Some links to love.

A photo reminder that we can't be "on" every day of year.

Do you have a full bookshelf? Use those books to create this tree.

You know those bags in which shallots and garlic are packaged? Here is a way to reuse them as gift wrap.

A gift idea for little ones on the go. These products utilize water based solvents, paints and laquers. [spotted on HAUTE*NATURE]

Lovely wrapping idea. Although, I was quite impressed with my own wrapping this year.

My brother is implementing sustainable practices at his golf course. A future trend in turfgrass management? Hopefully.

Christmas may be over, but there are 2010 birthdays right around the corner. Get the idea wheel turning with these 10 green gifts ideas for the cook in your life. There are a slew of other green gift lists at the end of the post. [spotted on The Kitchn]

Her hobby is her job. One woman's story on quitting her old day job and making Etsy her new day job. [spotted on A Cup of Jo]

Are you looking for a time saving method and a water saving method (I do realize that this doesn't save that much water.)? Answer: Boil your vegetables with your pasta.

In a previous post, I introduced you to the Atlas of Ethical Eating (in the Mpls/StP area). Here is a recent interview with the creator of the Atlas.  "What we wanted to do is create a matrix of decision making so that people could make more informed decisions." 

[photo by me]


2009 Wrapping.







 [all photos by me]


Holiday reminders.

Enjoy the company of those around you.
Take pictures [with a camera or with your mind].
Open your heart.
Be merry.
Be present.
Be grounded.
Take a moment to embrace silence with all of the hustle and bustle going on around you.
Be alone with your thoughts.
Make memories.
Travel safely.
Travel cautiously.

[photo by me] 



Some links to love.

The photo doesn't really have anything to do with the below links. I just wanted to share an image from my 2009 Christmas wrapping jam session. Wrapping paper provided by old magazines/catalogs. Thank you: METRO, Anthropologie and j.crew. Music provided by Pandora. Thank you: classic crooners.

Frozen fish is the way to go. Fresh. Frozen. Fish. Read why here.
Wish I had a house in the city to restore. Until that day comes, I'll just lustfully gaze at the images from this book.
This wreath is magnificent. A wreath of your own could be made from bits and pieces found inside and outside of your own home.
Reminder: winter solstice tomorrow. Instead of complaining about it getting dark early, I am embracing it. This article puts a positive spin on darkness.
Who wants to go out and find fallen birch trees with me? Who wants to help me make these cake plates after our adventure? 

[photo by me]


Home for the holidays.

Oh there's no place like home for the holidays,
'Cause no matter how far away you roam,
If you want to be happy in a million ways,
For the holidays,
You can't beat home, sweet home.

Home is where your heart is. May you travel safely and enjoy the company of family and friends this week.

[photo by me]



Some links to love.

Portland. Constantly taunting me. Begging me to visit. Please don't stop. Check out the digs at Parliament, a branding/design company with an office built from repurposed items. Love the overlays. [spotted on: mint]

Looking for a non-toxic art-related gift for your niece, nephew, kids or grandkids, then check out Clementine Art. Soy crayon rocks. Natural glue, paint and modeling clay. Forget about the kids, I want this stuff for myself! [spotted on: black*eiffel]

Denmark is doing it right. Sustainability is not something they check off a list, it is how they live.

First, lovely baskets and now 100% natural cotton produce bags. Love this lady (and I'm not biased because she is from Minneapolis).

Natural, homemade dishwashing soap. Looks super easy. [spotted on: The Kitchn]

I'll be adding this to my "must watch" list. How do you define waste?

An illustrative collection of things you've been meaning to do. Love the little side bar comments. [spotted on: black*eiffel]

Nature's art. Gorgeous images of icebergs.

Karl Hebert designed something called People Towels (the Hug Trees image is from his collection). These towels are made of sustainable, organic, fair trade fabric and are printed with soy based inks. They can be purchased here, but make sure to stop by Karl's own Web site to check out more of his work. [spotted on: design work life]

[hug trees] 



Love this store.

 I haven't ever been here and maybe never will, but I want to jump right into the photos of this store and stay there. Forever. That's irrational, but kind of true.

(Spotted on BLACK. WHITE. YELLOW.)




Packaging gifts with stuff I have laying around my place gives me great joy. Some of my favorites include:

+brown paper bags with scraps of yarn
+a collage creation from old magazines
+anthropologie catalogs
+j.crew catalogs

A little creativity can go a long way. I'm sure you have something in your house that can be repurposed into gift packaging.

