It's been a while....

....but I needed it.  I hope it hasn't been too long.  After the move from the old blog, I needed to take a break and focus on me.  I'm sorry I didn't let you know, it just happened.  But now I am back, bright and happy, and trying my darndest to get into the Christmas spirit.  Are you struggling this year too? 

Well, the tree is up, the lights are on the house, and the candles are in the windows yet I still can't seem to get into it.  I even watched my all-time favorite Christmas movie Elf.  Love Elf!  "I'm singing/I'm in a store/and I'm siiiiiingiiiiing!/I'm in a store/and I'm siiiiiingiiiiing!"..... I digress.  Okay, but I still can't get into it.  Maybe I miss my family, I know I miss snow, but maybe it's consumerism that has gotten the best of me.  I just can't get into Christmas.  Ugh.  My favorite holiday and I can't wrap my arms around it and tell it how much I love it.  So, I am sitting here with a mug of Candy Cane tea, hoping that will help.  And I think I will do some crafting of gifts tomorrow- that should do the trick too.  There, I am feeling better already!

What do you do to get into the spirit when you feel zapped? 


Family History

My grandmother Carmela knows every date that anything happened in her life and the lives of her family.  Seriously, she is like a walking almanac for us.  "Grandma, what year did you parents get married?"  "1921"  "How old were you in this picture, Grandma?"  "I was 8 years old."  "Grandma, what happened on September 28th, 1937?"  Okay, well maybe not that one but pretty close.  Her mind is a steel trap.  Somehow, I can't remember where I put my lunch that I made 10 minutes ago when I am trying to get out the door to work but my grandma can remember everything. 

Grandma was going through some of these memories when she decided that I, as the oldest grandchild, should become the next generation of family historian and she sent me a package of wonderful family photos.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love old notstalgic things so I was beyond thrilled when I got this package out of nowhere. 

Here is what it contained:

  • a note from Grandma explaining the package

  • a set of my Papa's (Great Grandpa) keys

  • old receipts from 1921 from my Papa's store

  • My Great-Great Grandfather Nunzio's Visa to return to Italy from the US in 1921

  • a dozen or so photos of my great ancestors- Nunzio, Papa (John was his name), Anne, Grace, the whole gang dating from 1900 to 1950's when my father was young

To me, these are incredible bits of family history that I am honored to have in my life.  I called my grandparents and thanked them for the gift.  These are irreplaceable and priceless.

I plan on scanning these photos and treasures into my computer for safe keeping.  But I am also an old fashioned girl myself and I just can't pass up the opportunity to preserve these memories in a tactile way.  So, I am off to the craft store to get supplies to put these in a archival photo book so that, one day, I can pass on the treasures and stories to my grandchildren and they to theirs. 

Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa.  You are the greatest gift a granddaughter can ask for.


Shabby Apple Dare to Design Lawn Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

Oh, my favorite giveaway is one that is HANDMADE from the very person doing the giving awaying! And today is no different...

How could you not love this dress?  And it's green!  Check it out over at the fabu Grosgrain Fabulous!

And since I have decided to wear dresses more often than not, it goes with my new flow!  Hurrah!
Shabby Apple Dare to Design Lawn Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!




Amidst all of the chaos and craziness going on right now, I feel it is incredibly appropriate to discuss a little thought provoked by my yoga teacher a few weeks ago. In our dharma lesson at the beginning of class, the always insightful Asha spoke of choosing to respond and not react. Reactions are an immediate response the body and brain create as soon as something happens. A response is something you are active in creating along with your body and your brain. Get it?

Here's the Dictionary.com definition of the two words:

–verb (used without object)
to reply or answer in words: to respond briefly to a question.

to make a return by some action as if in answer: to respond generously to a charity drive.

to react favorably.

Physiology. to exhibit some action or effect as if in answer; react: Nerves respond to a stimulus.

to correspond (usually fol. by to).

–verb (used with object)
to say in answer; reply.


–verb (used without object)
to act in response to an agent or influence: How did the audience react to the speech?

to act reciprocally upon each other, as two things.

to act in a reverse direction or manner, esp. so as to return to a prior condition.

to act in opposition, as against some force.

to respond to a stimulus in a particular manner: reacting to a shock by jumping; to react to the word “coward” with anger.

to undergo a chemical reaction.

Wow. Look at the descriptive words in the two definitions: respond has words like "make a return, answer, favorably" while react has words like "act, opposition, against, undergo a chemical reaction" That last one is incredible. "Ungergo a chemical reaction." A reaction is exactly that-- a chemical reaction in the brain and body that elicit an outward action. While a response requires thought to put a voice behind it... see the word "verbally" in there?
If we choose to respond and not react, what would happen?

