Author Archive

Homemade Christmas Gifts

This year, we made all of our Christmas gifts. The little guy helped out on every one of them. We had a blast making each one and already have tweaks we want to make next year. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Christmas Cards

Beeswax ornaments

Finn helping

Lip balm

Peppermint Patties



Happy Christmas!


Window Boxes

We wanted to make some window boxes and we knew that our friends over at The Urban Farmers Almanac had some wood leftover from a deck project last summer. We decided to see if we could get together and make some sustainability magic happen.

It did. Oh did it. Not only did they have an extra cedar board that we could use, Dan was willing to help me build it too (actually, save me from severing a finger with a power saw). A few weeks ago, on a Saturday I ventured over to my favorite urban farm to see what we could whip up. An hour later I headed home with this whopper of a window box. Thanks to Dan, Alicia and special help from Hannah.

Later that afternoon, we wanted to take advantage of our newest home/garden accoutrement, so we grabbed our potting soil and seeds and went to work. We dropped some seed for Little Caesar lettuce, Tuscan Kale and Arugula. We’re gonna be eating right this summer! Every time I walked by our garden, I looked to see if anything had sprouted. Not too long after we planted, we started to see little glimpses of our future food. Right now, we’re just starting to see some of the true leaves, but we hope to have some full-blown leaves soon. We’ll keep you updated.

Some things are changing

Not only are our lives always changing, but some things are changing here at First, and most notably, Mollie and I have welcomed a wonderful baby boy into our family. Huge life changes always prompt us to take stock in our lives. Evaluate the direction that we’re headed.

Mollie started this blog in December of 2005 and over the years it has changed and evolved with us as we have learned and grown. One of the questions we asked each other recently was, where should go? We don’t have a defined plan yet, but we both felt like we should take the site in a direction that focuses on Sustainability. Tackling questions about how we can make our entire lives sustainable not just how we deal with our waste or interact with other people. Thinking about how to engage with our communities in a sustainable way. How do we provide financially for our families while maintaining quality time with them? Establishing patterns of life that are not temporary or transient.

Don’t worry, there will still be a lot of talk about how we can be stewards of the Earth (that’s still a big one) and how and why we should care about people all over the world. There will now be additional thoughts, stories and information about a broader range of life topics that need to be sustainable too.


As the resident web developer, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that we have made some changes visually to the site. We hope you like them. We will be making incremental changes to the site, one change at a time (get it?). We’re drinking the Kool-Aid. We’ve tried to do massive, sweeping changes before, and they just didn’t work. We’d never get around to finishing and then we’d get bored with the new version. So now we’re trying a more sustainable model of small changes (hopefully) often to keep the site fresh. We’ve also added a new comments section that will hopefully allow us to continue to build the awesome community that has sprung up because of this site. Thank you all so much.

Make Time to Cook – a reminder from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I promised more posts spawned from my summer reading of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long. I have a notebook full of notes and am getting around to pushing them through the blog machine to get to you.


Cooking at home seems to be a dying art. Even ‘foodies’ often have a schedule that is too busy for a meal cooked at home. Parents are leaning more on pre-made, processed food instead of cooking for their families. When I was growing up, we ate together. Even with a single parent, and 3 kids in high school we ate together most nights. I think that had a big impact on my relationship with my family. It was in those times that we talked about life (and laughed until our stomachs hurt). My two sisters and I learned how to sit at a table and have conversations about our lives. We were taught (much to our shegrin at the time) that mealtime is not to be interrupted by the telephone, television or any other activity. It was an activity in and of itself.

Even in my own life, that is not the case anymore. Too often, I grab a meal and eat it on the run. Or Mollie and I will have dinner while watching a movie. It so easily can turn into a regular occurence. Mollie and I do deliberately eat most meals together and I really enjoy that. We have implemented some of the things that Barbara Kingsolver writes about (page 128) in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Her list (with my comments) is below.

