Monday, January 31, 2011

Catch Me At Elephant Journal!

Today my post was featured at Elephant Journal. Stop by, the more views I get (you can even "like" it), the better chance I have to become part of the "Popular Lately" section, keeping the issue I am passionate about in the spot light for longer. More eyes, more passion growing! I will admit, I am delighted just to be featured.

Click through here:


My Favorite Photos Of January

Month's end will bring a re-cap of my favorite photos, my version of the 365 Project.

My favorite photos from January:

As always a simple click on the photo will enlarge it, for better viewing!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Unplugging For The Day, Maybe A New Sunday Tradition?!?

My goal for today is to unplug for the day, not like a whole 24 hours, just until after bedtime. I'd like to think I can just close my laptop and not give it a second thought, but that's not very realistic. I know through out the day, I'll be glancing over to the spot where I keep it stored. I'm going to have to stash it out of sight to attain my goal!

The beauty of a Sunday is that I have the girls all to myself. We have no place to rush off to, just the day to spend together. Sometimes I feel really down on myself when I get distracted and just hop onto the computer for a minute...always turned much longer than a minute! Or I pick up my phone to take a photo, then just check Twitter, oh and there's a convenient beep letting me know I have a new email, swoosh gone are 20 minutes. Guilt comes creeping in.

I'm wondering what we shall do. Maybe...

Pancakes, some time on a trail before the cold weather blows in, reading books all snuggled up in the covers of my bed, pull out my knitting bin and start the teapot cosy I found a pattern for, make a nice meal to welcome J home from the X-Games, let the girls each chose something they would like to do, laugh a little, play a lot, a daytime bath which is always a welcomed surprise for the girls, finish my teapot painting, and maybe even sneak in a few chores with two of my best helpers.

Last but not least, contemplate the reality of this goal or embrace a new tradition?


Saturday, January 29, 2011

200 Hikes: Day 6, In Good Company

Today I had the best company on my hike, my girls. Lovely sunshine and even a few comments by fellow hikers on what a great job they were doing, far out on a trail. While I typically hike solo or with friends, I enjoy exposing them to one of my favorite outdoor activities.

On the way down, I wondered when we'd do our first 14'er* together?!? Joking, kind of.

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*14'er is commonly referred to a hike on a mountain that is at least 14,000 feet above sea level. Colorado is home to just over 50 14'ers. Wow!


Friday, January 28, 2011

200 Hikes: Day 5, Reminded By The Beauty

Today the trail reminded me of the beauty, the simple pleasure of being surrounded by nature untouched.


With that notion, there are no filters used for this photo, just the pure goodness.

Why My Heart Hurts For America....

Yesterday the decision came down from USDA Secretary Vilsack to deregulate the use of Roundup Ready, genetically modified alfalfa. The biggest argument for the decision you will find is that it's farmer's choice. They should have the choice to grow what they want. The reality is farmer's who have dedicated their life to feeding America, don't want to grow that crap. Farmers don't want to start spraying Round Up on plants before they even sprout from the ground. Now, they'll be forced into it. If they don't their crops will be over come by the GE Round Up ready seeds anyway, it's just a matter of time. Then once their crops are overcome, they'll be sued by Monsanto for using their patented seeds. Farmers are amazing and smart people, they aren't going to waste their time losing everything, they are just going to grow the GE crops. If you want more information, please read this post.

Organic farming, organic dairies, and the organic food industry were forever changed yesterday.

But here's my bigger problem, this is truly the reason why my heart hurts. Yesterday the United States Government made their ruling very clear to me, as they have on numerous occasions in the past. They have put the interests of Corporations over the will and wants of the citizens. Over 250,000 people contacted the USDA and President voicing their opinions against GE crops. I guess those voices fell on deaf ears.

Now, it shall come as no surprise to you that I typically lean Democratic in my voting, but I am registered an Independent. Today, at this very moment, I feel like I have no place to turn in the American Democratic system. Republicans have always been in favor of deregulating all industry, it was President Bush Sr that allowed the first genetically modified crops to be grown, with great pleasure. Obviously Obama has no courage to stand up to big Corporations either. Sigh, was it not just this week Obama boasted during the State of The Union, no earmarks for Corporations? Way to go, Mr. President!

Why I believe America is going to lose out...

The genetically modified crops we grow (which is currently at 89% for things like soy, corn, canola, soon to be alfalfa) CAN NOT be exported to countries that have banned GMO's. Which also means our meat and dairy products, that come from animals raised on genetically engineered feed, will no longer be exported as well. Food exportation is over a $40 Billion a year industry, China alone purchased $13 Billion in US exports in 2009.

To top my list, our health. Our friends at Monsanto were the creators of things like Agent Orange, Saccharin, DDT, and rbST (growth hormone for cows). Do we want such chemically toxic driven producers controlling our farms? When splices of things like antibiotics and chemical pesticides are put into the DNA of plants, when every cell of a plant is altered so it can no longer be called corn for example, but rather it has to be named as an insecticide, WE SHOULD BE SCARED.

Rise in food allergies? Why of course. Conventional crops are the least of our worries. Conventional farmers would spray crops as they saw fit, during the growing season. Now with the GE seeds, the rise in chemical spraying has greatly surpassed the typical need for pesticides in a growing cycle. Monsanto's GE seeds need spraying and more chemicals, early on. How convenient, they also sell the farmers the pesticides. It comes as no surprise to me our bodies are rejecting the foreign chemical laden plant products we are putting in it. We are designed to process meat and plants with ease. When the food we put into our bodies has been genetically altered, there's no telling what havoc it reeks on our bodies. The USDA tells us it's safe, but really who's going to be objective enough to tell us other wise. OBVIOUSLY, not the US Government, you know the one that puts chemical corporations over people. Yeah.

The last underlying fear I have, the loss of species. With the disappearance of independent seed companies, Monsanto has purchased over 12 suppliers of seeds in the past 7 years, so goes plant variety. Farmers pride themselves on saving seeds and the seeds are the heart of a family farm, being passed on from generation to generation. With Monsanto patented seeds, a farmer has to purchase new seeds from year to year. Will the day arrive when it becomes illegal to grow a garden in our own backyards because the seeds are NOT genetically engineered? Sounds crazy, but it is a possibility.

My advice, join a CSA (community supported agriculture), buy from farmer's markets. Kiss a local farmer that grows small non-GE crops. Buy organic for organic regulation does not allow for genetically engineered ingredients.

Help me take back America from big Corporations. Visit this website, Millions Against Monsanto and see how you can make a difference in your part of the country. I truly believe we can do it, for the future of our children, we must!



