dear trash, thank you

I’ve been practicing showing gratitude toward my trash. I like to think I’m mashing up a bit of the KonMari method with my zero-waste-ness. It’s helping me get a better understanding of what kinds of things we are throwing away and how valuable those things were. Saying thank you to each item makes me question, “was it worth the waste?” Of course the answer to that is up to each person and how much value they find in any given piece of trash. If you’ve ventured into any kinds of thought about working toward a more zero waste home, you should try thanking your trash.

In the KonMari method of tidying up it is a part of the practice to thank each item that you give away. You had that thing for a reason at some point, and it may have served you well in one way or another, so it only seems right to show gratitude for it’s existence. I think that this practice is meaningful because it helps us assign more value to our things. We live in a world of consumerism, and we are surrounded by things – often too many things. If we slow down and give thanks for each of those things, perhaps we will take note of what is actually of value to us.

0076293500442_AIn my home I have made a significant decrease in the amount of trash that we produce over the past year or so. We are a family of two adults (and one big dog) and now fill a tall kitchen trash bag every two weeks. Sometimes we have big projects that create lots of waste (like home renovations or big packaged purchases), but usually it’s just half a bag a week. We recycle a lot (most of our waste is paper, paperboard, and cardboard), and we also compost. When I started trying to reduce our waste a year or so ago, I made an effort to pay more attention to what was going in the garbage can. How could I work on having less of it, if I didn’t even know what it was? That turned out to be really effective. It was hard at first because there was a lot of stuff going in there, but as I focused and researched I found that there were a lot of things we were throwing away that we could replace with reusable alternatives or live without.

While that is still a part of my practice, I feel like our waste production has kind of leveled out. There are few alternative solutions to the things we throw away, and/or I’m just not ready to make the jump to eliminate those things from our lifestyle. So, instead of feeling guilty for having that waste – I am thanking it for it’s service.

thank_you_bubble-resized-600Thanking your trash is easy, you just pause at the trash can while you’re still holding whatever you were about to throw away and thank it for doing whatever it did. For example, I just threw away the bag that our dog food comes in, so I said, “Thank you for keeping Betty’s food fresh.” Easy. And, there’s more than that going on in my head. I’m thinking about that bag and how it is worth the waste for me. I want to buy my dog food in bulk every month or two because it’s convenient and good for my dog. There is nowhere that I know of where I can buy her food in my own container or in something recyclable, so that’s that. I’m happy with the piece of trash and how it served our family and off it goes.

The extra moment of gratitude is helping me develop a better sense of what kinds of waste we are producing. It’s also helping me understand what kinds of things are really worth the waste to me, and which things I need to work harder to eliminate from our lifestyle. What do you think? Would you thank your trash?

four snacks that are grain-free and sugar-free

If you read my post yesterday, you’ll know that I recently gave up sugar and am avoiding carbs in my snacks. So I’m here today with four of the snacks that have been keeping me going over these past few weeks without grains or sugar.

First for a substantial snack, I’ve been reaching for hummus and bell pepper. Instead of chips/crackers, I have been chopping red bell pepper and stashing it in the fridge (convenience is an important part of healthy snacking, having some pre-chopped is key). Then, I dip them in the excellent hummus that I found at our natural foods store (way better than sabra, though that would do) and enjoy.

IMG_2722.jpg

Next, a replacement of a usual go-to for a rushed morning at work, individual yogurt cups. Instead of the sugar-laden yogurts that we used to keep our fridge stocked with, I have been mixing frozen fruit, plain yogurt, and a little shredded coconut (optional) in small mason jars at the beginning of the week. You could also add a little honey for extra sweetness, but I’m being especially careful about my sugar intake and find that the fruit offers enough sweetness for me.

IMG_2761.JPG

Third, something that helps me with my sweet-tooth / sugar cravings. Frozen berries, shredded coconut, and whole milk. It’s like ice cream because the berries freeze the milk. There’s a lot of sweetness in all three of the ingredients (if you can’t taste that, your tastebuds are still numb from refined sugar). This one’s kind of weird, but I really like it.

