Full Circle Muffins

Today in Kelowna, the sun decided to hide. Rather than also hide (under the covers) I decided to seize the day and make something bright, colorful, and delicious. Or rather, two something’s…both fitting all those criteria.

Having spent just about my entire life living in places that experience a dramatic drop in sunshine as the winter months progress, you’d think I’d be used to the shorter days and endless snow. I’m not. One of the ways I cope πŸ˜‰ is by bringing the sunshine into my “office,” aka kitchen, via vibrant, refreshing juices. The beauty you see below was a combo of beet, carrot, apple, lemon, and ginger. Mm mm!

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has been consumed and our thirst quenched, there's always this question about what to do with the leftover pulp. We compost in our house so that's the easy answer…but looking at the pile of fluffy carrot pulp, and the deep, rich red that only a beet can leave behind, it seems almost a waste even to put this vibrant content in the compost! How do we squeeze more goodness out of this stuff?

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t! After some Googling, I came across a recipe that not only exceeded expectations, but was simple and all the stuff that went into the muffins was 100% good-for-ya. πŸ‘ŠπŸΌ

OK, so let’s recap: we’ve already made pure, unadulterated juice…and now we get to make no-nonsense, healthy muffins that also taste uhhhhmazing. Can you say…winning?!

The clincher? I did have a little extra pulp after all, that didn’t go into muffins. Instead of throwing it in the compost, I gave it to my backyard hens, who promptly inhaled most of it, and stomped the rest into the dirt, effectively becoming mini composters. They are the best. Why don’t we all have chickens?

This is what I mean by full-circle: I make juice from fresh, from-the-earth produce. I bake the pulp into muffins, using eggs that my chickens provide me, along with a medley of other ingredients. I feed the leftover pulp to those same chickens, who eat it, producing more delicious, healthy eggs, and who also dig it into the earth, producing rich, composted soil for me to grow fresh, from-the-earth produce. Don’t you see?! It’s the ciiirrrrcle of life! πŸ˜†

Imagine if we all lived like this most of the time…a world full of juice, muffins, chickens, eggs, and lush, vibrant soil. It would be bliss, I tell ya!

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Conquer the Cloud

Do you ever wake up on the absolute wrong side of the bed? Like, you’re so far over that you might as well just go back, curl up, and wait for tomorrow? Everything sucks, the world sucks, why am I even bothering, I’m tired, achy, and grumpy…and it’s raining. Ugh! Life!

And then…and then. It’s like the universe at large sees your plight and hands you a little ray of sunshine as if to remind you that the world is not a giant, dark cloud of doom and gloom…and that there’s actually quite a lot to be happy about. Goodness is out there, and we can shake ourselves out of our funk. I feel like I’m writing about this concept a lot these days: this idea of getting ourselves out of our collective funks and doing something, anything, to move forward instead of taking 10 steps backward. Not staying in the doom and gloom. This journey through the world of plastic pollution and the general life journey, is teaching me that it’s a constant practice/battle/struggle/opportunity for improvement. And that some of the best lessons and best practices are ones we didn’t even consciously learn.

Cue Robert Fulghum.

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. Snappy, irritable, and cold…three of my least favorite adjectives. Then, I opened my email up and there was a note from my Dad, with a reminder of an old book we’ve read many times and one I had totally forgotten about. It was the ray of sunshine I needed. Consider this ray of sunshine passed on to you, dear reader!

The synopsis, from my Dad: “…basically a series of statements about how the practical stuff you learn when you are very young (i.e., sharing, caring, sticking together, etc.) carries over through the rest of your life.

Enjoy. πŸ™‚

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN
by Robert Fulghum

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

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We Can Do This!

