fair trade

october is national fair trade product month so i thought i'd tell you the things i buy and use regularly that are fair trade items.  first of all, coffee.  i don't drink much coffee but larry does and he loves this trader joes fair trade brand.  it smells delicious every morning when he brews a pot and helps lure me out of bed.  i also love making my vegan chocolate pudding using fair trade chocolate.  blended with coconut milk, it is a sinfully rich and creamy dessert.  you can find the recipe here.  fair trade usa is an organization that helps small, independent farmers throughout the world bring their products to our table.  by purchasing fair trade products you in turn help communities build schools and help small farms and families to sustain themselves.  it's an easy and ethical way to shop. 

with THIS easy facebook application you can find stores in your area that sell fair trade products and you, yourself can add products to their list, thereby spreading the kindness.
share their link with your facebook friends and help a lot of deserving people!



how i got off milk

let me just say that before becoming a vegan, I LOVED MILK.
i thought milk was the perfect food.  i always envisioned happy cows chilling in pastures and being milked by some maid or someone else just as sweet.
and boy was i wrong.

the life of a dairy cow in the united states is one of the saddest things i know of.

in order for a cow to produce milk, it has to be pregnant and so dairy cows are constantly being impregnated.  when they do give birth they are not allowed to bond with their baby at all.  the baby is removed right away and mommy is back on the milk machine.
baby's fate is not very good if baby is a male.
most likely sold as veal if it lives long enough to make it to auction.

mommy is back on the milk machine and given large amounts of antibiotics and hormones to keep that milk flowing.  so much so that her udder is hugely out of proportion to her size and her legs are bowed just to support it.  her back aches and i'm sure her heart is broken wondering where her baby is.  tests taken after a cow gives birth and her baby is removed show that stress hormones are running rampant through her body.
after all she is a mommy.

so much for the happy dairy farm of my imagination.

so this is what i drink now.
trader joes almond milk.
it is delicious, creamy and
it is good for you
and for cows.
buy it.



fall from here

my neighbors carriage house


images from my home and neighborhood
enjoy and have a badass weekend.


hydrangeas in my garden

b j longo antiques

pumpkins in front of trader joes

dried hydrangeas in my bathroom



well hello.  looks like saturday showed up Again.  how very nice of it.  okay, i don't have much to report around here.  the weather has been crazy beautiful which induces a lot of laziness in me when it comes to blogging.  i've been taking the opportunity to declutter the basement and my closet and i'm thinking about becoming a minimalist.  but if i became one then what would i do?  just a thought.

number one question asked of me this week?  yes, my hair is still going gray.  is gray spelled with an a or an e?  either way, i have not touched a bottle of haircolor.  my next haircut is approaching and i know you guys have questions about my hair so ask me the particulars and i will pass them on to shane.  he's the hunk that cuts my hair now.  erin is off being a real life rock star.

next question is where do i keep my vacuum?  in the basement we have a shopvac that gets drug upstairs every few weeks.  riveting, i know.

i loved all your low cal snack ideas.  olives are one of my fave snacks too.  2 olives only have 15 calories.  isn't that weird b/c olive oil is pretty fattening.  2 olives and a bud select - 70 calories.

that picture of the house up top there?  i thought i'd show you the biggest downside of this little cottage.  back in 1890 when it was built as the gardener's house, they wanted it as far away from the big house as possible (why, do gardeners smell or something?) so they put it right on the property line.  i guess they never thought that big houses would one day be built on small lots and so now i have this huge house that looks down on mine.  things could be worse, i could live in that huge house.

it is obvious i have nothing great to say but this lady does.  i'm in awe of her.  slim told me about her friend hollye who writes the amazing blog brookside buzz.    she talks about fbc (fucking breast cancer) and sl's (silver linings) and gives boob reports.   i read her everyday b/c she brightens mine.
go say hello and be amazed too.

blogger is messing with me big time this morning but i'm not going to let it bother me b/c it is SATURDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 


low calorie vegan snacks*

if you're interested in calories
these are some of my favorite low calorie vegan snacks.

celery sticks soaked in v8.  i cut the celery in slices and soak them overnight in a glass of v8 juice.  the celery soaks up the v8 and tastes damn good.  about 20 calories

popcorn.  low in calories, high in fiber.  i pop my own, so about 45 calories a cup.

half a cup of strawberries with 2 T soy yogurt.  about 50 calories.

half a cup of unsweetened applesauce, 50 calories.

half cup chocolate soymilk, 2-3 ice cubes, 1/2 ripe banana.  blend until smooth like a shake.  about 100 calories.

your turn.