Thursday, January 27, 2011

200 Hikes: Day 4, Seizing A Free Moment


When I dropped my daughter off at school today, I had about 1 hour of free time. The sun was shining so intensely into my car during my drive across town, I had to take off my jacket and open the window. I decided to return to one of my favorite trails I've hiked since I was just a visitor in Boulder. 60 degrees, sunglasses on, no jacket, January 27th, Colorado you are too good to me.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pre-School Bentos! So Far A Success...

My 4yo started going to lunch bunch twice a week at preschool! She's sometimes a picky eater, literally. She likes to graze at meals over the course of an hour sometimes. She's been doing a great job eating in the time allotted at school. I am so proud of her!

Piggy Bento, brought back from Japan:

1/2 peanut butter and jelly (WITH crusts, who is this girl of mine?)
crackers with cream cheese
fresh fruit, melon, grapes, strawberry
Vege Booty

Panda Bento, purchased in Boulder:

Vegetable dumplings
Fresh fruit
Baby carrots and ranch
*Apparently dumplings are really great dipped in ranch dressing.




Tuesday Tips: Help Say NO to Genetically Engineered Alfalfa!!!

I'm about to attempt to explain in the simplest terms a very serious issue that is up for debate right now with the USDA. Before I get into the basics, I would like to state that there are many sources in which I am going to link to at the bottom of this article if you would like a more in depth explanation. I am in no way trying to dumb down this situation, but rather just make it a bit more digestible to those of us that don't want to read through pages and pages of articles.

Background:

Seven years ago Monsanto (infamous makers of Round Up and many genetically modified seeds, that will grow even with the presence of the toxic Round Up) petitioned the USDA to deregulate Alfalfa allowing it to be planted anywhere. U.S. Representative Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) on January 19, 2011 also requested that the USDA deregulate WITHOUT CONDITIONS genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa. Letter written by Lucas, Chambliss, and Roberts I wish I knew how much money Monsanto has put into the back pockets of those three. I'm sure the numbers would astound all of us.

So what's the problem with Genetically Engineering Crops?

For me, the first major problem I have is the Genetic Engineering of crops/seeds. Monsanto has perfected the art of genetic engineering. Genetically engineering seeds to resist pesticides goes against ever fiber of my being. My opinion is to grow crops in a way that do not need Round Up or pesticides produced by Monsanto, therefore eliminating the need for GE seeds.

A little back story on GE or GMO's. When Monsanto genetically engineers it's seeds, they in turn force farmers into contracts to grow exclusively with their patented seeds. Take for example soy, 95% of soy crops grown in the USA are grown with GE seeds. It has even been reported and well known that due to variety of weather conditions, seeds can cross pollinate and the GE crops can invade and change neighboring organic or non-GE crops. It may even be the case that Monsanto can sue you, the farmer, if your crops are invaded by cross pollination from their patented seeds. Yes, they can. For more in depth information on Monsanto Vs. US Farmers, this is a great read.

Organics are one way to guarantee that the foods you are consuming do not come from laboratory created seeds. To earn the organic label, beyond meeting pesticide regulations and growing conditions, the seeds must not be genetically modified.

Another depressing reality of GE seeds. The crops over time deplete the soil of nutrients. The earth can handle and subsist many types of crops and seeds. When GE seeds become the lay of the land, it turns into a mono-culture. Mono-culture is terrible for harvesting year after year and also create the potential threat of a bug or fungus wiping out an entire species of plant. Over the history of human agriculture over 7,000 species of plants have been grown. Today we rely on about 15 plant species. Scared yet? More information on biodiversity and the history of mass production.

GE affects on humans is unknown. While I would love to believe that GE crops have no impact on our health, I believe we just don't know yet. Rise in autism, rise in food allergies, well there's also a rise in genetically altered crops, is there a link? World Health Organization 20 questions about Genetically Modified Foods.

Specifically why am I worried about deregulating GE Alfalfa?

One of the most common things cows eat is Alfalfa. If there are side effects on our DNA or systems due to genetically modified seeds and those same crops are fed to cows, it will substantially affect the Organic Dairy industry. Plus, genetically modified crops can lend themselves to the potential outbreak of "super weeds" which surprisingly enough need more and heavier doses of toxic pesticides. Isn't that a win-win for Monsanto, they own the seeds, they make the chemicals, one crop needs more chemicals. Goodbye organics, with deregulation of where and how this GE Alfalfa can be planted, ultimately organic crops will be overcome by the GE crops, it's just a matter of time. We need to take a stand!

Name, zipcode and email are all it takes!

More reads:
How to Genetically Modify a Seed, Step by Step (very informative info about Monsanto)


Watch (ALL can be found streaming on Netflix):
The Future of Food: before Food Inc. It's truly eye opening!
King Corn: a documentary about the corn industry in the USA
Food Inc: a look inside America's corporate controlled food industry


Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Proud Parenting Moment, Brought To You By Scooby Doo!

Last week I was trying to get GL's attention and I was in my bedroom so she couldn't hear me calling her. I decided to use the intercom on our new cordless phones and boy did I get her attention fast! She was thrilled and couldn't wait for me to teach her how to use it. Then of course we spent the next twenty minutes talking to each other with her just the next room over.

At one point she busted out this quote over the intercom, "When dawn breaks on the summer solstice, the steeple will point the way". I was very impressed! I asked her where it came from and she told me, I don't know. I even googled it to see if it was from a famous poem that maybe was read to her at school. It didn't turn up any results. Then I began to consider that maybe it just came from her brilliant mind. Below is my update from Twitter, sharing with others my daughter's enlightening quote.


Fast forward to this morning. I am in the kitchen making french toast for breakfast. I turned to the sink and glanced in on the girls in the family room. They were watching Scooby Doo on Netflix, when I heard Velma say the exact famous quote in question. Oh my goodness, the brilliant quote from my daughter came from SCOOBY DOO! Oh life, you certain are full of surprises. Boy, do I feel silly especially paying all that money for preschool when clearly cartoons inspire brilliance.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Her First Big Girl Bento...

Today was the first day GL went to school for Lunch Bunch. My darling youngest girl has always been a slow eater, she likes to graze through out the morning on her breakfast and typically has part of her lunch in her lap en route to school. It's not because I didn't give her enough time, it's just because she takes her sweet time. After 4 years, a mother learns to just let her be, she'll eat on her terms.

I was a bit hesitant for her to eat lunch at school, so I warned her teachers she may just graze. I was okay with whatever she did eat, I knew if she didn't do a great job then I would just feed her a hefty snack after school.