....Would you throw that plastic water bottle in the trash or would you stop and think about where you could recycle it instead?

....If you saw someone begging for money, would you brush them off as hopeless or consider that you may be one paycheck away from the same situation?

....Would you flip off the person who just cut you off or would you say a small prayer for their safety? (that's a hard one, I know)

If we all respond instead of react, can this world be a better place?

Weird News


"You're so weird." "Why would anyone do all of that? You're crazy." "Why do you always have to be so....so....difficult?"

We hear it over and over again. And by "we" I mean all of us who try their hardest to make each day a little greener than the last. To leave a little smaller footprint, to change the world (or at least our own little corner of it). And people think we are weird, we are challenging their ways of thinking, we are going out of our way to do things differently. Yes, we are. We want to challenge you like we have been challenged. We know that going a little bit out of our way can make a huge impact on the world. And so, we keep going and tell ourselves that soon it will be weird NOT to do these things. And it's working....slowly but surely it is working, my friends.

And then there is the truly weird. The things that are done in the name of the environment that just make us all shake our heads in wonder. Here's a few gems to get you going:

In Germany, you get a 5 Euro discount for biking to the brothels. What kind of discount do you get for walking?

An out of work couple put their business and eco sense to work and started Earth Erotic Parties- eco-friendly sex toy parties for you and your green friends!

And....drumroll please.... 8 (count 'em, 8!) weirdo earth friendly inventions from our friends over at Inventor Spot. I mean, don't you know someone who wants some clothing made out of cigarette butts? Who wouldn't?! (Insert sarcasm at any point here, people.)

A is for Apple


My darling friend Cate is so dear to me. She lives her life to the fullest and I admire that tenacity. She and her husband travel the world, are SCUBA certified, and are just generally cool people. I want to be Cate when I grow up. She rocks.

She rocks so much, in fact, that she brought me apples picked from trees in Western Virginia when she was out that way this past weekend. I was home tending to my husband and his ankle sprain and couldn't make the trip and Cate thought of me!

Look at these gorgeous apples!!!

I am sooo lucky. I want to pick bushels full but, for now, this will do. I had one at lunch today. I am having apple cobbler for dinner (yes, just that for dinner- what?)

There is something about a crisp fresh fall apple that just makes me smile. Maybe it's meeting the people who grow them, who tend to their trees and welcome us to their little part of the world every year. Maybe it's the brisk autumn air in my lungs and on my breath. It could even be the hayrides and leaves falling. Whatever it is, fall is the best season for warm snuggles, a cup of tea, and a crisp apple by the fire in the evening.

Fashion Friday

I love a good theme. The give you a purpose, a knowledge of what is to come, a sense of security. I think about that scene in Legally Blond (yes, I've watched it, so what?) where Elle comes to the "costume party" dressed as a Playboy bunny and no one else is dressed up in costume- how mortifying! Well, this theme is much simpler and does not require costumes on your part-- though I really don't know if you are wearing a costume while you read this so who am I to judge? I give to you: Fashion Friday! Every Friday I will shed some light on some of the most fabulous green fashion finds out there, and I will be keeping your wallet-friendly budget in mind while I do it! Hurrah!

So let's start with the basics (and my favorites!) The basic Jeans and T-Shirt.


AA tee

American Apparel has always provided the best quality at a discount price and their shirts are 100% cotton, 20% of which is organic (score!). They also have plans to increase that organic cotton percentage. They have a fantastic line called American Apparel Sustainable Edition with all the basics for you and your loved ones -- baby included! At $18.00 a pop for a cute, well-fitting, organic, sustainable tee, you just can't beat it!

Nothing goes better with an AA shirt than a good pair of classic Levi's. Levi Strauss has been the leader in eco-friendly jeans- from their organic indigo dye, to using organic cotton, to (my fav) recycled rivets, zippers, and buttons, Levi's rule. Check out the Levi's Eco line online or at your local store.

Do you have a favorite eco-friendly fashion find? Share it with me in the comments or e-mail me and I will include it next week!

Green Guide for Artists


If you know me, you know I am into crafty things these days (remember the Handmade Home post?).  I am loving making things for my friends and family (and occasionally for myself!)  When I heard about the book Green Guide for Artists over at a blog fav of mine, Crafting a Green World, I knew this was one I had to rush to the bookstore to pick up!
This book is a gem and, while I haven't read through every project, I have plans for many future gifts.  Check out the full review by the darling Wenona Napolitano over at Crafting a Green World.  Also, the Amazon reviews are great for more details- I will be posting several of my own soon, I am sure.
So... when I went to Amazon to check out the reviews, it recommended another purchase for me.  A lovely little book called "Re-Bound" by Jeannine Stein.  I, of course, will take the Amazon recommendation!