IMG_2674.JPG

Finally, a snack for those times when there’s snacks out somewhere and you can’t eat any of them because those things are all full of sugar: mixed raw nuts. I have been keeping a small jar of nuts in my purse at all times. At work there are often sweet treats for all of the staff, and when I’m at a party there’s rarely anything with substance that I can eat. So these are a helpful backup.

howtostorenuts-56a334cf5f9b58b7d0d0f770.jpg

Any other snack recommendations? I’m still exploring, and will keep you updated with what works!

no gluten, no sugar, no snack time carbs.

1

Feb. 1st marked my 3 year anniversary of eating a gluten free diet. I do not have celiac disease, so not eating gluten is a choice for me. I do however, have a thyroid disorder called Hashimoto’s. Strangely, eating gluten makes my arms break out in weird little dry patches. Three years ago, I read that there may be a link between that skin allergy, Hashimoto’s thyroid disorder, and gluten intolerance. So that’s where going gluten free started for me – I thought, “why not try and see if the arm thing goes away.” It worked, and here I am three years later, still avoiding gluten – for the most part.

I’m lucky enough that I don’t have celiac disease, and can eat gluten when I really want to or feel like it’s worth it. For instance, at the Indian place down the street, they serve the most amazing naan with garlic on it that I always have at least a bite of. Or when I’m out somewhere and get caught at a meal time with no gluten free options, I can eat what’s available to me. And, as a result, my arms will break out a day or two later with a weird little dry sore or two. If I’m really heavy on the gluten, my stomach gets upset – but I suppose that’s just from not having eaten it and not being acclimated to it anymore. Does kind of make you think though, maybe we’re not meant to eat something if we have to acclimate to it? That’s a whole rabbit hole school of thought that I try to avoid though.

NO-REFINED-SUGAR

Now I’m trying something new. I am pregnant, and so I had a routine test for gestational diabetes that I did not pass. When I got the call with those results, I was extremely upset. I felt like I had let my baby, and his father down. I wasn’t the epitome of health that I was supposed to be. I read a little bit about gestational diabetes from some reliable sources, and learned a lot. It’s something that usually goes away when your baby is born, and can be treated with a careful diet and exercise regimen. So I read about what that diet looks like, and decided to make some changes. The next day I gave up refined sugar, and decided to avoid carbs as snacks. I had two weeks before I went in for the follow up test to ensure that I did indeed have gestational diabetes, but I didn’t feel like with just months left in the pregnancy, I could spare two weeks risking my baby’s and my health. The follow up test is a more fail-safe test that involves fasting and getting your blood tested four times over the course of three hours. Luckily, I passed that test. Am I sticking with the new diet anyway? Absolutely.

Until this time I had never really confronted my sugar intake, and it was high. I was eating a bowl of sugary cereal (usually Lucky Charms – damn that gluten free seal on the box) at least once a day. And I tended to have a consume all of the chips in the bag or no chips at all problem. Hence the new, no carbs for snacks rule. I have a family with a history of diabetes, and have just watched my mom make some major changes in her diet (she eats no grains and no refined sugar) for preventative reasons over the past 6+ months. So, I feel good about sticking with these choices for the long run.

The crazy big takeaway that I have from these new dietary changes though? It’s that sugar is absolutely, without question, a drug. And that I was addicted to it. Giving up gluten was hard, but as it became trendier, more alternative options appeared and now I can eat pretty much anywhere with all of the gluten free options that are available in not just grocery stores but also in restaurants. Giving up sugar was completely different. I absolutely felt like an addict coming off of some kind of hard drug. I craved lucky charms, and sugary treats in a way that I had never craved food before. I went through withdrawals that made me a crazy person for at least two or three days. One night I couldn’t sleep because I was crying uncontrollably for no apparent reason. (Just ask my boyfriend who got to have a screaming fight with me in public because of it. He’ll tell you, it was bad.) I would attribute the craziness to having reached the notoriously hormonal third trimester of my pregnancy, except that it leveled out after about five days and I feel totally better now. I wholly believe that it was the sugar, or lack thereof.