When I arrived to pick her up, the first thing she did was came running to me with her lunch bag. She was so proud that she had eaten the entire contents of Panda! Everything, there wasn't a bite left. Her teacher even wrote me a note saying that I should send a bigger lunch next time.

Wow, that girl of mine, always full of delightful surprises!

Bento contained, vegetable dumplings, fruit (strawberries, grapes, melon), and some baby carrots with Ranch. Apparently dumplings are really, really good dipped in Ranch.


Twitter: In My Happy Place

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with a group of friends, some on Twitter and of course a few that well, just don't get it. Hey those are their words, not mine! I enjoy Twitter for a few reasons. One, it's easy, short and sweet. Two, it's a great resource for breaking news and exchange of so many ideas and wonderful information. Three, it's social and I adore the connections I make with people, from South Africa to Oklahoma.

Really the bottom line is, Twitter is my happy place.

Part of the conversation that came up was following and the dreaded unfollowing of people. Truth be told, I don't dread unfollowing someone if their conversation or broadcasting (people who just put out information and don't engage back) becomes irrelevant to me. Remember, Twitter is my happy place? I just keep that in mind when it seems like my Twitterstream isn't giving me what I want. Just a little tweaking here and there and voile, the balance always returns.

How I keep the balance on Twitter, aka why I unfollow:

If your Twitterstream is ONLY automatic updates from Four Square or a newly published blog post. I don't care how many times a day you check into Walmart on Confederate Blvd. Auto updates bore me, they are static, I prefer clarity.

Your updates are no longer relative to me. Say for example I followed a few businesses and travel related information before I went to London. Updates now that I am home make me long to be back and sad, so I unfollow.


Even though you seem like a nice person, your updates have homophobic or racist content. I'll add pea brained remarks to this list. Let's not forget if you quote Rush Limbaugh, not as a joke but because you listen to and like him.

See that photo, it says, "I know lots of colored people who are attachment style parents."

Oh yes it does. Unfollow.


If your updates are solely driven by brands and you want so desperately for any brand to like you, aka you're updates are "for sale". Unfollow.

Excessive television viewing updates, like 20 in one hour about a show. I don't need a play by play about the Bachelor. I don't go to Twitter as a television guide resource.

If you are only on Twitter for stuff. You only update giveaways, so you can get one more entry in a contest. You only show up for GNO's and update in all CAPS so you can win a can of Hormel Chili. I'll just let you know right now, I don't eat canned meat.

This is a hard one for me, but one I recently had to come to terms with. I may like you as a person, but if you participate in sponsored campaigns by companies I do not support or believe in I unfollow. Take for example the Iowa Corn Grower's Association Tour, where people were singing the praises of High Fructose Corn Syrup. I vehemently disagree. Yes, I judge you by who you take money from and what you try to sell me.

You consistently nag about brands on Twitter, so the company will engage you. I understand sometimes it's a last resort, but if it is habitual that bothers me. Be selective.

I don't like to focus on the negative, so here's what keeps me around Twitter.

Awesome exchange of information, blog posts that are thoughtfully written, new blogs I haven't read before, news articles, design ideas, school food reform, organics, new music, photos, forward thinking, and witty creative folks.

Updates from Lance Armstrong's alter ego, Juan Pelota.

People who like to converse. They respond to you, they engage. Even companies, take for example this week I was chatting up the people at a Kitchen Cabinet company. My former kitchen was full of this company's cabinets. Another stand out, Whole Foods Corporate out of Austin is awesome about engaging people.

Old friends from real life that are on Twitter, we all live in different places, it's nice to stay connected to them.

Local happenings. I can't get enough updates about what's going on in Colorado from friends and businesses about events in my neck of the woods. If you are on Twitter, seek out local resources!

When I travel, I like to connect in advance with people that live in that city, for local's tips. Turns out people are the best guidebook ever.

Comedy. Sometimes Twitter can be pure comedy with out following the obvious ones. Stay in tune with those hidden gems and retweet them on occasion, so I can start following them as well.

Foodies, I love following professional chefs and food bloggers. They are always full of fabulous ideas!

Just out of curiosity, is Twitter your happy place? Is it a business tool? Do you engage or just use it to consume information or broadcast?

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Dilemma, Decision Making, and Finally A Huge Weight Lifted...

Unexpectedly, this past month, I put my youngest daughter's name on a wait list for a new preschool. Now I wasn't unhappy with her current school, but there were a few things that were leaving me wanting more for her. I thought this new school would provide those things. The new school would be in walking distance to my home, would provide her with double the school experience that she currently has, and would be an easy transition because it's the same philosophy program.

Without giving it much thought, I added her name to the list not really thinking a spot would open up. Then one day, mid grocery shopping at Whole Foods, my cell phone rings. It's an administrator offering me a spot for GL at the new school. They ask you right then and there, do you want it or not? Wow, I couldn't believe it, I verbally accept the spot. I suppose we shouldn't have put her name on the wait list if we really didn't want the spot, so deciding right there on the phone does make sense to me.

Then I started to have all these reeling thoughts in my head.

GL would be going from 3 days a week to 5 days a week, from 2.5 hours to 3.5 hours, total of 7.5 hours to 17.5 hours a week. Unlike many mothers I know, I started to pull back from that notion of letting her go for so long each week. Honestly I enjoy my time with her, but value preschool. Just how much time away is a good balance? Back to reeling thoughts.

Then came my second dilemma, breaking up with the school we like.

Ugh. I knew I was going to be the wrong person to sit down with the Director, air my concerns (which were not overwhelmingly negative) and tell her we were pulling GL. The Director was very surprised by our conversation and immediately took actions to help improve our experience. My eyes filled with tears as I told her we were leaving (hello, red flag).

In came the guilt, was I doing the right thing? Really what was the right thing? I truly wasn't sure what to do at this point.

Here were some of my issues:

  • If I didn't take the spot at the new school, it would jeopardize our spot for her in the Fall. In that same vein, I didn't want to take the spot out of fear that we may not have a spot in the Fall. Fear is not a good motivator in my book, too many parents at this school are driven by that.

  • There was no guarantee that GL's transition at the new school, mid-year, with longer days would be a smooth one. What if she didn't like it and we had given up a spot at the school were she was content. That would suck.

  • Is she ready to go 5 days a week? I already mentioned I wasn't quite ready for that, if I thought she was 100% ready, I would not let my feelings take precedence. How do you know?

  • I had requested a visit to the classroom of the new school and was brushed off by the teacher. She thought it would be better to set up an appointment for an after school tour. Honestly, I wanted both. The teacher pushed for the latter and it really disappointed me. I wasn't looking for special attention, just simply a short observation for GL to see the classroom WITH classmates.

