Thursday, November 4, 2010

Weeks 24 & 25 Of the Grand Experiment!!

Well you're just gonna have to wait on the Starbucks thing. The research is a bit round-robin at the moment.
Instead, just in time for your holiday shopping needs, I bring you:


Yes kiddos, it's closing in on the winter holidays and I thought, "Hey, how about I share some of my Etsy shopping knowledge with all my blog peeps!". It's taken me years to weed out some of the coolest eco and green sellers on Etsy, but now it can take YOU mere seconds! LOL!

Plus there is the added bonus of knowing that the money you spend on your holiday shopping is going DIRECTLY to the crafter / artist!!
Not to the CEO of some huge company who has absolutely nothing to do with the making of the item you're buying.
PLUS, you also know who made the item. Not a giant machine, or conveyor belt assemblage system, and NOT some starving 6 year old forced to work for pennies a month.

How cool am I?!?!? LOL!

So let's get started ya? Each of the pics I'm posting here will link directly to the shop of the maker so you can pop right in and look around. Happy shopping!!

Some of these things are organic and totally new, some are made from recycled materials...

....some are reusable, replacing the evil disposable items in your home.......

....some are vegan...............

........some have a message.................

...............but all these items will help to save the planet in some way AND improve your life!

See how much I love you guys! for the eating / buying thing. Buying handmade or used, as you can see, is no biggie now. I even have a couple of trade sites up (one on facebook the other a ning site) to REALLY boost the 'out of the crap stream' idea! Again I say..."Barter and trade = awesome!"
But the eating thing...well local is getting harder as the weather changes. We've found a few sources for items that are local and have been 'put up' for the winter months. (Canned, jarred or dried.) So that'll help. But this is definately the more difficult part of this experiment. I'm baking my own bread now, and we have a TON of dried hot peppers from our own garden, and the City Market is stocking up on local items like eggs and cheeses. Turkey and chicken are easy to get from local even! But MAN am I glad I gave up red meat! Farm raised beef is HUGELY expensive around here! Sausage is pretty cheap and easy though...pork AND turkey. The big thing is going to be the fresh veggies and fruits. We SHOULD be able to get apples, pears, potatoes, carrots and other root veg for a while yet. So that'll help. OH! We kind of cheated a bit too. When we were up north this fall, we picked up pure maple syrup and some Maine jams. Well they were local at the time!!! LOL!
Anyhow. That's the score this time.
Hopefully I'll make some headway on the Starbucks thing soon.
Keep tuning in folks!
('s the barter sites)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weeks 20 - 23...and A REALLY Cool New Swap Site!

So....During the weeks I have been 'away', here's a few observations I need to post.
1) Acadia National Park in Maine is breathtaking and awesome. If you ever have the chance to hike, bike, walk or wander there...GO! For the love of all that's amazing GO!
2) far as I can tell, all of it, is unbelieveably eco. Recycling bins everywhere, tea and coffee houses that compost their tea bags and coffee grounds, travel cups and reusable bags as far as the eye can see,.....LOVE it! If it wasn't so riculously freaking COLD for so LONG every year I could see living there. But it is so....
3) There are states, and Maine is one, where local is assumed. If you ask "is your seafood local".....well they look at you like you just popped out an extra head. Of course it is. Even diners use cage free or local eggs. Weird. GREAT, but weird.
4) ..........I really hate the cold. for more recent news....
I am an agent of chaos, as many of you are aware, but I recently got an UGLY wake up call. (No this really doesn't have to do with my normal blog at this point, but I think I need to get it out.) Normally I am a firm believer in the 'change is good' philosophy, but this past weekend I found that seriously tested.
I went back to some of my old stomping grounds in the DC Metro area.
Some (MD Renn Faire) were still as wonderful and as much home to me as ever. Others...well let's just say I am dealing with the shock.
Murphy's old home away from home, still has amazing food and real Irish music...but now it's become a VERY strange thing. A hangout for the frat set. It was packed, which of course is good, but it was a really different crowd. Took about an hour for me to adjust to that. But I suppose anything that packs the house and allows a great pub to prosper is positive. I suppose.
But what has happened to Crystal City Underground is appalling. Crushing. All uniqueness is utterly gone. Now it just looks like every other mall. It's just underground. Geppi's is gone. The cafe' is gone. There is now a Dunkin Doughnuts, a Hallmark Store, a Starbucks and a food court. A food court. I know, to most of you, this may sound like random rambling complaining...but to a few who get it. This was a huge chunk of my life. I worked at Geppi's, ate at the cafe' and bought papers and magazines at the little newsstand. It was a Morlock tunnel and all the people who worked there were odd and a bit crazy. It was special.

Now it's just another mall. I'm STILL processing this one. Change is still good. Even necessary...but now I understand how it can be painful. In ways I never imagined before.
Thank you universe. I guess I needed the lesson.

As for the usual fare of this challenge...I have to say I LOVE getting things at the MD Ren Faire. I picked up some badly needed items there and each thing was bought directly from the maker. Soaps and lotions from Blessed Scents, AWESOME pottery items from Dancing Pig Pottery and Tessem Stoneware and a TON of bulk herbs and spices from Her Majesty's Herbes (I THINK that's the shop name...I just always go to the same spot. :)). I'm slowly getting rid of all the mass produced herbs and spices in my cabinet. I just have to pick up a few more lockable bottles. That is something I highly recommend. Bulk herbs bought from a reputable source tend to be fresher and you can be more sure of organic content, GMOs and the like. for the cool new site! Many of you already know I'm a barter freak. I have a FB Barter site and a Ning Site for open barter. I trade often on and after this year long experiment is done I plan on spending some quality blog time on the barter and trade 'industry' that is rising. me when I say this swap site is cool!
They also have a facebook thingy to like...
Aaaaand a twitter of course!

