Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Deerfield Beach Getaway 2010: Part 1

The last time our family took a weekend away for R & R, it was a wet, cold, camping trip in December.  We have been overdue, so we planned a small trip to the other side (the east coast) of Florida for a little exploring and relaxation.  My older dd, Maia, as you may recall, is into all things Japanese, stemming from her love of Manga & Anime.  Discovering that there was a Japanese garden and museum located around Boca Raton, FL, we decided that would be our primary destination and planned our hotel stay and excursions around that. 

No beach, you ask?  No.  Not when beautiful beaches are 25 minutes from our house and family is arriving from MN today, which always entails beach visits.  No, we wanted to check out some other things Florida has to offer besides its beaches. 

So, Maia wanted the Japanese gardens, Paul wanted to relax in a hot tub, I wanted to try out some new restaurants and find fun shops - not really to buy, just to look - and Eve... Well, Eve is 10 and is just pretty much happy to go wherever the family is going.  She didn't care what we did.  We were going together and on an adventure and that was enough for her.  Awesome. :)

She did manage to finish her first sewing project in time for the trip and she knew she wanted to wear it to the Japanese gardens. 

She really did a fantastic job!

After the 3 hour, 40 minute drive, we checked out our hotel (the girls checked out cable channels, since we don't have that at home), took a breather, and prepared for our visit to Delray Beach's, Atlantic Avenue.

I had designs on the Antique Mall that I'd read about, so we parked nearby and immediately spied this super cute cupcake shop!  We would have gone in, if Paul had not been on doctors orders to cut back on sugar for a while.  Going in just might have been torture for him, so we just looked instead.  This darling place is a fine example of why I love, love, love shopping locally.  I love unique, independent little places that you can't find anywhere else. 

A little view of the inside.  Check out the televisions in the oven doors!  So creative!

We stopped in at the Antique Mall and were really a bit disappointed.  I can't say that I've ever been to an antique mall where absolutely everything was behind glass.  It was kind of weird.  But Maia found something very special.  She didn't buy it on this day, though, because the next day we were visiting the Japanese gardens and she wanted to see if she could find something similar in the gift shop.  She didn't, by the way, and we returned for this special item on Saturday... but I'll tell you about it in Part 2!!

So, then it was just time to explore on this hot, Florida, summer day.  We strolled past a health food store and I just had to go in.  I love to check out these little places.  It had a great juice/smoothie bar and deli in the back.  We stopped back here on Saturday after we'd picked up Maia's special item and enjoyed smoothies all around.  Mine was called Hawaiian Sunset and consisted of OJ, banana, papaya nectar, dates, pineapple, and coconut milk.  Delicious, delicious, delicious.

Outside of a stationary/art supply store was this hand seat.  We especially liked the cup rest on the thumb!

Some of the shops - at least 3 or 4 that we saw - had these misters spraying down on their outdoor eating areas.  I suppose if you sat under them for the duration of your drink or meal, it might keep you cool, but though they kind of look cool, I thought that most of the water was likely evaporating, and when we walked beneath them, we really didn't feel much of a difference at all.  It seems a bit of an environmental extravagance to me, but I'm sure is a novel attraction for tourists, who don't necessarily think like I do.

We finished up the evening with dinner out at Olive Garden (nothing unique about this place, but I didn't have anything planned for that night and they do have a few vegan options), which the girls picked.  You can't go wrong with Italian food in our family.  Swimming under the stars was the big finish to our evening, made all the more fanciful with the participants in the ballroom dancing event happening in, what else, the ballroom of the hotel.  So, everyone swam and watched through the glass, the elaborately costumed dancers heading in for their performances. 

 A good start to our weekend! :)

*A brief note to say that my sister and her family are arriving today!!! Hooray!  We'll be making more fun with them until the 5th.  I hope to get a chance to post part two at some point, but with everything going on, it may be delayed.  If I am not back here before the 4th of July, I hope all my U.S. friends have a very festive time with family and friends celebrating our own, special day of Independence!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Good Idea

(I wear my watch on my right hand, just in case my arm is looking a little weird to you right there!)