Perfect to go with my new homemade journal from Handmade Home!
I am looking for more time in my days for crafts... how do you make time?

I am Honored

Well, it's been a bit of a crazy time. My darling husband is gimping around after spraining his ankle on the job so I have been house-maid and nurse. Awww. It has been so busy, in fact, that I haven't kept up with my other blogs on my Google Reader account and I nearly missed some exciting news! The ever-so-fabulous Marisa Miller Wolfson at Vegan at Heart included this little blog in her recent post on blogging bliss in the vegan/eco-active world. AND my boy Michael Parrish Dudell wrote about Marisa's list over at Veg Daily! Woot!

Vegan at heart

Check out the list and show some love and learn a little while you're at it!

Peace and Peas!

Handmade Home

This weekend was a whirlwind of crafting and little projects to get ready for the gift giving season (and maybe also to treat myself).  Without giving too much away, let me see if I can share some of what was accomplished.
I made the above "Mama Bag" (since I am a Mama to my four-legged kids) from the gorgeous book Handmade Home.  As always, Amanda Soule brings incredible crafts to life and breaths new breath into cast off items.  The above bag was made from some leftover upholstery weight fabric that's been sitting around my craft room wondering what it will become some day.  I do believe you will have some friends soon, oh darling bag of mine.
The notebook below "Brandie's Book" (now Valerie's Book) is completely recycled, reused materials with a little Mod Podge thrown in for good measure.
Once it's bound at the local copy store, it's ready to be the home of any and every creative thought tossing around in my head.

Okay, so those two projects were for me but I really just wanted to try them out before I make them for others.  I am so thoughtful, aren't I?
The final project was one I have been thinking about for a long time.  My darling pooch Macallan had an old tired nylon collar that has seen better days.  I wanted to reuse the perfectly good clasp and D-ring and also use up some scrap fabric.  Leave it to Keyka Lou to have the tutorial.  It really took about 15 minutes and my little girl took a nap while I worked.  Now, isn't she pretty?

I'm thinking of taking orders at the local dog park for some seasonal collars.  Who doesn't love a good Fall leaves or Santa collar on their precious pup?!
As always, please leave me your re-purposing craft tips in the comments... and share pictures, please.  We all love pictures!

Full Quiver Farm


This is the life. Full Quiver Farm is an all-natural, organic farm in Suffolk, VA. It's about 25 minutes from our house and well worth the trip yesterday. This farm, run by the Wilson family, is located in the heart of the farmland in Suffolk. Just listen... you can hear the calm quiet stillness...

Happy chickens (the true definition of free-range organic) eat what they want, when they want.

Meeting of the minds.

The Wilsons turned a trailer into a chicken coop. This makes for easy moving to rotate the crops they graze on and also re-uses items they already had.

One happy happy man.

The pigs live in the woods, just like pigs love to do. They eat and play all day in the shade and seem to be having the time of their lives.

"You got a snack for me?"

Hello, gorgeous dairy cow!

Sleepy baby. They get to take their time growing up out here.

One year old dairy cows. They live right across the street from their moms and seem to really enjoy life.

The quintessential red trailer.

Chickens of all kinds just hangin' out- I love the one perched on the old fence!

Punk rock chick.


Thank you, Wilson family, for making us feel so welcome. We are honored to have walked your farm and met your family. You are truly blessed.

Wordle's are fun for everyone!

My composting post was pretty popular- thanks for the shared tips and ideas!  I think the words everyone shared are so important, I wanted to do something creative with it.  So here it is, my Wordle:
Cool, huh?!
Get your very own Wordle here.

Tis the Season!


[photo: how about orange]

Unlike the masses, I shop all year for the perfect gift for holidays (birthdays, Christmas, because-it's-Thursday) I love to go to my local craft shows and fairs and find the ideal item for my loved ones. That is if I'm not already making it myself, of course. But I do have an under-bed bin full of things I have picked up through the year just in case or just because. (My hubby's gifts are well hidden and not in the bin- so don't even go there, mister!)

Any way you do your gifting, you're going to need to get to wrapping. We wrap gifts in our house with up-cycled newspaper, old posters, maps, whatever is lying around. Do you really need manufactured paper to wrap a gift that is going to get ripped open in two seconds?

Jessica Jones over at How About Orange has a great tutorial on making your own bows from recycled magazine pages.


[photo: how about orange]

Her step by step instructions and photos make me want to rip a magazine apart right now and get going. Check out her lovely tutorial and have fun with your gift wrapping this season!