Seriously....I can't WAIT for all the trading!!! :) week(ish) I will be back with my research on Starbucks. Are they as eco / free trade as they say? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cool bags for all the eco shopping you're gonna do!


That wierd little 'NULL' up there, is the link for THIS. DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(You KNOW ya wanna!)
Copied via The Alternate Consumer One of my new favourite sites!
September 21, 2010 search
Ecozuri Forget Me Not – a Tired and True Review + Great Green Giveaway
by Maureen @ 2:29 pm 17 comments »

Tired of looking like a shlump with mismatched reusable bags in the grocery store? Looking for stylish bags that can also carry books, dry cleaning or miscellaneous items while traveling? Then Ecozuri is for you!

We were given a complimentary FORGET ME NOT set, which we love; and now we’re giving away an Ecozuri FORGET ME NOT SET of chic, compact and versatile totes + accessories.

Zuri means “good and beautiful” in Swahili, a language spoken in East Africa – Ecozuri bags are aptly named — they’re eco smart, hip and stylish.

You’ll love the colors, feel and design of these lightweight, washable and foldable bags. The bags are made from 100% rPET (recycled plastic bottles) that are certified collected and processed in the USA. Each of the six bags included in the set holds up to 50 pounds.

Used individually, one easily slides into your pocket or attaches to your keychain. Used as a set of 3 or 6 – it’s perfect for guys, women or your entire family.

Forget Me Not comes with 2 pouches. Each pouch contains 3 bags in an array of handsome hues — orange, green and blue; gold, green and brown. There’s a caribiner on the outside pouch that conveniently attaches to your purse, messenger bag, backpack or carryall. If you’re famous for leaving your reusable bags in the car, there are 2 Forget Me Not reminders that you can velcro to the steering wheel:)

Prize Value: $38.95 + free shipping to anywhere in the USA or Canada. A socially responsible company, Ecozuri contributes 10% of their online retail sales to support schools in rural Africa through and

Here’s how to enter:

then answer this question by posting a comment here — What interests you most about Ecozuri’s site and products?
receive extra entries by posting the giveaway to your facebook, twitter or blogs, or become a fan of ecozuri or alternative consumer on facebook. Leave a comment & link for each one on this post. Tweet once per day if you like, just include a link and comment to let us know, @altCon.
be sure to add m at to your address book so that if you win, your email program will accept our Winner’s Notification.
Enter before Thursday, September 30, 2010; 11:59pm, EST.
As always, we will never share your email or any other info with anyone.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Experiment weeks 16, 17, 18 & 19

Yeah....I know....I'm a total blog slacker.
It's been hard to kickstart my brain lately. But here I am, with another exciting installment of "Things America Doesn't Want Me To Do"!! Yes ladies and gents, this country is NOT set up for this experiment. The amount of research and 'ducking and dodging' I've had to do is, frankly, staggaring!!
The container garden has had it's ups and downs based on the screwy weather around here, but that was nature. And when it comes to nature I expect pretty much anything. (Being PREPARED for it is another thing altogether. LOL!) far as the buying local / recycled / handmade thing has gone.....
Well let's just say the multitude of other factors has been daunting. The grape thing, the Monsanto thing(spits on ground), and the CRAPTON of intervening crafting factors! OY! Where did you buy your supplies?
Is your cotton organic? Is your coffee fair trade? How do you keep your chickens? Did aliens supply your pesticides?...Everyone who wonders why it REALLY takes me so long between postings, now you know. I'm doing more studying and research than I did in my ENTIRE school life!

In any are some of my more recent lessons and observations.

As some of you may recall I gave up red meat as my new year's resolution. 50/50 health and ethical reasons. My intention was to eat more fish (an ethics minefield by the way) and poultry. I picked up a few pieces of reading material on fish and poultry to determine what I should be eating and where it comes from and all that.
Yet again I am driven to say "HOLY CRAP!".
Check this out:
It's an extremely useful sit on fish you should avoid and fish you can eat with both a clear concience and no fear of toxins or heavy metals. (Oh yes, these are legitimate concerns!)
Honestly the entire site is very cool. Click on a fish on the list and a little side bar comes up describing WHY it's on the current no no list.
So once I found the lists, things got a bit easier. Some of my fishy faves were on there so I was forced out of my foodie comfort zone......EVERYONE should have to do this at least once! I discovered some amazing new flavours and textures for my cooking! It became a game of trying to always get something different, and while there are some things I now KNOW I don't like, there are now new things I know I DO.
So...that takes care of the piscean aspect of my experiment. The list changes by season and depending on who's being a baaaad fisherman that month, so keep checking in on it.

Now....poultry. Ok, I have to admit I'm STILL doing research on this one. There are sooooo many different things to look into! I've made a little checklist for myself, and I have to admit I've only found ONE company that even comes close to covering it. Here's the list. Cage free; grain or wild fed; no anti-biotics, growth hormones etc; cruelty free. (Honestly, as far as EGGS go, I really do buy only local. I'm lucky enough to have a few really amazing and VERY eco farms close by.)

