Tuesday, April 30, 2013

No Waste Wednesday #18–Carbonated Beverages

dietcokeDiet pop (or soda, depending where you live) has always been a staple in our diets.  And there are more and more studies out there on how bad this drink is for you.  We have finally weaned off the stuff and not really missing it any more.

In terms of waste, the aluminum cans were easy to recycle.  Lots of receptacles collecting to raise money for charity or clubs.  But, it is much better to avoid in the first place. 

Not cheap either, so we are saving quite a bit by not buying. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Painting with Pastels–Rooster #1

Monday Project – Need color above our kitchen cabinets.  I would say this will add some color.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Painting with Pastels (Chalk)

IMG_2763Just tried painting with pastels (chalk) and I love it!  It may be my favorite medium now.  The painting is from a photograph taken at the Oregon Painted Hills. 

There was a rain storm in the mountains so the clouds were a bit dark, but the sun was still peeking through.

Desert hills in the foreground with the mountains in the distance.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

No Waste Wednesday #17–Progress

Reference:  Resolution posted 12/31/2012

earth-dayWith the efforts mentioned over the last 16 weeks, we are already down to about a medium bag a month, if you exclude the compost bags.  The compost bags are about the size of a sandwich bag and we average one a week.  Gathering more ideas to decrease the medium bag.  Unless we start some type of real composting, the small bags are here to stay. 

Progress!  Earth Day observed knowing we are doing our part. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

No Waste Wednesday #16–Butter

Reference:  2013 Resolution posted 12/31/2012

butterBig Box grocers sell butter wrapped in wax paper and then placed in a small cardboard box.  Not too bad in terms of waste.  You can deal with a small amount of paper and recycle the cardboard.  If you buy margarine, unfortunately you have to deal with the plastic tub. 

There are a lot of dairy farms near our place, and we are able buy large blocks of locally produced butter at our small, local grocer--Sunny Farms.  The block is wrapped simply in cellophane.  We place the block in a sealed, reusable container to use over a couple of weeks.

It would be tough for us to go back to margarine in the big tubs.  Fresh butter is the best--very tasty.  Lots of product with very little waste.  And unlike plastic, cellophane decomposes.  I can live with that.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

“Who’s Got Your Back”–Workshop by Liz Taylor

Attended a "workshop" yesterday on Bainbridge Island with a couple of neighborhood friends on planning for our care as we age.  The presenter, Liz Taylor, worked over 40 years in elder care (lead a federal task team investigating nursing home fraud).  You may have read her column in the Seattle Times on aging.

Almost no one thinks they will get old and/or disabled--they say "if I get ill," when what we need to say is "When I (or my spouse) become ill or disabled," to motivate realistic planning.  Plan for the worst, and hope for the best. 

The presentation outlined a fairly bleak outlook for aging baby boomers, for a variety of reasons--mainly too many aging boomers, most people haven't saved enough money and/or purchased long-term care insurance; fewer having children than in the past (and why having kids is no guarantee they will be able to look out for you); anticipated labor shortage in the elder care field (especially by the time we get there); and lack of government regulation in elder care has created less than ideal situations. 

Liz suggested a way to combat the above issues mentioned above—organizing a circle of friends who come together for the specific purpose of watching each other's backs, so to speak.  She gave about ten examples of how this has already been done, while pointing out it is a new area and open to lots of creativity--basically challenging us to come up with our own variations.  She says you start with the the physical location you want to be--which means identifying the characteristics of the kind of community you want and will need around you--and then figuring out where that will be geographically.  Then you move there, at least ten years before you think you're going to need help, and start building a circle of like-minded, trust-worthy friends who will pool efforts, urging each other on in the decisions they have to make, supporting each other through tough times, even potentially pooling resources for shared services, for example a part-time cook or a driver. 

About this point in the presentation my group was poking each other, as we have half-kiddingly/half-seriously been talking about something like this for the last year or so--but we thought we had invented the idea!