I do, however, love the stuff over at Tinted Mint. They specialize in eco-friendly products and accessories for not only gift packaging, but also for general crafting and other DIY projects. The owner lays out exactly what is in products she sells and packaging she uses:

glassine bags and paper

100% waxed paper. Used in packaging Washi tapes.

packaging tape

Kraft paper, rubber-based adhesive.

product labels

Kraft paper, adhesive.

order receipts

50% PCW recycled and 50% alternative fibers (bagasse, bamboo...), FSC certified, made using renewable Green-e certified energy.

shipping box

50% recycled content. Please note that at times we may use USPS Flat Rate shipping boxes if that provides a better postage rate for our customers.

shipping filler

Material content can range from paper to bubble wrap to foam peanuts, whatever I can reuse instead of throwing in the trash.

shipping label

100% PCW recycled paper.

tissue paper

100% recycled paper. Used to package Washi tape sets.

Washi tape

Japanese rice paper, acrylic adhesive.


            100% merino wool, kettle dyed, hand painted. Used to package Washi tape sets.

I am in love with her new arrivals. Stop on over at the Tinted Mint site. 




A week of thanks. Friends.

New friends. 
Old friends. 
Near and far friends.

We've grown up together.
We went to college together.
We've worked together.

We'll grow old together.

They listen.
They give advice.
They love.
They care.

We laugh.
We cry.
We share.

We agree.
We disagree.
We agree to disagree.

We have fun together. Great fun.

We go through life together.


A week of thanks. Siblings & their offspring.

Adam. Kelsey. Chris. Lindsay. Tate. Olive. Six people who make life wonderful.

Adam. Chris.
My brothers. Best friends.
They have been transformed into husbands and most recently fathers.
I have had the honor of following in their footsteps and it has been a well-blazed trail.
Smart. Honest. Funny. Quiet.

Kelsey. Lindsay.
My sisters-in-law.
They are the perfect compliment to their spouse and make this family complete.
Caring. Fun. Amazing moms. Honest.

Tate. Olive.
My nephew. My niece.
They have changed my family's world. They have changed my world.
I see a new world through their eyes. A world of hope. A world of opportunity. A world that needs to be taken care of for them and those that come after them.
Busy. Listening. Learning. Growing.

These six people make me a better person. I am who I am because of them.



A week of thanks. My parents.

My parents rock.

They dance in the kitchen.
They travel.
They golf.
They host.
They cook.
They laugh.
They share.
They teach.
They listen.
They love.
They give.
They sing.
They help.
They are the same, but different.
They are best friends.
They are the best. Period.

They are the first ones I call during rush hour.
They are the first ones I call when I have bad news.
They are the first ones I call when I have good news.

I would be lost without them.
They rock.



A week of thanks. The internet.

Honestly. I am so very thankful for the World  Wide Web.

Why? Because I can...

Watch my niece, nephew, godson and one of my best friend's daughter grow even though I only see them once a month, once a week, once a year.
Keep in touch with friends living all over the state and country. Atlanta. Seattle. Moorhead. Denver. Boston. San Francisco. Duluth. Renville.
Be inspired.
Shop without buying.
Connect with people that I don't even know.
Watch TV without watching TV.
Research. I love to research. Anything. Everything.
Find unique ways of doing things.



A week of thanks. Good health.

I am thankful for good health.

Healthy friends.
Healthy family.
Healthy mind.
Healthy body.
Healthy soul.

Our health allows us to do things.
Little things.
Big things.

(Photo source: me. My roommate. Her birthday. Her hill. Her happiness.)



A week of thanks. Water.

I'm thankful for water.

Water is the driving force of all nature.
Leonardo da Vinci

Stay hydrated. Stay healthy.

(Photo source: me)


The little things.

Celebrate good times...come on!

Good weekend. Full weekend. Full of friends, family, good food and good wine. Some little things sprinkled throughout...

+Dined in and out at a few local, non-chain dining establishments.
+Spent some quality time with my mom on a tour of our favorite S. Mpls shops.
+Bought some tall bio bags since the little ones weren't quite right for hauling my compost up to Duluth.
+Inquired at the Linden Hills Natural Home about compost pick-up. Sounds like it is becoming an option in some neighborhoods and that there may be a drop-off near the Amtrak station in St. Paul. Sounds like a little research is needed...
+Scrubbed the last of the peanut butter out of a jar at my sister-in-law's (she gave me major credit for taking the time to do this).
+Walked a couple of movies back to the store and then went for a nighttime stroll. November has been the hero this Fall.