Free range vs Cage free : Believe it or not, if a company / farm has a little door in their massively overcrowded cages that leads to a little dirt run, they can add a "Free range" label to their poultry?!?!?! UGH!
Organic: MINEFIELD!!!!! Are they FED organically? Are THEY organic? What kinds of things are being fed to them/ injected into them??
Cruelty Free: Seriously, this shouldn't even be an issue by now.....but it is. There are still some VERY unsavoury practices being employed by the big factory farms. (For those of you that don't know, 'beak trimming' is still all the rage. Factory workers either cut or burn away the majority of each bird's beak so that they don't peck each other in their cramped quarters and damage the meat. Having that big opening where a beak was leads to infections, breathing problems and all MANNER of nastiness. Thus the 'need' for MONDO antibiotics.)
And then there's this one....
Feeding: Are the birds being allowed to graze on foods they would NORMALLY eat? Are they lovingly grain fed? Are they at LEAST being allowed to remain vegitarian?!?! Non-cannibalistic??? (Yes cats and kittens, our food is being fed...well...itself, very often. Chickens raised on the flesh of other chickens. Can zombie chickens be far off?)
So I'm mostly eating farm raised turkey. Shadybrook Farms to be precise. A local farm is now selling their chickens for consumption as well as their eggs....but I KNOW those birds, so it's a bit hard to eat them.
Man...I don't WANNA be a vegitarian! :(
Anyone who wants my now AWESOME recipies for turkey meatballs or sweet turkey chili, lemme know! LOL!

Now as for the material aspect of this little excersize in self's going a bit better. I still have the occasional slip, and e-bay can be as dangerous as Wally World, but I'm getting MUCH better at spotting the professional sellers. Etsy is back on my buy list for supplies as most of the yarn there is either hand spun, hand dyed or recycled. I'm also re-opening my own old shop soon! So watch for that! (I'm broke folks! LOL)
The steampunk thing is actualy easier than ANY genre I've ever been involved with as it's still mostly thrift shopped, hand made and cobbled together items. Even the 'High Victorian' really pretty clothes are made by someONE rather than some company! LOVE IT!
The Barter site is going well (JOIN NOW!!! ) and I'm drawing more and more folks into the idea of trading the things you have but don't want for the things someone ELSE has that THEY don't want! LOL!
Skills for things, crafts for's thunderdome in there!
So....before the porn spam comes....lemme know what y'all think so far. I'm about halfway through this and I'm curious. Are there things YOU would like to see me address? What research have YOU done?? I LOVE hearing from you guys!
Chime in!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Experiment Weeks 13, 14 and 15.

So I hope someone is actually reading this, besides the asian porn folks. LOL!

Today is harvest day!!!
And I think we've done pretty well considering the blazing heat and lack of rain this year. I have to say, you can water with a hose, sprinkler or sistern bucket all ya like...but apparently nothing beats good ol rain water!
There were a few casualties of course. The licorice bush looks like a tumbleweed and I think the bush basil may have caught fire at some point. (kidding, but still)
But all in all a pretty good first harvest.
PLENTY of tomatoes! From the little vine guys to the bigger patio guys, about 20 so far. The purple heirlooms are a bit slower to grow, but there's a few greenies on there as well. The poblanos, cayanne and Thai hots have gone crazy producing and we even have about half a dozen healthy looking cukes!
I think I figured out the problem with the squash and such from last year as well. Apparently, if a blossom reaches a certain age without being pollinated, it simply drops off.
I thought we had vicious ninja bugs.
The next project for me, while I wait for the next round to ripen, is to sprout some garlic and ginger.
The best time to plant both, from what I've been able to look up, is late summer.
Apparently they winter over really well and THAT'S when you'll get the best growth. Especially from the ginger which is a rhizome. (For this zone anyway.) Then watch the greens throughout the spring and early summer. For the garlic, as soon as the greens go brown, dig 'em up and voila! Garlic!......I hope.
The ginger is about the same, but I want to find out if the greens are edible, like lemon grass. They sure SMELL edible.....

Nothing really new on the local non-food thing. I'm kind of laying low and doing the garden / art / craft thing till it cools off some. I AM working on re painting a couple small cabinets in the steampunk vein. Perhaps to trade when I'm done....hmm....
I'll post some pics when the first one is finished.
My one purchase for me this month was a pack of 'Imp's Ears' from Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs. Those folks make the best scents EVER! And now I have a new fave. I've been wearing their Galvanic Goggles for over a year now and I JUST discovered Dee. I'm in love! LOL! A bit of a masculine scent, reminiscent of old leather chairs, dusty tomes and incense. Sharpish. I got a few others, so I'll let you all know as I work through them which ones are supurb. :)

As for the local food front....holy cow! It's been DREADFULLY hot and dry, but the local farms are producing some of the most flavourful fruits and veggies I've ever eaten! Local NJ corn, already famous for being the sweetest in the country, is AMAZING! And I've been getting blackberries as long as my thumb and about an inch and a half around! SUPER sweet too!
I have to say, if you all get the chance, go out and grab up some local produce this summer! You will NOT regret it!
I'll probably come back and post more later this week.
(I'll have to come clean out the porn links anyway! LOL!)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Experiment: Weeks 10, 11 and 12.....It's Gonna Be a Long One!

Hello folks. It's been a very long and terribly introspective few weeks for our heroine! Therefore, I think y'all should buckle in. It's BOUND to be a few. :P
But let's start off with what you're used to. The garden report and news of the GIANT party and yard give here at casa Lavery.

So far so good with the garden!
I've had to move a few things into an area with some shade....what we have of it. There was some serious scorching happening on even some of the tough guys and it had me worried there for a bit, but between a little common sense (very little) and the NPR "You Bet Your Garden" guy, I had an ah ha moment. The shower setting on the hose is GREAT for early spring when the sun is NOT trying to kill everything, or cloudy days, but on bright, hot scorcher days the water droplets on the plant leaves is simply magnifying the sun! Like when you go swimming and then try to tan you're way more likely to burn. (Um....not that tanning is something my pale booty is really all that familiar with LOL!) I try to water ONLY at the base of my guys during the day and use the shower setting only on cloudy days or early evening. It seems to be doing the trick too. We've got actual produce coming in! WOOHOO! So far it looks to be a BUMPER crop of hot peppers, tomatoes and cukes, with the sweet peppers zooming in close behind. The herbs took a bit of a beating from the sun, but are bouncing back nicely and my pink Hydrangea experiment has worked, the blossoms are purple this year! (More acidic soil!)
As for the local buying, as predicted once the growing season really kicked off it became SO much easier! The New Hope Farmer's Market is really booming now, and if you're local here you REALLY should check it out. (I even bought little Gracie a teddy made from the very first shearings of local baby alpaca. ♥ ♥ ♥ ) This has been a great year for everything but lettuces. It got too hot, too fast for them sadly. But I think local corn is going to be amazing! I know I shouldn't be eating it....but all things in moderation right?