I can’t think of an appropriate title for this post, mostly because my brain is doing that spinny thing where too many thoughts and feelings are swirling around at once and nothing is sticking. Well, some things are, and they include:

  • Belief
  • Mindset
  • Attitude
  • Get-over-yourself
  • Just go do the thing (which I’ve previously written about)

The reason my brain is spinning out on these concepts is because of the documentary I just watched, and because prior to watching this doc, I’d been doing quite a bit of reading about how important having a positive mindset is. Then this documentary brought up mindset…cue “Twilight Zone” music. Mindset: it’s like, the most important thing, you guys! πŸ˜‰

But first, the documentary. I know what you’re thinking…another f*cking documentary?! What’s new?! What concept can we possibly keep beating into the ground? Sit tight, hang with me! The flick is called “Prosperity“* and it covers all the topics: food, climate change, deforestation, human psychology, etc etc etc. The thing I love about it is that it focuses specifically on positive actions businesses are taking to not only make better products, but also to redefine what it means to even do business in this day and age. The other thing I love is that this movie takes a comprehensive look at what we as individuals can do (re: solutions), that’s more tangible and will actually make a difference nowΒ than say, recycling all your plastic bags. Which is still great and all, but this movie promotes stuff like conscious spending and finding better banks, which don’t typically get talked about in the sustainability sphere.

And back to that mindset thing…here’s something to chew on:

β€œA lot of people ask the question: ‘So if we can make such a big difference, why aren’t more people doing it?’ and I think the most fundamental barrier we face is really a belief that we can’t make a difference. That belief is the most dangerous belief that we confront because if we give away our power and our influence because we don’t think we matter, then we make that the reality.” – Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder of Seventh Generation

I’ve oscillated between feeling super jazzed about our species getting over ourselves and coming to our senses, and feeling super down-in-the-dumps, woe-is-me about the whole thing. What I’ve realized, after doing all this reading and now watching this doc, is that mindset is E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Literally. I create a more positive mindset and outlook on life, and I in turn, start to radiate happiness and rainbows out into the world. Once I start stepping into my power, instead of GIVING IT AWAY, people take notice, and walk with me, side-by-side. Then there’s strength in numbers, and badda bing, badda boom: a movement is born.

I speak as if this isn’t already happening, which is totally unfair because it is, all over the place. But I think it’s worth mentioning anyway, for those times when it seems like the mountain is too tall, or the big guys have it all and life isn’t fair. We can do this! What ever “this” is. It is all possible, and it is all available. We just have to choose.

We. Can. Do. This.

*(Oh, and did I mention that documentary is free all week long? Yeah. Go watch it right meow!)

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Plastic-Free Shaving Saga

Who knew it was so complicated? All my life, or at least from puberty onwards, I’ve grabbed my razor with conviction and confidence. One day I finally decide to take the plunge into the world of safety razors (aka those badass metal contraptions people were using long before plastic came around) and a) it takes me almost a week to work up the courage to take it out of the box, plus b) when I finally sit myself down to figure it out, it scares the crap or of me. The f*ck?!

My panic at all of a sudden being confronted with something kind of deadly sent my brain spinning. All of a sudden the relatively mundane act of shaving was not mundane at all. It required me to pay attention, like really pay attention. It made me realize, again, that we’ve made yet another thing “convenient.” There is almost no thought to it, we simply pick up our handle and zip zip, done.

With this safety razor, it’s basically the same process, but slower. Literally if you rush the process, you’ll severely injure yourself. Not to mention, the whole thing is physically heavier than a disposable razor and a bit slippery given that it’s entirely metal, so getting a grip while showering requires patience. Get a grip, Ryan! 😜

But as we learn when we de-clutter and cut back on the plastic crap, we have to slow down. Just as we can’t just throw around a bunch of jars in our cars on the way to the store or else they’ll shatter, we also can’t rush through shaving anymore. And ya know what? I kind of like that.

To add to that, I’ve found that once we eliminate wasteful plastic from our lives, things get prettier. This razor is gorgeous, which is not something I ever would have said about my plastic razors. My Preserve handle was funky and pretty dang cool, to be sure, but this thing…wow. You’d think I’d have been bouncing off the walls with glee to have this hunky hunk of metal in my own bathroom, and I was! That is, until I realized that I had to deal with it and it wasn’t going to be as brainless as a disposable blade.