If you’re still with me, either you’re oddly curious about my personal diet – or you are relating in some way. If the later’s the case, stay tuned tomorrow for some excellent tips on gluten free, sugar free snacks that I’ve been enjoying over the past several weeks.

I don’t really get on the everyone should avoid gluten bandwagon, it works for me but I think that’s because of some really specific stuff about my makeup. Sugar though? I believe it’s poison. You should stop eating it. Just try giving it up for a week. See how that makes you feel, I think you’ll be shocked to find that you were addicted. Then stick with it because you’ll be better for it. And really, if you make it through the withdrawals, you might as well stick with it!

DIY Reusable Cloth Cleaning Wipes

In my ever-growing desire to be more and more waste free, I have found an excellent reusable solution for yet another disposable that I thought I couldn’t live without. The disposable was: the clorox wipe. They are so extremely convenient and good at what they do! I used them all over the house to wipe up small messes. But then, I threw them away! Ugh. For a month or so, we’ve been trying out using reusable cloth wipes instead. And it turns out, they aren’t just as good – they’re even better!

the containerHere’s how it works; I’ve got a clear plastic container with a watertight seal. I really wanted something that it wasn’t gross to reach down into the bottom of. Clorox wipes that lost their little catcher to hold them up at the top were always a nuisance, and these cloth wipes wouldn’t work that way anyway, so I knew I’d need something I could put my hand in to the bottom of comfortably. We just had one of these around already, but I am making a set for my mom and found the same container at Walmart.

DIY Cloth Cleaning WipesIn the container, I fold up a bunch of squares of fabric that I’ve hemmed the edges of. I used an old painters cloth that I had laying around because I thought the durability would be nice when scrubbing the counters or sink. It’s turned out to be excellent fabric for the job, but if you peruse the rest of the blogosphere you’ll find people who use old t-shirts, cotton, and all kinds of other fabrics. The squares are cut to about 8 or 9 inches. It was important to me that the square be at least as big as my spread flat hand so when I’m wiping up sticky messes I don’t have to touch the sticky-ness. I used a serger to hem the edges of mine, but any kind of hem will do. If you do go with a regular zig-zag stitch on this kind of fabric, make sure it’s tight. These tended to fray a lot before I gave them a proper hem.

DIY Reusable Cleaning Wipes

With the wipes in the container, I add a small amount of a multi-surface cleaning concentrate. Right now I have Mrs. Meyers Clean Day in honeysuckle scent, but Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile soap would work, as would plain old white vinegar. It just takes a little, and then I add enough water to moisten all of the wipes and dilute the soap.

Now the wipes are ready to be used! They are especially nice because you can shake crumbs out in the sink and give them a rinse and keep going. Once you’re done with a wipe, just add it to your laundry pile. I wash mine along with my towels, but they could go in any load. As they come out of the wash, I’ve been stacking them in a little container. It turns out they are kind of nice to have on hand dry too! You can use them to dust, or wash windows, and for other stuff you might do with other kinds of cleaners. When the wet ones are all used up, I throw the stack of what’s clean in the plastic container and start over. You could also just put the clean ones right in the container and keep it going that way, adding water and surface cleaner as needed.

 

Do you have reusable cleaning wipes in your home? Any pro-tips? Are you dead set on clorox wipes? Would you give these a try?

 

#NWARKcares about National Friendship Day

I’m a part of a really great group of regional (Northwest Arkansas) bloggers who have banded together to use our voices to share causes that are important to us. This is our second year of #NWARKcares-ing and I’m so excited to be starting it off with this important day – National Friendship Day. I want to share four things that are true for me about friendship in your mid twenties. And let me know in the comments if these are/were true for you, or what other things are! Friendship is hard, we can all learn from each other to be better friends and to be better at making new friends!