The other morning after my morning devotions I was lamenting the fact that once I get sucked into my day, I forget about God.  I mean, not ALWAYS, but often, I am just so caught up in the events of what is happening in front of me that I forget the sacredness of life and that He really is always there.

I've never had a digital watch until a couple of months ago when I began training for the 5K I ran in April.  I haven't used all of its features, but one I AM using now is the hourly chime of the alarm.  When I hear it on the hour every hour, I am reminded of His presence.  And if I hadn't said hello in the past hour, I do it then.  And I give thanks, noticing everything I have to be grateful for in the day.  And if I'm struggling with something, I am reminded of the presence of the Holy Spirit as Guide and remember to ask for help. 

This is one thing that is working for me and I love it!  We don't have a church in our town that chimes bells on the hour (though I would LOVE that!), but this is the next best thing. It's the best use I've found for my digital watch!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Small Changes

The last couple of posts have held ideas for making changes regarding our plastic consumption.

Remembering that

plastic = oil,

I have begun to work on slowly reducing the plastic that literally surrounds me. I had a good opportunity to begin this past Tuesday. I had run out of my liquid dish soap and have decided not to replace it. I have one of those soap-in-the-handle-thingys too. The scrub sponge part is looking pretty nasty and I didn't have any of those replacements either, so let's see if I can "cut two carrots with one knife" (as Colleen Patrick Goudreau would say, because we both really like birds and wouldn't even want to kill one with a stone!) by getting rid of both the soap and the thingy and see if I can save myself some money too.

My new set-up is crocheted cotton around a bar of glycerine soap and a jar with baking soda with holes punched in the lid for easy sprinkling and scrubbing.  It kind of looks like milk and a cookie, doesn't it?

The crochet is just a quick pattern I made up.  It took me less than an hour and I was able to use cotton from a sweater I'd unravelled and recycled! Bonus!!

I cut another piece of yarn when I was done and wove it in and out of the ending round of crochet, creating a drawstring.  I knotted it so it would stay tight, but I made a loop so that I could cut it when the soap runs out and then re-string with another drawstring.

I'm also trying to switch my seemingly millions of food storage containers to glass.  I have 3 with plastic lids and I found two new round ones today (one shown on the left) with glass lids, which is what I really want.  That is acutally a baking/freezing container, which is just what you can do with the food storage ones too, but it is round.  I found it at the grocery store and noticed that it was $3.00 cheaper than the food storage ones are advertised as being.  Why??  Because they are round and not square and therefore won't store as neatly?  It bugs me, but whatever.  I do have one rectangular container (shown on right) that is vintage that I got at an antique mall a while back.  I actually used it upside down as a butter dish for the longest time, until I found the cool little butter dish  at Goodwill that I use now.

I also took a huge number of plastic bags from bread and the free newspapers that are delivered with me to the grocery store where they have a bin for recycling plastic bags.  I always wonder where they go?  Since our dog, Lucy, died in April there's no more picking up after her waste in the yard and that is pretty much what I used the bags for.  I also use the bags for purchasing bulk dry goods and storing some produce in the fridge, but I am going to be making some smaller cloth bags for those jobs.  I'll share those when I get around to that project too.  For now, I'm happy with my little soap project.  I hope it's something that will work for our family!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fake Plastic Fish's 2009 Plastic Resolution

Have a look at Beth Terry's impressive non-collection of plastic and some great ideas for reducing yours!

Monday, June 21, 2010

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Blog Post...

*sigh* Are you growing more acutely aware of our oil consumption as every day of this disaster passes, like I am? This was my year to "lighten up" a bit, not feel so guilty if I weren't doing things environmentally perfectly, be a little bit more gentle with myself. And it really has been a good practice for me. And I do want to remain upbeat, I do. But really, folks. Really. This is all so very, very sad and has got me thinking in ways that are as strong in my heart as my decision to go from vegetarian to vegan was a few years ago. Because, of course, this spill is all our responsibility; it really is quite personal.