*no animals were harmed making these snacks


finally fall

it's official, fall has finally arrived in southern california.  if you are interested, you can see what i wore last year right here.  this year's theme is not a whole lot different.  my emphasis is on comfort, affordability, practicality and style.  i'm only posting this one outfit today mainly because i'm short on time and also because you'll see it's very versatile.  you can substitute a sweater or any other shirt for a whole new look.  did my last post inspire anyone to declutter?  i picked up all the pieces for my fall/winter wardrobe at yardsales and thriftshops throughout the summer because people were decluttering.  off season is where the bargains are.  this is a great time to be looking for sandals and pretty summer dresses..  i've been waiting for a few months to wear these clothes so it's kind of exciting!

the mainstays of my wardrobe will be my herringbone jacket and these vintage boots.  i won them on  ebay on a day it was 102 degrees out, not what you'd call boot shopping weather.  they were made by marshall field and company sometime in the 60's.  i paid $40 for them and they fit me perfectly.  i plan to wear the living daylights out of them.  that is now 2 pairs of boots i've gotten from ebay that fit me perfectly.  how lucky can i get?

i'm wearing american apparel thick leggings.  are you shocked?  i sorta am.  be sure to weigh in on this.

apparently there are lots of rules about wearing leggings.
you can read some of them here.

i was in trader joes yesterday and a woman came up to me and said, "those boots are beyond fabulous!"  i agree with her!

make sure your rear end is covered!

but if you are not comfortable you can put a longer jacket on.  i found this j. crew chino coat at the goodwill for $6.  it too,  is in perfect condition.

thank you saturday for showing up just in the nick of time.


on clutter and finances

yesterday morning i went to an estate sale here in town and as i turned onto the street of the sale, i realized that i knew the person who was having the sale.  i soon learned that she is losing her house.  she said she was fine but i was not.  it shook me up and i'm still shook up.  i have a few friends who are going through this exact same thing.  it is so sad and brought back memories.  in 2009 just after renovating this place the economy came crashing down and larry's business took a terrible hit and things got very scary for us too.  we were lucky and his business recovered.  as i wandered through the estate sale i was struck by the amount of stuff that was for sale.  i'm not talking about normal stuffed closets here, but a scary amount of stuff.  hundreds, if not thousands of boxes stacked as high as me filled the house, garage and yard.  it was overwhelming and it made me want to become a minimalist on the spot.  it reminded me that there is a delicate balance between enough and too much.  and in todays world that balance can be hard to maintain.  the glossy magazines and beautiful blogs featuring so many new and pretty things can make you want more than you need.  at least that's the effect they have on me.  i began to wonder about about how the pursuit of more stuff can actually put our homes at risk, or when is enough, enough?

our own financial life is quite simple now but it hasn't always been this way.  we used to live in a big house and the desire to fill it was just as big.  i get a lot of emails asking how we simplified and the answer is that it took a big desire to change and a dose of courage to follow through with that change.  our new desire is to live as simply and cheaply as possible.  because neither one of us makes a big salary, if we don't have the money, we don't buy it.  we don't have credit cards, car payments, cell phones or cable tv.  we can afford these things but we just don't want to live that way any longer.  we know that  to keep things this simple we have to be vigilant and not slip back into the way the media says we should be living.  we have a small house with a small mortgage, which also means small utility bills.  shopping in big box stores and department stores makes me feel uneasy, i'm much more at home in yardsales and thriftshops.  if i do waiver and purchase something from a big store, i always suffer from severe guilt, so i try to keep those experiences to a minimum.  and you can say what you want about a vegan diet, but one thing for certain is, it is cheap!  eating out is kept to a minimum mostly because getting good vegan food is hard around here or anywhere for that matter.  all my skincare and cosmetics are free or next to free because that is my line of work.  i always trade services for haircuts and facials.  our preferred way of travel involves a tent and sleeping bag. this past week was spent under the stars of the eastern sierras and it was breathtakingly beautiful. something that can't be experienced in a hotel room.  if we do stay in a hotel it is always heavily discounted through travelzoo.  earlier this year after a string of car problems, larry decided to give up his car for a week and ride his bike everywhere.  well that week has turned into 6 months now and i doubt he'll ever go back.  he's lost 15 lbs and says he feels better than ever.  larry is also the craigslist guru.  when the house or cars needs repairs that is the first place he looks.  i know this lifestyle isn't for everyone and some days i wonder if we were crazy to change our life so radically but most days i'm quite content and so very grateful to be living this way. 

so what is your take on clutter and finances?  do you think the two are related?  do you know anyone going through the agony of losing their home?

have a wonderful weekend and i'm excited because the temperatures here are supposed to be cooling and i can't wait to share my thrifty fall wardrobe picks!

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