Category Archives: Hippie Environmentalism

Is Everybody Doing It?

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We Hippies live near Toledo, OH and Handsome Hippie Hubby works there.  Last week we witnessed what happens when world comes to a screeching halt for nearly half a million people when an algae bloom on Lake Erie contaminated the city’s water supply.  Residents of the city and many surrounding communities (thankfully not ours) were told not to drink, or even touch, the water coming out of their taps.

image from WTOL Toledo News 11

image from WTOL Toledo News 11 – a water sample taken from Lake Erie during the Toledo water emergency.

This was the first time Toledo was shut down in that way, but the underlying issue with Lake Erie has been a topic of concern for environmentalists for years. Harmful algae blooms are becoming an increasing issue around the world. They are toxic to humans and cause immense damage to the ecological balance of the area they grow in.  Algae is a natural thing, of course, but this is nature run amok.  It is caused by a variety of issues from sewage in the water to chemicals from industrial dumping but the primary problem is run-off from industrial agriculture and lawn chemicals.

When the news broke and we began learning what was happening and why, Handsome Hippie Hubby made a comment that went something like this, “How can this be happening? Everyone seems to be becoming so much more aware of the importance of mindful living and then you hear about things like this.”

I didn’t have an answer. But it caused me to start thinking.  Is it true that everyone is becoming aware of the importance of mindful living?

Is Everybody Doing It? | LazyHippieMama.comA few months ago I heard the term, “confirmation bias.”  This is the idea that you tend to find support to back up the ideas you already have. The more deeply entrenched your beliefs are, the more likely you are to find reasons to keep believing.

Taken a step further, we create a world for ourselves that supports our beliefs. If you are a Protestant and a Republican you will go to church and meet other Protestants. You will work with other Republicans to support your candidates. You make friends within that framework. You build networks within those groups. It begins to feel like EVERYONE is a Protestant and a Republican.  Confirmation bias such as this can be so powerful that it can be baffling, or even offensive, when you meet someone who is of a different religious or political belief system.  How can they believe THAT when it’s SO CLEAR that everyone else believes something else?

So I began to wonder. Is it true that “people” are becoming more aware of the importance of mindful living or have there always been a group of people who felt that it was important and now that our family is beginning to think as they do we are being assimilated into that tribe?

Because WE think it’s vitally important to consume less and tread lightly upon the earth, to seek peaceful resolution to conflict, and to live in right relationship with our Creator and our neighbors are we simply surrounding ourselves with others who believe as we do? Or is it possible that little ripples of change really are coursing through our society?

It’s “What Do You Think? Wednesday” and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Do you think that, as a whole, people (Americans? “Western” cultures? Humans everywhere?) are placing more importance on the environment and our connection to the planet and each other? Is the human race just plodding along as it always has with some feeling one way and others following a different path? Or are “the crunchies” the weird minority?

Is everybody doing it? | LazyHippieMama.com

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates?  

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

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Breastfeeding is Awesome! (Usually)

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My one and only super controversial, highly scandalous breastfeeding photo.

My one and only super controversial, highly scandalous breastfeeding photo.

August 1-7, 2014 is world breastfeeding week. We don’t often think of things on such a big scale but, if you look at the World Breastfeeding Week website you begin to realize that breastfeeding is so much more than one woman choosing to provide food for one child.

Breastfeeding is taking a step toward eliminating world hunger.

Perhaps finances had nothing to do with your own personal decisions regarding breastfeeding but there are millions (billions?) of women in the world for whom infant formula is difficult or impossible to pay for.  The “normalizing” of breastfeeding in America and around the world helps prevent these women from being marginalized in some way.  When it is no bigger deal for a woman to nurse her hungry baby or pump breast milk at home, at work, or in other public venues as it is for her to give him a bottle, then we will have removed one major obstacle that stands in the way of breastfeeding success for many new moms. That is removing one major obstacle that may be standing in the way of many babies getting the very best possible nutrition!

Breastfeeding is good for the planet.

Bottle feeding creates waste. Formula cans and scoops, the foil seals that cover them, bottles, nipples, and special brushes for keeping everything clean are all items likely to end up in a landfill.  They are often made of plastics which are made from fossil fuels. Formula, whether soy or dairy based, requires a great many resources to create, from both an agricultural and manufacturing standpoint. It has to be shipped to the stores which is more fuel. Breast milk? The moment a baby is born (more or less) it’s just… there. No waste. No byproducts. A perfect system of manufacture and delivery from mom to baby.

Breastfeeding creates a healthier society.

Both moms and babies reap various health benefits from nursing. It’s not just the nutritional aspect. Everything from postpartum bleeding to breast cancer to the infant’s chance of catching a cold is reduced when a mother chooses to nurse, even for a very short amount of time.

One happy, healthy, chunky little breastfed boy.

One happy, healthy, chunky little breastfed boy.

Breastfeeding can be incredibly difficult and no woman should feel shamed if she chooses otherwise!

Whoa… did I trip you up there?  Read that again, please.

NO woman should feel shamed if she chooses not to breastfeed!

Breastfeeding was a great experience for me. The issues I dealt with were relatively minor and easy to overcome. I had a very supportive spouse and doctor. I had plenty of milk (perhaps a bit too much) and time to nurse my children.

Things don’t work out that way for everyone. I can’t imagine nursing multiples! Even discounting everything else the time involved would be astonishing.

Some women have to work outside the home. Even if their employer is supportive of their need to pump breast milk, pumping is not the same as nursing. It may affect their supply or the baby might not accept the bottle, or refuse the nipple after having had the bottle.

I could go on and on with a hundred different scenarios, but my point is that I truly believe with a powerful passion, that breastfeeding is best for mother and child and for society and should be supported and promoted in every way possible.

