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?

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?

 

can you tell your life story in license plates

I’m fortunate enough to have been a bit of a hoarder as a kid. So, every time we moved out of state and thusly changed our license plates I held on to the old ones. Over winter break my parents and I spent hours going through big plastic tubs of toys, school work, and junk that I had kept for way too long. My mom wrote about the experience in more detail here. I got rid of the duplicate plates, and kept these four that tell the story of my life so very well! I’ve hung them in my new room and am loving the worldly vibe. Sometimes my focus gets so narrow, it helps to remind myself that there’s a whole world out there and that I’ve been in it and can again!

license plates

I’m going to be graduating and getting my teaching license in May, so there’s a lot of consideration as to where I’ll go with that opportunity to move anywhere. I’m probably going to stay in Fayetteville if I can, but I have to say, I hate to break the pattern that’s forming here. Don’t worry folks, California’s licensure is the least compatible with out of state teaching licenses.

Oh! I almost hit publish without including the story the plates tell! It’s long, and I never really understand when other people find it interesting, but it does explain a lot about who I am – so here it is.  I was born in Anaheim, CA and we moved around southern California a bit while my mom finished school. When I was four we moved to San Francisco and lived right in the city. Then, when I was eight, we moved to an intentional community in rural MO. This would be my first encounter with the Ozarks! We stayed for a year and moved back to San Francisco. Then, when I was 12, we moved to Eureka Springs, AR so I could go to Clear Spring School – a small private school that sent me on two trips a year all over the country. When I graduated High School I moved to Conway, AR to attend Hendrix College where I stayed for three years. Then, transferring to the University of Arkansas, I moved to Fayetteville. And here I’ve been for three and a half years! Long story short, at 24 years old I’ve now been in Arkansas for exactly half of my life. Does that make me an Arkansan?

my diy calendar

I made this calendar during my freshman year of college (a lot of years ago) and used it for a couple of years. It evolved a lot over that time, and I added some fresh numbers last week when I resurrected it from the zipper-bag it’s lived in since I stopped using it. Getting my first iPhone made the whole thing kind of obsolete, iCal was in my pocket so why bother with the wall? But now that there’s two of us in the household it’s super helpful to put things that are going on up somewhere for Brooke to be reminded of. It’s super nice to be able to see a full month at once even if that means half of the weeks are in one month and half are in the other and it’s all made by me so if I don’t like something I can just print or create a new number! What do you think? Is this the kind of calendar you would use? What’s your non-tech choice for keeping up with dates? How do you communicate what’s going on with your partner/family?

church of tarot: ten of wands

ten of wands

First, let me brag a bit. This is one of the most stunning cards that I made. I just love how it turned out. On to the meanings:

The Ten of Wands depicts a man oppressed by the weight of the ten wands that he is carrying. This is a card of many meanings. It can be oppression. It can also signify fortune, gain, or success. It is also a card of falsities or disguise.

Some questions to consider might be: Do you want to unburden yourself? Why don’t you ask for help? How can you best fulfill what you’ve taken on?

This one’s tricky, what did you guys get out of it?

see through postcards

I love a diy project that’s so quick and easy that I can skip pinning and go straight to crafting. These packing tape postcards took no time at all and were a lot of fun to make. The idea came from Angry Chicken, and I believe she found it in a book by Todd Oldham. So we can’t take credit, but we totally recommend giving it a try!

mail

I picked some flowers from our porch, pulled out little bits of paper and things that I’ve held on to for years because they are too cute or cool to get rid of, but had no purpose for. An old thesaurus with the same idea behind it and some string topped the project off.

mail

I made and mailed three, one has for sure reached it’s destination, so no troubles with the mailmen. (That blur was an address, it’s much cuter than this.)

mail
Brooke and I really like to color (yes, we are grown ups, no we don’t have kids) and this was a fun way to get our colored things off of the fridge and not throw them away! If you’re into coloring too, or you have kids, Mady By Joel is a really fun place to get printable coloring sheets and a super nifty blog too.

gallery wall – our living room

art

I’m so excited to be sharing this glimpse of our tiny apartment. I’ve lived here for about two years now, and it’s a constantly evolving space. Things changed a lot when Brooke moved in last year, and our styles blended. Above is one wall in our living room. I’ll do my best to curate, but if you have questions about anything I’ve left out, don’t hesitate to ask! Today we’re focusing in on our gallery wall. Pretty much everyone who comes into our home comments on how great it is, so we figured our readers would appreciate it too!