  • Cooking can be fun – Especially if you make it fun. Cooking can be a chore, but it doesn’t have to be.
  • Rely on variations of simple recipes – There are tons of variations of a cooked protein with vegetables. Get a cook book and explore. Mollie and I make our weekly menu on Sunday for the upcoming week. We both grab a cookbook and have to choose something new. It helps keep us out of ruts.
  • Save labor intensive (lots of prep) recipes for the weekend – My sister and her husband often use their weekends to prepare lunch foods for the week. They cook up a bunch of roasted veggies, or a soup that they can then use the rest of the week.
  • Start a routine – We have a history of making homemade pizza on Fridays. It takes Friday off the dinner menu each week.
  • Invite others to join in – For help and also to learn from them – The times that I have learned about cooking is when I have cooked with other people who know a lot more about cooking than I do. Either I was invited to cook with them, or I asked them to cook with me. Either way I always have an open ear to learn some new technique or recipe.
  • Cooking at home will be more healthy – You have control over every ingredient that you put in your meal. You also are in control of portion size.
  • Significantly cheaper – Once you are set up with basic ingredients in your pantry, home cooking is definitely a money saver. You can have a great (and healthy) meal that feeds a family of four for under $20 (probably under $10). You can’t get that at a restaurant (fast ‘food’ definitely doesn’t count).
  • Buy whole foods (produce, meat) – Instead of buying boneless/skinless chicken breasts, buy a whole chicken. With a sharp knife you can turn that whole chicken into 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 wings, and a carcass that makes a mean chicken stock. To add to the cheaper point, organic free range boneless skinless chicken breast runs about $4.99/lb (at Trader Joes) and a organic free range whole fryer costs about $1.99/lb. So for the price you pay for 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (usually $6-$8) you can get at least one whole chicken. That whole chicken yields at least one (probably two) more meals.
  • It builds family relationships – Like I mentioned earlier, families are built around the kitchen table.
  • Teaches children manners and life skills – Because of family meals, I learned how to set the table, how to wash dishes, how to cook, how to shop for groceries, how to have a conversation and most of all to be involved with other people around me.

Apple goes green with new aluminium MacBooks

Apple unveiled it’s new campaign to promote it’s new line of laptop computers. They call it the greenest notebook Apple has ever created. They have also released their Environmental Report for 2008 which outlines and gives environmental information about their products and facilities.

Some highlights about the new line of MacBooks and MacBook Pro laptops (information provided by Apple).

  • Arsenic-free glass
  • Mercury-free LED-backlit display
  • Brominated flame retardant-free internal components
  • PVC-free internal cables
  • Highly recyclable aluminum and glass enclosure
  • Up to 41 percent smaller packaging

Apple has taken a lot of heat over it’s environmental practices in the past. A couple of years ago they pledged to remove PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from all of their products by the end of 2008. CEO Steve Jobs says that they are on track to meet their goals.

It’s pretty cool when a company that has as much attention and mindshare as Apple makes these claims and then meets the goals they’ve laid out. This, along with many other reasons, is why our household is committed to buying Apple products.

Seattle City Council approves 20 cent fee for plastic bags

The Seattle City Council approved a proposal (by a 6-1 margin) that will charge shoppers 20 cents for each plastic shopping bag they use. This is great news. The fee will go into effect in January.

Opponents of this proposal have said that it taxes those who cannot afford to purchase reusable bags. So to alleviate that cost, the city of Seattle will distribute reusable paper bags to all residents, also giving lower income residents additional bags to use.

The council also passed a ban on plastic foam food containers that is a two-phase project. The first phase will address take out containers and it will take effect in January as well. Restaurants will not be allowed to use plastic foam in their takeout containers. The second phase will take effect July 2010 and focuses on all plastic food containers and utensils. Businesses will be able to use only recyclable or biodegradable products for their food containers.

I’m glad to see that our city is taking steps to reduce the unnecessary waste produced by convenience. If you live in a place that is using plastic bags and you feel like you want to make changes to that, Bring Your Own Bag is a great organization that is fighting for that. They also recently posted to their blog specifically addressing the situation in North America.

