A Morning Dog Walk (with Beer)

As I was walking my dog yesterday I noticed three empty beer bottles and their cardboard carrying box in the gutter by the high school. I guess the litterbugs only had time to finish half the six pack before they were interrupted from their suburban hoodlum activity.

Empty Beer Bottles on the Road
The remnants of suburban hoodlum activity

Upon seeing this garbage in the road I realized I was faced with three choices:

  1. Ignore it and leave the trash in the road, an uncaring witness to the destruction of my neighborhood and my planet.
  2. Pick up the bottles and carrying case and dispose of them in the trashcan at the park, which would be good for my neighborhood, but bad for the planet as glass bottles take approximately one million years to decompose.
  3. Pick up the bottles and carrying case, bring them home and recycle the bottles, therefore being a good local and global citizen.) Plus the recycling center gives 5 cents a bottle – cha-ching!)

So even though Earth Day is over, because I am a good human, I chose option #3.

Now, I never leave the house without a couple of poop bags, but I did not have a garbage bag with me so I was forced to carry the bottles in the cardboard carrying case. Convenient, yes, but it does not, perhaps, reflect the classy image I try so hard to project.

Then a little further down the road I happened upon another empty beer bottle from a presumably different suburban hoodlum (as it was a different brand of beer), so I stuck that in the carrying case as well.

And then, thanks to Jen, who likes her caramel macchiatos venti-sized, I saw an empty Starbucks cup in the gutter a little further down. (I’m sure you make your mother proud with your inability to find a trash can, Jen.)

So, if you happened to drive by and tsk-tsk at the suburban mom walking down the street at 7AM with a brindle-colored dog carrying 4 empties (and a Starbucks cup!), get over your damn self, Judgy McJudgerson. I was saving the earth!

 

Photo credit: Here

 

Whole Foods has Arrived in Oxnard (Huzzah!)

Whole Foods Oxnard held a Friends and Family event last Monday to celebrate the store’s Grand Opening on Wednesday, June 19th. There was going to be food and entertainment so I was extremely excited to be invited to the event for an opportunity to write a sponsored post. (Have I ever mentioned that I like to eat?)

Whole-Foods-Oxnard
Beautiful!

I was especially happy to participate in this opportunity because I try very hard to eat healthfully and feed my family healthy foods. Now don’t get me wrong, I love and adore junk food because it’s delicious, but I rarely eat it.  And since Chandler’s friends don’t like to come over because we never have junk food in the house and many of my friends tell me I eat healthier than anyone they know (I doubt it), I guess I’m doing a pretty good job.

So last Monday night my friend Kim and I headed out to Oxnard to check the new Whole Foods Market out. My first thought when I walked into the store was, “Wow! This place is gorgeous.” As someone who likes to grocery shop (like, for reals) I really appreciated not only the store’s incredible selection, but the beautiful aesthetics.

I knew there was going to be appetizers, but when we were told there was going to be wine and beer tasting as well, my next thought was, “This is hands down the BEST market grand opening ever in the history of market grand openings!” (Not that I’ve ever been to a market grand opening. But I could tell.)

Kim and I headed off to find some free grub and booze food and wine samples when we ran into a blogger friend of hers who asked Kim if I was her mother. And since I am only five years older than Kim I didn’t just want to taste some wine, I needed to up end an entire bottle down my throat.

(I will admit that I don’t think she really looked at me when she said that, and when she did was completely mortified. But still. Really?! I guess it could have been worse – she could have said, “Kim, is this your mom? When is her baby due?”)

I forgave the faux paus (mostly) and went on to have a fabulous time.

I could get into a lot of trouble in a store like this. Everything I tasted was nothing short of excellent. There was sushi, vegan salads, salmon burgers, barbecued beef sliders, taquitos, samosas, flatbread pizza, cheese (like crazy good cheese), and the wine and beer tasting that I mentioned. Didn’t I tell you – best store grand opening EVER!

Whole-Foods-Food-and-wine
In my head I took a lot more pictures of the amazing food and wine, but apparently in reality – not so much!

Kim and I were lucky enough to talk to the store’s designer and she explained to us the store was designed with the local environment in mind so the interior reflects the agricultural significance and beach culture of Oxnard and Ventura. Because it is right off the 101 Freeway many of the design elements were inspired by travel to and exploration of the beach and Channel Islands.

The store really is gorgeous, but I’m not going to lie – the most amazing and unique feature about the market is the fact that it has an old Air Stream trailer that was converted into a bar. That’s right – Whole Foods Oxnard has a bar! (Forget best market grand opening ever – how about just best market ever!)

