Tag Archive | project

Milk and Alfalfa

During the season of Lent, the congregation I serve will be meeting on Wednesday nights and doing a 6-week study on the topic of food ethics. We’re calling the study Food Matters and we’re going to be wrestling with the following question: How do we practice our faith at the table?

For much of the last 8 weeks, I’ve been doing research:  reading books and articles, as well as watching documentaries and video-recorded lectures posted on the internet about anything related to the global food system. I’m not yet as well-informed as Michael Pollan, but I feel like I surely must be close.

I’m so saturated, in fact, that I am having a hard time engaging in conversations about anything else. I’m not sure if it is my preoccupation or the curiosity of the other person, but somehow the conversation always veers onto the topic of food. I stayed with friends in Memphis – we talked about food ethics. They invited 10 people to dinner – we talked about food ethics. I went to the Ministerial Alliance breakfast gathering – we talked about food ethics.

I’m afraid I may be starting to repeat myself. But, here I go again …

The big news in the last few weeks to those who care deeply about the condition of our food supply is the USDA’s approval without restriction on the sale and planting of genetically modified alfalfa.

Alfalfa is the primary food for dairy cows. Organic alfalfa is the primary food for dairy cows producing organic milk. If genetically modified alfalfa cross-pollinates with organic alfalfa, then the formerly-organic alfalfa can no longer be certified as organic … and neither can any milk that comes from any cow who eats it.

The unrestricted planting of genetically modified alfalfa threatens the future of organic milk producers, not to mention the future of milk.

I don’t intend to get on my soapbox about this issue in this posting, especially not at this time of night. But I’m noticing that I’m buying milk and drinking milk more often in these last few weeks. It’s as though my body is manifesting my concern about the future of milk by trying to hoard it in preparation for whatever may come.

It saddens me to think that we have to be so concerned about the safety of our food.

For more information, read Marion Nestle on the threat of genetically modified crops, Robyn O’Brien on how the increase in food allergies is related to genetic engineering of food items, or read the letter in opposition signed by 25 Big Names in Organic and food safety.


100 Things

Yesterday, I issued my Clutter Buster 28 Challenge and I’m looking forward to the results of that challenge much more so than the actual work of the challenge.

Today, I’m still pondering the Clutter Buster 28 Challenge and I’m intrigued by Dave who began his 100 Thing Challenge more than 2 years ago.

In short, Dave owns only 100 personal items.

That’s all.

Now, there are a few rules and exclusions (and you can see more information at 100 Thing Challenge) but for the most part, Dave has pared down the stuff he owns to the bare minimum.

To be clear: I do not feel called to go quite as far as Dave. But I have decided to honor the spirit of Dave’s challenge. During my 28 Days of Organization (better known as Clutter Buster 28), I intend to get rid of at least 100 things (preferably by giving away, but possibly by recycling or throwing away). As I said, it’s not how Dave chose to do it; but it’s a start.

Feel ready to get a start on your spring cleaning? Or just tired of the clutter that’s built up over the long, cold winter? I’m looking for companions in this journey through February. Post a comment to join in or just to encourage me!


28 Days of Organization

I bought my house more than a year ago, but I only finished moving in about 4 months ago. Sound strange? Yeah, maybe. Because of all the moving around I’ve done while preparing for professional ministry, I’ve lived in a lot of places. At the time of buying my house, I had two sizable storage units (in two different states).

In November and December of 2009, I emptied one storage unit of its contents and moved these “treasures” into my house.

In January 2010, I “inherited” a houseful of furniture and belongings from a friend whose mother had passed away and who was looking for a good home for furnishings and other home goods. (We completely filled a rather large U-haul truck.)

Over the summer of 2010, I slowly but surely cleaned out the last storage unit. The final car-load was moved out in September.

Cut to January 2011. I have a house full of junk. Ok, it’s not all junk. In fact, there’s very little of it that is actually junk. My problem is that the inside of my house looks like a junk pile.

Nothing is organized. Very few things have a “proper place” in the house. I can’t find anything that I’m looking for and, most of the time, it drives me crazy. (The only time it doesn’t drive me crazy is when I’m not at home.)




With that being said … I am issuing the Clutter Buster 28 Challenge (also known as the 28 Days of Organization). Every day during the month of February, I’m going to spend a little bit of time (anywhere from 10 minutes to the whole day) getting my house organized.

I recognize that the task of organizing my house is a huge job. (Not only is it a big house … but I also have a lot of stuff!) And, since I will still be trying to do my job while taking on this little project, I am fairly certain that I will not be completely finished organizing the house as the month of February comes to a close.

But you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

I’ve already spent some time scouting out the locations most in need of attention and took some “BEFORE” pictures, just to document the process. Join my in my challenge, either by following the blog and offering support and encouraging comments … or do your own Clutter Buster 28 Challenge and see how the shortest month of the year can help make the biggest difference to your living space.

See tomorrow.


2 Happy Dogs

I suppose the title of this blog could be read to mean two different things: either I’m going to give you two ways to pamper your pooch this Christmas  OR  I have two dogs and they are both quite content. I like to think that both are accurate. (See photo at left for my happy – and quirky – dogs!)

If you’ve got quirky and lovable dogs at home, then check out these ideas for your pets:

1. Doggie Bed made from t-shirt scraps

Yes, this craft is actually for a chair, in the style of those great old bean-bag chairs. (Can you actually call those things “chairs”?) But it occurs to me that this project would be a great way to use old t-shirts, while saving money by avoiding those fancy dog beds with hefty price tags.

