Friday, October 9, 2015


This is day 9 in my 31 Days series on sustainable dwelling. For an introduction and more posts, head here!

Trust. In some ways, we use it freely, often without realizing it. I set an alarm, trusting that it will go off. I get in my car at the exact time I need to leave in order to get to my appointment, trusting that it will start. I go through my green light, trusting that cross traffic will stop at their red one. I drive through to get a drink on my way, trusting that an employee didn't get their cleaning supplies mixed up and accidentally poison me. I trust that that railing is securely fastened and won't spontaneously fall off when Tobin stands up against it. And the list goes on, point after point throughout our day, trust repeatedly placed in the systems that surround us.

But then the trust is broken. We find out that a food company lied about their ingredients. That a corporation has been poisoning the local water supply (and thereby the local people) because of their manufacturing practices. That our favorite brand of clothing was made by children the age of our own and women, like ourselves, but desperate and locked in sweltering buildings for inhumane hours with little or no pay. It's enough to make a person stop trusting altogether.

But there is One who we can safely trust. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever - and He has always had the same plan. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth. {Ephesians 1:7-10}

So we can pursue His directive of loving Him and loving others, of seeking justice and loving mercy and walking humbly with Him - in peaceful assurance that in the fullness of time, He will right every wrong, wipe every tear, and make all things new. Because our trust is safe in Him.

It's Five Minute Friday! Each week a flashmob of bloggers internet-wide gather to write for five minutes (no stopping, no editing!) on a prompt provided by sweet Kate, then link up and share a little comment love. For more info, more posts, and/or to join in, head here!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sustainable 4 Life

This is day 8 in my 31 Days series on sustainable dwelling. For an introduction and more posts, head here!

This week's gifts...
2009. A Museum of Discovery membership, so that Brooklyn can spend half an hour carrying a toy fish up and down a flight of stairs and then be ready to go, without me worrying about whether we've gotten our money's worth out of it
2010. A spontaneous anniversary lunch date with Adam - and that Taziki's gives a 50% discount to military in uniform
2011. Noticing the nail in a neighbor's tire, so I could leave a note letting her know/offering assistance if needed - and that she didn't think that was weird or crazy
2012. Adam having a pass for a three-day-weekend, after working through last weekend
2013. Going to the library all-four-together (much easier than wrangling both of them myself!)
2014. Lunch at Mugs - if I had known that they could do to-go, this would have been a Thing before now
2015. The Main Street Food Truck Festival - I love events like that, and hadn't been to anything similar in over a year (I got spoiled in Fayetteville, where events of that sort are more frequent and more easily accessible)
2016. Spending the Littles' naptime filling a couple of Yahtzee score cards with Adam
2017. An evening alone, in which to shower and knit and study and write without guilt
2018. Being surprisingly functional all day, after an up-and-down-with-Littles night
2019. Adam being willing to do our main meal cooking for the week on the afternoon of his last day off
2020. A church the values racial unity, and isn't afraid of hard questions and open discussion
2021. Reusable straws for Brooklyn, lemon sorbet to share, and a lovely day for walking around outside
2022. A foreign coin, with an accompanying story, waiting in the postbox
2023. An abnormally productive evening that still ended in going to bed early
2024. Time to knit, eat chocolate, and listen to a sermon podcast before the Littles were up and Things needed to be done
2025. Naps for all
2026. Adam thoughtfully reserving the new Avengers movie so Redbox would still have it by the time he left work
2027. A quiet jammy day at home
2028. That Brooklyn is very reason-with-able (as toddlers go)
2029. Businesses that give back

I wrote about the way local often also means fair trade earlier in the week - Mama Carmen's was an especially good example of that, since they're going beyond fair trade and specifically choosing to support an orphanage (I noticed some bags of Mama Carmen's coffee in this month's Fair Trade Friday boxes - you might want to check that out!)

