Our First Intentional Gift-Giving Christmas

Christmas is just a few days away, and, now that the holiday is nearing, it seems like time is finally slowing down. A few nights ago, my partner and I gave each other the gifts we had gotten for each other. We set a goal this year of trying to spend less money and only purchasing gifts that were functional. They could be surprises and even funny or unique but they would be practical in one form or another. We didn’t necessarily meet the first goal, though we might have spent a little less given that several of our purchases were on sale, but we embraced our purposeful gift giving very well!

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Zero Waste Christmas: Sycamore Leaf Tags

As Christmas comes closer, less than a week away now, some of us are wrapping up our last few presents. In an effort to keep our Christmas as close to zero waste as possible, I not only chose craft paper for wrapping so that it can be recycled–also keeping a simple look for presents–I am using natural items for decorating our packages. We found all of my package decorations in nature to minimize our impact on nature during the holiday season.

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The Wonderful Utility of Glass Jars

Well, it’s been a steep month since I last posted. I could list reasons, but the reality is that, after feeling a little overwhelmed, I took a leave of absence from certain social media sites. And that spilled over to minimal internet activity altogether, WordPress included. I could have announced my brief reprieve from blogging, but it wasn’t planned, more of a spur-of-the-moment, post-election, pre-holiday season sort of reclusiveness. At any rate, I’ve re-evaluated how I want to get along with the internet, and I’m quite pleased with my new routine: Instagram once or twice a day (there is such little opinion and bias in the accounts I follow, which simplifies the purpose so much for me), Pinterest a few times a week when looking for ways to be productive or crafty, and WordPress.

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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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The End of the Romaine Heart

This is the end of our romaine lettuce heart.

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For most people, reaching the last few leaves of a lettuce heart isn’t even worth considering; perhaps it’s even a weekly occurrence. For us, however, it feels like a big deal. A few weeks ago we got a wake up call regarding many aspects of how we were living our lives, two of which were our spending and our diets. We have always tried to eat healthily but you know how it goes: two or three days of solid effort leads to a cookie here and there and ends with a late-night trip to McDonald’s. Suddenly we’re off the wagon and back to unhealthy habits. When we had to reconsider our spending, we discovered that we were spending an inordinate amount of money on eating out several times a week and groceries that we wasted. The first issues was easier to address than we thought it would be. A previous post focused on our first week of eating in for every meal and I’m proud to say that we’ve kept that trend going, already saving over a hundred dollars in the past two weeks. The second item–wasting groceries–was harder to address. Continue reading