  • At her current school, GL was having some issues with her arrival transition. I was hoping to get her into lunch bunch, so she could socialize a bit more with classmates and ease that transition. The school obliged my request, even though lunch bunch is highly in demand. I truly appreciated the lengths they went to, to accommodate my concerns. It was a wonderful feeling that they cared so much.

  • I found out this week, GL's current teacher got emotional when she heard that she was leaving. They really do care deeply for the kids. There were no guarantees she'd have that same connection with her new teacher.

So after much talking through my issues with my husband, mom, and my girlfriends, we finally came to a decision. We decided to leave GL at her current school until the year's end. I have her on a list for Fall enrollment at the school that we just turned down a spot at. Worse case scenario? She won't get into the school in the Fall. Back up plan, keep her where she is next year.

Bonus?

After I talked to a central office administrator this morning, emailed the appropriate people, committed to staying at the current school, notified of us rescinding our spot, it felt like a huge weight was lifted. I still get my girl to myself 2 days a week, she gets to try out lunch at her school, and fingers crossed she'll be in Pre-K five days a week in the Fall. If things don't quite work out that way, I will come to terms with it. I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. I'll accept what comes our way.

Huge sigh of relief!!! Did I mention, I hate having to make big decisions...



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

200 Hikes: Day 3, I Simply Embrace It...

I was lying in bed, when I caught a glimpse of the blue sky through a small opening in the curtains. The house was quiet and I took a moment to gaze out the window. The first thing that came to my mind was the stillness of the trees. It's been incredibly windy lately, almost scary windy. I jumped out of bed wanting to seize the moment and go for a hike. I dropped Sj off at school and hit the trail for a short one before J had to get to work.

This morning I didn't see anyone on the trail and with the calm conditions the hike was very meditative for me, just how I like it.

When I hike alone, I fall naturally into a rhythmic pace. I found the trail still covered partially with ice and hard packed snow. Footprints and paw prints, walking sticks, and even crampons littered the trail with their impressions, frozen in time. A swirl of sound from the birds first delighted my ears, as I felt like I was listening in on a conversation between a group of good friends. Their tweets, squeaks, and whistles flowed back and forth as my feet moved up the trail. Another perk of a calm morning, tuning into the low layer of sounds that typically go unnoticed. Crunch, crunch go my boots as I make my way onto an icy patch. I consciously step back onto a dirty patch of earth, the sound of my presence is reduced dramatically.

At the top of the first climb the trail tapers off into a meadow and wider tree lined path. I glanced to the south and noticed the sunshine blanketing the crisp grasses and pine tree needles. Many times we often connect the sunshine as blanketing and warming the earth, but on a cold Winter morning it's more than a metaphor. I decide to head towards a boulder and take my snapshot of the day, once again directly into the sun through the trees.

I've become enamored by the fractalization of the sun's rays in my photos, on this lovely morning, I couldn't resist. Light streaming over me, I simply embrace it.

This photo, is just how it was captured by my iPhone.

While putting my watermark on the photo in Picnik, I couldn't help myself.

Until the next trail....



Monday, January 17, 2011

Tuesday Tips: Organizing a Small Coat Closet For Cheap

We lost about half the space of our coat closet in the move. Now granted, I am thrilled to have a coat closet, but honestly the downsize was a bit hard to swallow. I was browsing online for inspiration and found nothing but unrealistic closets. Really who has upwards of $500 to spend on a closet or better yet what fabulous things could you do with $500 other than put it in a closet? Granted I love seeing beautiful professionally organized spaces, but really my budget was slim, my space was even smaller, so I had to make due. Plus, I love the idea of reusing items that I already owned which is cost effective and eco-friendly!

I want to share a few easy tips on how to get the most real estate from a small space.

1. Always use an over the door hanger, they are so valuable. We currently use ours for seasonal items like mittens, scarves, ski goggles, oh and a clutch. Cost $7-$10, I like to find them at TJ Maxx or the like, I don't care what color they are for 1/2 the price of many other stores.

2. Sweater over the bar closet organizer. It's fabric. Everyone gets their own shelf for their shoes. I put the girls on the lower shelves so they can put them away and get ready easily. Top bin is for everyone's slippers. $10 TJ Maxx Home Goods.

3. Plastic bin at the bottom of the closet for random shoes, typically has grocery bags stacked on top ready to go when I'm gathering my coat, shoes, purse. It's a visual cue.

4. Bins for other hats on top shelf, baseball and sun hats that wouldn't typically fit into the over the door organizer. Always a place for my purse, out of sight.

I had the plastic bins in the home already, I would prefer wicker, I just don't have the proper size. Rather than spending more money, I just used what I had on hand. Total investment $17 on the door organizer and sweater organizer.


Here's an up close shot of the door organizer. I love all the pockets, the length of it so the girls can easily access their things. We also use them in the girls closets.

I just so happen to have a second closet to the right of this one that once housed our boiler and water heater, now I use it to store linens, my mail, and magazines. I was thinking if I didn't have the second closet this linen over the door organizer would be perfect for bills and office supplies, handy and ready to go!

Do you use them in your home and what do they store?

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disclaimer: all shoes, jackets, winter items, junk, and organization tools were purchased by me.

Reusable Mug at Starbucks? Huge Eco-UNfriendly FAIL...

Last weekend I went to do some furniture window shopping with a girlfriend and of course we had to run through the Starbucks drive through first. When I ordered (via the drive-thru) I told the oh so friendly Starbucks employee that I had brought my own cup. I typically don't have a reusable mug with me, but I just happened to be emptying the dishwasher before I walked out the door so I decided to bring it along.


This is where the comedy ensuing disaster began.

I pull up to the window, where I am greeted with, you brought your own mug? I handed it over. I then watched the Starbucks employee pour my chai into my reusable mug from a paper cup. Then the employee casually offers me the leftover chai that was remaining in the paper cup. I say sure, assuming he's just going to hand the almost empty paper cup over to me. He hands me my reusable mug, full of chai. When I look back, he has kindly poured the remaining left over chai into a small kid size cup for me with another plastic lid.

Here's the math, using ONE reusable mug brought to Starbucks:
1. Tall cup where drink was originally made (even though I told them I had my own cup).
2. A SECOND paper cup to put the leftover chai in.
3. My mug, which got dirty and used as well.

ONE chai, THREE cups. I'd call that an eco-UNfriendly experience. BOO Starbucks! On a side note, I probably should take the blame here because I thought I could easily use my reusable mug in the drive thru. The reality is I probably would've had better luck if I went inside, lesson learned. Ironically enough, I had to follow the mantra on my reusable mug, Keep Calm and Carry On.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Delurking Day: Hello, I Love You Won't You Tell Me Your Name?