Whole-Foods-Bar-Rincon
Pretend the picture of me and Kim isn’t blurry, that I’m sucking my stomach in instead of poking it out, and that the photo of me isn’t crappy. (Please!)

Bar Rincon, located at the front of the store, serves wine, a rotating selection of over 24 craft beers – many of them local, and an extensive food menu. Kim and I hightailed it up to the bar and chatted up the cute sales rep from Figueroa Mountain Brewing company pouring samples of Hoppy Poppy IPA. The beer was excellent. We also tasted some Hitching Post “Hometown” Pinot Noir (made famous in the movie Sideways). Like the cheese I had previously inhaled – crazy good! It was about this time I was very bummed that I had volunteered to drive.

Whole-Foods-Rincon-Bar
Good times at the Bar Rincon

We were given a tour of the store and here are some of the features I really loved:

  • They will be selling seasonal and locally sourced produce from my favorite local organic farm, McGrath Family Farms. (Yes, I have a favorite farm. Doesn’t everybody?)
  • There is a large selection of organic and sulfite-free wines, some starting at $2.49 per bottle and over 100 varieties under $10. (If there’s one thing I love it’s a bargain! Bargain wine most of all.)
  • There is a beer aisle with 72 feet of chilled beer with an impressive assortment of local craft beers, domestic favorites and unique imports. (I wonder how often Alex, the cute beer sales rep hangs out here.)
  • Their meat department has a full line of locally sourced, 100% grass-fed beef, chicken and turkey. I love this because the more I read about what’s in my food’s food, the less I want to eat it. (Ignorance may be bliss, but in this case it’s not very healthy.)
  • Whole Foods does not sell items with High Fructose Corn Syrup. Not a single one!
  • Bar Rincon has free WiFi. (I think I’m moving in!)
Low-Priced-Wine
Yes, there are plenty of bargains at Whole Foods!
Craft-beers
72 feet of chilled beer – yes please!

I also found out that as part of its commitment to supporting local causes in the community in which it works, Whole Foods Market stores, nationwide, hold Community Support Days several times a year and donate five percent of that day’s net sales to a local nonprofit or educational organization. This Wednesday, June 26th, Whole Foods Oxnard will be holding a Community Support Day. Five percent of net sales from the Whole Foods Market Oxnard store will go to  an organization called House Farm Workers! that helps provide safe, decent and affordable housing for farm workers. (So this Wednesday would be a really good day to shop there!)

A market that sells healthy food, supports its community, and has a bar (with free WiFi) – Whole Foods Oxnard is definitely the kind of market made just for me!

Whole-Foods-Oxnard
This is my kind of store!

Disclaimer: While this is a sponsored post for Whole Foods Market Oxnard, all opinions expressed are solely my own.

Five Ways to Make Every Day Earth Day

5 Ways to Make Every Day Earth Day

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Yeah, yeah. We know, we know. (You DO know don’t you?) But if you are looking for some REAL ways to go green and make sure that every day is EARTH DAY then you’ve come to the right place. (I’m like a regular public service announcement!)

Earth-Day

Use Less Plastic

Sure, we all use reusable shopping bags when we do our grocery shopping. (Oh, please, please tell me you use reusable shopping bags. Every time. Or at least almost every time.) But there are other ways to use plastic less.

Reusable-shopping-bags
Your shopping cart should always look like this!

How about marinating your meat in a glass or metal bowl instead of putting it in a Ziploc bag? And don’t tell me it won’t fit in your fridge that way. If it will fit in my fridge it will fit in your fridge. Trust me.

chicken-marinade

inside-refridgerator
My fridge over-floweth

And instead of using plastic lunch bags for chips re-use plastic salsa or humus containers. Or at the very least have your kids bring home their plastic sandwich bags so they can re-use them for non-gooey things like pretzels or dried fruit. Chandler does it. Sadly, Marley does not. Sigh…

And I beg of you, above all else, please use re-usable water bottles instead of throw-away plastic ones. Sure, you recycle the bottles, but recycling plastic water bottles puts a crazy amount of toxins in our air. And if you think it’s healthier you would be wrong. Your tap water is heavily regulated. The water in plastic water bottles? Not so much. That’s right – that “spring water” you’re paying crazy money for (likely more than you pay for gas) can come out of a well down the road from the water bottle factory for all you know. Is washing out water bottles every night a pain in the butt? You bet. But so is brushing your teeth before bed every night and you do that don’t you?