She gave an interesting example from this region, a group she met in 2004.  They were 12 people who had actually formed a non-profit for this purpose, some 15 years previous, and when she met them they were all in their late 80s. Their mission statement was "to do a great job of growing old." They met for monthly business meetings at the cafeteria of the local hospital, took minutes, and sent the minutes to all their adult children.  At the meetings they checked in with each other and dealt with topics of aging and their various needs, problem-solving together, and planning together, and supporting each other intellectually and emotionally.

At their monthly business meetings they also had an "organ recital"--where they made each other be honest about their health conditions.  They hired a PA (Physician's Assistant) on retainer to do talks on healthy aging at their business meetings, and to visit each of them in their homes, 2-3 times per year, to see how they were doing. They were the people named on each other's advance directives. since they were nearby should something happen, and were trusted friends who truly understood their intentions, since they would all focused on them together over the years.

And she gave the example of her own life:  at the end of April, she's moving out of the town where she has lived for the last 20 years--and where she was giving today's seminar--because she decided she (1) could not afford to live there as she aged,(2) did not want to live in any of the assisted living or skilled nursing centers in that area, and (3) the area she selected has like minded people who were receptive to the circle of friends concept.  [It is interesting to note her choice was a much smaller community, more close-knit.  Not unlike the community I now live in, which was reassuring.]

A longer blog post than normal, but a very interesting topic and good food for thought.  I mean, really, we all took time throughout our lives to plan our education and careers,  organize our finances, and work out family choices; why would we ignore this phase of our lives?  It needs to be planned just as thoughtfully and proactively, if not more so.  I certainly plan to.

[Most of the recap above was written by one of my friends attending the workshop today.  Thanks, Barbara!]

Friday, April 12, 2013

Olympic National Park Love Affair

1143_olympic_national_parkOur neighbor, Tim Paschal, loves the Olympic National Park (we think the park is pretty special too).  He volunteers at the visitor center located in Port Angeles (14 miles from our neighborhood) every Tuesday.  He and his wife, Barbara,  are avid hikers exploring the most remote parts of the park.  To help maximize your visit to the Olympic National Park, Tim developed a beautiful website filled with stunning photos and information.  Most do not understand the diversity of the park including rocky ocean beaches and rain forest at sea level on up to the peaks of the Olympic mountains complete with glaciers.

The following is Tim’s introduction to the website (www.olympicnationalparkvisitor.info):

olympicnatlparkI want to help you transform your visit to Olympic National Park from what could end up being recalled as just ho-hum average to such awe-inspired, jaw-dropping astonishment that you will never forget it.

rubybeachMy love-affair with this place began when, as a child, I visited Hurricane Ridge with my family. From that day on, I spent as much of my free time as possible hiking, backpacking, skiing, snow-shoeing, and winter climbing numerous Olympic Mountain peaks. During those years, I met many visitors who, for a simple lack of information, did not experience the full wonder of this amazing place. Don’t be one of those unfortunate souls!

solducfalls01In the 60 years that I’ve lived on the Olympic Peninsula—informed by a lifelong relationship with the Park’s gifts (and challenges), and nurtured by the many people who have dedicated their lives to its protection and preservation—I’m inspired to give back by helping others embrace the magnificence of this ancient and eternal place. Recounting tales of my exploits and sharing ideas and suggestions about how folks can make the most of their time here has become my passion. I created this website for people like for you. I want your trip here to be remarkable, your experience extraordinary, and your memories unforgettable.”

The Olympic National Park is one of the reasons we retired to the Peninsula.  The trails and unique scenery in the Park are almost endless, plus the view of the mountains we enjoy each day takes our breath away.  Thanks, Tim, for all you do!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

No Waste Wednesday #15–Bar Soap

Reference:  Resolution posted 12/31/2012.

sierranevadasoapThe Bath and Body Works store has wonderful smelling liquid soaps and lotions.  But, it comes at a price.  It is expensive and all packaged in plastic.  Lots of plastic.  We have since discovered a local soap maker, Sierra Nevada Soap Company (http://www.sierranevadasoap.com/ ) .  The bars of soap smell just as fragrant, if not better than Bath and Body. 