Inspirations from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

So I just finished ?Animal, Vegetable, Miracle? by Barbara Kingsolver, Steven Hopp and Camille Kingsolver. What a good book. It talks about their year spent on their farm in Virginia as ?locavores?, that is people who are committed to eating locally. In their case, they planned on planting produce as well as raising livestock.

The story is woven beautifully by the very accomplished Kingsolver (author of the highly recommended but never read ?Poisonwood Bible?). But the best thing about the book is the approachable way that she, and her family, discuss their reasons along with their results. A lot of their experiences and information that they report in the book has inspired me and influenced me.

Since Mollie began volunteering at Erewhon Farm, she and I have become increasingly interested in local and organic food. Mollie has really spurred me to think about where our food comes from and why it?s important. Recently we?ve watched some documentaries, read articles and books, it?s very clear that what we eat matters to our bodies, our communities, our economy and our planet.

I plan on writing a series of posts about food, why it matters and small changes we can all make to improve our diets, strengthen our communities and care for our planet.

We’re still here (here being Europe)

Hello everyone, I just wanted to let you know that we’re still here, we’ve been traveling this summer. It’s provided us with a lot of different perspectives. Going to other places in our world helps us see our home in a different light, but also learn new and different things about the world.

It’s also allowed us time to slow down, and read for pleasure. I’m reading through Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” which a great read so far. Super informative and had me thinking of a bunch of posts. So keep your eyes peeled for those.

I hope everyone is having a great summer.

The Seattle Mariners go carbon neutral for Earth Day

I’m happy to say that our hometown Seattle Mariners are doing their part in efforts to take responsibility for the carbon emissions related to their operations. This takes into account travel (for teams, umpires, fans and all people involved), electrical and natural gas resources used in operating the stadium, and all waste produced from the game.

To celebrate Earth Day on Tuesday the Mariners are going to partner with Cedar Grove Composting to stage the first ever carbon neutral Major League Baseball game. To accomplish this, the Mariners are going to purchase carbon offsets from NativeEnergy to account for the 230 short tons of carbon-dioxide produced at a Major League Baseball game.

As we all know carbon offsets are not the answer. Well, the Mariners agree with that too. Mariners chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln says., “we know that just buying carbon offsets isn’t enough”. The Mariners lead the charge in sustainability and conservation in Major League Baseball. They’re one of two teams who composts their food waste. They compost about 100 tons of food waste per season. Last year alone the Mariners recycled “342 tons of plastic bottles, paper, cardboard, cans and glass”. They have also made steps to reduce their consumption of electricity and natural gas (18 and 36 percent respectively).

Apparently there are also going to be many local and national organizations on hand to provide information about conservation and environmental responsibility. We won’t be able to make it to the game on Tuesday, but would love to hear about it from anyone who does make it out to the ball game.

Nike and Steve Nash make steps towards sustainabilty

Nike Trash Talk sneaker
image courtesy of

Last night Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash debuted his new shoes. This time his Nike’s were a little different. They were made from scraps from other basketball shoes. I know that Nike has long been the bad guy in the world of footwear due to labor and environmental practices, but let’s give credit where credit is due. Nike has recently made a move towards more global responsibility and is now making the Nike Trash Talk which is the shoe model made from scrap material that is based off of their already popular Nike Zoom BB II model.

Nike footwear designer, Kasey Jarvis said: ‘I was really looking for a ‘here and now’ solution to footwear waste, and creating a performance product using waste materials felt like a very innovative solution. Using Nike’s Considered design ethos I was able to create a shoe that stands up to the stringent on-court performance requirements but is also more environmentally friendly.’

Steve Nash has been involved with environmental issues for a long time. It’s really great to see that he is taking that concern to his shoe company and that they are utilizing the waste that they create, and are making it usable. Nash said, “Any opportunity to promote the environment and preserve our planet is a step in the right direction.” If you’d like to get your hands on these, they will go on sale on April 22nd.

Nike still has a lot work to do to clean up it’s international labor and environmental practices.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Enter your email address to receive One-Change updates in your inbox.