The party and yard give were a smash hit, I think. It looked to be around 85 to 100 people and everyone seemed to have a blast! No huge dramas, no breakage and people brought so much food for the pot luck that we STILL have food in the fridge! Thanks to all who came and had fun, and DOUBLE thanks to those who shared their culinary skills with us all!!! The kiddie pool came in handy as it was yet another HOT day, the fire bowl was drummed around, there were impromptu swordfights, singing and a cute puppy and cute baby being passed around. Folks even brought homemade alchohol! Nom nom! As for the yard give, we set up a HUGE table absolutely covered with things that needed new homes and when we broke down (at about 3:30 am) the only things left were some random stuffed animals in need of a home...hint hint.

Now....the weird random things that I've been pondering....
Firstly, all of this has been making me think a lot about what we NEED versus what we want, versus what we're being told we need. (Watch a documentary called Broke and see what it does to YOUR head!)
The yard give was a big thing for me. As many of you know, I have some problems letting go of things. Especially things I think I may need some day down the road. I like to be prepared for anything. (thus the back pack instead of a purse for most of my life.) It's sort of who I am. But by the same's sort of begun to overdefine me. I don't know if that makes sense, but I hate to think I'm being described somewhere as "Gypsy, you know, the one with the big bag full of crap." LOL!
Hmmm....tangent....anyhow, taking a look around our teeeeeeeny apartment and taking stock has really made me do a lot of thinking....and purging...and cleaning...
However, as I am loathe to add to landfill situations, I am forced to think of alternative purging methods.
The yard give was such a success that we're planning another, this is true. But I want to be more proactive. (As we're NOT planning another big gathering for a while....for sanity's sake.)I have the barter page on FB, and it seems to be doing very well, so I started a second site OFF FB to try to reach a wider audience. Meh. It's slow to grow, as they say. With both sites active and running though, I'm planning on taking some pics of all the cool stuff I need to further purge and perhaps try to trade for things I NEED. Yarn, a drying rack for clothes....things like that.
I'm also trying to save up for the gutted Winnie. I think that would end up being the perfect project for me. It would excersise all the crafty skills I have AND make me learn a bunch of new ones. The end result would be a freedom of sorts as well.I've been in one place for far too long. ;)
So the crux of my rather disjointed entry is this. Take a look around you. Weed out the unused, unloved and un-necessary in your life and you won't believe the breathing room you can achieve! It's almost like losing a huge amount of weight.

OK....last thing. I think I've figured out the problem with research. Medical, tech, scientific, whatever. Human beings are short lived and far too proprietary. Long ago the practice of choosing an apprentice was commonplace, and quite necessary. Many leaps forward were made as the result of an apprentice continuing the work of his/ her mentor. Someone who was there to observe the process from the beginning, or near enough. That way, when one's mentor died, the information that had been accrued up to then was already in the head ogf the apprentice. There was no need to waste time re-learning from notations the progress that had already been made, so precious time was never lost.
I really think humanity has become so engrossed in "I want my name on it" that 'it' never happenes. We live longer lives now than ever in recorded history, this is true....but not long enough to finish a project that takes generations to complete. The time lost in reviewing the notes of one's predecessor and trying to figure out where they were going next is so vast, in the scheme of progress, that it becomes a case of one step forward, two steps back. This is simply my opinion of course, and I'm just me, but it's something to think about.

I SWEAR I'll write little enough next time to add pics. LOL!
(also, later this week I have a surprise! My first interview! Woohoo!)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Experiment: Weeks 8 & 9

The sun is shining and summer is here!.....and it's beating the TAR outta my poor plants!
I am beginning to dislike the sun intensely for what it's doing this year. 95degree days in May / June? And now today, high of 70.
My tomatoes are understandably confused.
However, that having been said, I believe this is the best garden year so far!
Over 40 pots and I even have FLOWERS! Y'all should know....I don't do well with flowers on the whole. At all really.
But as far as veggies go...well does anyone out there have a really good recepie for tomato based pasta sauce? One with lots of basil?
The cayannes are going to be strung and dried again, so those should last the winter no problem, but we need a great sauce recepie that can be frosen with no bad effects.
Any help would be GREAT! LOL!
So.....between my new job, Trader Joes and the prospect of lots of great veg from my containers, the local food thing is going swimmingly. The Trenton Farmers Market is also an AMAZING resource! Aside from the logal produce, there's a Polish butcher and an Amish bakery, even a cheese monger! It's like a little time machine in there. There's even a little bodega where you can get Mexican sodas with REAL sugar in them!
Hooray! Thank you for the eye opener Mary.
I also HIGHLY recommend y'all go to the Trader Joes site and check out their food policies. Most things with the TJ label are made in the USA, and if something isn't it's CLEARLY labelled, and ALL their products are non-gmo and natural. We like them. :)
As for the other half of the experiment, I'm doing OK. Ups and downs, strikes and gutters, as the Dude says. I've gotten some GORGEOUS summer skirts from my friend Deb who has MAD tye-dye skills, (Yes tye dye, no I haven't gone hippie....they're just really cool!!!) and have been pretty good about not shopping big chains. My recent purchases have all been from ebay, or hand makers.
I DID have to go to Home Depot last night for pots, but I used a gift card and the pots are for food plants so I think it balances out.
Also, our big yearly party is coming up and we plan to have a table by the porch covered with all the things we want to find new homes for. We are going with the 'yard-give'. We don't want cash for it, just take it home! This way our treasured toys and decorations that just don't fit into this tiny apartment won't end up in a dump somewhere making the planet pissed, but with good people who will love them like we have.
Sappy I know, but I like to think my gargoyles will be happy.
I'm doing some more thinking about the supper club too. I'll have to see who would be interested before I really go to town, but it's still floating around in my head.