2. Homemade Doggie Treats

Yes, it really sounds like spoiling your pup, doesn’t it? But when you think of all the ingredients in those commercial treats AND the cost of those darn things … it almost seems like a no-brainer! Click the link above for an enormous list of doggie treat recipes.

Tomorrow: 1 Thing You Probably Didn’t Know.

See you then.


11 Eco-friendly Gifts

Well, let’s get to it, shall we?

11. If it truly is the thought that counts, then give thoughtful and meaningful gifts that have lower price tags for both your wallet and the environment. Offer coupons for childcare or petcare or lawncare or household work or a car wash. Give a gift that shows the person that you’re thinking about their needs.

10. Give gifts that make use of services instead of products: a massage, a manicure or pedicure, piano lessons, French lessons, cooking lessons. Better yet, give in the name of your recipient to organizations like Heifer Project International; they’ll receive the gift of knowing that somewhere in the world, a family’s life is richer and healthier and more secure because of them.

9. Give the gift of an experience: a theatre production, a concert, a museum visit, an ice-skating adventure. Either give tickets so they can go and take someone; or go with them and let your gift be the gift of time spent together with you.

8. Give antiques or heirlooms or treasured personal items: your grandfather’s watch, your great-grandmother’s brooch, a crystal vase that your parents brought home from their trip to Ireland. Not only is this a wonderful way of recycling, but it is also a way to make your gift a meaningful one.

7. Grow your gifts. Give several lovely little pots of different herbs, or one beautiful, larger pot with several kinds of herbs in it. You could combine plants of oregano, basil and thyme for an “Italian Seasoning” herb blend. Consider the recipient and then choose plants accordingly.

6. Christmas is one of the best times to give edible gifts. Edible gifts are such a treat that we who receive them come to look forward to them from year to year, allowing them to become part of our own holiday traditions. I still firmly believe that every Christmas holiday season should include my Aunt Trudy’s peanut butter fudge and Sally’s extraordinary divinity. They are treasured parts of my Christmas tradition. But don’t worry if you can’t master these difficult delicacies. Every December issue of home-keeping magazines, as well as the Internet, is full of recipes for cookies, cakes, candies and other delights that are easy to make. A little research and you’re all set. But don’t limit yourself to sweets: make homemade salsa or humas or other savory gifts.

5. Consider buying gifts that are made from recycled materials: purses made from candy wrappers, earrings made from reclaimed glass. There are as many gifts to choose from as there are things to be recycled. Check around and find artisans who work with recycled items; not only are you reducing your total Christmas footprint, but you’re helping do reduce waste in landfills.

4. Buy local. Shop local craft fairs or find local crafters and artisans: woodcrafters, potters, metalworkers, etc. If an item has been made locally, then it doesn’t have to be shipped, which means it doesn’t have as large an ecological price tag. Plus it supports local industry.

3. Every time I unpack my winter clothes, I see the scarf Kathy made for me and I think of her with affection. Do you knit? Crochet? Work with beads? Make jewelry? Make candles? Sew? Write poetry? Then give a one-of-a-kind gift that tells the recipient that this was made especially for them.

2. Give gifts of the bounty of the harvest: local delicacies like honey or maple syrup, or something from your summer garden that you’ve preserved (dried, canned, frozen): tomatoes, peppers, garlic, fruit, etc.

1. Regift. There. I said it. I know there are some who might look down on this idea, but this is a wonderful way to recycle. Why clutter up your living space with things that (while well-intended) are not something that you are inclined to use. Why not regift them, and provide them a good home to someone who will enjoy them? After all, isn’t that what the original giver intended? Just make sure you are a thoughtful regifter, doing your best to insure that the original giver does not wind up with wounded feelings in the process.

Whatever you choose to give, consider the method of production, the method of purchase and the method of delivery. Buying something for a friend far away? Maybe it’s better to buy online and spend a few extra dollars for gift wrap, instead of having the item shipped to you only so you can turn around and ship it again. Think about your gift-giving choices – and their implications – this season.

Hope you discovered some good ideas. Tomorrow, we’ll have 10 Green Ideas. See you then.


A Room of Her Own

Today, I began to make my home my own.

It sounds a bit theatrical to say it quite that way, since I have actually been working on the house for almost nine months and living in it for more than a year.

But my work on the house up to this point has been dictated by the tyranny of the urgent, and can be categorized as “infrastructure” rather than “inspiration.”

Fix the roof.

Rewire the basement.

These projects (among others) have certainly been worthwhile, but could not be considered part of the work I keep hoping to do that will make this house more my own.

So, today, I began that work.

The back room of my house is a large, wood-paneled, multi-purpose room. It’s off the kitchen, so it lends itself well to use as a dining area. It’s the first common space inside the back door, so it functions nicely as a sitting room. It has a wall of built-in bookshelves with a large, television-sized opening, so it also seems to have been built as a tv-room.

Today, I began converting part of this space into an office. This is most certainly a project that will require more time than I can give in just one day. (I am currently working on the house for about two hours at a time, either before or after work.)

In addition to the arrangement of office-related items on the bookshelves, there is also attention that must be paid to the strategic hiding of items that are unsightly. And, not surprisingly, there are also a few other construction-related projects that are required in order to transform the area into the workspace I envision.

I’m hoping that my new office can be a birthday present to myself, so that gives me a few more weeks to finish it. And even if I don’t meet my own deadline, at least I’ve begun making my house my own.

And that feels nice.


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