So, the spill has got me thinking again about my driving habits. My fitness membership has actually increased my driving a lot this year compared to all the other years I have been here. What will I do about this?? The membership has done so very much for my mental health. I have learned that it really is important for me to have a group/class atmosphere to help keep me motivated and regular cardio workouts coupled with yoga keep those endorphins moving and make me just a happier person all around. I did not factor the environment into the cost, because of my desire to be less serious and indulge (my word of the year) in a little less stringent thinking. And to be more clear, my club is only about 6 miles away, so it's not a huge distance. Still. I am thinking more about that now.

I've thought of the alternatives. Technically, I could bike there, but then, after a 12 mile round trip, would I really need a fitness membership? :) And then, of course, I would be alone again in my workouts. The Florida heat in the summertime, while bearable sitting under a shade tree with a cool drink, actually makes me nauseated if I exercise in it any time after, say, 5:00 AM or before 9:00 PM. I was having a pattern of becoming slug-like every summer and that was a habit I wanted to break. So, I haven't yet come to a conclusion about this one topic yet. But there are SO many other things I can do right at home.

Do you know how far our oil dependence extends? Look at absolutely anything with plastic in it, including your chewing gum and your personal care products, and there's a clue. I can't recommend Beth's blog, Fake Plastic Fish enough. I have read it on and off for years, but I am feeling more and more compelled to make a greater commitment to working HARD at reducing our family's plastic intake. I don't know if I can go completely plastic-free like she (almost) is, but maybe I can? I won't know if I don't try something and as I have learned with all the environmental changes my family and I have made over the years, doing just a little at a time makes things quite easy, quite natural, and very soon is just the way things are. I'll do my best to report how things are going here.

Beth provides us with many, many resources. One that is most helpful to me and is where I'll be starting is her Plastic-Free Living Guide. There are so many wonderful ideas and links there. If I ever complete that list, I'll feel quite accomplished! My goal is to pick and choose at least one new thing there to work on. When that idea feels more comfortable to live with, I'll choose another.

So, I'm sad about it, but I want to turn that sadness into something productive and it is my sincere prayer that others will too. How many disasters have to happen before we make real changes? Oh please, let this be a turning point.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Beautiful. From an ad in Yoga Journal to an inspiration page in my journal. Someday...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Newspaper Love

I haven't gotten the newspaper for YEARS. Still, one of my favorite memories is of curling up on my mom's big, king sized waterbed(!) (does anyone still have those??) on a Sunday morning and looking over all of my favorite parts of the paper with her and the occasional sibling that would join in.

My mom is a die-hard newspaper lover. She reads it through and works most of the puzzles on the puzzle page. Recently, when she was at her cabin in North Carolina, her S.O., Jerry, was saying that she was just about going crazy without her regular daily paper.

When I was first married I think we got the weekend papers. And for some reason, we really didn't read them enough to merit the environmental impact our subscription caused.

We've never had the paper since moving to FL. I have just not thought of us as a "newspaper family." My husband reads CNN online in the mornings and I listen to NPR pretty regularly when I have opportunities in the car. When major stories are happening, I turn to The News Hour on PBS, but there are many days when I just don't get the news and I'm okay with that too.

Of late, though, I've been wanting more local information than what news headlines will bring me and more regional information than what the little free weekly paper delivers. Mostly, I'm interested in things to do and feeling more connected to the local culture. I really like our alternative press, Creative Loafing, for fun things to do. But, being the alternative press, there is often more vulgarity in it than I care to look at or have to sift through. I don't dislike it because of this, but I just have to know what I'm potentially getting when I pick one up.

The city newspaper has seemed so inviting to me of late for all of these reasons. Also, my girls have been getting Weekly Reader for the past 2 years as part of our homeschooling. Maia is going to be a highschool freshman this year and I'm thinking that reading a real paper is probably the better choice for us this year.