I also believe very deeply that we, as a society, need to keep in mind that every woman and every family is unique and what is good and right for one may not even be a viable option for another. In our zeal to mainstream an excellent thing we must not become so extremist that we demonize a healthy and valid “second option.”

Support nursing mothers! Support bottle feeding mothers, too! Because we moms are all working hard to do what’s best for our families and, frankly, we’re all exhausted and need a little help now and then.

I would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences regarding breastfeeding!

Breastfeeding is Awesome! (Usually) | LazyHippieMama.com

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

There’s No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know

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There's No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know | LazyHippieMama.comGMOs have become big business – not only for those marketing them, but for those businesses catering to the people who wish to avoid them.  This has resulted in a lot of confusing labels, controversy and mis-information. Hopefully this post will help clear up a few things.

You may ask why you should even care about this. Well, it’s up to you to decide if it’s important or not. I recently wrote about why I care.

The term “GMO” stands for “Genetically Modified Organism.” This refers to “an organism or microorganism whose genetic material has been altered by means of genetic engineering.” (dictionary.com) GMOs were first marketed in the mid 1990’s. Before that there was no such thing as a GMO food.

Now, keep in mind that most (perhaps all?) modern food has been “genetically altered” in that it is different from its ancient, wild ancestors. Farmers have been cross breeding and hybridizing for as long as they’ve been farming. Because of that, the watermelon you eat is probably very different from the watermelon your great grandparents ate but it is NOT GMO. It is hybrid.

You will hear people say that due to pollination, air pollution, or the intervention of the Alien Overlords (OK. I made that last one up. But people get a little extremist at times) there is no such thing as organic food any more. Well… that’s a can of worms for another day. Let’s keep it simple for now.

Here’s a few of the facts and fictions about GMOs that you need to know to understand what you are buying.

“GMOs must be labeled.” – FICTION

Vermont recently passed a law about GMO labeling. Otherwise, there are no laws governing labels for GMO foods. This means consumers who aren’t well informed can be swindled from both sides of the aisle.  GMOs can be in anything and no one has to tell you. On the other hand, marketers can slap a “no GMO” label on something and charge you more when the reality is there is no such thing as a GMO variety of that product.

A great example of this is popcorn.  Pretty much all corn used for human or animal consumption in the USA is GMO unless it is specifically labeled as “heirloom” or “organic.”  HOWEVER, there are no strains of GMO popcorn being sold in this country. Most likely there is very little difference in the expensive “No GMO” brand and the cheaper store brand right next to it.

“Any pre-packaged food is GMO.” – FACT (sort of)

For all practical purposes you can assume that any corn, soy, canola, and sugar (not including cane sugar) in the US is GMO. You will be extremely hard-pressed to find any kind of processed food, be it a loaf of bread, a TV dinner or a bottle of salad dressing, that doesn’t contain at least one of those products in some form.

There are exceptions. There are a a handful of companies that are not necessarily “Certified Organic” but that do not use GMO products. Most (though not all) of these products have a “Non GMO Project” certification.  Your best bet is to know the facts and read labels very carefully.

“Nothing in the produce department is GMO.” – FICTION

There's No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know | LazyHippieMama.comPapaya, sugar beets, zucchini, yellow squash and sweet corn are all likely to be GMO unless specifically labeled otherwise. There is also a modified red-fleshed pineapple from Del Monte that is legal for sale in the US, though I’ve never seen it in any of the stores in my area.

Some items, however, are commonly “accused” of being GMO when they are not.

Biotech companies are pushing to develop GMO oranges in response to a disease that is destroying orange crops but they do not have an approved product as of the publication of this post.

There are also no GMO tomatoes, potatoes, melons or apples being sold in American grocery stores at this time.

“There is no such thing as GMO meat.” – FACT (technically)

This is a true statement in that the animals being sent to market have not been genetically modified. However, the VAST majority of commercially raised animals are fed GMO corn or soy. Many processed meats, like ham and sausage, are processed with GMO enzymes. So… I guess it’s up to you to do the math on that and make your choices accordingly.

It is my understanding that Certified Organic meat, eggs and dairy must come from animals fed non GMO feed. If I’m wrong I hope someone will point it out to me.

“Cheese is GMO.” – FACT

Most hard cheeses (cheddar, parmesan, etc.) are made with enzymes that are modified. This includes kosher cheese, unless it specifically states otherwise.

“Wheat is GMO.” -FALSE (but bread usually is)

There is no GMO wheat currently approved for sale in the US. Not long ago there was a massive controversy when a wheat field was found to be contaminated with GMO pollen but that seems to have been a one-time event. The wheat used in most modern products is hybridized and processed so as to be practically a different food all-together from wheat 100 years ago, but it is not GMO.

However, most products on the grocer’s shelves, including whole grain bread, IS GMO because they contain corn, soy, sugar or some combination of those.

“All Certified Organic foods are non GMO.” – FACT

There's No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know | LazyHippieMama.com

I have heard people argue that manufacturers may use a tiny portion of modified ingredients and still use the “Certified Organic” label but I have never seen any reputable evidence that that is the case. If you would like more details on the various wording of organic labels (“Made with organic ingredients,” “100% organic,” etc) this is an excellent guide.

“Organic and Non GMO are the same thing.” – FICTION

Certified Organic foods are grown without any sort of synthetic herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers. There are other environmental and production standards that farmers must meet as well, to achieve their certification. They must be inspected, fill out a small library worth of paperwork and pay to be legally Certified Organic.

Something can be Non GMO and completely soaked in chemicals. In fact, the Non GMO version of some foods is MORE chemical laden than the “conventional” version! GMO crops are designed to be resistant to disease and pests so farmers need to spray them less often.