14242496_10157366114810328_3854058971431095292_o

Four things about friendship in your mid-20’s:

  1. Your college friends become ‘old’ friends – the best kind of friends. Old friends have been around for awhile and you don’t have to worry that they’ll ditch the friendship anymore. No matter how far away you live, you can text them for advice – and visit them – and be grown ups together. Not just the grown ups you thought you were when you were 18,19, and 20 – but real ones with jobs and interesting lives and thoughts to share with each other. My newly old friends are my best friends because they’ve known me long enough that I know I can share anything with them and they’ll stick with me.
  2. You can stop being friends with people obligatorily. In your younger years you are friends with people to be nice. My mom used to ensure that I invited my whole class to parties and gave everyone in my class a valentine. You could have favorites, but you had to include everyone. It’s a good thing when you’re young to learn to get along with and appreciate everyone. But when you start to grow up, you can be choosier with the people you hang out with and that’s a good thing.
  3. Hanging out is harder. You aren’t in shared living space, on the same campus, or sharing similar schedules. You have to make an effort and plan things and connect with people on a regular basis with some amount of effort. It’s harder, but the friends are higher quality than those friends you had out of convenience.
  4. Meeting new friends is harder and more ‘specialized’. Seeking out potential friends means leaving your house, joining groups, spending time with strangers – and trying to find ones with similar interests.

Before I leave you with that sort of sweet and sour list of things about friendship in your mid-20’s, here’s some cool ways that I’ve made friends lately that you might try (at any age):

  • Join a meetup or two. There’s groups with all kinds of interests on meetup from professional groups to outdoor adventurers to weird swinger folks. Find something that you’re into and go to the next meetup that group’s having. You might end up on a bike ride with a bunch of geriatric (and very nice) people with killer quads – but you might also meet your next best friend!
  • Join a church. I’m a super atheist, but I’m also a member of the Unitarian Universalist church and have met my most like-minded friends there. Here’s a pretty awesome way to find out what religion your beliefs align with: Belief-O-Matic. (There’s also meetup groups for religious-ish interests.)
  • Volunteer doing something that you think is cool. Volunteering might sound cheesy, but it’s really a good way to get to know other people with similar interests and passions. You might end up standing in a parking lot and freezing your butt off while you try to corral hundreds of cyclists, but you’ll also meet a whole bunch of other people who think bikes are cool!

Betty the Foster Dog

Betty

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, then surely you’ve seen Betty, our first ever foster dog. She is a sweet, older pit mix who will dance if you ask her if she wants to go on a w-a-l-k (I can’t say it out loud unless we’re really going so we’ve started spelling it in conversation)  and sleep for hours by your side. If you’re looking for the companion of all companions, Betty’s your gal. She’s well trained, and kind to everyone she meets.

Betty is house trained, sits and stays on command, is easy to bathe, and won’t chew anything but food. If you have any questions about her behavior, just ask!

We think Betty is sweet, and the perfect dog for a student or older person – someone who might not have the time to exercise a younger dog but needs some love!

She will be at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market in her little vest on Saturday mornings until she gets adopted, so come meet her there or send me a note to arrange a meet and greet with her. You can also contact Fayetteville Animal Services with any questions about their adoption process.

Quick Guide to Eating Gluten Free in Fayetteville

guide

A friend recently asked where she could take a gluten free friend out to eat and have more options than a salad. I realized that I have learned a lot through trial and error that I should probably share with the world! I stick to a pretty strict gluten free diet, but I do not have Celiac disease – so many of these restaurants may not be suitable for someone who needs gluten free foods cooked in a dedicated gluten free environment. You decide what works for you, and here’s a list to get you started!