Composting How-To

No one likes gross things. Well, no one except Mike Rowe. That's a man who likes to get down and dirty. Now I am all for digging your hands into the earth, feeling the soil you work with, letting nature be a part of you-- all that. There is just one thing I find disgusting and fascinating at the same time: my compost bin.
I love that pretty much all of my food scraps can go in there. (tip: I don't eat meat so no meat scraps!) I love that I put a box of worms in there a year ago and now I have hundreds of little worms hard at work. And, most of all, I love that I am saving all of those food and yard scraps from the landfills and instead they are becoming black beautiful dirt that I use in the garden.
Fall is a great time to get a pile going. The pile will need some time to develop and, to really turn into good usable soil, it takes heat and time. And turning. Lots and lots of turning. But start building your pile now and you'll have some great soil to look forward to soon!
There are several different ways to compost.
  1. I use the old single bin method. The bin was given to me by a local caterer's assistant, Kat, who didn't use it and said she never would. Would I be willing to take it? she asked. You bet your asparagus I will! My bin requires turning if I want usable soil every six months or so. Otherwise, it takes about a year with the worms working all on their own.
  2. The three pile method is popular among people with lots of space (and far away neighbors). You have three piles in varying stages of compost-ness that you tend to. There are no lids involved so turning often is key to keep critters at bay. Also, I do not recommend this method in a residential situation. Your neighbor's nose will thank you.
  3. One of the most popular methods is the compost tumbler. This bin on a stand comes with a handle for easy turning. You simply turn it around a time or two every so often and you can have luscious dirt in only a few weeks! Now that's speedy!

There are also a few rules:
  • always keep your pile moist- it helps with decomposing and keeps critters (read: rats) from setting up shop
  • choose a site in full sun. Compost needs heat to activate so give it all you've got
  • NO MEAT SCRAPS. Think about it- this stuff is going back into the earth in the long run so don't put anything in it that didn't come from the dirt.
  • Do not compost your dog or cat waste. 'Nuff said.
  • Worms are your friends. Go get a box or bag of worms at the local bait and tackle shop and give them a new happy home. All of their worm friends will be jealous.
  • Have fun- what's good for the planet is good for you!
Have a composting tip to share or a how-to question? Leave it in the comments!

Life's a beach

Going to the beach always reminds me of the big picture.  We are all parts of a big bad awesome world out there and every moment of our lives can affect it.  Don't take it for granted.  Appreciate all the world has to offer you at every moment.  Life's a beach- go play!!!
[consider me warned]
[just as I suspected]
[i love jerusalem trees]

[see you again soon]

a bit of home

It's easy to be true to yourself when you are at home.

Home truly is where the heart is.

newspaper project

We've been working on a little less REcycling and a little more UPcycling in our house lately. Don't get me wrong, recycling is key and the more of it, the better. I take my recycling to the collection center religiously (oh, how I long for the days of curbside recycling pickup!) but I have been thinking there has got to be a better way to deal with all of this newspaper.

And then it dawned on me. Take them to your local animal shelter. We have so many to choose from around here ......by work, by home, on the way home from work?..... and they are in desperate need of newspaper on a daily basis. So I gathered up a huge stack today and stopped by the local SPCA. It took an extra 5 minutes out of my life (okay 15 since I have to say hi to all of the four legged friends) and they were more than grateful. Those puppies and kitties can't tell me how glad they are but I know I made a difference, and for that I am grateful to them.

Recycling, upcycing, reusing, and renewing make a difference. You just have to see beyond the front page. What are you going to upcycle today?

Turning Over a New Leaf

Fall is here. This truly is my favorite season. While the leaves here in Virginia have barely started to turn colors, the crisp breeze and warm sunshine signals fall just as well as any color show. It's been made official in our house with open windows, jackets out of storage, reading the paper on the deck (oh wait, that's Macallan in my chair!), and fires in the firepit at night.
This time of year always makes me pause, reflect, and hone in on what is important to me. Maybe it's the extra blankets thrown on the bed or those cozy evenings snuggled by the fire but I just feel like making my home and my Self a priority in the fall.
I find it fitting, then, that this inagural post consist of a little bit of me. For you.
Things to Do in This Lifetime (in no particular order and certainly not definitive)
  • learn to scuba

  • go to Italy, Greece, and France

  • drive a stickshift car

  • learn to play the guitar

  • attend an ashram for at least a week

  • take a trip with my mom, just the two of us

  • (finally) learn to knit

  • ride a horse in Yellowstone National Park

  • live on a farm

  • do something kind for someone every single day

  • lovelovelovelovelove
Cheers to this glorious fall!