OH! By the way....we have defeated both the ants and the aphids this year! Thanks to all of you with the great advice! Looks like the Brussles Sprouts are going to flourish!
Sadly, as usual, I've chattered on too much for pics....maybe next time....

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Experimet: Weeks 6 &7

Ok...that was no fun. Verizon has managed to completely upset my schedule AND my life! LOL!
I had no idea I was so attached to my phone and interwebz! Two weeks with both of them gone was just about all I could bear tho. Oy.
So here I am with 2 weeks worth of info. I'll try to keep it short and at least a little bit coherent.

Week 6 :
I did some research into Target, Wally world (wallmart) and Kmart. So far as I can tell, Target is the lesser of 3 evils as far as this whole plan of mine goes. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bailing. I just needed to know that when I HAD to get new jeans I wasn't REALLY messing up...just kind of messing up.
I found out that Target has not only the best work ethics, (not even gonna DISCUSS Wallyworld) but they also have a fairly new policy concerning unsold clothing. (AND some of their housewares as well.) Unsold items that have been discontinued by the chain are gathered up per store and donated to local charities. Goodwill being the most prevolent. Kmart has no written policy, and have yet to answer my inquiries, and tho Wallyworld is trying to portray itself with a new, greener image, their business practices continue to be abysmal and they also have no stated policy regarding their unsold items.
(I have it on good info tho, that as recently as last year they were still simply discarding any unsold items.)

The food aspect of this experiment is becoming a lot easier as the growing season progresses. I am hoping to find some folks who can or otherwise preserve local produce and are willing to either sell or barter once the season ends. I'm pretty good with the freezing thing, but many things do NOT keep well frozen and our little tiny freezer can't hold a full winter's worth of food, so an outside source would be awesome.
We're not alone with the gardening this year either. There are SEVERAL of our friends with either container or yard gardens going strong already! Our veggies are doing so well so far I may need more pots soon to divide them if any of y'all have a couple big pots you could donate to the cause....LOL!
On a related note, I think I'll start up a supper club. I read about one in Green Living and it really seems like a great way to both save money and try some new dishes. As it is, there's a core group of us that love to gather for dinner and drinks, so I think we could do well with a supper club. Like a book club, but pot luck!
Each week at a different house, and each week the menu rotates. One week I do the entree, the next I do dessert etc. We could even limit ourselves to local wines and still have a great range to pick from! Beers too!

Week 7 :
This past weekend I decided to check out an old fave. A Trader Joe's opened up on route 1 near our 'local' Whole Foods. I haven't been since I left VA, but I remembered how wonderfully green it had been, so I made my poor hubby take me so I could do some research....and the week's shopping.
It was a bit of a toss up.
Sure enough, it was just as awesome and green as I remembered. Almost everything in there was either organic or at LEAST all natural. (SO not the same thing, but I'll get into that another time.) And being a big steampunk geek (also another time) I LOVE the pseudo Victorian styling to all the TJ brand products. Very fun. But sadly it seems TJ's has been forced to learn what I am also learning.
Far too much of our own (USA) organic produce is either being shipped oversaes, or used here by big industry. (See my Welches rant)
Almost all of the fresh produce there was from overseas. Holland actually.
Slightly more confusing than Chile...
Am I going to be forced to alter my experiment? Widen my range from 'within a day or so by truck' to 'North America'??
That would NOT make me happy. I WILL continue to fight this.
Wish me luck.
OH...hopefully soon I'll be able to post an interview with a local charity to let you all know who donates food and who does not. Might be an eye opener....
See you soon!
(Now that I have my interwebz bzck!)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Experiment: Week 5

Sorry about being a day late this week, but conditions in my little world have become significantly more....complicated.
I am, as you may have heard, back in the workplace. Yay!!! This is a VERY good thing. Howerver....that having been said...this job is far more complex than any I have had in the last, oh 10 years or so. LOL!
You'd all be so proud of me though! I now work at a litle LOCAL shop called the City Market (half deli, half grocery,) that prides itself on it's local produce (one of the supplying farms is only 4 miles away), organics and locally prepared foods! (Their Cajun Chicken breast is amazing!)
They offer a vegan / Vegitarian / Omnivore menu, and the owners are very active in our communtiy itself.
Every saturday in a month the have something else going on to bring the local community together. Game nights, open mic nights and live music lend the place a really cool local feel, and between the market and the cafe down the block ( Cafe Galleria owned by the same great folks) there is HUGE support for the local art community!
So all in all, the new job fits right in! (Money in the bank is a big help too of course.)
Now all I have to do is get faster and get down all I'm expected to accomplish in a day. Yet again I find myself learning more about food than I ever thought possible.