Gallery walls are a heated topic for some. People love them and people hate them. But folks commenting on apartment therapy can get riled up about just about anything. A good gallery wall grows, but not from any specific point. I think ours started with the duck print, though it’s hard to remember as I’m constantly moving the art around in our home.

art1) Photograph of Brooke playing softball, we like having personal photographs as conversation starters.
2) Photograph of brooke’s softball team, again a fun conversation starter and a keepsake.
3) A big bot poster from a NWA roller derby bout, never be afraid to steal a poster from a community bullitan board or nearby telephone pole! but be cool, and wait until the event is over.
4) Ink and acrylic, over a pencil drawing that was a final project for an art class I took at Hendrix College. This big piece helps to draw everything together and fill the large space.
5) Charcoal portrait of Lil Wayne, Brooke recieved this as a gift from a close friend of ours. Don’t be afraid to ask someone you know to make you something if you aren’t able to yourself!
6) Series of three photographs from Brooke’s High School graduation, again a keepsake and conversation starter.
7) Evil eye, a gift from a friend who had traveled to Germany. We have recieved many of these from friends traveling and the metal above this one makes it my favorite. They are said to ward off bad energy, if your into that kind of stuff. I just think it’s beautiful.
8) Nameplate from my family’s Datsun B210. This and the evil eye add texture to the display.
9) Photograph of my mom, Brooke, and I. Again, we really like to mix in personal photographs which can be too much on their own, but are fun with art all around.
10) A handmade mixed media card from a friend. (The same friend who gave us the evil eye, she’s pretty cool.) Don’t be afraid to frame things that aren’t made to hang on the wall!
11) Sketch by Brooke, don’t be shy about displaying your own art. Everyone’s an artist in their own right and people will appreciate your work even if it isn’t as detailed as Brooke’s amazing little sketch is. I once framed a doodle of a robot on notebook paper!
12) Original screenprint by our friend of #7 and #10. One day we’ll have the money and walls to justify framing our larger pieces, but until now they are thumbtacked – which we kind of love.
13) A torn sheet from a magazine on that Brooke mailed me once because she knew that I really like owls. Again, frame the unframable – it’s fun!
14) Photograph of Brooke’s niece, a keepsake and conversation starter. Family is important, show folks that you know it!

church of tarot: strength

I’ve been having a lot of fun doing these mini collective virtual readings. I suppose I ought to put it out there that I am not a professional anything and I am just reading for fun. I am also a beginner at tarot and have to look up just about every card before I explain it. So while I myself get a lot out of contemplating each card and it’s meaning in my life, and hope you do the same, if you are ever in need of real help please reach out to more capable hands to whom I am happy to reference you.

strengthStrength, another of the major arcana, depicts a woman dressed in white, the symbol of the pure-hearted and evolved part of you, lovingly approaching a wild beast, the beastial or unevolved part of you. Strength suggests what it takes to embrace yourself fully. Owning up to one’s immature qualities doesn’t have to mean letting them run wild, it can mean that the mature part of you guides it.

Some questions you might consider: Might a roaring lion be lying wait within you? What feelings are you trying to shut down? Where are you being called upon to walk your talk?

This is one of my favorite cards, what do you guys think?

church of tarot: emperor

emperorThe Emperor card represents: stability, power, aid, protection, a great person, conviction, and reason.

Some questions to consider in relation to this card might be: Who has overpowered you? Why are you putting reason aside? Have you been too analytical in your thinking?

What does this mean to you right now? Let us know it the comments and we’ll share too!