“It’s all garbage, so there’s no point in trying to figure it out.” – FICTION!

There's No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know | LazyHippieMama.comDon’t get discouraged or overwhelmed!  There is A LOT of information out there but a little diligence on your part will go a long way. It IS possible to understand food labels. It IS possible to GREATLY reduce the number of harmful ingredients in your food. It IS possible to eat whole, healthy, natural foods regardless of where you live.  You may have to put a little effort into it, and you may come up against some critics, but… hey… who wants to be a sheeple anyway?!

Keep reading. Keep researching. Don’t believe everything you see on Facebook! Find out for yourself from a reputable source. Most of all, don’t reach a point where you are afraid of your food! You know that a carrot, in any form, from any source, is healthier than a PopTart. No one has to tell you that. Trust your instincts and beware of slick marketing and you’ll be just fine.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates?  

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

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There's No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn and Other Things You Should Know | LazyHippieMama.com

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them

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The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.comMy family avoids eating GMOs.  I can’t say we NEVER eat them. We had GMO corn taco shells this week and cookies from a local bakery that almost certainly uses conventional ingredients. A recent trip to a nearby burger joint was what our family refers to as a “crap fest.” It was delicious! Healthy? Well… uh… it was delicious. As a rule, though, we go for food that is as close to all-natural as we can get it, even though that means our grocery budget is higher than average and we have to make cuts in other areas to pay for our food.

I’ve been working on this post for quite a while now, trying to put together the reasons we make the choice to eat a GMO-free (more or less) diet.  This morning, Wanda from Minnesota Farm Living posted this link on her Facebook page and it was just the motivation I needed to tie all this together and post it.

Wanda and I are on opposite sides of the GMO debate but I have immense respect for her. She runs a farm that is clean and humane. She goes out of her way to know the latest research on how to keep her animals healthy and, therefore, provide healthy meat to the public. Also, she has been endlessly patient with me as, for nearly a year now, I have been occasionally pestering her with questions about why so many farmers make the choices they do when it comes to bio-tech if it’s “SO OBVIOUS” to Joe Public that bio-tech is evil.  She helps me see that my viewpoint isn’t always the only one and that, as a consumer but not a producer, I don’t always understand the bigger picture.

The article she posted today, entitled, “How Scare Tactics on GMO Foods Hurt Everybody,” was an interesting read and I agree with a lot of what they said.  The author, Prof. Pamela Ronald, was speaking specifically in reaction to a new bill that has been passed in Vermont, requiring the labeling of GMO foods.

Let’s start with the common ground.

Prof. Ronald says, “…farmers’ use of GMO crops has reduced by a factor of 10 the amount of insecticides sprayed on corn over the last 15 years… decreased carbon dioxide emissions…”

I live in a rural area and I have asked dozens of farmers why they buy GMO seed. Universally they say it reduces the amount of pesticide they have to use and the amount of gas they would use applying it to their field. Additionally, fossil fuels are burned in tilling fields and GMO crops require less (sometimes no) tilling.  I would add that several of them go a step further and say that using GMO seed has decreased their topsoil erosion as well. So, in these ways, GMO crops are a big benefit to the environment.

She also states this:

“The bill is a contradictory hodgepodge of requirements and exemptions. It doesn’t require labeling for cheese made with genetically engineered enzymes, or red grapefruit developed through radiation mutagenesis. It doesn’t require labeling for animals that have been fed GMO crops, or for crops sprayed with carcinogenic compounds. The law doesn’t require crops sprayed with the organic pesticide Bt to be labeled, but crops genetically engineered to produce Bt must be labeled, and so must certain types of hybrids (including triticale, which can be found in most natural-food stores).”

To which I reply, with a sigh, “Yup. That’s government for you.”

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.comNo doubt some law maker was trying to please the organic foodies (who are often backed with surprising amounts of money and clout) and the National Board Of Name Your Favorite Food (who, no doubt gave them money and clout) at the same time and they ended up with some kind of weird compromise that singles out a handful of items while creating special tax breaks for others. Sadly, I’ve come to realize that’s just how government works these days in far too many cases.

There is this statement: “So the law… won’t give consumers access to food that’s… less “corporate.”

True. Organics and natural food is some seriously big business in America these days. Pretty much every major food manufacturer has a branch or “child company” that sells organic products. In fact, the cost of organic certification is so prohibitive that there are very few small farms that can afford it.  If you want to avoid doing business with Corporate America you need to grow your own food or buy from a neighbor who does.

She concludes with this:

“So let’s label food, but let’s do it right. Instead of adding a general label about the process with which a plant variety was developed, let’s use labels that provide details about how the crop was grown and what is actually in the food. Let’s apply these labels to all foods, so consumers can make comparisons and draw their own conclusions about the risks and benefits of each seed or farming practice. Let’s create a national sustainable agriculture standard that is science-based and that has as its goal the health and well-being of consumers, farm workers, and the environment.”

Yes, yes and yes! I couldn’t possibly agree more! What a lovely idea! Let’s do it!

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.com

In the meantime…

Did you notice that the quotes, above, have a lot of pieces taken out? Those are the parts that are, for me, not common ground.

Right off the bat she says that there is not “a single credible report” that raises issues about the health consequences of GMOs.

If you click over to the first post I ever wrote on this topic you will find links to several reports from all over the world that raise concerns over everything from decreasing fertility rates to Leaky Gut Syndrome.  Some of them come from more credible sources than others but it is important to remember in any hot topic debate that one side can almost always find some reason to discredit the other.