It took me 10 minutes of gingerly manipulating my new tool to finally load the blade and ensure it was nice and snug. Then another 10 minutes of attempting to actually do the thing. I know, “oh brother” right? I’m laughing at myself because it’s a bit ridiculous to write a whole blog post about shaving for Pete’s sake, but hey, I’m kind of proud, because this little thing forced me to take a pause, observe, and appreciate.

That is what I love about eliminating the crap from my life. I learn something new every time and it makes my brain feel good. I feel less robotic and really, shouldn’t we all be doing things we’re a bit uncomfortable with anyway?

World Oceans Day: Celebrate the Small

There’s varying schools of thought on the effectiveness of “small acts.” I’m speaking specifically about small acts of conservation, and on World Ocean’s Day, I’d say that conversation is pretty relevant, wouldn’t you?

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I was listening to CBC radio the other day (for my US readers, this is the equivalent of NPR and it makes me so happy that it exists!) and on the showΒ (begin at the 25:00 mark!)Β was a man by the name of Dan Kraus, who is with The Nature Conservancy of Canada. The topic of conversation was small acts of conservation (say that 5x fast…) but what really got me thinking was when someone phoned in with a comment, arguing for a different perspective on small acts. His thought process went something like this: if the small-scale changes are not part of a larger, master plan, then are they really worth doing, or are we just wasting our time?

At first, I bristled. Why are people so hell-bent on writing off the little stuff?!

But then I thought some more…and came to realize that maybe this caller was kind of right. We need to frame our small actions within the context of something bigger, a larger purpose, a goal. Even if that goal is just to eliminate single-use plastics from our own house. Without a goal, Β it’s hard to rally people (in the case of this plastics goal, our families), hard to motivate ourselves (why bother?) and nearly impossible to effect change (back to the good ‘ole Ziploc!).

Here’s the deal: large acts take time. In our own houses, they take time. On the scale of city-wide change, national change, and global change…even longer. We need to work together to make big changes happen and we need big changes to keep the world from totally collapsing.

But what about the in-between time? Like physically, in between writing legislation, and lobbying for change, and meeting with corporate executives and politicians, and holding town-hall meetings with concerned citizens, and running our houses. We still need to eat, to fuel our bodies for all these activism and outreach activities. We still need to get to-and-from all of these meetings. On weekends when we want to take a break from all the advocating, we kick back at a bar with friends, where we may sip on a cold beverage or two (or three, depending on how the advocating went…).

All of these moments require some kind of decision. A decision about what to eat, what to wear, what mode of transportation to take…and how to do all of those things.. so yes, those small acts really DO matter because it’s not like we can just say our piece in a meeting about climate change, then walk out the door and jump into an Escalade while chomping down on a CAFO-raised steak. Well, yes, I suppose we could…but then what the heck was the point of meeting to talk about climate change in the first place?

By doing our small acts of conservation daily, we are walking out walk; speaking our truth; rebelling against the man in our own ways…and these make the bigger acts that much more robust. We need the small to get to the big.

So today, on World Ocean’s Day, I will be sipping my juice through my glass straw because #plasticsux but I will also be thinking up ways to get the “straw-free” movement to Kelowna (any Canadians want to join me?). Ultimately, if I’m the only one refusing a straw here, nothing will change. But if the whole city goes straw free (hey, a girl can dream!), now that would be quite a big change, don’t you think?

Wherever you are, regardless of if there is an ocean near you, go out and celebrate in whatever way you can. Celebrate water, celebrate abundance, celebrate your freedom to CHOOSE the best thing for you and this wonderful, blue planet we get to call home.

Grateful for these salty seas. ❀️

It’s the Little Things…

I spend a lot of time mulling over blog posts, that eventually get forgotten, stuck in the “draft posts” folder, accumulating dust and never seeing the light of day. But the beauty of a blog is that it can be anything: off-the-cuff musings and/or fully researched articles. I like a healthy combination of both and so, I have a new tactic: just write and publish the darned post, as it happens, even if the finished product isn’t perfect and beautiful.