It's exciting to me to see people that care and are in a position to Do Something about it - too often we have our hearts wrecked by something we see or hear on the media, in a sermon, or through a friend... and after feeling really badly about it for a few days, we move on because we don't think there's anything we can do. But there's always something we can do - it just may not be easy or comfortable.

Or it may be. Our new favorite restaurant is Tacos 4 Life (thus far only in Conway and Fayetteville, but with plans to expand), who not only have amazing tacos (and burritos, and nachos, and cilantro lime rice, and queso...) and are gluten-free friendly, but also have a one-for-one giving model: for every taco you buy, a child in another country gets a meal (each location serves a different country - one Swaziland, the other Honduras).

Sometimes people have great ideas that end up damaging local economies in their misguided attempts to Fix instead of Healing - and sometimes things flop because the charity is admirable but the product is less-than stellar. I love to see businesses that get it right all around - I'm grateful that they put in the time and the effort (and the prayer) necessary to create a giving model that actually works on both ends, and those are definitely causes I want to support (and if I get a little queso out it, all the better!)

You may not have to go out and start your own non-profit in order to make a difference - there are lots of people who have already done that that you can support! See if there's one regular habit or need in your life that can be sustainably sourced.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


This is day 7 in my 31 Days series on sustainable dwelling. For an introduction and more posts, head here!

I opened our postbox a few days ago to find a solitary blue envelope with no return address. The handwriting was familiar and the postmark was from Washington State, and there was something round and flat and hard in one corner.

When I got upstairs, I opened it to find a very sweet note from a fellow knitter/#fmfpartysnailmailer/Instagram friend about noticing a picture I'd posted of my little foreign coin collection (my Dad used to work in avionics interiors, so he brought me the change that fell out of people's pockets), how she and her daughter had taught at a school in Uganda a few years ago - and enclosed a Ugandan coin.

Part of the reason that currency fascinates me is because it connects me to that place. I can not only remember the person who gave it to me, the circumstances under which they acquired it, but also get a better understanding of where the coin itself came from. One that Dad found for me was a 100 rupee piece from India - that one has long stood out because of a childhood obsession with Amy Carmichael (an Irish missionary who founded an orphange in India in the late 18/early 1900s). At the time she was there, a Hindu temple could purchase a girl (generally for the purpose of "marrying her to the gods" - or, more accurately, for temple prostitution) for 50 rupees - and suddenly, that coin takes on the value of two souls. Makes it weigh a little more in your hand when you see it that way...

This coin was no different. It instantly brought to mind this post, from Kristin Welch, that I'd read last week {you need to go read it now - I'll wait here}.


Now then. The model of Christian community that these girls are demonstrating is beautiful - and not really something we have here in the West. We try so hard not to be that dependent on others - and if we become that way, we try not to let anyone know. But we're robbing ourselves of such joy! The joy of shared meals, and shared resources, and shared lives... This is why I'm so passionate about supporting fair trade/local businesses - because if we would just pour our drops into the good buckets we'd be able to fill them up and keep them full, reclaiming consumerism and demonstrating Love in a tangible way.

Seek out ways to make the reality of poverty, human trafficking, and oppression real to you - then go out and do something about it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Never Settle for Good Enough

This is day 6 in my 31 Days series on sustainable dwelling. For an introduction and more posts, head here!

One of my favorite things about supporting small businesses is that you are often simultaneously supporting fair trade. When business decisions are made by people, instead of by panels or committees or The Bottom Line, they tend to be more mindful.

Coffee shops are a perfect example - one in Fayetteville is supplied by a coffee farm run by/supporting an orphanage in South America (Mama Carmen's) and another regularly visits their growers, Instagramming adorable selfies from gorgeous mountainsides, then reminding everyone once the beans are ready and roasted where they came from (Onyx Coffee Lab - they are also committed to sourcing their ingredients locally, so their milk, chocolate, and many other ingredients are supplied by other locals).

As a commodity, it's important to background-check your coffee (and your chocolate). There's too much possibility for underpayment (or worse), as well as environmentally unsustainable practices, and with the West's insatiable appetite for more, the temptation is understandable (if not excusable).