For instance, I could try to discredit Prof. Ronald by mentioning that she makes her living by producing and promoting GMO products so it is in her personal best interest to put the best possible face on bio-tech. Is she knowledgeable? No doubt she knows so much more than I do about all of this it’s laughable. Is she unbiased? Not a chance. Does that mean she lacks credibility? I guess that’s up to you to decide.

She points out that these products have been widely consumed for 30 years now with no ill effects.

She could be right. Presumably, if you’re reading this, you’re still alive and well enough to read. I wonder though… We are told there is an obesity epidemic. Severe food allergies are more common than ever. Children have higher rates of respiratory illness than ever before. Adults are suffering from chronic pain and illness at younger ages and more severely than previous generations. Mental illness is on the rise. Autism is on the rise. We are not a society that has been experiencing improved health in the past generation.

Is that because of GMOs?

I don’t know and neither does anyone else.

It certainly seems prudent, though, to consider that ONE of the MAJOR changes in the world in the last generation has been the introduction of genetically modified food.

She hails GMOs for reducing food costs and insists that labeling will increase them.

Uhm… has she been grocery shopping lately?! In what world is food getting cheaper?!

She argues that GMOs enhance biological diversity.

I would argue that buying ONE type of seed from ONE company does the exact opposite. Further, there are side-effects of Round-up Ready Seed. One example that comes to mind is the reduction of milkweed growing in soy bean fields. Great news for soy bean farmers. Bad news for the pollinators who live primarily off of milkweed. If the pollinators die off a massive portion of the food on this planet goes with them. That is not a good thing for biological diversity!

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.comMy favorite argument from the pro-GMO side is one that is made in every conversation I have ever had on this topic.  “Everything we eat has been genetically modified in some manner.”

That’s true. If you looked at food from 1,000 years ago it would barely be recognizable to you. We have domesticated and cross-bred and hybridized everything. We’ve been doing it for as long as we, as a species, have been intentionally growing our own food.

Here’s the difference, IMHO.  Keep in mind, I am not a scientist. I never claimed to be. If you come back at me with a line about aminopeptides or some such thing I won’t understand a word you are saying. I’m just drawing on a decent under-graduate education and a LOT of reading on this topic.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that you have a black cow who is an awesome milk producer and a white steer who is totally tolerant to the coldest conceivable temperatures. You might decide to play Cupid in the pasture and see if you can’t come up with a spotted baby cow who grows up to be one extremely hardy milk-making beast.  Congratulations! You just manipulated the gene pool.

Now, let’s say your black cow almost drowns one day because she fell into the river that runs through your pasture. You decide to take one of her ovum, extract the DNA, splice it with the DNA of a fish and create a cow-fish that is a great milk producer and has the ability to breath through gills.

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.com

That’s the difference (in ridiculous, over-simplified terms) between the genetic manipulation that has been going on for centuries and Genetically Modified Organisms.

Is the milk from the cow-fish healthy? Maybe.

Do scientists in the year 2014 have a strong enough handle on the workings of DNA and the effects of food on overall health to guarantee that cow-fish make healthy milk?  Hmmm… well, have they definitively answered what role DNA plays in cancer? Mental illness? Diabetes? Can they “fix” autism or down syndrome? Can they even, with 100% accuracy that never fails, trace the genetic lineage of humans?  They’re getting there. The amount of knowledge and the understanding of practical application increases every day, but the science of genetics is not perfectly well developed yet.

Add to that the track record of foods that were once deemed not only acceptable but hailed as better than anything from nature – they range from cocaine to saccharine to trans-fats. “All doctors agree this is safe,” they said.  “There is no evidence that it’s harmful,” they said. But now we know better.

Pile on a healthy dose of Big Biotech being in bed with the lawmakers, the pharmaceutical companies and everyone else who stands to make a dollar.

Toss in a dash of truly bizarre controversy surrounding scientists formerly hailed as THE experts in the field (thinking of Dr. Don Huber, specifically).

And, just for good measure, throw in a pinch of, “The hippie in me just can’t trust a company like Monsanto,” (I never claimed to not have a few biases of my own!),

and now you have the reason why I still avoid GMOs, even though the evidence may show that they are safe.

*** I didn’t provide many links to research or further reading in this post because much of what I was drawing on came from what I’ve learned in the past, when doing research for the post, “What I Learned About GMOs From 9 Farmers, A Monsanto Employee and A Whole Bunch of Reading.”  If you want more information I strongly encourage you to head over there and click through to the various links on both sides of the debate. This is not a cut-and-dry issue and there is a great deal to be considered when making the right choices for yourself and your family!***

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates? 

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

Re-purposing An Old Crib

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Just for the record - we haven't made him sleep in this one for quite some time, he just decided to spend a little time remembering the good old days.

Just for the record – we haven’t made him sleep in this one for quite some time, he just decided to spend a little time remembering the good old days.

Toddler-saurus Rex outgrew his crib several months ago. We knew that it was time to move him into a big-boy bed but we already had the crib. He liked it! And for some reason this boy… the boy who will jump from the top of the staircase, launch himself into the deep end of a swimming pool and climb a ladder like a spider monkey stayed in the crib. He would wait, patiently calling for Hubby or me to come get him, every morning.  We would come into his room and tell him he could get up, at which point he would easily climb out of bed by himself and follow us downstairs.

I don’t get it, but I wasn’t about to complain!

Why would I end this arrangement?!

But, alas, then we moved into the new house.  The crib was used when we got it and, though I never checked, it’s probably been recalled because every crib in the US that’s more than 10 minutes old has been recalled for one reason or another. It was getting a little rickety. It really wasn’t safe for him anymore and I certainly didn’t feel comfortable giving it to someone else for a younger baby to sleep in.