That brings us to the point of this post. I find inspiration for this blog in the things others may find mundane or may typically overlook as something of a non-issue. Examples include:

  •  Food retail outlets using way too much plastic packaging (drives me absolutely mental while some may not even see the plastic as a problematic);
  • Coffee shops serving beverages in takeaway cups despite customers then sitting in the shop (what an absolute waste of resources!); and
  •  Recently, hotels and the way they accessorize their rooms.

It’s this last bullet I’d like to highlight. This past week, I’ve been traveling around BC with my better half, and we’ve stayed in a myriad of hotels, motels, and something called a “boutique hotel” (is “boutique” the new “in” word?). Given that we are both into the whole #plasticsux thing, we usually base our opinion of a place in part on what products the hotel leaves for guests. “What are they equipping the in-room coffee tray with?” and “What toiletries are provided in the bathroom?” are usually the first things we’re wondering as we step into the room.

Context: lately, I’ve become totally jaded by hotels that appear lovely on the surface, but then litter their rooms with plastic crap. I imagine a place that has nice beds, towels, and an excellent shower to also follow through on the little things but as it turns out, this is not always the case! Last summer, we checked in at The Best Western in Fernie, and were impressed with its outward appearance, but totally let down by the sheer amount of packaged stuff in the rooms. It made me want to vomit. 😑


So when you land in a space, do a walk around the room and find no plastic, it’s like the stars have aligned. This week, that happened at every single hotel (and so far, we’re up to 5, so that’s saying something!). The coolest part about this is that 4 out of the 5 places have been little motels, no chain affiliation, in the middle of nowhere.

Funky accommodations in Revelstoke!
Which begs the question: if a small, one-off place is able to provide ceramic coffee mugs and actual glass water glasses, and paper-wrapped soap without any of the other unnecessary plastic tubes of bad shampoo, why is it that a mammoth corporation like Best Western, is offering lame styrofoam cups and plastic-wrapped plastic cups (I still haven’t figured out what the f*ck is up with that) and passing it off as cost-saving measures?! Surely they don’t need to cut costs, what with the amount of traffic they see and their clientele.

Authenticity is ceramic and glass. ❀️
So to the small-town motels, still offering these little reminders that we are capable of drinking coffee out of a real mug without breaking it, I thank you. It is these little things that give me hope, and that make me want to come back, if only for the chance at holding on to a piece of something authentic.

And, if you find yourself in BC looking for a quiet, authentic place to rest your weary, adventure-filled body, here are some recommendations! πŸ˜‰

My Kind of Politics

Happy 2017 blogosphere! I’m back, I have a lot of thoughts about a lot of things, but in the interest of staying more committed to regularly updating this blog, I’ll keep this post sweet and simple.

I am not going to talk about the politics currently engulfing everyone’s news feeds and social media channels right now. We don’t need more of that and in fact I’d argue that we probably need less. Which is why, immediately following the posting of this little shpeal, I am putting on my hiking boots and going outside. It may be winter here in BC (oh right, small update readers: I moved to Canada and funnily enough, it had nothing to do with politics!) but the sun is shining and the bad news takes a backseat to Vitamin D absorption. πŸ™‚

The politics I will discuss here are the kind I can’t get enough of: plastic pollution legislation. It makes meΒ so happy to witness communities transform to protect their surroundings, to become more innovative, and to make positive changes even if the logistical challenges are very real and seemingly insurmountable. A few years ago while still living in Maine, I was involved with a local effort to place a fee on plastic bags and ban expanded polystyrene foam food packaging (read: dreaded styrofoam) and after a lot of hard work and testimonial, we won. Portland, Maine now charges 5-cents for each plastic bag used at retail locations and the first time I saw a sign alerting customers to that change, I almost started cheering in the supermarket.

So to read this morning that there is legislation being brought forward to BAN OUTRIGHT all polystyrene food packaging for the entire state of Maine gave meΒ hope. It was a nice realization that while there is a lot of crazy sh*t going on in the world right now,Β there’s also a lot of really awesome sh*t and now more than ever, we need to be talking about all that awesomeness. Kudos to Maine for taking this on, I am so excited to see it progress!!