My fleece dilemma


I have a fuzzy problem, and it has to do with some of my most beloved “performance” outdoor clothing. Like many Pacific Northwest and environmentalist folks, I was happy with the idea that my fleece clothing was made from recycled plastics … what a great way to divert something from the waste stream. And it’s a great fabric … easy to work with for home sewing, durable, doesn’t ravel or run if you get a small hole in it, the moths don’t eat it in the closet, and it stays thermal even when wet so it’s good for outdoor use.

But it turns out to have a dirty secret, which I’ve been aware of for the last couple years … every time you wash these artificial fabrics micro plastics are released into the water and end up in our ecosystem … something that just can’t be good for our seas and oceans.

Since I became aware, I have avoided purchasing any more fleece fabric or clothing, but then I realized the problem is not limited to fleece but includes pretty much all artificial fibers in clothing, to different extents.

OK, so I should only buy natural fabrics. Turns out to be easier said than done. I’ve been looking for a wool vest for skiing for my son for years now, but each one I find is lined in fleece. In fact, I simply can’t find snow and ski gear for my family that isn’t made out of artificial materials.

According to Patagonia (who says they are working on researching solutions to this problem) there are a few things I can do:

  • Only buy what I need, and use it for as long as possible.
  • Wash performance clothing and gear as little as possible.
  • Use a filter of some kind (I’ve ordered the guppyfriend bag from Patagonia)

OK. I can wear stuff until it is standing up on its own and sending chemical messages with its odors. I can wash it in the guppyfriend bag and then scrape the microfibers into the trash instead of letting them go into the water system.

And I think this issue needs a systematic fix. People of goodwill, taking individual action, can’t solve this by themselves. So I really hope some bigger fixes can be found!


Managing the Food Stores


In the last week I’ve reorganized and defrosted the freezers and used up the very last of the non-canned or frozen food from last year’s garden harvest (the garlic was the last to go). In the process, I found food that needs to be eaten and prepared healthy, tasty, and convenient food to get my family through all the busy evenings of this month.

This is what I’ve discovered over time: managing the storage, planning, and cooking of food is at the very heart of a sustainable and resilient lifestyle. Again, it does no good for me to grow veg and raise meat if it doesn’t actually end up in our bellies.

Now we are getting real about our budget as well, and a thrifty and dollar-wise life points me in the same direction that my sustainability drive was pointing me: into the kitchen.

Food may not be the biggest impact on either environmental footprint or pocketbook bottom line (housing, transportation, medical, and more impact both) but food is a place I can make a difference through my daily choices. What I grow, what I buy, where I buy, what we eat, where we eat – all of it has an impact.

Feeding my family takes a great deal of my attention, energy, and time. But the rewards are great: healthy growing teens, health impacts for the adults too, money saved, the knowledge that the animals who die for us lived humane lives, lower environmental impacts, the joy of gardening and messing with dirt, and resiliency!


Not Enough Hours in the Day


So I started using the Momentum Planner from, and I am really liking it.  I bought the planner as a download, and now I can print out the pages as I need them. I also get emails from them with tips about planning and efficiency, etc.

I’ve been very happy with the boxes that help me keep the major goals and projects for each month/week/day in mind, and not get lost in the weeds of daily details and let “urgent” get in the way of “important”.

But I’ve noticed a problem with the schedule box, and I struggled with it for more than six weeks before I realized what it was!

There are not enough hours in that day!

Sure, it’s flexible about what hour you write into the box, but there are still only 8 boxes. Do I need to plan an eight hour day? No, I need to plan a 12 or 13 hour day. I can’t plan for when I’ll do homeschooling with my kids, exercise, do my spiritual practices, clean the house, etc. and do my paid and volunteer work in only 8 hour boxes.

It’s easily enough fixed … I’m now treating each box like it is two hours. But the technical fix only covers up the adaptive challenge: my life is too full, and the whole reason I need a planner is to keep these different roles and hats and To Do’s all marching, rolling, or dancing along to the same temporal beat.

Because, as much as I’d like to have Hermione’s Time Turner, I still haven’t figured out how to be in two places at once. For now, I’m truly stuck with how much I can get done in just one 24 hour day, and I need 6-8 hours of sleep to function (another reason it would be bad for me to have that time turner).

I bit off a lot, possibly more than I can chew, when I chose my lifestyle (full-time work, homeschooling parent, hobby farm). But I really, really, really love everything that I do, so now I just need to figure out how to be organized enough to keep it running smoothly!

Doing the Dishes

Our dishwasher has died. Now, there are aspects of dishwashers that I like (stashing a few dirty dishes easily). But there are other aspects of it that drive me crazy (noise, mostly).

