothing shops that I use…

  • ThredUp is the coolest site I’ve found in a while because second hand is best but not everyone has time/energy to spend hours thrifting. it’s organized, has a wide variety of price/size/style options for little humans and adults, AND gives you a place to send your unwanted items.
  • Grove Collaborative covers all the bases from cleaning supplies to skincare and even supplements. they offer deliveries through a handy subscription or you shop as you please. under each product you will find a clear list of which “grove values” are met. super helpful!
  • Brandless has a motto of “better stuff, fewer dollars” which is probably the best motto if you want to sell me anything. all items are $3 or less. they ship direct to lower lost resources between buyer and consumer. the food products are labeled to accommodate vegan, gluten free, non-gmo, etc. bonus: they partner with Feeding America to donate a meal every time you check out.
  • Aldi’s if you don’t know, find out. that’s all I have to say. and don’t forget your quarter for the buggy.

3. start small. replace things one at a time. it is worse to waste something like a plastic container than it is to make use of it. note- I don’t apply this rule to food containers, throw that shit out. you might feel it appropriate to rid your closet of every synthetic fabric or cheaply made dress from Forever 21 to make way for small batch, conscious clothing but in reality it’s gonna end up somewhere, regardless. if you wear/use/eat it, keep it. if not, see #1. check out a few of the blogs where I find good info…

  • Mama Eco the patron saint of eco-friendliness. super grateful to have found Shannon Kenny on instagram. she has the best tips and even has a shopping guide on Amazon to help you out.
  • Sammie Kolk is the go-to for clean beauty, hands down. she also highlights a lot of great food items. while not all of the products she features are in my price range, I always check her blog for recommendations and promo codes when shopping
  • eartheasy aims at sharing the way to a more sustainable living through guides and tutorials, that the site founder says are mostly from first hand experience. gardening, composting, green home- the wealth of info here is limitless. you can even shop or chat live with customer service to ask questions.
  • The Raw Alignment Movement was recommended by a friend and it’s a really great, all-inclusive-type service where you can get a monthly health/wellness membership that’s customizable to your needs. some of the videos are also up on YouTube for free. they cover all kinds of topics and the vibe is overall positivity and spreading the love. it is geared toward a vegan crowd but has plenty to offer everyone.
  • MOTHER is the holy grail. run, don’t walk. thank me later.

4. make it. grow it. put a bird on it. (Portlandia, anyone?!) go ahead, risk that Pinterest fail. I know that not everyone can sew or has the space for a garden or compost, which is totally fine. you can find diy guides to making your own make up or cleaning supplies, for building up your outdoor space, and cooking just about anything you can think of. evaluate your skills and resources and make the most of them. personally, I have a garden & enjoy cooking. I rarely shop for clothes but when I do, it’s a one item in/two items out policy in which we donate or pass down items. and I keep gift giving to a practical minimum- meaning, very few tangible gifts are ever purchased by me for the little humans. (sounds dramatic but my kids have never got them so they aren’t missing out) those things help my dollar stretch further so that we can travel and do fun stuff. I think the time you invest in doing so will always pay off. you can even include the little humans in some projects which is a double win! it’s also another good opportunity to trade things with other people or come up with original gifts to give.

5. shop small. shop local. support your friends’ businesses. SHOP WITH INTENTION.

ultimately, do what’s right for your family. there’s nothing shameful about living a mostly simple life. eat the doritos. buy the marc jacobs. throw out your food scraps. know when you are willing to compromise in order to get a good value and when quality should win out. we are all just trying to get by over here with minimal impact and living a life we enjoy. hopefully, some of these tips have helped if you’re rockin’ the green life on a budget. and if you have any great recommendations send them my way.

humbly,

Eliot.