  1. Deluxe Burger has gluten free buns for their burgers. They’ll charge you a bit more for the substitute, but it’s so worth it to be able to go out and eat a delicious burger with the bun (like a “normal” person). General gluten free burger eating tips: If you are elsewhere and want a burger, it’s usually pretty easy to order one without a bun. They’ll usually serve it on a piece of lettuce or two and you can munch away with fork and knife. The greasier/cheaper the place, the harder it is to extricate the burger from the bun – so beware.
  2. The Arsaga’s on Church & Center that serves toast has a house made gluten free bread that’s phenomenal and can be subbed in on any of their amazing toast options for just .50 more!
  3. Arsaga’s at the Depot has a gluten free crepe that you can sub in to wrap up any of their delicious options (even their sweet crepe offerings). It’s their buckwheat crepe, which despite it’s name is actually wheat and gluten free.
  4. Eureka Pizza actually makes my favorite gluten free pizza. Their crust has honey in it to act as a binder and it’s just perfect. Plus, it’s pretty cheap – as far as a gluten free pizza goes!
  5. Woodstone Craft Pizza has a gluten free crust as well, and is a good option if you’re looking for something a little more upscale and unique. The crust is usually both rubbery and burned at the same time – but the toppings are so good that it’s worth trying anyway.
  6. Apple Blossom Brewing Co. has two excellent naturally gluten free options: cheese fries (of a few varieties) and a polenta dish with roasted vegetables.
  7. Khana Indian Grill‘s basmati plates are naturally gluten free. I have tried each one and love them all. The dish is served with naan, so you might ask to leave that out – or give it to someone else at your table (I might have tasted it once and discovered that it’s really, really good).
  8. Hammontree’s sometimes has gluten free bread available to sub in on any of their sandwiches. It isn’t on the menu, just ask.

I want to know what you know about eating gluten free in Fayetteville. I’m not eating out this month, but I’ll take all of your suggestions and seek them out in September!

be my accountabilibuddy

Help! I have three big health goals for August and I need your help holding me accountable. Well, you don’t really have to DO anything. I just believe that sharing your goals keeps you more accountable. I’ll check back in here at the end of August to let you all know how my goals were through the month, and that ought to be enough.

auggoals

Each of my goals are pretty health related, though not eating out is also a financial goal. I aim to do these things for the month of August in hopes that the actions will help me build better habits and be able to use moderation more in the coming months.

What kinds of goals do you have for yourself? Comment here with them and check back in at the end of the month. I can be your accountabilibuddy too, see?

#weboughtahouse and #committed to #teamfayetteville

If you already follow me on the insta, then you know that my boyfriend and I bought a house this month. We’ve been busy making all of the little changes that turn the house into home, and recovering from the stress that is housebuying turned homeownership. We’re super pleased not to be renters any more, and mostly, it’s been super fun.

house

Part of what’s so exciting about buying a house is the commitment. And I’m not just talking about the big deal that is buying a house with my boyfriend. I’m talking about committing to my community. I’m on #teamfayetteville in a whole new super hardcore way. I bought a little piece of the city that I’ve called home for all these years. We’re committing to living here, and caring about what happens here, and I think that’s super cool and super important. Don’t you?

What team are you on? Do you own your home? Did you feel like you were marrying your city when you bought a chunk of it like I did? Tell me about it in the comments!

 

Homegrown Music Festival Bound This Weekend

Homegrown Music Festival was basically made for me, well – not really – but it sure feels that way. It’s all about all of the things that I’m all about; cycling, sustainability, music, camping, etc. Every new detail that I see pop up about the festival is another super exciting moment of anticipation building for me! If you don’t have your tickets yet, now’s a good time to grab them and make your plans to head down to the Mulberry this weekend.

The coolest way to get there is to join Phat Tire’s Pedal to Homegrown. The ride leaves from their Fayetteville bike shop and arrives at the festival tomorrow. They’ll tote your gear for you while you ride your bike down. It’s pretty much the coolest reason to ride that I can think of. So get pumped, get signed up, get your bike prepped, and I’ll see you there!

Even if you can’t get on your bike and head that way early tomorrow morning, there’s lots to see and do all weekend. There’s the amazing main stage schedule:

13450241_300091906995753_1540642873211589871_n

The pickin’ stage schedule:
13631384_305953693076241_1586547407879660459_n

The diggin’ in schedule full of fun things to do:

13592343_306885532983057_9173486275891302430_n

And tons more that you can find info about on the website or facebook page for Homegrown.

The thing that I’m most excited about is experiencing a super sustainable festival with festival-goers who are down with sustainability and opportunities to do all of the usual festival activities in a sustainable way. There will be reusable mess kits for everyone, a dish washing station, mobile bicycles with recycling bins toted behind them, and I almost don’t want to tell you about this one because I want to win: a most sustainable campsite competition!

I know it’s a lot of cool, almost too much to handle – but I think you can manage. See you at Homegrown this weekend!