Thankfully, we've always had access to local coffee - there are a few shops here in Little Rock that are great (if not the most convenient choice - I lived in a college town for so long that I'm baffled by cafes that have minimal parking and close at 6pm). And others are beginning to jump on the bandwagon - TOMS has their own line of coffee that is not only ethical, but each bag purchased provides a village with water for a week, if you prefer to brew at home and don't have access to a local cafe.

As much as I love well-made coffee... and tea... and chocolate... and knitting and books and paper and pens (but that's a post for another day) my enjoyment shouldn't be paid for by someone else. But with local businesses and conscious fair trade choices, I can drink my coffee in peace, knowing that it's doing its job on my end (keeping me functional ;) as well as supporting someone else on the other end. Never settle for good enough, indeed.

Beautiful dwelling doesn't sacrifice the interests of others for its own - and sometimes a slightly more expensive or simply less convenient choice has benefits that ripple out beyond momentary enjoyment.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Big and Little

This is day 5 in my 31 Days series on sustainable dwelling. For an introduction and more posts, head here!

As we get out and love the city (and try to make ethical buying choices), both Littles continue to grow. Last week, Tobin had to hang on with both hands - this week, he can hang on with one and let go for a few seconds once. He wants to walk so badly - it wouldn't surprise me if he does before his birthday.

Thankfully, he still enjoys being worn, which makes outings much easier. Adam wore him to a food truck rally on Saturday and he peeped politely over the edge at everyone (until Adam got his etouffee, at which point he tried very hard to climb out and get it).

And I wore him to the Museum of Discovery one day last week. Brooklyn needed to get out, and I don't like that playgrounds around here aren't fenced (I recognize that it's not as aesthetically pleasing, but with no fence that means I have to stay really close to make sure she doesn't make a break for it). They have a 6-and-under room with books and puzzles and a slide and tiny cabin with a play kitchen and a stage with dress up clothes and a miniature lighthouse with stairs (she needed a way to practice going down stairs, in a safe context, anyway), and we have a membership (best investment ever) so if she wants to spend 30 minutes carry a toy fish up stairs and down slides, she can.

Not that they don't both get out sometimes. We managed our weekly library trip last week - we'd missed the week before, because we bought a book, instead, and the week before that we returned books but didn't get new ones because we were leaving town for a few days. The library we frequent isn't the closest one, but it's still in our system - I have lots of happy library memories (including volunteering and then working at one) that I'd love to pass on to Brooklyn and Tobin. Plus, lending rather than buying is the ultimate in counter-consumerism.

It's great to see how Tobin's developing and progressing - he's finally stable enough at sitting-up that he was able to ride in the "car" cart with Brooklyn at the grocery store, much to her delight. I wondered if he would get tired of it after a few minutes, but the fact that he had a steering wheel and was sitting next to his sister proved sufficiently engaging for the entire trip.

It's felt a lot more like fall these past few days - we've had doors and windows open, and it's made outdoor adventures involving parking not-near where we're going (which is a sad fact of city living, when you avoid parallel parking at all costs) a lot more attractive. I'm looking forward to more exploring with them this week!

Local living may not require a huge overturning of your normal - parks, museums, and libraries may already be a part of your routine (and if they're not, I highly recommend them!)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wear the Story

This is day 4 in my 31 Days series on sustainable dwelling. For an introduction and more posts, head here!

This month is (among other things) Fair Trade Awareness month. What better way to celebrate than by highlighting fair trade/local fashion every day this month? I'm wearing at least one thing every day that meets those parameters - beginning with one of my favorites, the Fair Trade Friday Earrings-of-the-month club. You'll be seeing a lot of these, because it's a monthly subscription that sends a pair of earrings to your mailbox every month. For less than $15, I'm helping a woman somewhere in the world support herself and her family, and getting an awesome new pair of earrings, too (or a head start on Christmas, for the ones that shout someone else's name to me when I open the bag). {Also, we use mugs instead of regular glasses, and all of ours are different - why not remember a favorite local business while also enjoying a favorite tea?}

{Not real - although, it's not a bad idea...} Because there are as many ways to raise awareness as there are people - jewelry, accessories, clothes, home goods (more on that later), coffee mugs, and even permanent (or temporary) reminders.