Holiday cards.

There's a great post over on Design Mom today on some eco-friendly ways to send Holiday cheer via post. Swing on over there and check it out.

A handful of other ideas:
+Hand write notes to people on pieces of scrap paper.
+Send personalized email messages.
+Make a donation to a charity you support instead of buying cards. Email people with a message.
+If you are mailing a picture, find recycled envelopes to send it in.
+Design your own card and have it printed by an eco-friendly printer such as Green Printer.

I don't send a card myself, but I do help my mom put together her Christmas letter and photo. Time to change some old habits.



Giving gifts.

Giving gifts is one of my favorite things to do. It is a process. Sometimes it is fun. Sometimes it is stressful. To me, each person is such a unique individual and I want the gift to be a reflection of him or her. It might be a practical gift. It might be a little frivolous. There almost always seems to be a moment when I'm searching when *gasp* "I find the perfect gift." A few ways that I go about finding those "perfect" gifts:

+Bookmarking things found online if a certain person pops into my mind. I might not need a gift for him/her right away, but at least I can look back when a birthday or holiday approaches.
+Starting written lists as the gift-giving event looms in the distance. I find that as I write ideas down, more ideas surface.
+Listening and remembering "wish list" items mentioned in conversations with family and friends.
+Being intentional about giving gifts by making purchases that are: practical, handcrafted, created locally, made from recycled items, bigger than the gift itself and part of a larger cause.

As the holiday approaches, I'll share some of my favorite gifts ideas. Today - Etsy. The Etsy tagline describes it best: your place to buy and sell all things handmade. The options seem a bit overwhelming and endless. You'll find artwork, cloth diaper covers, cards, jewelry, clothing and so on and so on. You'll have to sift through some crap, but there is some amazing work by some very talented ladies. I like to start by finding one item I like and then view who else "hearts this item." It is a site for exploration and discovery. Don't be scared. Check it out.

Here are a handful of items that I have purchased for gifts:

Pia├žava fiber bracelets with recycled aluminum tube. I have both received these as a gift and given them has a gift.
Shop: Brazilian Eco Designs.

A pair of 4" x 4" coasters made up of a 1920s map of Minneapolis & St. Paul. This shop has a ton of other map coaster options.
Shop: gertiebyrd

Letterpressed spiderweb coasters that can be used for so much more than a coaster.
Shop: 12fifteen

Letterpressed Father's Day card which looks awesome framed.
Shop: afavorite

Rockin' necklace made with antique buttons and a flower made from a zipper. I have to admit that I bought this as a gift to myself.
Shop: jenloveskev (she has a pretty sweet blog too)

(photo credits: all of the photos are taken directly from the sellers' shops)




I've recently been exposed to the idea of Biomimicry. Biomimicry is the concept of using nature as inspiration for innovation and invention in the modern world.

Some examples:

+swimsuits modeled after shark skin
+adhesive designed after watching geckos climb walls
+phone displays inspired by the way light reflects off of a butterfly's wings

If you prefer to learn via text, read this article from Fast Company.

If you like to learn via video, check out this video from CBS News. It is an illustrative story and is only about 3 minutes.



Giving thanks.

I've received a lot of crap over the years for not being a big fan of Thanksgiving dinner. People seem to jump to the conclusion that I don't like Thanksgiving, the holiday. Not the case. It is the food. I'm just not a comfort food kind of gal. It means more for you, so let's move on...

Thanksgiving, the holiday, now that is something of which I'm a big fan. A day to give thanks. Like most holidays, the true essence of the holiday has been masked by the commercialization of the day. This year, make it about giving thanks. Your options are endless, but here are a handful to get you thinking:

+Begin dinner by going around the table and giving thanks for someone or something.

+Start a "thankful" journal.
+Be thankful for your ability to buy and cook your own meal and make a donation (time, food or dollars) to a local food shelter.

+Thank your co-workers or employees for their work before leaving for the holiday weekend.
+Thank the person who made your meal. Offer to clean-up or bring them a small token to show your thankfulness (a bottle of wine, a box of holiday cards, a bouquet of flowers).

