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.