Now the bad news....I had to break my rules for the new job. It came up so suddenly that I had to scramble for clothes....and I had to buy 2 new pair of jeans from Target. (Waiting patiently for the castigation LOL!)
But they WERE off the last chance clearance rack, so I feel I may have at least kept them from some landfill somewhere.
....I suppose I should look into what happens to Target's stock when no one buys it. Hmmm....more research! (strapping on goggles and pith helmet)
Off I go!
(Once again, apologies for the lack of pics, but I will try to post shots of my route to work next week.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Experiment: Week Four

Things are going pretty well so far, but this weekend was a blur. Between my friend's baby shower (congrats again to Bob and Jahzz!) and the local craft / fish fair I really did NO research whatsoever! LOL!
Sorry y'all.
And today being my first day back in the workforce since before Xmas....well I'm pretty much whupped.
HOWEVER, I did promis the Burpee folks I'd do my retraction this week so here it is : (YAY!)
Neither Burpee NOR their sister company The Cook's Garden sell GMO seeds!
(Insert appropriate celebratory noises here!)
Here is the e-mail I received from them.
(They were the ONLY seed company so far to answer my missives......)

Dear Ms. Lavery,

Thank you for your inquiry. Please be advised that neither Burpee nor
its sister company The Cook's Garden sell GMO seed.

The individual who contacted you, Kristin Grilli, handles public
relations for Burpee and its sister companies. Unfortunately, there is
some inaccurate information on the Internet where claims are made that
Burpee and The Cook's Garden sell GMO seed. Our formal statement, which
Ms. Grilli may have relayed to you, can be found below.

We would greatly appreciate it if you would print a retraction as you
suggested. We appreciate your concern and value your business. Please
don't hesitate to contact us if you have further questions.

Kind Regards,

Burpee Customer Service

So hooray! Big happy for those of us about to plant for the growing season!
Now....hopefully I'll be able to post more this week...but as I said...I AM WHUPPED!
So till next time,
Be well!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Experiment: Week Three

A good news week all around!
FIRST and foremost, I want to drop a happy bomb regarding last week's post. I was contacted by a member of the Burpee Family and alerted to the fact that neither they NOR their sister seed company "Cook's Garden" use GMO seeds! HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was a bit sad when I thought they did, as they have a really great selection of seeds, and are really easy to find in my area. I have sent them an e-mail, asking for verification one way or another that I could post here, as I can't just take the work of a random person that contacts me through this blog, but from all I read on the Burpee site, they are extremely proud of their lineage and pedigree as far as hybridised plants go and don't seem at all interested in GMOs. ALSO, they have no association with Monsanto or any of their products. (As far as their public site says....I'm really waiting for an e-mail from them to be sure.)

NOW...on to my really exciting news!

I did some serious research this past weekend as far as their produce goes and it sort of leaked over into the rest of the store. (I am thinking about doing an interview with someone high up there as well!)

When you first walk into the Whole Foods, you are smack dab in their produce section. And while it can be DAMNED overwhelming, it's a beautiful sight. ALL their produce is clearly labled with both origin and wether organic or not. Everyone knows this.
BUT...did you know that when you first walk in, if you look up there is a really cool chalkboard sign, divided in two that CLEARLY states the number of both organic AND LOCAL produce for that day?!?!?!
No kidding!
Any item with a BROWN border sign is local! (Their statement is "In our stores only produce that hastravelled no more than- and often much less than- seven hours by car or truck, from the farm to our facility can be labeled 'locally grown'.") On the day we went, the sign read 55 Local 127 Organic. (The majority of local as it's still early spring were apples, root veggies and mushrooms.)

They even have a little pamphlet in the store, readilly available, on "Locally Grown". It's actually a great read, but here's my favourite bit: "One of the most exciting aspects of eating local produce is anticipation. Products unique to your region are most likely only available for a limited time. The rest of the year, that product must come from somewhere else. Try to celebrate your own local flavours whenever possible! Take the oppourtunity to feast, freeze, can or dehydrate while a local product is abundant."
By the way, they also have a fantastic Fair Trade and Microcredit programs. More on those another time.

SO...I chatted with the gal in the produce section about grapes. (Yes, yes, back to the stupid grapes. They've sort of become the symbol for difficulty here!)
She told me that in a couple of months there will be fewer of the imported grapes and quite a few grown in the USA...even 2 or 3 LOCAL varieties!

Well you can imagine my joy!
She went on to tell me that the local thing isn't just in produce, but all over the store. I couldn't keep that one eyebrow down at this one.
Really? Like what?

WELL....cheese and all other dairy, meats, pastas, their bread is made on site, (tho I will have to ask about organic content and locality of ingredients later), cookies and crackers....pretty much every section of the store has at least 1 or 2 locally obtained products.
So I poked around the store, (Gods bless my patient hubby! LOL!) and sure enough!
Not only were there a TON of local products, they actually tended to be CHEAPER than the imports!!! CHEAPER PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This was a HUGE deal! I was a bit put off by the travel involved (20 minutes in a car to get to the nearest WF) and thus gas consumption, but the amount of food we can get there with NO GMOs, organic, local, affordable...we could, in theory cut our food shopping down to half.
There are still some things that we can ONLY get locally. Ground turkey ( natural ) is 2.99 at Giant and 6.99 from WF And we've found that our cats demand Fancy Feast. (brats) We DID get them onto the Feline Pine tho. BIG step for our girls! LOL!
So lots of happy there.
Check out their site!

Now, on to the house cleaning portion of our game.

For those of you attending our June party....this is important.
Not joking.
I'm going through 41 years of accumulated stuff and it's not good.
So we've decided to have a yard give.
It's like a yard sale, but no money. Just take it. Seriously.
Fabric, gargoyles, books, decor, old SCA crap. We'll have stuff outside on a table or something, and we want it all GONE before the end of the party. Anything left goes to Goodwill....but I think a lot of our stuff would creep out the Goodwill folks. Heh heh.
We went from a 2 bedroom house to a 2 ROOM apartment with NO CLOSETS.
There are times I can't find the bedroom!
Anyone who mixes oils...ALL my bulk fragrence oils gotta go! I need room for all the new projects, and I haven't mixed in about 3 years. So the scents and empty bottles, droppers, everything OUT!