I love bracelets. Unfortunately, I have unusually small wrists so I have trouble finding bracelets (at least, ones designed for "typical" Americans...) that will stay on. But I've found some, like 31Bits and those pretty beaded ones like I used in the button for this series, that must be made by cultures that share my tiny wrists, because they fit!

Hey, remember those beaded bangles I just mentioned?

Despite the fact that I already have several bracelets from her (she knows my name... I sort of follow her from fair to festival), I succumbed to this Bella Vita bangle at a food truck rally yesterday. I could have gotten a T shirt (and they were super-cute - I {heart} FOOD, but with a food truck instead of a heart), but this is a memory that I'll wear more often, and loving local/fair trade is what I do!

You don't have to sacrifice your personal style in order to wear a story - you just need to keep your eyes (and heart) open to opportunities to reclaim consumerism!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pumpkin Spice

This is day 3 in my 31 Days series on sustainable dwelling. For an introduction and more posts, head here!

One childhood experience I don't necessarily want to share with Brooklyn (or Tobin) was being sneezed on my a donkey - thankfully, this was a well-mannered goat!

Growing up, my family was all about the journey. We were in it for the experience, so we derived a lot of delight from simple things and had road trips filled with unplanned stops because someone saw and pointed out a sign. What's that funny mountain over there in the middle of the desert? Wait - there's a sign - it's a volcano?! We have to stop! (That's Capulin Mountain in New Mexico, if you're ever driving through ;)

We also attended a lot of small-town events - parades, fall festivals, craft shows, fairs... That's one thing that has fueled my love of brick-and-mortar businesses, because they just have so much more character.

So when Brooklyn started wanting to touch the "puckins" every time we went to the grocery store, I decided it was time to hunt down a local pumpkin patch.

Motley's Family Farm began as (and still is) a Christmas tree farm, but started adding pumpkins to their line-up awhile back. They're located down a winding road at the southern-most edge of Little Rock, which made it an accessible adventure to drive down. We were able to go opening day (they're only open on weekends - unless you have a school group or something like that), and had a magnificent time.

Once inside the gate, we explored the hay-bale maze (like a corn maze, but less claustrophobic and if a kid got stuck they could be rescued by someone with longer legs), the pig races (dear little baby pot-bellied pigs), and the petting zoo (where I fed goats so that Brooklyn could pet them. Definitely not the weirdest - or least-friendly - animal I've ever hand fed).

Then we rode out to the pumpkin patch - as part of a train of "cows" (barrels on wheels, decked out to look like cows) behind a tractor. Brooklyn patted and hugged various pumpkins before finding the perfect one.

They had an ingenious set-up - wagons so that you could transport pumpkins (and tired children) back to the gate, where you paid for your pumpkins (which were very reasonably priced) and then they held them for you while you brought your car (which was a relief, because I was wondering how on earth I was going to get a baby, a preschooler, and a pumpkin that was bigger than either of them back to the car without anyone/anything getting dropped or hit by a car).

If we're still living here once they're old enough to not destroy one, I think it would be fun to get a Christmas tree from them - I realize that they're a glorious mess, but they're also so much more poetic than a plastic one. And you can return them to nature once the holiday is over!

So we brought our perfect-for-us pumpkin home and plunked it down on the balcony where we can say good morning to it every day after breakfast. Sure, I could have bought a pumpkin at the grocery store, and between the time and the gas and the gate-fee and the price of the pumpkin[s - we also got a few little ones as gifts] it probably cost about the same as the marked-up store ones. But we didn't just buy a pumpkin - we got an Adventure, and one that I hope to turn into a yearly tradition.

Do you have any family traditions that could take a local twist, or have a local business that could become part of a tradition?