reusable-water-bottles

Use Less Paper

A couple of years ago we started using cloth napkins every day. I love it. Most of my napkins are from my grandmother so they are totally retro. I’ve also found quite a few cute ones at yard sales. I keep them in a basket on a shelf in my kitchen near the table and have a basket next to it for dirty napkins. We usually use one napkin per day each (we hang it on the back of our chair when we’re done with a meal) and I wash them on Sunday and fold them as I sit on the den floor so I can stay awake while I’m watching Game of Thrones -or whatever awesome 9:00 Sunday night show is on- because I am old and tend to fall asleep while watching TV.

cloth-napkins
Napkin station
retro-vintge-cloth-napkins
I love my cool retro napkins!

I have to admit, even though we were using cloth napkins, up until recently I was still a paper towel whore. Spilled milk – get a paper towel. Clean the stove-top, get a paper towel. Eating breakfast on the way to work – wrap it in a paper towel. But a few months ago I cut up my 19-year-old wedding towels and turned them into rags. (I’m pretty sure that’s not a metaphor for the state of my marriage!) I store the rags under the kitchen sink and toss them in the basket with the dirty napkins after I use them. (I will admit that I do sometimes have to soak them in Oxi Clean to get them clean enough, because they can get a little bit greasy and gross.) I will also tell you that if you plan on cutting up some old towels you might want to sew the edges because the edges really fray a lot. But I’m way too lazy to do anything like that.

under-kitchen-sink
For bonus points notice my environmentally-friendly cleaning products

Pick Up Litter

Yeah, you heard me. I walk my dog every day and every day I see trash in the street of my lovely suburban neighborhood. When I see it in the gutter all I can think about is it washing into the ocean and polluting our poor fish (who I might end up eating for dinner one day). So I bring a trash bag with me (yes, a plastic one – shut up!) and pick up the trash. If I find bottles or cans it’s a bonus because I get money back. My kids are semi-mortified by this and call my trash bag my hobo bag, and I’ve sometimes felt a little embarrassed walking around with sidewalk trash – but what’s more embarrassing – picking up trash or passively walking by and letting it pollute our planet?

You didn’t really want a photo of my gutter trash did you?

Plant Drought Resistant Plants

We have a little succulent garden in the front of our house. One day I envision our yard completely desert-scaped. If you want to know the truth, as much as I love my succulents, I don’t really love the entire desert-scape front yard look, but I realize the importance. We have a finite amount of water on this planet and if I’m going to waste it, I want it to be in a too-long hot shower and not on my lawn.

drought-resistant-garden

Hang Dry Your Laundry

When I hang our laundry outside Dave calls it hillbillying up the yard. No, it doesn’t look very classy. But it saves energy and it keeps clothes looking nicer longer. Some of Dave’s tee shirts in the photos below are from the 90’s. (Yes, we’re clothes hoarders people!) I wash our clothes in cold on the delicate cycle, put them in the dryer on low for 10 minutes to get out the major wrinkles and then hang them dry. Labor intensive? Yes. But totally worth it. Disclaimer: I only do this for my and Dave’s clothes. I don’t do it for the kids’ clothes, towels and sheets, or for our socks and underwear (I wash those separately). So don’t get all crazy and think you could never hang dry all your clothes – I’m not saying all of them. But would two loads a week kill you?

hang-dry-laundry
Hillbilly back yard

So there you have it. Five ways to make every day Earth Day. I’d love to hear how you are living green.

Why Small Business Saturday Is Better than Black Friday

Forget about Black Friday (please)! It’s all about Small Business Saturday. What is Small Business Saturday? It’s a brilliant marketing campaign by American Express encouraging people to shop local.

And while it is a marketing campaign, I really do like and agree with the message of it – let’s spend our money in our own town and with the small businesses that support it. Instead of heading off to Target or Walmart or Macy’s, why not look around your city at the little shops owned by locals and see what wonderful and unique things they have to offer?

Another great way to support small businesses is to shop online. It’s not quite the same thing as shopping local, but it is a great way to support a small-sized business with unique products and not pour even more money into mass merchandisers.

Here are a couple of small businesses I love that offer their products online:

Tomboy Vintage

I’ve already written about my friend Jeanne’s awesome new tee shirt company Tomboy Vintage. Her shirts are adorable and perfect for the tomboy in your life. She has six different styles for women and two styles for little girls. The only problem is picking out just one. (So go ahead and buy two or three!)

