For the Love of a Cat, a Partner, and S’mores

Life partners, domestic partners, spouses, significant others: whatever you want to call them, they can be so amazing sometimes. Especially in emotional times. This past week was a little stressful for us. In addition to general issues at work and what felt like a lot of running around, it took me well into the week to realize that I had some anxiety building up over the coming weekend. Last year we let go of our older cat at the end of October, and, even though I thought I was handling it well, I wasn’t as prepared for the emotions that came with it as I thought I was.

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Farmers’ Market Finds

We had another successful trip to the farmers’ market this Saturday after several weeks without a visit. The season has led to a few missing fruits and veggies as well as the introduction of autumn crops. Our vegetable vendor has a lot of greens this week, hopefully alleviating our lettuce troubles at the local grocery store, as well as organic carrots, squash, and potatoes. The shift in offerings completes a change in the weather and color as fall settles in the gulf, and we’re excited to see what we can do in our meals with new options. Continue reading

Using Minimalism To See the Positive

I’ve talked a bit about my company’s recent changes in a previous post, but to sum up we moved to a new office that impacted many of our commutes. A lot of us now have longer commutes in worse traffic with higher costs with tolls. After downsizing to a smaller, cheaper apartment, my partner and I broke even with the cost and were surprised when my company responded to complaints by giving full-time employees a one-time payment to supplement a year’s travel expenses. I was very grateful for the gesture, especially since we had already adjusted our budget and were able to put that money directly into our savings. However, as a one-time payment, that meant that I would technically be taking a pay decrease after a year.

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A Mindful Tuesday

There is nothing that beats the smell of a fresh cup of Earl Grey tea in the morning. It’s reminiscent of early autumn mornings and makes me think of rust-colored leaves and bookshops. I imagine myself in a scene from You’ve Got Mail, discussing bouquets of sharpened pencils and walking beside small markets on a crisp October morning. Of course, my morning is nothing like that; instead, I trade lanes with other commuters along a backed up highway and a too-small toll road for forty minutes before parking in a covered structure–concrete and the bustle of city business everywhere–but that smell of Earl Grey really does make my morning better. And that fragrant flavor lasts me well into my morning. Continue reading

The Healthier Choice: Potato Chips

We are foodies in many senses of the word. We love food: eating it, cooking it (most of the time), its smells, its flavors, creating our own dishes, trying new places. Most recently this shifted slightly when we started considering what went into our bodies by way of our food. We realized quickly that we were allowing some terrible ingredients into our systems, many of which we couldn’t pronounce and which were man-made. I’ve always heard the easiest way to determine what is good for you and what you don’t want going into your body is simply a matter of whether or not you can or pronounce it, and I’m getting closer to believing it after a single change we recently made. Continue reading

Online Permaculture Course via Oregon State University

Oregon State University is offering a free online permaculture course starting on October 31st–and I’m inviting you to join me in enrolling in the course! It will require an average of 2-4 hours each week in reading, watching lectures, and completing projects, and it looks like it will be very informative, including information on regional design.

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Environmental Impressions of Southern California

We recently returned from several days in southern California, and it treated us well, especially with the weather which stayed in the mid-eighties and low-nineties with practically no humidity.  The people were polite as well, and I couldn’t get over how relaxed the traffic was every time we went out onto the road. Granted we were mostly in a suburb of Anaheim and along the coast, so we didn’t have to experience the traffic of L.A. proper, which is one of only three cities known to have comparable or worse traffic than Houston. Regardless, relaxed and polite driving is one of the things for which I have to commend southern California because I don’t think I have ever been so happy to drive below the speed limit or let people merge in front of me as I was on our outings this past week. It made the trip all the more relaxing. That wasn’t all of course; a few impressions stuck with us throughout the week in addition to the chill drivers.

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The Organic Danger of Landfills

I am in California this week attending a conference focusing on the oil and energy industries. The objective of the sponsoring organization, to standardize procedures for safer and more economically friendly practices, is beneficial, but as someone who wears writer and editor hats in these industries, I am often not interested in the content so much as the publishing aspects of the projects. So some conversation goes over my head. This year, however, the guest speaker for our breakfast discussed proposed EPA changes to limit emissions in California. What caught my eye about his talk was one of his first slides, which described the estimated responsibility of methane emissions in California via a pie chart. Despite speaking at an oil and energy conference, only 9% of the total methane emissions in the state were from oil production, keeping most attendees’ eyes toward the smaller sections of the chart. My eyes, however, went immediately to the largest sections. Agriculture took the prize at close to half the emissions, but there in the second slice, boasting more than 30% of emissions in the state, was a very simple word: landfills.

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Paper Cups

I am such a routine-based individual. I work at routines until I get them the way I like them, down to their fastest, easiest, or most enjoyable versions, and then I find comfort in their familiarity. Only recently have I begun analyzing my routines and how they work for me and our lifestyle goals. One particular subject is my nightly hygiene routine, which has been very similar since middle school. Basically caring for my contacts and brushing my teeth, it’s varied a bit as I added or removed items. For example, I don’t wear makeup now, so my skincare process is very simple: only washing my face every other night or so with a bar of soap and adding moisturizer. Last year I also started using a sinus rinse at my doctor’s urging to help with the allergies that plague nearly all those who transplant to Houston. But the one thing that I had never changed in at least twenty-five years was my use of paper cups when brushing my teeth.

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My Bedside Table

I have always had a bedside table with a single lamp and room to hold a book, a glass of water, and my glasses at night.

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Now it is in the form of older design that was refinished by my grandmother for me. It’s a wonderful light oak color with a single drawer. I love it. Unfortunately since my childhood, I have struggled to keep my bedside table clear of clutter so that it is functional. It would become a catch-all for pocket filler when I undressed at night, the designated spot for stray importants such as receipts or business cards, and the landing strip for random items from nearly empty chapsticks and highlighters to that single sock that was missing its mate and the thinning checkbook on its last carbon copy. At least it was until now. Continue reading