It is common knowledge through out the blogosphere that comments are the currency in which bloggers are paid. Today has been deemed Delurking Day, which means it's the one day a year we kindly ask for a comment, as a lurker is someone who reads your writing but does not comment. Maybe you've never been here before, maybe you've stopped by occasionally and are surprised I'm still doing this, or maybe you skim through my writing in a reader or email. Today is the day I am asking you to click through and leave a comment... Would it help if I said pretty please???

I'm happy you stopped by, I'd love for you to say hello in the comments. Whatever you want to say, just go for it! The box is just right down there! Oh and in case you didn't know it, I appreciate you and thanks so much for reading Eat Play Love.

By the way, you don't need to log in to an account, just choose name/url from the drop down menu or anonymous. You can leave your name in the body of the comment! Easy enough!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Day In The Life... (of a non-celebrity working mother)

This morning a new installment of Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP newsletter came out, called A Day In The Life. Gywnnie offers a first hand glimpse into life as a working mother, as well as a peek into the lives of two other working mothers, one of which is her dear pal, Stella McCartney.

Now we can all imagine what life is like in the homes of multi-millionaire celebrities, but the extent to which Gwyneth exaggerates the hectic nature of her life as a working mother definitely had a strong flair for pure comedy. I have to admit, Gwyneth's writing for this particular post was a bit off (that's generous for the writing sucked) and with that I dismiss her ability to take Dooce down as top mommy blogger even though they are like BFF now that they met for 30 seconds in NYC.

Inspired by Gwyneth, I'd like to offer a glimpse into a day of my life, an unpaid working mother, full time caretaker of two girls, household manager of a family of four, with no support staff (deprived of: driver, nanny, personal assistant, housekeeper, chef, personal trainer, private yoga instructor, grocery delivery service, personal fish monger, and all other staff positions that I wouldn't have a clue about given I am not a multi-millionaire).

Tuesday 1-11-11

7:15am I rise from my comfy and warm Shabby Chic linen filled bed, to discover the house felt quite cold. Hmmm I thought to myself, that's rather odd. Immediately I traipsed three steps down the hall to the thermostat to discover the heat had been turned off. I wonder just for a brief moment if there is something wrong with our boiler, when I realize I asked my husband to turn the heat down a few degrees the night before. It was dark and he pushed a combination of buttons that turned the heat off for the night! I quickly remedied the situation and made a mental note to re-program our thermostat to fit our needs, as it was still set to the former owner's schedule.

7:18am Enter the kitchen, put on the kettle to make some tea. Survey the cupboard and cabinets for what in the world I am going to prepare for lunch for my seven year old. Realize I haven't blogged in a week on my bento blog, but know nothing cutesy is going down this morning. Make another mental note, to blog again someday about the amazing lunches I pack. Yawn as I entertain myself with such notions. Whip up a genius almond butter and jelly sandwich, sliced apple, and some Pirate's Booty on the side.

Enter the girls, who head straight for the television. I demand, no television. Time for breakfast and get dressed while you're at it! Pour water from kettle over instant oatmeal, stir, add milk and serve. Pour tea, take a sip while it's too hot! Ouch. Place a slice of bread in the toaster for my breakfast, I normally prefer two but I noticed we are running low. I consider that taking one for the team, also known as, I may have squeaked one additional day out from having to go grocery shopping.

Lunch packed, help daughter find clothes to wear to school. Apparently the laundry fairy didn't get my overtime memo and she left all the damn clothes in the laundry basket and didn't put them away in their proper dressers. Mental note, fire the laundry fairy. Oh how I entertain myself and wish I didn't hate putting away laundry. Find hat, gloves, boots, snow pants (brrr, it's a chilly one this morning), shoes in addition to boots for inside school, bundle up Sj. Check her backpack, discover her lunchbox from yesterday, inquire if it's a library day, seek out library book, replace with fresh lunch, water bottle in the side pocket. Gently nudge her out the door with my husband to walk her to school.

Open the laptop, sip my tea, check email, Facebook, and see what's happening in the world via my go to news source, Twitter. Let time pass faster than I imagine.

Move onto the days tasks, coax GL into eating more. Agree to a bowl of pretzels for her to snack on once she does a decent job on her oatmeal. Allow her to watch, ONE SHOW. Reiterate, one show and no Wii. Vacuum the area rugs, contemplate the last time I vacuumed and realize it was just yesterday. Empty the vacuum canister, as my area rug is a shedding beast that fills my vacuum every time I clean it. Sweep, empty the dishwasher. Sigh when I see the big pile of pots and pans sitting on the stovetop. Walk away from the reality of it all and check the laundry. There's always laundry. Throw in a load, feel despair when I see the mound of laundry that still needs to be done sitting on the floor at the foot of my bed. Wonder why I can never conquer the laundry. EVER. Pretend as if the full laundry baskets of clean clothes aren't sitting right in front of me.

Get sidetracked online looking at preschool options for next year. Wonder where in the world I'm going to get the money to pay for preschool that costs essentially the same as a private elementary school. Feel depressed and look at Craigslist for jobs. Decide I need more tea, as if the school thing wasn't depressing enough, looking for a job is even more depressing. Contemplate what my dream job is. Help build a beanie baby house with wooden blocks. Check in on Twitter, my happy place. Forget all about the job and schools, laundry, dishes that need to be done, and life in general. Ah Twitter.

Glance at the clock, holy crap it's lunch time! Discuss in length what GL wants for lunch. Assess and review a myriad of options, most of which are instantly responded to with a NO, NO, NO. Finally a hesitation. I pounce. Cheese quesadilla, leftover apples from Sj's lunch, and some carrot sticks. I eat cheese as I'm cutting it off the block for the quesadilla. I nibble on some apple slices, a carrot stick. I'm satisfied, that was lunch right? Once again negotiate with GL how much more she needs to eat. Sometimes it feels like 1/2 the day is spent over food consumption negotiations with her. Sigh.

Get GL ready for school with all the appropriate outerwear as her school has a strict outside playtime everyday policy. Potty, check! We are all ready to go, hat, snow pants, two mittens, water bottle, book about the moon for sharing, and ONE boot. Spend a ridiculous amount of time looking for the other boot. Finally find it in the laundry room, hidden under a pile of dirty towels. Curse laundry, yet again. Feel stressed as we are running late. Boo.