Here I am (as requested by Kim) in Jeanne’s latest design. (Is it me or is this picture really big?)

Tomboy Girl Power Tee Shirt
Girl Power!

Please note if you do buy a Tomboy Vintage tee shirt that they are sized for juniors and run a bit small – you may want to order a size up. (I usually wear a medium and am wearing a size large.)

Betty Belts

Betty Belts is another great company owned by a really cool woman named Donna von Hoesslin. I met Donna when I wrote this article about her for skirt.com. Talk about an incredibly interesting person – Donna went surfing for the first time at age 31 and it literally changed her life. So much so that the California native, who was living in Berlin, ended up moving back to California so she could surf all the time.

Donna is not only passionate about the environment, but about the people on our planet and treating them fairly. Donna creates environmentally friendly jewelry – her sea glass jewelry is her most popular- and has her jewelry made in Bali by artisans who are paid a fair, living wage.

sea-glass-necklaces
Sea glass necklaces designed and photographed by Donna von Hoesslin

Donna’s store, Betty Belts, is located in the Main Street area of Ventura, CA, but you can also buy her products online. In addition to the sea glass jewelry Donna also sells really cute earrings made from the leftover resin from making surfboards, silver jewelry, and super-cute belts.

surfboard resin earrings and necklace
Surfboard Resin Earrings and Necklace photographed by David Pu’u

Why buy costume jewelry made in China when you can buy something truly unique designed by a cool chick and made by a Balinese artisan who was paid a fair, living wage?

So that’s my Small Business Saturday plug. This holiday season why not shop small? (It’s so good for the soul!)

BTW – I was not compensated in any way for this post. These are just two really great companies (that happened to be owned by two amazing women) with fantastic products.

What small businesses do you plan on shopping at this holiday season?

Recycle Me Please

Let’s not even talk about the 948 mile drive here in an SUV (which actually got surprisingly good gas mileage on the highway.)  I’m plugging my ears and saying “La, la, la” in denial over that one.

But yesterday I threw away a milk carton for the first time in over 10 years.  I’ve been recycling for a long time – way before it became cool.  At home my recycling trash is bigger than my trash trash.  I wash those Styrofoam trays that meat comes in in the dishwasher and take them to school to be used to pour paint into so at least they’ll have a second use before sitting in the earth for 50 years.  I use the backs of my daughter’s spelling flash cards for my shopping lists and then put them in my purse instead of throwing them away at the market so I can put them in the recycle trash at home because God forbid that tiny piece of paper (which only takes 2 weeks to biodegrade, unless of course it’s thrown away inside a plastic bag, then it’s anyone’s guess) gets thrown into the regular trash!    When I walk my dog every morning I actually pick up trash.  Not just bottles and cans that will get my kids 5 cents at the recycling center (I mean c’mon, you’d bend over and pick up a nickel wouldn’t you?), but actual trash in the gutter because I know it’s going to wash away into the ocean.  In a word; I’m kind of a freak.

At home I use a detergent for my dishwasher that is phosphate free because we are killing our oceans.  Okay, I have to admit that it doesn’t get my dishes quite as clean as the leading brand that most people use, but I’ve been using it so long I hardly notice any more.  (Don’t worry those of you who eat at my house, I scrub away all the yucky stuff before putting my dishes in the dishwasher – trust me, my dishes are clean.)  But here, at the timeshare, I use that leading brand (it was supplied by the timeshare), don’t scrub my dishes, put in the pots and pans that I usually wash by hand to save space in the dishwasher and not run it as often, and okay I admit it, ran the dishwasher when it was 75% full instead of completely stuffed.  At least I remembered to bring my Simple Green for cleaning the counters.

Last night my husband held up a red wine bottle and said, “I hate to do it, but I’m have to throw this away.”  “I know,” I said.  But the thought of that glass bottle sitting in landfill for a million years sent me over the edge.  I dug the milk carton (biodegration time:  forever – even longer than the wine bottle) and a tin can (biodegration time:  100 years) out of the garbage (both already rinsed out out of habit) and placed them next to the trash can under the sink.  I’m calling the front desk today to see if recycling is an option.  We are in Colorado after all.  Isn’t this place even more hippie-granola than California?  And if they say no?  Well, we are carting our soda cans and beer bottles back to California to claim our redemption fee.  Maybe there will have to be a place for milk bottles and tin cans (and flattened out cereal boxes) too…

*This post originally appeared on skirt.com on August 19, 2008. I have archived it here after learning that skirt will be shutting down the blogging portion of its site on November 30, 2013.