So last week I biked down to the entrance of our subdivision and picked up two papers to compare. I enjoyed sitting on the floor, slowly leafing through and comparing the two papers. I liked getting up and walking away to make lunch and coming back to read a little more or attempt a puzzle for a few minutes (I am NOT patient with puzzles other than deductive reasoning puzzles, which I LOVE!) here and there.

I learned that extras were needed for a small-budget film that was being shot Saturday night, so while I was at the raw food book signing event with Ani Phyo, Paul took the girls and our neighbor over to the "movie set". They had to do a lot of waiting around and had only a brief passerby shot that may or may not end up in this little movie, but it was fun for them, something they'd never done before, educational, in that they saw how a movie could be shot, and it'll be something I'm sure they'll always remember.

We could not have found that information out anywhere else, I don't think.

I picked up a paper yesterday too, because they have the weekend section in it - things that are coming up, places to go, things to see and do that I might not have known about. I'm thinking about the Wednesday paper too, because they have the "Taste" section those days and it features the syndicated column, "The Amish Cook" which I just love to read, because I really am a sucker for the Amish in a lot of ways.

I think Tuesdays have some sort of education section for kids too. Surprisingly, I don't think I would get the weekend paper. I'm not a coupon user, because I don't get many packaged foods to begin with and am not a name brand shopper. I don't really like any of the sale flyers either. I don't usually care to shop much at the big box stores as it is. It doesn't mean I don't ever do it, it just means that I don't need a whole stack of flyers every week to look through.

I find myself feeling oddly affectionate toward the paper and the reporters. I like how they provide maps and numbers to find more information. I know this is so ridiculous. I know it's their job, but I feel like saying, "thank you." Thank you for providing me so much information here. Thanks for the thoroughness of your stories. Thanks for the community connection.

So, I'm not sure yet. I'm enjoying stopping by and picking up a paper when I want it. I don't think fifty cents goes as far anywhere else! Come the school year, though, I may not have as free of a schedule and if I want the kids to engage in regular current events reading, we may end up figuring out some sort of delivery schedule.

Over the past couple of years I have listened to stories from journalists lamenting their jobs changing so drastically and newspapers being shut down or gobbled up by big conglomorates. I have seen the subscription extras to gain subscribers: "A free tank of gas with every subscription" when gas prices were particularly high is one I remember. I have wondered if there is a place for the newspaper in our futures? Well, if the past few days have shown me anything, I really hope there is.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Craft Day!!

Added more happy pictures to my journal this morning.

Save for dinner tonight at my mom's I have NOTHING I have to do today... NO PLACE I have to be!!! And so finally, since our summer vaca started 3 weeks ago, I get to do just what I want. And what do I want? HOURS of uninterrupted crafting time. Happy, happy, happy!

See, while you northerners are singing happily along with "Soak Up the Sun" - and I'm happy for all of you, really, I am - we in FL are seeking the shade, AC, darkened movie theaters, chilled bowling alleys, and if we're not in a pool, we're doing indoor activities, much like your winters.

Dh isn't a crafter, but he is a puzzler and he can dedicate hours to this pastime. He pulled out the extra leaves in for our dining room table and proclaimed it the "Summer Crafting Table." He likes company while he puzzles, dontcha know? Wasn't that sweet of him? And so we've all joined him at the table.

We've got some sweet tunes, room for blogging - like right now ;) - embroidery, drawing, knitting, and painting. See the cute, kitty pincushion my friend, Regi made with her daughter. She's the one who's teaching Eve to sew and she gave her one after her first lesson the other day! Pins go in the front and there are some loops in the back to hold little sewing scissors and a spool of thread. They made a bunch of these for last Christmas and had a few leftover.

Of course, breaks are necessary from all the crafting and so video games work nicely. It's going to be a very good day. Seriously. :)

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