Maybe he can sleep in the dog bed? He seems pretty content in there!

But it was still so pretty! And I couldn’t see just tossing all that loveliness in the landfill.

What’s a Hippie to do?

Repurpose it, of course!  I had Handsome Hippie Hubby tear it apart to its pieces and drag them all to the new house which he did with no complaining – even though at least one full load of what we moved was “pieces of stuff I’m sure I can use someday.” He’s a great husband!

Yesterday was the day… I figured it out!

We had a spot in the yard where an old tree stump had been ground out and the hole filled in with dirt from the field next door.  The grass hadn’t yet grown over it so it was just calling for some kind of creative treatment.  As I stood there, staring at the bare earth, trying to figure out what I wanted to do it came to me.  The rectangle of earth was just a little larger than a baby crib.  EUREKA!

I dug out the corners and buried the legs enough to give it some stability, tied the corners together with a length of wire and planted peas all around the edges. As they grow they can climb the sides creating a little “hidden fort.”

I painted an old piece of plywood I swiped out of a friend’s burn pile (Yes. I admit it. I save other people’s garbage, too.) as a tic-tac-toe board with painted rocks as the markers. A few colorful touches added some fun and it’s ready to go!

The finished product! Now to wait for the peas to grow...

The finished product! Now to wait for the peas to grow…

I am having so much fun at the new house – with all this space to build things like this.  What whimsical creations have gone in your yard this summer?  Tell about them or share your links in the comments.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates?

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

 

Earth Day, Mother’s Day and Sending Flowers to Someone You Love

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***This is a sponsored post, containing affiliate links. I have received free product to review and may be paid a portion of any sale made via the included links. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.***


The Bouqs - Premium Farm Direct Flowers

On this blog and others it is not at all uncommon to find all of the reasons why we need to farm our food in sustainable ways.  But have you ever considered what happens when flowers are farmed commercially?  How many resources are used? How many pesticides are sprayed on the plants? Are the workers on those farms treated with fairness and kindness?

TheBouqs.com is a wonderful, unique flower delivery service that addresses those questions.

When they first contacted me, proposing that we work together, my inclination was to say no. I try to keep this blog focused primarily on homesteading, homeschooling, and encouragement for daily life.  I didn’t see how promoting a florist fit with that.

Then I read more.  Check out this excerpt from their website:

We source only from eco-friendly, sustainable farms that respect the environment and their workers.

The first big difference:

We cut only what we sell. Other providers source from a supply chain that sees 1 in 3 stems wasted. Across hundreds of thousands of bouquets a year, that’s a lot of wasted land, resources, labor and fuel. We cut only when you order, so we avoid the waste.

 We also save energy through our direct-from-the-farm supply chain. The standard supply chain must keep stems cold for up to 2 weeks, meaning hundreds of hours of refrigeration and the associated energy use. We use cold storage for only 4 days from the Volcano, and not at all from California, resulting in a lot of energy savings.

 Finally, our farms provide living wages, childcare, healthcare and adult education. And our growing business supports farm communities, so you can feel good about shopping The Bouqs Company’s flowers.

What’s not to love?!

The Bouqs - Premium Farm Direct Flowers

I read further and explored a little more.  Their prices are very competitive with other online retailers and long-distance flower companies. Especially when you factor in the deals that they are constantly running.

For example, today, on their website , I noticed they are offering TWO DOZEN roses for Mother’s Day for just $50! You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better price on a similar bouquet.

They also offer a concierge service. You can set it up to automatically send flowers at regular intervals or program in important dates so you can be sure to never forget a special occasion.

I was convinced that they were a great company that you all needed to hear about so I went ahead and placed my own order.  I had a dozen rainbow roses shipped to my sister – one seriously hard-working single mom who is a constant support and encouragement to me.

They arrived right on time, in beautiful condition.  She was charmed by the fact that they came from Ecuador. (Did I mention that these flowers are grown on the side of an active volcano? That fact alone adds some significant cool-factor points!)  The bouquet was stunning – every bit as pretty as the one in the online catalogue.

Earth Day, Mother's Day and Sending Flowers to Someone You Love | LazyHippieMama.com

Today is Earth Day. It is a day for being conscious of the way we treat our planet.  Supporting businesses with eco-friendly policies is one of the very easiest ways to be a good steward.

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and you know your mom would love a giant, colorful bouquet of flowers. The Bouqs will create something beautiful for her.

This year you can celebrate Earth Day by preparing for Mother’s Day. You’ll get a great deal and everyone wins!

Why send some boring bouquet when you can send a Bouq!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

Composting 101

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Composting 101 | LazyHippieMama.comWhether you’re just looking for a place to throw your lawn trimmings or you want to do a full re-vamp of what you’re putting in the landfill what you need to do is start your own compost pile.

If you are like me when you decide to do something like this you Google it.  What happens then is that you get a long list of articles (like this one – except not nearly as fun and easy to understand) that tell you how to go about creating what you need.  Here’s the thing… when I first decided to build a compost bin the instructions I found on many sites were so complicated I almost gave up.  The bin designs included turners and aerators and solar panels. There were websites for buying specialty worms and insects.

Thankfully, I decided to plunge ahead and, as it turns out, everything is working out just fine.

Here’s the main thing you need to know:  Vegetal matter will rot and break down.

That’s it.  That’s the one key to keep in mind.  Now… can you speed up the process? Make it tidier? Balance the nutrients that you end up with.  Yes. You can do all of that and more.  But you really don’t have to do much of anything to make your biodegradable waste turn into black dirt.

On the other hand, there are a few important things you may want to keep in mind.  Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.

Note: If I was going to buy a fancy composter I’d buy one like this.  It makes kitchen scraps into useable dirt in just a few days and it is far prettier than what I built out of pallets. You even get your choice of colors!