(pant pant) fingers are cramping, so I'm out for now.
See you happy people next week for more madness!

PS....the photo uploader is behaving badly today...I'll add pics later. :D

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Experiment, Week Two

Well, two weeks and no one's dead. I swear, quitting smoking was easier than this.

The more I research, the more I dig, the more there is to research and dig! It's insane! I am POSITIVE everyone in the universe has written a paper, book, pamphlet, thesis or flyer on the subject of nutrition and all it's offshoots. I don't think I'll ever know for sure about any of this, but I'm more than willing to drag you all along as I try!

OK....first things first. Goodwill was pretty much a wash. There was a decent clothing selection, but housewares was a little scary. I think it gets picked through pretty thuroughly. I found ZERO items on my list. But, I wasn't just counting on that. I popped down to ye olde flea market this morning, (yay for living this close!) and found 3 items right away! A really nice glass baking dish, some magazine holders, and a cool new planter. I dug around and found some great steampunk items for my Hatter hat too...$1 each. Tres cool. So I actually have higher hopes as far as the purchase of items goes.......
This has never been the issue I suppose.......
Once again, however, food is a HUGE issue. Organic, local, non-gmo AND affordable are so not a package deal. In fact, they are more often than not completely seperate entities. Not even introduced. Gah.

(I'm going to start including some links in these posts, just to save others the pain and suffering! LOL!)

So...the soy issue. (Thank you Dria for yet ANOTHER thing for me to be nurotic about! LOL! MUAH!) I LOVE my tofu. And if ya want to make me really happy during amovie, give me a bowl of edamame in pods to pop and eat. Well now it seems this may not be the best idea. -sigh- Another thing my hubby was probably right about. He always told me soy was 'bad for guys', and I believed him on that. After all, soy raises estrogen levels. But for the same reasons I always thought it was GOOD for women. We NEED estrogen right?

Well there's normal estrogen, and toxic level estrogen.
WHAAAAAT!??!?!?! There is no way for me to keep up with all this!

So I did some research, and some digging.....and some more research, and some MORE digging. Guess what I found.


Soy is good; soy is bad; soy is DEADLY toxic for infants; soy causes cancer; soy cures heart disease; it's good for blood sugar issues; it's BAD for blood sugar issues; it's almost always geneticlly modified; it's rarely genetically modified.....and all this without going into the FACT that a HUGE number of people are allergic to it, but not in the usual 'swollen face, anaphalactic shock, kind of sneaky, thyroid issue, adrenal gland issue kind of ways.

So I'm no closer to an answer for myself than I was before.

Do I steer clear of soy altogether, just to be safe? (whimper)

Or do I continue to dig?

Well duh! I dig of course!

So this is yet another topic I will add to this project. (If you're keeping count, that's 4 now.)

As for the rest of y'all....well here's a start. Use the link Dria posted to last week's blog and check out the soy sitch on your own.

As for the GMO thing (genetically modified organisims), use this link to a really handy shopping guide. You can save it or print it...very printer friendly by the way, then use it to avoid GMOs if they freak you out.

They freak me out.

A lot.

(I'm anti franken-carrot)

And for all you gardeners out there who are freaked out by all the GMO seeds...below you will find a list of BAD (gmo using) seed companies, followed by a list of GOOD (no gmo) seed companies. Hope this helps.

As for food....well I guess I get to read more labels
.........................................and take more Advil.

(ALSO, very cool new label to keep an eye out for. This one on coffee. Besides 'shade grown' and 'organic' and 'free trade' now look for the 'safe for migratory birds' label. Yes folks, there IS one. This info is from my friend Braidy and the Smithsonian. So add it to the list! LOL!)

(This list has been compiled by some diligent mothering gardeners. If you have any corrections or additions post them here.)

* Territorial Seeds* Totally Tomato* Vermont Bean Seed Co.* Burpee* Cook's Garden* Johnny's Seeds* Earl May Seed* Gardens Alive* Lindenberg Seeds* Mountain Valley Seed* Park Seed* T&T Seeds* Tomato Growers Supply* Willhite Seed Co.* Nichol’s* Rupp* Osborne* Snow* Stokes* Jungs* R.H. Shumway* The Vermont Bean Seed Company* Seeds for the World* Seymour's Selected Seeds* HPS* Roots and Rhizomes* McClure and Zimmerman Quality Bulb Brokers* Spring Hill Nurseries* Breck's Bulbs* Audubon Workshop* Flower of the Month Club* Wayside Gardens* Park Bulbs* Park's Countryside Garden


I also want to share a list of Monsanto-free seed companies/labels-

Sand Hill Preservation CenterSeeds of ChangeSeed Saver's ExchangeRenee's GardenBaker Creek Seed Co.Peaceful Valley Farm SupplyAbundant Life SeedsUnderwood Garden SeedsBountiful GardensKitchen Garden SeedsHigh Mowing SeedsHeirloom Acres SeedsGarden City SeedsTomato FestMountain Rose HerbsSouthern ExposureAmishland SeedsTiny SeedsLocal HarvestHeirloom SeedsFedco Seed Co.Diane's Flower Seeds (she has veggies now, too)Wood Prairie FarmVictory SeedsWildseed FarmsHorizon Herbs

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Experiment: End Of Week One

Well things are going pretty smoothly, despite a few glitches here and there. (The grapes thing really threw me!) Now I feel I've got a better handle on things. But it really is amazing where our food comes from. The 'object' part is easy, I live at a flea market, and I'm taking a trip to Goodwill this Saturday to both offload AND pick up.