Drive across town behind the world's pokiest drivers. Drop off GL at school. Grab notice for tuition due. Oops, forgot to pay this month. Sign her in, linger watching the kids play until she's comfortable enough for me to go. Hop in the car and peel out of the parking lot to bask in my 1.5 hours of FREE TIME! I don't rush to dance class or yoga for that matter. I have to make this time count. Post office to check PO Box, make mental note to forward mail to our house. We can bag the PO Box now, it's time. Hit Whole Foods for dinner fixings, pull into the Do Not Enter exit only lane of the parking lot to score a spot really far away, but it's better than sitting in traffic. Curse Whole Foods parking lot. Get lost in Whole Foods because it's all redesigned and wonder where in the world the meat counter is. Pay $1.00 more a pound for ground turkey than my regular Whole Foods the next town over. Feel robbed. Find the check out, pay with cash. Stop at the bank on the way home, put the remaining cash from my wallet on the visa card. Throw the ground turkey in the refrigerator and head out the door to pick up Sj. Check the mail. Wow, what an exciting 1.5 hours of free time, wouldn't you agree?

Read mail in car, running with the heat on, while waiting for dismissal. Feel like a slacker for not walking to pick up Sj. Oh well. Swoop up Sj. Drive back across town to pick up GL, but we are early. Sit in the parking lot with Sj for 15 minutes playing Angry Birds on my iPhone. She's awesome at it, basically just hand the phone over to her. Sign GL out of school, get stuck in traffic. Use the time to ask how school was for both girls. Wonder why I always go this way, when I know I'll hit traffic. Laugh that rush hour starts at 3:30 in this random city I live in. No one works, everyone must be rushing to get to high tea or yoga.

4pm- Home. Grab all the girls' stuff, head into the house. Prepare snack for my hungry girls. Demand hand washing. Ask them if they are up for turkey tacos for dinner, they yell simultaneously, YES! Start prepping vegetables, grating cheese, cooking meat, dishing out accoutrements. Load the dishwasher as dinner is cooking, turning around to keep stirring the meat. Burn the taco shells in the toaster, score an old 1/2 box of shells in the pantry. Break up the girls fighting over the beanie babies and their new wooden block palace. Convince them to be nice, so mommy can just make dinner. Encourage Sj to work on homework. Wash pots and pans, cook dinner, and monitor homework completion, all at the same time.

Eat dinner as a family. Pile dishes in the sink. Give the girls a square of dark chocolate for dessert, eat 3 or 4 squares myself. Melt into the couch while J gives the girls a bath. Check in on Twitter and email, waste time on my iPhone. Try to convince myself to get off the couch and do the dishes. Mental encouragement a failure. Place bills in the bill basket, check bank account to see if the mortgage check cleared. Answer knock at the door, forget I had a meeting about Girl Scout Cookies. Ooops. Ask the girls to play in their rooms, read a book, anything but be up my butt during my meeting.

7:35- Tag team bedtime duty, give meds, nasal rinse, fill humidifier, potty, teeth brushing, find must have stuffed animals, fill water bottles. Kiss the girls good night. Blog. Typically this is when I would watch television, but I find it boring. Nothing but crap, so I no longer watch tv, unless it's a movie. I'm kind of happy about that. Avoid dishes, putting away laundry, and anything that may remotely seem like work. Ignore the fact that the girls' wet towels are sitting in the middle of the living room floor or that their dirty clothes are strewn haphazardly in the hallway in the entrance to the bathroom. Chat with hubby. Realize that I forgot to get cake mix at the store and that I am hosting friends the next day for a tea party. Curse that brilliant idea. Get home with 4 bags of groceries, even though I went for one thing. Put the stuff away that needs to be refrigerated, but leave out all non-perishables on the counter in their bags. Decide instead I should read blogs, surf the web looking for a couch. Collapse into bed , even though there is so much to do.... Feel grateful I'm having my close friends over that don't expect a clean house as I fall asleep full of regret for being lazy.

That is just a snapshot into the life of this working mother. If you made it this far, BRAVO!

You may enjoy this article with editorial corrections on the original Gwyenth post from today! It really is funny, check it out.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday Tips: Water Conservation Starts In The Loo

When we moved into our house, one of the first things to go was the toilet. I just like to start fresh. The main bathroom toilet had a wooden toilet seat that had seized up bolts, so I couldn't even switch up the seat. I thought if we are updating one, we mine as well do both. When the toilets were removed I noticed they were stamped 1962, which also means they were the ORIGINAL toilets put in this house. My oh my.

We purchased two toilets at a big box hardware store for $115 each, they were Kohler Wellworth HET (High Efficiency Toilets). HETs are certified as WaterSense by the EPA, which means they will save an average of 11 gallons of water a day. A WaterSense toilet uses 20% less water than the Federal Standard (ours uses 1.28 gals per flush). The estimate is about $90 a year in savings just from your water bill with an HET. Plus it has a powerful flush! In the City of Boulder, there is currently a program that is offsetting the cost of replacing old toilets with HETs and the rebate is $75 for the first toilet and $25 for additional toilets. If you do the math, with the rebate and the water savings our toilets will pay for themselves the first year. To top it off we are conserving water.

Water In Our Home Facts:
  • Nearly 40% of water consumption is from toilet use.
  • If we collectively flushed one less time per day we could save a lake full of water one mile long and wide, by four feet deep!
  • Less than 1% of the treated water is used for consumption, the rest is used for lawns, washing machines, toilets, showers, etc!
Water Conservation Tips:
  • Find out if your tank is leaking, put 10 drops of food coloring in your toilet tank, do not flush it. Wait 15-20 minutes, if the color appears in your bowl, you have a leaky tank.
  • Another way to save 1/2 gallon of water per flush is to do this easy water saving trick. Fill a 1/2 gallon milk jug with sand/rocks/water combination. Slowly lower it into your toilet tank. With the jug in the tank, 1/2 gallon of water is saved with each flush!


Monday, January 10, 2011

House Project 2: Main Bathroom, Paint and Flooring Updates

Original Bathroom:
Here's a photo of the bathroom when we moved in. Bold patterned linoleum that didn't even come close to coordinating with the paint. Speaking of paint, it was grey on the wainscoting and white up top. Apparently it was freshly painted before it went on the market, as there were tell tale signs of the paint previously being bright orange and green. Like neon. I guess I shouldn't complain about the grey, at least it was neutral.

(click on photo to enlarge)
Amazingly enough the tile in the bathtub is beautiful white subway tile and the sink and tub both have really nice porcelain fixtures. The vanity mirror and cabinet are very cheap, off the shelf of a big box hardware store. They will be updated, but for now we put our money in the new flooring. That's my brother in the photo, on this day we tore out the flooring and toilet. We upgraded the toilets to High Efficiency Toilets which flush a little over a gallon per flush. The toilet we removed was original, I gasped 1962 stamped in the lid.