+If you made the meal, thank your guests for coming and sharing the day with you.
+Spend time outdoors. Be thankful for the world around you.
+Recognize that you wouldn't be where you are today without others. Thank those people.

+Thank service providers. Your mail-person. The maintenance worker in your apartment building. The cashier at the grocery store. Your flight attendants. The barista at your local coffee shop.

+Start giving thanks on a daily basis. This life isn't just about you.



Made in the USA.

Election day 2008. One for the record books. As I reminisce about last year and return home from the polls, I am so thankful. Thankful that my voice counts. Thankful that as a woman I'm able to vote. Thankful that I wasn't filled with fear as I cast my vote. Thankful that I live in this country.

I happened upon the website A Continuous Lean recently and this list: The American List. The list was created to draw attention to "stylish and cool brands" that are made in the USA.

Minnesota companies represented on the list:
Faribault Woolen Mills — Faribault, Minnesota — blankets
Duluth Pack — Duluth, Minnesota — bags
J. W. Hulme Co. — St. Paul, Minnesota — bags, accessories
Bemidji Woolen Mills — Bemidji, Minnesota — clothing, blankets
Red Wing — Red Wing, Minnesota — footwear

Any companies you think should be added to the list?



A prize winning pumpkin.

That little beauty brought home a ribbon on Friday night. I walked away with "Most Original" at my friends' 3rd annual pumpkin carving party. No stencil used! Halloween must be over as it is looking a little brown around the edges. Think I'll tackle chopping it up and adding it to the compost pile tomorrow night.

A pumpkin gallery...

Candy corn. Prize: "Judge's Choice"


Face with pig nose. Prize: "Nice Try"

Scary faces.

Spooky tree. Prize: "Best in Show"

Cyclops. Prize: "Scariest"

I didn't get a picture of "Funniest" which was a happy face with buttons and ribbon accessories.


The little things.

October went out in style over the weekend. Pumpkin carving. Final race of the season (a chilly 10-mile run along some of the best roads in Mpls). "Tailgating" with a fire pit. Outdoor football (with a win by the Gophers!).

Kind of a quiet weekend for the little things:

+Collected my other brother and sister-in-law's #5 plastics.
+Dropped off a large collection of #5s at Whole Foods (and was thanked by an employee for bringing stuff in).
+Bought oats in bulk reusing my brown bag from my last purchase.
+Bought cinnamon in bulk to be added to my almost empty bottle.
+Carpooled with 8 people, in a van made for 7, to the Gopher football game (thanks, dad!).
+Used reusable bags at the mall for some necessities. They're not just for groceries.



Eating locally. Eating ethically.

One thing I love about Minneapolis and St. Paul are the number of locally owned restaurants with delicious menu offerings. You can imagine my excitement when I spotted a new restaurant guide, Atlas of Ethical Eating, over at The Heavy Table.

Their matrix currently (they hope to expand this in the future) highlights 8 local restaurants and their answers to questions around composting, use of organic dairy, vegan options, LEED design and so on and so on. I'm pleased to see two of my favorites completed the survey and appear to be quite ethical (as defined by the survey): Common Roots Cafe and Bryant Lake Bowl.

Can't wait to see more restaurants added to the list.

***Since my original post, six new restaurants have been added to the list. I'm confident that it will continue to grow. Awesome! (10.29.09)



A delicious dish.

I’m a sucker for eggs, blacks beans and salsa, so when I found a recipe for a remake of “huevos rancheros” (truly a remake; this is in no way authentic), I knew that it would be a match made in heaven.

“Huevos Rancheros”
Serves 2
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

+2-8” tortillas
+can of black beans; drained, rinsed and heated on the stove
+4 eggs; use whole eggs or just whites, whatever you prefer
+salsa fresca; whipped this up with a few tomatoes, small onion, lime juice, jalapeno, clove of garlic, salt and parsley (could use cilantro, but my mom isn’t a fan); you can also just buy a jar of your favorite salsa
shredded cheese; amount is really up to you; I only like a little, but some people love a ton
+bit of olive oil

-heat the oil in a fry pan over medium-high heat.
-warm the tortilla on one side for a couple of minutes, until a crunchy spot or two appear
-flip the tortilla over and sprinkle with cheese; let the cheese melt
-crack an egg or two (whatever you prefer) onto the tortilla
-flip the whole tortilla, egg and all, over
-let the egg cook completely
-flip onto a plate, egg side up
-garnish with salsa, black beans and whatever else you desire (some people probably want to add more meat, some might add sour cream or guac...the sky is the limit.)