The bars may seem pricey, but they last a long time.  Simply wrapped in a recycled paper, we purchase a couple dozen at the annual Lavender Festival held in July.  They also sell on the internet. 

So far, we have only used the local soap for hand washing.  This year we will switch our bath soap over, too.  Our bath soap is currently purchased at Costco.  And you know what that means.  Double, sometimes triple packaging.   And their bars seem to melt away quickly.

If you have not tried soap made by a local small business, I would highly recommend you try it.  If you buy in bulk, the price usually drops and the packaging is minimal.  Plus, I like the idea we are supporting our community businesses.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

No Waste Wednesday #14–Downsizing the Pantry

Reference:  Resolution posted 12/31/2013

pantryIn our last home, we had a ginormous pantry and I stocked it big time.  What a waste of time and resources.  Now, after living full-time in our RV and the quest to downsize the sticks and bricks household, I realize that maintaining the staples requires relatively few items in a reasonable volume.  Basics.  No need to store boxes and cans of processed food.  Basics to make straight-forward dinners (no more exotic recipes) and desserts from scratch.  Less room.  No food wasted.  No garbage from unnecessary packaging. 

Our pantry contains clear plastic “bins” (I know, some day I will get rid of the plastic, but I cannot afford to replace it all now.) and a few glass Le Parfait jars.  We load up our personal reusable bags in the bulk aisle with flour, brown sugar, sugar, pasta, rice, oatmeal, and beans and transfer to the pantry storage containers at home.   Containers keep out the occasional critter, moisture; and everything is clean and tidy. 

[Photo from Bea Johnson’s blog, “Zero Waste Home”. Would love to have such a clean and efficient pantry like Bea’s.  When my pantry is as good looking as this, I will post a picture.  One can only hope! ]

By the way, the bins and containers I use in the home pantry fit perfectly in our RV pantry.  No need to change philosophy from one “residence” to another.  I keep the same basic food items in each home in the same containers. 

Three rules govern our pantry purchases:

1.  Zero Waste – buy in bulk using your own bags or recycle the glass or cans

2.  Common ingredients (can be used in multiple dishes and desserts)

3.  Cost As Low as Possible--for a healthy, local product—not paying for a cheap ingredient shipped from overseas.  How can this be good for you?  Purchasing from the bulk aisle seems to ensure the cost is lower than the packaged version.

Some day I would like to try canning some fresh produce from the summer harvest to make my own marinara sauce, pickles, and tomato juice (for the chili) —maybe a future attempt and post.  We are still buying a few canned goods such as evaporated milk, tuna, and chicken stock.  Need to ponder on alternatives.  For now the cans are recycled.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Have you encountered a bonsai tree?  (Pronounced “bones-eye”) An ancient looking mini-tree in a small pot.  Without the perspective of the pot, it looks like a gnarled full-grown tree hanging on a remote cliff.   Always loved the beauty of these mysterious little trees.  Thought the price made it out of reach, but found with some patience and attention I could grow my own starting with a $30 purchase of plants, soil, a pot and the help of our local bonsai club.

The Dungeness Bonsai Society meets monthly every first Tuesday in Sequim and I attended my first club meeting this morning.  Incredibly helpful members and extremely talented.  Although, my devotion to the craft will not compare to these long-term members (one member has spent over 400 hours on one juniper), I do plan to spend some time on a few.  They are too beautiful to ignore.  And the Olympic Peninsula has the perfect climate to nurture them (as long as they are watered during the warm summer weather).

HOWEVER, at some point, I need to limit my hobbies.  I will pick this one up, then it needs to STOP!  For such a small town, there are a lot of interesting activities to indulge in, along with a very friendly social neighborhood getting together at a drop of a hat.   I am often amazed to hear some retirees are bored (have not heard that complaint here).  Even if you do not start developing interests before retirement, there are plenty to jump into to after you retire.  Do not be timid.  Try something.  You may be pleasantly surprised to learn what you enjoy—maybe BONSAI!

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