Bathroom Now:
I painted the wainscoting and the trim that runs along the floor a neutral warm tone (listed below). I typically don't depart from the top color on a paint chip very often, but I did for the bathroom. With the white tile and white cabinetry, there are built-ins in addition to the sink cabinet, the room needed some panache. For the upper portion of the walls, I chose a very light color, in a pale turquoise meets green. It's very light and airy.

The flooring is Italian Marble that we got for a slamming deal on clearance. We had travertine in our old bathroom, which I loved. This flooring is a bit bolder, I had a hard time finding something that wasn't just very plain. I jumped at this marble because it was a deal. If I had other choices, I may have gone a different way. My preference leans more towards a grey marble or a warmer light travertine. Even though I am not in love with it, it is 1,000 times better than the linoleum. As I mentioned, a new toilet as well.

(click on photo to enlarge)
I'm going to finish the room off with a patterned shower curtain. Eventually we'll replace the mirror and cabinet, but for now I am content. A little color, some beautiful marble, and the bathroom has a proper face lift.

Paint colors:
Bottom wainscoting: Behr Semi Gloss in Pecan Sandie (7000C-S)
Upper wall color: Behr Satin in Meadow Light (460E-1)


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Disclosure, this post was not sponsored, but after the money we've spent on the projects around the house I am open to sponsorship from a big box hardware store, teehee.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

A little snow falling, I picked up a paintbrush, and let go...


This morning I awoke to snow falling. I knew straight off after looking out the window most of the day would be spent inside, so I asked the girls if they would like to paint. I decided to set up a small still life near their easel with some fruit, a few vegetables, and a tea pot. The still life was an attempt to help focus them when they painted. Sometimes painting becomes more of an exercise of how messy can I get or how brown can I turn all the paint. I am hoping to evolve their exploration into something a bit more refined now that they are getting older.

Right as I placed the tea pot down, a simple thought popped into my head. I should join them painting.

I sat on the floor, the still life off in the distance for my inspiration. I wanted to paint in watercolor, but I couldn't find any watercolor paper. I was able to easily get my hands on a blank canvas, so I just went for it, watercolor on canvas. I bit nontraditional and even temperamental, but this wasn't a commissioned piece, it was simply for me. There was no pressure, dipping my toes back in the painter's water. Curiosity got the best of me, contemplating how the paintbrush would feel again in my hand or if my eye could still capture the light, the shadows, the inspiration on canvas.

After I passed the point of hesitation and allowed the paint to flow onto the canvas, I felt at home. The painter in me was touched. My first painting (it's a work in progress, the background needs to be completed) is almost done. To think it was a post in October of 2009 that I shared an old piece and I mentioned I wanted to start painting again.

Feels good to be back. 2011 you are just full of surprises.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

200 Hikes: Day 2 Pure Rocky Mountain Sunshine

My favorite part about hiking is when my pace becomes meditative.

Steady, rhythmic flow...

Coming out of the Canyon, the sunshine was blazing. I had to take a few shots directly into the sun. It created these amazing flower petal flares. That's how pure Rocky Mountain sunshine translates behind the lens.

On my way into the Canyon, it was crisp, but the sunshine was warming my back.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Great Grandma vs. Her Grandson in Wii Boxing Of Course...

A friend of mine posted a photo on Facebook and it made me smile. I asked if I could share the photo here because I had a connection to the moment, even though I wasn't there. Back in December I had the opportunity to bring a Wii along to a holiday gathering that a friend was hosting, set up the Wii to play, and then leave the Wii as a gift to the host. No strings attached, just a simple, SURPRISE! oh and ENJOY!

Truth be told, I would have never envisioned the Wii allowing this moment to happen:


In the photo is my friend's son who is seven (one of Sj's oldest friends, they started playing together when they were little non-mobile drooling babies) and his great grandmother who is 95 years old. Yes, NINETY FIVE!!! They are Wii boxing! I didn't inquire as to who won the match, but doesn't Grandma look like a little spitfire?!? I can only imagine what she scored at bowling.

How fabulous is that?

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Disclaimer: I was given a Wii to give away as a holiday gift because of my involvement as a Nintendo Brand Ambassador. To be completely honest I was not asked to write about the gift, but really how could I help myself, that photo is priceless. HUGE thank you to Nintendo for allowing such a cool moment to happen between 4 generations. The compensation I received was the joy in the faces of my friends when I told them, the Wii is yours to keep!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy New Year, Back to The Bento!


Today was my daughter's first day back to school, which meant my first bento of the New Year!

  • Almond butter and superfruits jelly sandwich
  • assorted entertainment crackers and cheddar little piggies
  • grape tomatoes
  • Kiwi and blueberries
  • a butterhorn baked by Papa in New York!
I am thrilled the house selling, moving, apartment living, and settling in two times since leaving our first home is behind us. The timing of the New Year and my zest for starting fresh is upon us and couldn't be more perfect.

So happy to be back at the bento...

On a side note, this is what I did after school drop off, a little hike. Aiming for 200 in 2011. Follow my journey, here.


200 Hikes: Day 1

Yesterday I mentioned I wanted to hike 200 times in 2011. Today I got started. It was cold, windy, and the trail was snowy (hello January), but as far as I'm concerned proper layering, a good hat, some gloves, and careful footing make for great hiking in any weather. Oh and maybe I slept through my alarm, but still managed to use the 45 minutes my husband spared me while he was getting ready for work.

I could've made plenty of excuses this morning, but instead I just hit the trail.

Join me on twitter using #hike2011 anytime you hit the trail this year!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 I'm Coming After You, With My Intentions...

I was walking into the mall today through a double set of doors, when I saw a little boy around 3 years old get partially caught and his shoulder smacked by a closing door. His mom, was texting or typing or updating her Facebook status and completely ignoring her child. I quickly ran to the boy to grab the door that was closing in on him fast. The mother was super apologetic to me, but the boys eyes when they met mine were just filled with a blank sad stare. I told her it happens to all of us, one time or another. I later wished I told her to apologize to her child for ignoring him. The more I reflect upon that moment, the more sadness I feel for the distractions we have which make momentary lapses of judgement commonplace.

Which leads me to the New Year.

We're all writing about it, how we hate resolutions and how we aren't the resolution type. I stand tall with all those sentiments, but I also love the New Year. I'm not quite sure what it is, but the day feels fresher. My ability to focus, set goals, see ahead with lofty vision is much clearer when the New Year arrives. Feelings of regret wash away and should haves become yesterday's fading memory, for tomorrow is a new day or better yet it's a New Year.