I prefer to eat this flat, but I’ve also had people roll this up more like a burrito. There’s no science behind this dish; make it art. Make it your own. Enjoy with a seasonal fruit.



The little things.

Some people shy away from making sustainable, “green” choices in their lives because they fear that this means making BIG or drastic changes to their comfortable lifestyle. You don’t need to stress about making big changes when simple, small steps can make a difference. They may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but soon enough it will become the norm.

Below are some little things I did over the weekend. Small habits can lead to something bigger down the road.

+Dropped off compost at one of the citywide drop-off locations in Duluth. No, I didn't just drive to Duluth to drop this off, but I do collect and freeze compost until I can make a trek up there.
+Walked outside. Self-powered exercise. Embraced fall and all it has to offer.

+Walked to and from the Duluth Dunn Bros. A 5-mile round trip.

+Used a ceramic mug at Dunn Bros. since we were enjoying our beverages at the coffee shop.

+Collected my brother and sister-in-law's used #5 plastic to be dropped off at Whole Foods for the Preserve Gimme 5 program. You can visit this link to learn more. A future post will highlight the program.

+Borrowed the book Omnivore’s Dilemma instead of buying it. Read about it here. Hopefully I’ll get through it and write about it someday.

My goal is to make this post a weekly event. We’ll see if that happens.

*photo by my sister-in-law



I didn't know that, but now I do.

While reading my latest issue of OnEarth magazine (a quarterly publication from the NRDC), I came upon a small tidbit of information that seemed like something worth sharing. It made me a bit smarter, so hopefully it will do the same for you. I had heard some rumors surrounding this idea in the past that made me feel a bit guilty. However, after reading this, my love of searching the Internet can continue.

A disputatious blogger recently worked out that a typical Google search used half as much energy as boiling water for a cup of tea and produced 7 grams of CO2 emissions. It seemed like a classic piece of blogosphere silliness, but the company, which takes it commitment to energy efficiency very seriously, decided to crunch the numbers for itself. It found that the average search actually produces only 0.2 grams of CO2. For good measure, Google also calculated that producing a single cheeseburger generates as much CO2 as 15,000 searches. And to equal the CO2 emissions from the monthly electricity use of an average U.S. household, you’d have to hit that search key 3.1 million times. So click away! (Source: OnEarth, Fall 2009)



Swanky swigs.

Do antique stores scare you? The smell, the junk, the creepy doll in the corner whose eyes track you as you move through the store? Sounds like you haven’t been to the right one or maybe you haven’t found that one piece of “junk” that keeps you coming back for more.

I’m selective about the ones I will walk into and I’ll make a quick exit if any of the three things I listed above connect with one of my senses. My favorite store - Hunt & Gather (Minneapolis, MN). This place never fails to disappoint. Vintage ribbon for wrapping gifts, eclectic ceiling tiles for my upcycled wall art (etsy site coming soon...hopefully.) or swanky swigs to add to my collection of juice glasses. A world of objects discarded by previous owners. A world of objects loved by new owners.


What's in a name?

What’s a mottainai? Who’s mottainai? What does mottainai mean? Until June of this year, I would have asked those same questions. My mom, recently in Tokyo, feverishly typed message after message to me on g.chat one morning to tell me about mottainai. She had been traipsing around the city and happened upon this store - Blue and White. And this is what she told me: “I was talking to this woman in a little shop called Blue and White. And we were talking about recycling, I said I had a bag ... they make their bags. I'll show you and then she said let me show you something else and she told me about mottainai. I was very excited. I think we should use that word.” The concept behind the store was built on the meaning of this word.

Mottainai is a Japanese term meaning "a sense of regret concerning waste when the intrinsic value of an object or resource is not properly utilized." The expression "Mottainai!" can be uttered alone as an exclamation when something useful, such as food or time, is wasted. In addition to its primary sense of "wasteful," the word is also used to mean "impious; irreverent" or "more than one deserves” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mottainai]. On the opposite side of the globe, my mom found it - the name for this site. An idea born so many months ago finally had a name.

You may find value in this site. You may not. Visit it once. Visit it daily. The choice is yours. Either way I hope you walk away from the site knowing something new; inspired to make something; or willing to change from the old way of doing something to a new way of doing something.