The food thing, however.......*shudder*
I live right up the road from a health food shop, a farmer's market AND a local gormet shop....and I STILL can't believe where food comes from!!!

I was at the health food grocery (NOT the 'big one') and picked up a jar of "Genovese Italian Pesto". Now you would THINK this was imported from Italy. Still not really on my list for food, but a pretty honest guess.

Not kidding.
Floored me. I go to the LOCAL farmer's market. I got som eggs from right up the street and not too pricy, some local goat cheese and a head of garlic from their farm. Then I asked THE question...
"So the grapes over there....where are they from?"
"Ya know, I'm not sure, lemme ask."
"Cool, thanks."
"______, where are our grapes from?"
"Hmmm, not sure. Someplace in South America."

.........really...........huh. Ok then.

SO.......the gist here is that, unless the 'BIG ONE' has grapes from at LEAST California....I get no grapes for a year. What that also means is, I have to really check where my jelly is coming from too.

This shit trickles down ya know.
Man......Ok, so no grapes. No big deal, really.......

But in the scheme of things ladies and gents, I would like you all to try a little experiment of your own. Walk through the produce of your LOCAL market, be it Farmer's or otherwise, and check the labels. How much FOOD do we actually grow here?
I understand the seasonal thing, I get that. But there are actually LOADS of fruits and veggies that are in season NOW. Why is my lettuce coming from South America?? I LIVE IN THE GARDEN STATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sorry. But this experiment is really opening my eyes in a way that no politician or documentary could. By living this way I have allowed the changes this country has undergone in the past few decades to really hit home.
Small farmers wiped out by factory farms with mutilated chickens and tortured cattle always seemed a horrible thing that I should be really upset about.

NOW it strikes me as a serious deterioration of this country's ability to sustain itself. Everyone is so worried about our ability to 'stand on our own' in the oil race.....

but we'll DIE without food.

And the stuff we're putting into our bodies looks less and less like food every year.

I fear the age of the nutrient pill!!

So to sum up.....
This year I see how well I can do this thing. I'll take notes and post all my steps year, I'm going to see If I can get anyone else to join me.
Cause this is really a bigger job than I can handle! LOL!
A good, eye opening first week......

I hope I don't end up a radical fruitcake.

Awww crap.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An Experiment in Responsibility

I'm a bit late in posting this, but those of you that know me, also know I'm late for everything! So since I plan on starting this experiment TOMORROW, I suppose I should post now.

This is going to be a rough one for little consumer me, but I feel I need to at least give it a shot...

As of April first I am beginning a year long experiment in planetary responsibility. I would LOVE to have an organic garden, but I've little space for more than the few veg and herbs I already grow. I would LOVE to move off the grid into an earthship home or at least an eco built home...but alas I suffer from rentersitis. SO many things out there I would love to do for a healthier planet and self....but this will have to suffice. (Along with biking everywhere I can of course!)

What I mean by planetary responsibility is this. I wish to remove myself from the consumer stream as much as is phisically possible. For one whole year, I will purchase nothing new that is not handmade / crafted etc. save for toiletries and underwear. (A girl's gotta have some wiggle room!)
THIS MEANS: if I find myself in need of a 'new' baking dish I will only purchase one from e-bay or the flea market OR a handmade stoneware piece bought DIRECTLY from the maker.
SADLY, as far as my friends and family are concerned, this means any gifts are likely to be handmade pieces. No electronics etc. unless I can trade for them.

To that end I have set up an AWESOME barter page on facebook called Bizarre Barters and Troubling Trades. I had no idea it would grow so quickly, but we already have over 250 members!!!

All kinds of items and services being offered as well! Soaps, baked goods, tarot readings, handmade jewelry, hand knit items, ren and steampunk garb, leather goods, repairs, musicians,'s actually pretty unreal! So between that, etsy for handmade goods and e-bay and the market for recycled and repurposed goods I think I can do this.

At the same time, I plan on cutting down on both the foods I eat from other countries and the amount of packaging I consider acceptable. Buying grains and cereals in bulk is something I have always done, but I hope to expand this to other bulk items.

And eating locally will be easy for the next several months as all the farmers' markets re-open for the season. After November I am SURE this will become more difficult.

SO....the plan is to add to this blog at LEAST once a week as my experiment progresses to make note of all the ups and downs for my own future reference and to entertain anyone else who may pop in.

I'm certain this will be fascinating to watch! LOL!

The first step is to retreive KA (my bike) from storage at my in-law's and set about giving her her yearly tun up MYSELF. Wish me luck!

For to weed my pots in preperation for the upcoming spring growth spurts. My artimesia is already popping!

Back next week!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Regrets....I've had a few....

So....I'm back. Unemployed and trying to figure out a way to make a living doing what I really love.

Many many moons ago, I did FX makeup. That was a kickass job...but I ran into one obstacle after another. No car, (or license) no studio, moved to NOWHERE, and eventually...this was the kicker, ran out of steam.

Not a ton of work out there for a female zombie freak with delusions of death and carnage. 2 apprenticeships handed over to men later, and I pretty much bailed. THIS is a huge regret.

In no other aspect of my life have I EVER taken that kind of crap. I was convinced that the field was closed to women and instead of calling bullshit and plowing on ahead....I folded like oragami.


My creativity was what saved me every time I 'fell' and I couldn't even muster the cajones to be true to it.

BIG regret.

So here I am, forty-something and broke. Pimping my art and creativity to anyone who will deign to buy it.

Selling art of any kind during a 'recession' is NOT recommended my friends.

Selling art that deals mostly in zombies, cyber-surgeons, wasteland scavengers....well let's just say I'm hunting retail work in the spring.

You have to be famous to sell people nightmares.

I'm not famous.