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1) Don’t put meat or animal products in your compost pile.

Meat will attract nasty predators and scavengers.  I’m assuming that you’re not looking to draw anything from rats to vultures to coyotes to your yard.  It will also stink a great deal more than vegetal compost.

2) Do put a variety of other things.

Kitchen scraps and yard clippings, dead leaves, small sticks, egg shells, newspaper, cardboard…  the more variety you toss in your bin the richer your mature compost will be.

3) Locate your compost pile in a place where the bugs won’t bother you.

Insects are a valuable part of the composting process and your outdoor compost pile will be crawling with them.  You probably don’t want it right outside your back door where you’re going to get a face full of flies every time you leave the house.

This is my pallet bin. It was quick and easy to build and it gets the job done.

This is my pallet bin. It was quick and easy to build and it gets the job done.

4) Do make sure the air and water can get to your compost.

This is not the project for a sealed, air-tight, water-tight bin. One of the reasons pallets are great for building compost bins is because the slats let the air in.  If you turn your compost with a pitchfork or shovel every so often it will rot faster.  If you don’t it will still rot.

5) Don’t put dog or cat waste in your compost – especially if you’re going to use it in the garden.

Dog and cat poo can potentially contain some very nasty bacteria and parasites, even if your pet is healthy.  Their digestive systems are just very different from ours.  Those organisms can live in your compost pile and make you sick when they come in contact with food or through handling of the compost.

6) Do add rabbit or chicken poo.

Also, toss in the stuff you clean out of your hamster or guinea pig’s cage.  Cow and horse poop are awesome in compost but if you’re already caring for a cow or horse your homesteading skills are likely so far beyond mine you stopped reading several paragraphs ago.  These types of manure will break down quickly, easily and safely.

7) Don’t expect things to go very quickly.

If you want to compost in 24 hours you need to buy the fancy equipment.  If you just want to throw your scraps in a pile you will still get compost. It will take a long time. Potentially years, depending how big your compost bin is.

Composting 101

8) Don’t worry too much about it.

You’re working with kitchen scraps and poop. This is not the project in your life that should be keeping you up at night.  Your compost pile should be a tool that helps create a space for your waste and generates some fertilizer for your garden. Don’t let it be more of a project than it really needs to be!

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10 Reasons To Get Kids Into The Garden

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10 Reasons To Get Kids Into The Garden | LazyHippieMama.comThere is a rumor going around that it may touch 60 degrees in this part of Michigan today. If it does, it will be the warmest day we’ve had in four months. It has been a long, cold winter and everyone is more than ready for spring!  I’d be willing to bet garden centers all around the area will be bustling, even though it’s really too early to trust the warmth. As that last frost date draws closer, though, I’d like to give you 10 great reasons to toss your kids out the door and into the garden.

1) Planting a garden is a great expression of creativity.

I believe when the Bible says that man is created “in the image of God” that refers, at least in part, to the creative spirit.  It is sheer joy to allow your garden be a living canvass upon which you bring your ideas  to literal fruition!  It’s true that kids might mess up the plan. They trample things and dig in the wrong spots. They put too many seeds in one hole and none in the next. Frankly, I do the same things. But if you have the type of personality that just gets really irritated by that perhaps you could share a corner or a pot or a pallet with the little people.  The creative spark in children runs bright and hot and you just might be amazed at what they can do when left to figure things out for themselves!

2) Being in nature has a calming effect.

It’s not just an old wives tale. Science backs up the theory that people who spend time out doors are calmer, more peaceful and better focused.  (Source)  If your children are driving you nuts with their wild antics hand them a bucket and boot them outside to pull weeds.  You’ll feel better. They’ll feel better. Everybody wins!

10 Reasons To Get Kids In The Garden | LazyHippieMama.com

3) Children who spend time outside do better in school.

There’s all that, above, but there’s this, too. Studies show that kids who spend time outside perform better in academic settings. (Source)

4) Helping to grow vegetables encourages eating vegetables.

Hand me a can of grayish-green peas and tell me it’s a side dish and I’ll turn my nose up at it every time, but I’ll happily munch fresh peas from the vine all afternoon!  Kids have taste buds, too!  Food, fresh from the garden, is flavorful and nourishing. Plus, it’s indescribably satisfying it is to see a plant that you’ve nurtured from a seed bear good fruit.  Even the pickiest veggie hater will find something they love to nibble if you give them enough time in the garden.

5) Gardening is a great way to teach children about how every part of our world is valuable and deserves respect.

A good garden needs worms and insects, dirt and old leaves and clean water and sunshine. I have never experienced a more tangible way of seeing, first-hand how every single thing on this earth is intricately and irrevocably woven together.  When we respect and care for all of the parts of our world and, in return, our world nourishes us. That’s a lesson every child needs to learn.

10 Reasons To Get Kids In The Garden | LazyHippieMama.com6) Getting dirty helps build the immune system.

Did you know that keeping your child too clean will make them sick? Kids raised in very sterile environments have a much higher tendency to asthma, allergies and immune problems.  (Source) Encourage your child to play in the dirt!

7) Being together in the garden presents great opportunities for conversation.

You know how “they” say you should limit screen time to 2.7 minutes a day (or something like that) for children under 17? Yeah… we don’t do that. We are a plugged in family. It is not unusual, at any given moment for me to be pecking away on my MacBook while Handsome Hippie Hubby is doing research on his laptop, Sweet Hippie Daughter is reading on her tablet and Toddler-saurus Rex is sorting colored shapes into baskets on the Kindle Fire.  We get in the car and we’re singing to the radio. We’re at the store and we’re focused on crossing items off the list.  But in the garden…  in the garden it’s just us. There is all the time in the world to talk about anything and everything while we putter along doing whatever needs to be done.