I’ve never bought a dishwasher for myself in my life. Our first house didn’t have one, then my Dad offered me a hand-me-down and the labor to re-figure the cabinets to make room for it. When we turned that house into a rental, it had a dishwasher … which tenants like. We’ve had to replace it since.

When we bought this house, it had an old dying dishwasher. We lived without for awhile, and then my mother-in-law offered us a hand-me-down. That lasted for almost six years, so I guess it still had some life in it!

Now that it has broken down, though, I have no interest in replacing it. It was getting awfully noisy there, at the end. I really don’t like machine noises (my teenage son jokes I would just be Amish if the rest of the family would go for it).

So we’re going back to hand-washing, except this time I’ve got a cool new set-up: an over the sink drying rack.

It’s really quite nice. We wash a couple times a day, using a kettle of boiled water for a rinse and setting things to dry in the rack. It’s quiet. It’s simple. I like it.

My Lenten Practice This Year


As a Unitarian Universalist, I don’t have a prescribed Lenten practice to follow, but there is a thread of cultural-Catholicism in my husband’s family and so the idea of “giving something up for Lent” entered my life just about when he did.

In past years I’ve given up sugar, or alcohol, but this year that just doesn’t appeal to me. We started a new budget plan this year, and I’ve been struggling with one of the worst bouts of depression I’ve had in years, and more self-restraint or deprivation seems counter-productive.

I’ve been inspired by some of Pope Francis’s messages about Lenten fasting, that what we should fast from might be spiritual attitudes as much as they could be physical things. So this year I am “giving up” easy anger towards others. I’m not giving up all anger, and I’m not going to stop caring about the big injustices in the world, but I am giving up the sort of take-it-out-on-your-nearest-and-dearest “I’m Cranky!” kind of anger.

One cannot simply wave a magic wand and say “I won’t ever be cranky again”, though. So the method I’m using to try and reduce or eliminate my cranky anger levels is to refocus on my own Soul Care and prayer practice.

I’ll get up each morning and spend the first part of my day with my journal and in prayer. Today I set the mood for myself with a hot cup of coffee, the fire and a candle, some classical music, and a cozy afghan, and then I wrote and prayed over all that was bothering me in my life and the world.

So far, so good. I do feel calmer and more focused today. Perhaps in 40 days the habit and re-framing of my attitude will stick!

The Life-Management Binder: Menu Planning Section

Another section of my life-management binder: the Menu section. I’ve been doing a monthly menu plan for over a year, but previously I posted it on a wall calendar in the kitchen. To move it into the binder, I just ripped apart one of those free calendars I get too many of from various environmentalist groups. No reason to print out calendar pages when I have so many that need to be used!

The whole family gets input into the menu plan, and January ended up being a month of comfort food. February will be a little more adventurous, as we took a dive into these vegetarian cookbooks from the library.

I like being organized!

The Life-Management Binder: Self-Care

Let’s dive into one section of my new Life-Management Binder and see how it’s working a few weeks into the new year!

A very important part of my life reboot is Self-Care. I’ve been depressed and approaching burn-out, and bloody winter is bloody wet, muddy, and hard. 

So I need to deal with my self-care. Self-care is multi-faceted, and I tried to capture as much of that in my vision collage for this binder section as I could (I didn’t find any good magazine pictures of doctor’s visits and flossing my teeth). Self-Care is everything from taking my vitamins and prescriptions to getting my teeth cleaned. It’s the fun stuff (vacations and hobbies) and the not-so-fun-stuff (those darn dentist appointments). It can be free or cheap (exercising at home or taking a bubble bath or a nap) or expensive (getting a massage).

To start the new year off, I thought what would do me the most good would be to Feel Stronger. So I found a 30 Day Whole Body Fitness Challenge, which I had to heavily edit to set the baseline for someone who had not done any strength training for almost a year. The exercises were sit-ups, push-ups, squats, and wall sits.

Oh my goodness, those first three days I was SOOOO Sore! I was clearly very out-of-shape. But it felt so good to hit the new year with a simple (really, it takes less than 15 minutes a day!) and doable fitness challenge. My husband decided to do it with me, and we are slowly building up strength. We’re up to a 1 minute Wall-Sit now, and the plan is to end with 1 1/2 minutes by the end … ouch!

The 30 day challenge is going to take us more than 30 days, what with sick days and other days when things didn’t work out for us, but the little calendar is flexible enough to deal with that. Once we are done with this … what shall I do next? Cardio?

The important thing really, I think, is just to put myself on the list! This section of my binder is helping me do that.