Wrapping up February

My husband is a fan of winter, or at least he’s been in the past. It must be his Canadian roots. I, on the other hand, am not a fan of winter (short of a few things like holidays, snuggly blankets and hot cocoa). My internal thermometer runs cool to begin with, so I usually require more layers than most. When we moved South, I was so content to be rid of the cold that I did a little internal happy dance and I think Karma noticed because it’s been so damn cold these past few weeks, we have rarely left the house. Not to mention the illnesses that have run through our house… two (count ’em, two… even with the flu shot) rounds of flu in our house, RSV, sinusitis and ear infections. I get mad at myself because we do really good with preventative measures for a while, then I slack and BAM. We all get sick. So here I am, back on the wellness wagon with my oils, syrups and various homeopathic remedies with the hopes that I can keep consistent with it.

Ok – February was my month to try to figure out our sustainability plan, at least for the first half of the year. Here’s what we’ve done so far.

FOOD

  • Planted our first batch of garden veggies and fruit for this year: broccoli, lettuces, strawberries, bell peppers, green onions, rosemary, thyme, cucumber (even though it was unintentional) and basil.
  • We will re-start our compost when the weather gets warm so we don’t have to buy top soil to feed the plants (and I don’t need to fill the landfill with our food waste).
  • I have been making a lot of things at home which saves on packaging, gas and of course on the cost of processing (i.e., my homemade kombucha costs way less than GT’s). Here’s what we make: Mayo, ketchup, hoisin sauce, sriracha, almond milk, almond butter, date butter, water kefir, kombucha, chicken stock (although I do buy some also), and ghee (I also often buy this too if I run out of the homemade stuff).
  • We have looked into beekeeping and will be (sub)urban beekeepers by the end of this year, which is when my hive arrives. I have some books coming that I need to read and plan on attending a few classes before year-end.
  • Unfortunately, we aren’t allowed to keep chickens in our neighborhood, but we are “fostering” two chicks from a local farm in the spring for two weeks, which then buys us a certificate for some eggs from those hens later on. We consume a lot of eggs so it’s helpful when we know where the eggs come from.

WATER

  • We installed a mini heater tank under our kitchen sink so we don’t waste an entire gallon of water waiting for hot water.
  • As weird as it is to put this on the list since we’ve always done it, there is something to be said about bathing all 3 kids together. They have fun and I save on water. Some people may think it’s weird, but if I’m pressed for time, I bring all 3 of them into the shower with me and we are all in and out in 15 minutes. Seriously. They’re 4, 2.5 an 1.5.

PAPER & WASTE

  • My goal for April is to learn how to sew so I can make us reusable paper towels made from terry cloth that you can roll up like a paper towel roll (like this). I know it seems basic to sew something like this, but I can’t sew AT ALL so I signed up for a class.
  • We try to recycle as much as we can and reuse boxes, egg cartons and paper towel rolls for crafts. We order from Amazon (a lot) so we tend to have lots of boxes.
  • I try to be conscious of what goes into our trash to try to figure out if there is something we can do instead of throwing it out.
  • After lots of discussion with hubby, while we agree that cloth diapering would be logical if we want to be sustainable, we came to an agreement that it’s just not going to work for our family, so I’m trying to find ways to make up for our usage of diapers. On a happy note though, little man has been pooping in the potty for the past few weeks and is making strides toward consistently peeing in the potty so I hope he’ll be out of diapers soon.

ENERGY

  • We’ve been slowly replacing our light bulbs with energy-efficient ones throughout the house.
  • We’ve been teaching the kids to turn of lights when they leave the room, or to use sunlight instead of lights whenever possible.

WELLNESS & PERSONAL CARE

  • Toiletries: I’m slowly starting to replace certain items, like lotions with homemade options and plan on doing toothpaste next.
  • Laundry: We’ve been using wool balls for a while and I made laundry detergent (I’ve tried 2 different recipes) but it still wasn’t cleaning as well as Tide was so for now, we’re back on the Tide band wagon.
  • Cleaners: I have a disinfectant made with Thieves oil  that we use but I hope to make a few more blends in the future. I know a lot of people do baking soda and vinegar but I don’t find that it’s stable in a bottle beyond immediate use so whenever I remember I do baking soda and vinegar but right now it’s been soap, water, Thieves, and occasionally Method spray.
  • Medicines: I’ve been using essential oils for about 6 months and can attest to how well they’ve worked for us, so I’ve made some blends and am now one of those crazy ladies who has an oil for every ailment! On a serious note though, they have helped me bring down the kids’ fevers and gotten rid of headaches without the use of ibuprofen or acetaminophen, helped with indigestion and we’re currently using them (in conjunction with traditional medications) to treat the kids’ RSV and my sinus/ear infection. They’ve been fairly successful so I’m now making some blends for family and friends too (stay tuned for info about Green Stone Wellness. 😉 Email is up, but I don’t have a website yet). I am also about to make my first homemade batch of elderberry syrup (it’s an immune booster for anyone who is curious) and gummies, and am reading up on making some herbal tea blends as well.

FUTURE STUFF/WISH LIST:

  • Solar panels: Still fairly cost prohibitive for us so this is on the wish list.
  • Gutters and then rain barrels. We don’t have gutters so we’d have to save up for gutter installation before we can even think about rain barrels. I also found a system that allows you to take your sink and shower water to use as gray water for your plants, but I think that might require some structural changes, so it’ll have to be something to look into for the future also.
  • I’m looking into various courses: aromatherapy, homeopathy, herbal wellness, tea sommelier that are very interesting but will have to save up for them. The courses to obtain certification are expensive. In the meantime, I plan to read copious amounts on those topics instead. I do have some gardening and bee keeping courses coming up so that will keep me busy.

So that’s that. There’s my attempt at helping us be more green and live more sustainably. Here’s where I am with my goals this year.

2015 Goals:
January: Whole30 – Check, and continuing. We’ve been able to continue eating this way though have reintroduced honey, especially with the kids being sick. Hubby has had a couple tortillas from Chipotle while on the road, and I caved and had a tall caramel macchiato from Starbucks. It wasn’t worth it. The kids have had one mini cupcake each from a friend’s birthday party. Otherwise, we’ve been “compliant” on all other foods. Paleo FTW!!
February: Sustainability – Check, and continuing. I want to do an energy audit at some point.

Now for March.

March is going to be a tough one. My goal for March is to stop yelling and reconnect with my kids.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a big heart but I also have a big temper, which manifests itself through being loud and frequently, inappropriate language starting with the letter F. We’ve been following the gentle parenting band wagon for some time now but I slip, particularly when life gets busy. The point is, try as I may, I haven’t made a enough of an effort not to yell or get mad or curseI wouldn’t say that I fly off the handle at every little thing. For the most part I try to explain things and get down on the kids’ level… until I get mad. Then the whole world knows it. So. I’m re-reading my copies of Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen, reading through Janet Lansbury’s blog posts, and setting in place some strategies to use when my blood boils. Oh, and a curse jar. Because my 4-year old knows to tell me that “shit” and “fuck” are not nice words… even for when I drop things or stub my toe.

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