8) Gardening is great physical exercise.

We are a nation that asks our children to  sit  a LOT.  Sit on the bus. Sit in the car. Sit at your desk. Sit for your music lesson. Sit in church. Sit at the table. Sit down and do your homework. Ok, time to relax. Feel free to go sit on the couch and watch TV.

Gardening is motion. It is bending and lifting and digging and crawling.  If you make the mistake I did last year and put your plants too close together it’s like a yoga class trying to get to the fruit without squishing anything!  If you doubt that gardening is exercise, give it a go, just for a day or two and tell me how your back feels when you are done!

9) Problem solving, building, engineering and chemistry are all part of gardening.

10 Reasons To Get Kids In The Garden | LazyHippieMama.comYou’ve got a 12 foot long tomato vine crushing the 3 foot wire cage that is supposed to be supporting it.  How can you use the long stakes you have to get the plant up off the ground before it rots?

How do you get the water to spray on something that’s just out of reach of the hose?

How do you re-route the rain run-off so it doesn’t drown your beets?

Is the soil acidic or base? Is that good or bad? Why? How can it be adjusted?

Gardeners need to be constantly figuring and calculating, building and experimenting to see what works.  Gardening is science.

10) Because no child needs to watch another episode of…. anything.

Have you seen EVERY episode of SpongeBob Squarepants 782 times? Is one more day of Thomas the Train going to derail your brain?  Take your child out to the garden. Show them how to turn the sod. Let them plant seeds, mound up potatoes, pick beans or hand-pollinate squash blossoms.  You’ll both feel better for it.

Do you have a special memory of being in the garden with kids, or of being a kid in the garden with an adult you loved? 

I’d love it if you would share it in the comments!

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What’s Your Motivation To Choose Organic?

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What's Your Motivation To Choose Organic?I don’t have a lot of brand preferences when it comes to food.   it’s important to me to keep our kitchen as organic and GMO free as I can, working within the budget I have, so my considerations are generally to shop for the “cleanest” food I can find at the lowest price.

To my delight, both the large supermarket and the small, local grocer where I do most of my shopping have been expanding their selection of store-brand organics. We usually end up choosing those when they are offered simply because they are the least expensive.

Organic and all-natural products generally have some sort of little message on the box that says something along the lines of, “Even though we are a company that employes a zillion people around the world we are moms and dads just like you and this recipe was created by sweet little old apron-wearing grannies in a kitchen surrounded by rainbows and unicorn dust to be as healthy as possible for your family.” (Paraphrased)

The notes always make me roll my eyes a little. It takes a lot of grannies to churn thousands of pounds of organic butter every day!  It’s advertising. Take it with a grain of salt and use your common sense to know that even organic stuff is produced/packaged by relatively low-wage workers in gigantic factories.

Then one day I noticed the note on the back of a box of Kraft Organic Macaroni and Cheese.

First, let me say, before anyone else brings it up, I realize that “organic” and “healthy” are not synonymous and orange-colored cheese dust is never going to pass the “is it real food” inspection.  Often I make my own mac and cheese from… well… from actual mac and actual cheese.  But sometimes we eat this. Judge me if you must.

Second, I should probably admit that Kraft is a brand that I pay attention to when I’m shopping. I notice them to avoid them.  I thought the way they handled the recent petitions by the ladies at The Food Babe and 100 Days of Real Food showed a distinct lack of class and disdain for the consumers that keep their company open.  They did eventually cave to pressure… sort of… as little as possible…. but the whole thing just put me off of them in a big way.

However, because there are only a few stores around me that carry organic choices they often sell out quickly and, sometimes, Kraft is what’s left and I end up reluctantly giving them a bit of my money.

So, this one day I’m in the kitchen waiting for the noodles to cook and I happen to see the picture on the box.

I look cool?

Really?

You think I chose the $2/box macaroni instead of the $.68 stuff because I wanted to be a trendsetter?

You really think that the consumers who make organic choices are that shallow and lame?

I buy organic food for my family because, after an absurd amount of research (no one should have to work so hard to find out what’s in their food!), I decided it’s the HEALTHIEST choice.

My family doesn’t have a lot of money. Spending extra on organic food means we go without things that many people take for granted.  If I wanted to look cool I would whittle my groceries down to the lowest possible cost, buy the cheapest crap on the market and use my money to get some clothes that have never been previously worn by others. Maybe I’d even wildly splurge on a professional haircut and a manicure! I could indulge in cable TV. Imagine the luxury!

At least I can take comfort in knowing, as I stand in the checkout line with my mouse-brown pony tail and my decade old clothes, that the grocery store cashier thinks I’m fabulous.

It’s fair to say that I found Kraft’s message offensive.

But then I started thinking… the majority of Americans do not make organic food choices.  Is this how they see people who do?

Do those “in the mainstream” think that those who live a “crunchy” lifestyle are doing it because it’s trendy at the moment?

It’s not my experience.  I started on this path because I was concerned about how many diapers I was putting in the landfill. That led to researching the effects of our modern society on our planet and on our bodies. Two years later I’m growing my own veggies from heirloom seeds and using baking soda deodorant.

The way I live now is, in many ways, more difficult than the way I lived before.  Every choice is researched and thought out. I don’t do it because it’s cool or because a celebrity said I should or because I’m trying to make a statement to the world. I do it because these choices have made me feel stronger and healthier than I ever have and I want my children to grow up feeling strong and healthy.

Every single other person I know who strives for an “organic lifestyle” does so for the same reasons.