Rather than resolve, I feel more comfortable with setting my intentions for the year ahead. I love to focus on what I am capable of and where I want my path to lead. Here are some thoughts that I am taking into the New Year (am I overzealous with the capitalization of New Year?).

Mindfulness, I'm feeling the pull to be more present in all aspects of my life. I'm hyper aware of how dependent people are on their devices (laptops, iPhones, blackberries), which makes me want to step back from my own dependence. Numerous times I day, I try to bring it back to being mindful and present. Work.In.Progress...

Smile more, laugh more. Enjoy the beauty of small moments.

Tap back into my creative side, the poet, the painter, the knitter, the candlestick maker. Well, just teasing about the candlestick maker part, wondering if anyone is actually reading this?!?

Hiking. Last year I reconnected with my love of hiking. The trails out my backdoor are amazing, I will hike at least 200 days this year. It's a personal goal. I'm just not a gym girl, I've never felt comfortable there. Put me on a trail and set me free.

Yoga. The only time my racing mind is calm. Enough said.

Loving my job, staying home with the girls, keeping harmony in the home. It's so easy to feel down about the laundry, cooking, dishes, running errands, the endless work. Being home is a blessing and I really want to stay in touch with that sentiment. It is said that the same sex parent of a child has the greatest influence on them, which is me. No pressure or anything. I'll take it, let's hold hands and make this journey together my lovely daughters.

Appreciate and make time for the people in my life I cherish. I've been given the gift of wonderful friends, my intention is to see them as much as I can. (ps... wanna go hiking?)

2011 is the 20th year J and I have spent together (crazy!!!). It's work and love and one hell of a mountain climb, but the view 20 years later is kick ass. My intention is more heart, less nag.

Less stuff, more experiences. For a very long time I truly believed stuff would make me happy. But then one day, I noticed how big the smile was on my face at a concert, on a street in London, when my daughters are snuggling me in the morning, when my girlfriends raise their glasses to cheer, when my sweaty nose touched my yoga mat, when I looked up and the mountain wasn't off in the distance but rather right in front of me, when my husband sets a plate of food in front of me that he amazingly whipped up, when my family is visiting. I could go on, but really no handbag ever made me smile like that.

More writing, less Facebook. There's no two ways around it.

Dream big. I have this itchy, sneaky, whispery feeling that this is the year that I will once again make money. Start a business, find a great part time job, win the lottery, I'm not quite sure which, but I just know it. This is my year.

Remain grateful. For you, for this, for so many things. I don't want to forget the gratitude.

Please share, where are your intentions this year?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesday Tips: Saving Money at Whole Foods, Bulk Bin vs. Prepackaged

Tuesday Tips are back, yeah 2011! Yesterday while popping into the grocery store for a few things on my list, I did my usual scan of the aisles and grabbing a few items off the shelf that were prepackaged. After a little price comparison and walk down the bulk bin aisle, I decided to put back the prepackaged items and go for bulk.

The price comparisons are from my local Whole Foods Market, it's where I shop and they have a great bulk bin section. Obviously you want to compare at your local natural foods market or co-op (they typically have bulk bin grains, sweeteners, flours, nuts, etc). Most traditional national grocery store chains do not offer bulk bin options.

The savings were dramatic and to top it off there are a few extra bonuses. One, no extra packaging to have to recycle and the best part, controlling seasonings especially sodium content in prepackaged grains. I always have spices stocked in my pantry, so that's never a problem.


Comparison #1:

Near East Pearled Couscous, 4.7oz, $2.49 a box. Serving one meal for our family of 4.

Bulk: $3.99lb, I purchased 3/4 of a pound which will serve my family of 4 a total of 3 meals (1 cup per meal). $2.99

Three meals of Near East Prepackaged = $7.47
Three meals of bulk = $2.99

Savings of $4.48

Comparison #2:

365 Brand Organic Rolled Oats (365 is Whole Foods label, which is considerably cheaper than brand name) $2.99 for 18oz container. Which works out to be about approximately $2.66lb.

Organic Rolled Oats in Bulk, $1.19lb. I purchased a pound for $1.19 which suits our family just fine and that way I don't have left over oats getting stale in my pantry.

Prepackaged 365 Brand Organic Rolled Oats $2.66lb vs. Organic Rolled Oats Bulk $1.19lb

Savings of $1.47 a pound! To me a pound of oats is a lot as well.

Comparison #3:

Spices! A jar of prepackaged spices can run up to $4.99. I go for the cheapest ones I can find, which is still no less than $2.50. Bulk spices are so much cheaper.

Take for example oregano, a prepackaged jar is .36oz, to fill that jar from bulk is about .99cents-$1.25. Now let me also reiterate, freshness with spices is essential. I typically purchase about .50cents worth of spices from the bulk bins and that refills the jar in half. Faster I use them up, the fresher they are! Double bonus, spices in bulk at whole foods are Organic. Win, win, win!

Savings on spices, $2.50-$4.00 a jar!

Other bulk buying tips:
If you are going to transition to purchasing in bulk, don't run out and buy a bunch of jars to use. Use what you have. My pantry is full of leftover pickle jars, spaghetti sauce jars, canning jars from gifts, etc. Don't toss your spice containers when you use them up, save them and refill them.

If you don't want to be bothered with filling baggies and then refilling your containers at home, stop by customer service when you enter the store with all of your jars. They will weigh your containers for you and write down a tare weight (which is subtracted off when it is weighed with contents). That way you can fill a jar to the top if you want and skip that extra step! Just make sure the weight of your jar is noted when checking out.

Bulk purchasing is a great way to experiment with new items, try a small amount of a spice or new grain, that way you won't have half a box of something you may not have liked sitting around that will never get used.

Depending on the store's variety you can typically find these items in bulk: nut butters (ground fresh), maple syrup and agave sweetners, nuts, trail mixes, granola, cereal, grains, sweeteners, flours, baking items, cookies (kids animal crackers to whole grain fig bars), dried fruits, spices, soup mixes, beans, crackers, chocolate covered fruit, yogurt covered pretzels, pasta!

Just take a stroll down the aisle that is typically avoided and see what you are missing, plus reap the reward of huge savings!
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Related: A post from 2008 on saving money at Whole Foods! It contains similar tips from today (we've always been a fan of bulk bin purchasing) but also some other tips as well.
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Disclaimer: I'm simply sharing tips I use to help my family save money and lessen our impact on the environment. I was in no way compensated for products mentioned in this post.