But I wonder…

Maybe we are in the minority because people in “the mainstream” see us just the way the box-writers at Kraft see us.  Maybe people think that I’m buying organic salad dressing because Paul Newman has pretty blue eyes. Maybe they don’t realize that the petroleum-based food dyes in the regular mac and cheese have been proven by the medical community to cause symptoms very like those of ADHD and autism and that they are limited or banned in most countries around the world because of their negative health effects.

I am curious to know. What do you think?

Do people buy organic to be trendy?

Do “the crunchies” need to get better at explaining the reasons behind their choices?

Do folks in the mainstream even want to know our reasons, or do you think that many of them are working on an “ignorance is bliss” mentality?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

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Top Ten Reasons You Should Shop In Thrift Stores

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Top Ten Reasons You Should Shop In Thrift Stores by Lazy Hippie Mama#10 – You’ll save money.  

I had to go for the obvious one first.  Regardless of your financial situation it’s always wise to be frugal and you won’t find many places where your dollar will stretch further than it will at the thrift store.  The last time we went we ended up with a movie, a fairly fabulous like-new toddler toy, a pair of sunglasses and a stuffed space alien (Sweet Hippie Daughter has a thing for aliens. If you are one, and you happen to be hiding among us, and you’ve come in peace, my kid really wants to meet you.). Total cost – just under $5.

#9 – They’re an educational treasure.

Books, computer games, globes, maps, puzzles and so much more line the shelves at thrift stores, often on sale for pocket change. Those are great educational resources whether you homeschool or not.  But there are so many more opportunities for learning at thrift stores!  Walk around and look from a child’s perspective.  Why were so many clothes made from polyester 40 years ago? Why don’t TVs have dials any more? What’s the difference between the way a record, a tape and a CD record sound? What are those old wash basins and pitchers for? Why do mirrors lose their reflectivity in the spots where the paint chips off? There are an infinite number of discussions, experiments and ideas that can be triggered by just wandering among items that have known a long life.

#8 – They’re nostalgic.

Top Ten Reasons You Should Shop In Thrift Stores

Neither Handsome Hippie Hubby nor I went looking for a fake wooden barometer but when we saw this one, that reminded both of us of happy childhood days in our grandparents’ homes we knew that it needed to come home with us.

It’s a rare trip to the thrift store where neither Handsome Hippie or I exclaim, “Oh my gosh! My grandparents had one of these!”  We find toys that remind us of our own childhoods and visiting aunts and uncles and places we loved that we haven’t thought of in years.  Sometimes we laugh at the memories, or we celebrate that they’ve passed, or we mourn a bit for someone dear who is gone from our lives now.  It’s a great way for us to be closer to each other. You’d think after spending 1/4 of our lives together we’d know all there is to know about each other  but new stories surface after most every thrift store trip.

#7 – You can find things that may not otherwise be for sale in your region.

Do you love Disney World memorabilia? Japanese art? Southwestern decor? Those things can be hard to find if you don’t live in specific areas but, at thrift stores, you never know what treasures may turn up from all over the globe.

#6 – You’ll likely be funding a worthy cause.

Not all thrift stores are connected to charitable organizations. Of those that are, some give a significantly higher percentage of your sales dollar directly to the cause than others, but the vast majority of thrift stores do help fund some really great programs from schools to hospitals to research foundations and more.  It’s a fun and painless way to make a positive difference in your community.

#5 – It’s good for the planet.

I live in a tiny town, surrounded by tiny towns.  Within a 20 minute drive of my house there are at least 7 thrift stores.  Can you imagine if ALL the stuff they sold ended up in a landfill? How many resources would be burned up creating, packaging and selling new items to replace the perfectly good ones being thrown away?  Thrift stores are a great recycling tool.

#4 – It will spark your creativity.

Maybe you’ll find a frame you love and you’ll be inspired to make something special to put in it.  Perhaps you’ll stumble across some curtains made of a wonderful fabric and turn them into your new favorite dress.  It could be that the idea for your entire garden design will be sparked by a trinket on a bric-a-brac shelf.  Thrift stores are a wonderful place to let your imagination take hold.

#3 – You may acquire a new skill.

Have you been thinking about taking up knitting, wood working, stained glass window making, cooking, nail art or sculpting but you just weren’t sure if you would like it so you’ve been hesitating to sink the money into the supplies you need?  Go to the thrift store!  Odds are you won’t find everything you need to start your new hobby, all in pristine condition.  However, you can probably find some of what you need, in usable condition at a significantly lower cost than you’d get it new.  Then you can try your hand at it and decide if it’s worth a larger investment.

#2 – You can eliminate as well as accumulate.

Before your shopping trip, go through your house and toss all that old stuff that is no longer filling a need in your life into a box (or 10). Take it to the thrift store and drop it off on your way in.  Someone else will be thrilled to have your clutter and you get to head home with some new treasures, knowing you now have plenty of space to store or display them appropriately.  Everybody wins!

And the #1 reason you should shop in thrift stores….

Because you might find that one elusive item you never knew you always wanted.

Top Ten Reasons You Should Shop In Thrift Stores by Lazy Hippie Mama

Top Ten Reasons You Should Shop In Thrift StoresI recently found this Jesus action figure at The Salvation Army.  It made me smile. Then I started to giggle. Then I laughed so hard I thought I was going to pee my pants.  “Gliding action!”  BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!  He has little wheels on his feet so he can buzz around the table.  Who made this? Why? Is he part of a set? Oh, I must know!

Why is this so funny to me? Because it’s Jesus. And he’s an action figure.  WITH GLIDING ACTION!  

I’m giggling even as I type this.

How about you? Why do you love to shop in thrift stores? What’s your most favorite thrift store treasure?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!