Category Archives: sustainable lifestyle

Get Growing

“In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” – Marget Atwood

My kiddos agree. Spring is such a glorious season, and my favorite part is getting out in the garden! I love when it’s finally warm enough to spend the majority of our family time outdoors.  It’s also exciting to teach them as the plants begin to grow with our favorite kids’ garden books.


Growing your own food is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint, as the average produce has traveled 1500-2500 food miles to reach your plate. Plus, it really helps you eat what’s in season and growing organic food is a great way to connect with the environment. 


It also a very cost effective way to feed your family healthy food. As you can see from my harvest of tomatoes last year, a few productive plants can provide an abundant harvest. If you can harvest for just a few weeks you’ll easily reap a return on your investment. Although I’ve never actually tried to quantify my “garden investment,” and hope this season to track it better.


Including soil amendment, this past weekend I spent $65 to get my garden started: tomatoes, basil, eggplant, celery, onions, leeks, potatoes, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, green beans, and dill. I had previously planted broccoli, cauliflower, shallots and garlic. I also have an herb garden with marjoram, oregano, curry, parsley, thyme, sage, peppermint, lemon-balm and lavender. We also have blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb and apples. The best advice that I’ve ever gotten is to plant what you love to eat!


You can make your garden even really budget friendly by starting from seed. Although I have to admit that I’m choosing mostly starts this season, since last year I ended up loosing almost all of my seedlings after getting sick. Until my kiddos get a little older and can truly help out with the seed process, I need to stick with the instant gratification of getting beautiful starts in the fresh Earth.


Gardening does have a steep learning curve, but don’t be intimidated. I learn more every year; last year my leeks didn’t produce much and I just realized that I didn’t plant them deep enough. My gardening “bible” is Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening The “companion” workbook is also very helpful, as it provides a handy place to plan your space, log your planting dates, and make garden dreams a reality Maria Rodale’s Organic Gardening Companion.
















Are you planning a veggie garden for your family?
Have you been successful in trimming your grocery bill?

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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Valuing Progress

One of my strategies for creating abundance is to put things in perspective, and give myself some credit. While we haven’t reached all of our goals just yet, we have begun to take action and make progress. Here’s the progress we’ve made in three months.

We are not the patron saints of family finances or sustainability, but at least we are giving our best effort to put our priorities in line with our values. I’ve also been really enjoying the connections that I’ve made with friends and family and new readers through this blog. 

If you’ve enjoyed following our journey, could you share this with just one friend?

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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Transit w/ Kids

I find that the best choices for the planet and your wallet are made on a daily basis. True green decisions become so routine that you don’t even think about how much you’re saving or reducing your carbon footprint.


Taking the bus together is our daily testament to trying to be a sustainable familyWhether rain, snow or sweat, we head out the door to catch the bus together. For us that means a three block walk with 2 parents, 1 preschooler, 1 toddler (still in a front carrier), 2 work bags, 1 cloth diaper bag, clean/dirty sheets on Mondays and Fridays. It is a decent schlepp, and we get quite a few double takes en route. It’s truly worth the effort though, and we experience social, economic and environmental benefits every day.


Economic:
Taking the bus does save us money too. We save on a monthly parking pass, which would run around $150. We also save on gas, wear/tear, tickets, etc. It’s hard to put a real price on the savings. But since we both have employer subsidized bus passes, paying $60 together, it’s certainly a bargain.


Environmental:
By taking the bus, we save at least 1500 miles per year. This save roughly 1,275 pounds of carbon annually, which is the equivalent of planting 25 trees. Occasionally we also ride the lightrail MAX, which gives us a 15 minute walk.



Social:
Typically in the morning we’re all still a little sleepy, so we mostly people watch. This involves Girly flirting with other passengers. When BigGuy was a baby we called the women on the bus his harem and now Girly has her court. We also have our fare share of “transit friends,” who we chat with when we wait or ride together. I find that people are much more outgoing when I have kids in tow, and I truly enjoy the social interactions and friendly atmosphere. The bus drivers are usually very friendly too, and last week one had me laughing to tears with a flashback of a Cheech and Chong impersonation. 
After school/work is a different mood, as we are all a bit tired and ready to be home. As a veteran transit family, we are usually come prepared:
  • Hand puppets, board books
  • Lots of healthy snacks and water (not bottled!)
  • Lots of smiles, songs, and smooches
The real long term social benefit is among our family, as riding the bus together we have plenty of adventures, memories, and life lessons. Beyond humor and entertainment value, riding the bus as a family also shows us the full spectrum of humanity and humility.

Does your family ride the transit, daily or occasionally?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Just in case

I’m not one to dwell on the negative, but after creating an emergency kit for my family it got me thinking about the other tasks that ought to get on my to-do list (perhaps yours too!) 

  • Will & Testament – It’s important to make sure to plan for your kids, just in case. If your estate isn’t complicated, you can use basic software and fill in the blanks (really no harder than online taxes). You need two people to sign as witnesses who aren’t listed in your will, so we signed over coffee with good friends. We now need to update ours to include our Girly. It’s not something you want to think about, but it feels good to have it taken care of. (Now I need to get my parents to do the same!)
  • Life insurance – Here’s where you can get cheap life insurance quotes.
  • Keep an eye on your credit – Identity theft happens quicker and more often than you’d think, and the harm can be lasting. Protect yourself and your family: shred, then recycle.

I’m realistic and know that it takes an effort for a busy family to pay attention to these long-term “what ifs” of life, but hopefully if we pay them some head now we won’t have to deal with something more challenging in the future. 

What other big-picture housekeeping have you done for your family?

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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Family Emergency Kit

Typically I wouldn’t put myself in the category of “survivalist,” and I was pretty sure that the whole Y2K scare was a marketing ploy to sell stuff. Yet, as a Mama I’ve grown into the idea of needing to prepare my family and recently I’ve been a little obsessed with the task of gathering together a 72-hour emergency kit.



Just like how each family is unique, your kit is likely to be different than others, but to help getting you thinking about what you might want to include. We did put everything in a new rolling trash can, but I didn’t label it (found photo) Heres’ my list:

  • Emergency Plan – including important phone numbers and planned reunion locations, copies of insurance info and driver’s liscence, family photos for identification purposes and passports
  • Emergency device – multipurpose crank radio, flashlight, compass and several features I’m pretty sure I’ll never use for $25
  • Cash – in small denominations (I put a $100+ to start)
  • Food & Water – lots of canned goods, we’ll add more water as we get containers
  • Old backpacking stove with fuel, backpacking water filter
  • Clothes and sturdy shoes – no fashion statements here just lots of fleece; we’ll strip if it’s summer (just kidding)
  • Solar powered flashlight – bought 2 at Costco, one for the car (small car kit too)
  • First aide kit & toiletries – including some TP, big diapers, baby wipes
  • Misc – Dust masks, work gloves, pocket knife, tape, scissors, papers (reused!), pens, local map
  • Extras – dog food, old sleeping bags and towels, playing cards, candy, bottle of wine

Many of the items on our list we already had on hand, but the extra expenses (including food) were around $100. Totally worth the investment.


I actually started the task before the tragic earthquake in Haiti struck, and as I wrapped up the last of the supplies I heard news of the devastation in Chile. My heart goes out to everyone impacted. 


While I hope my family never needs these emergency supplies, I imagine that I will be relieved that I listened to that voice inside telling me prepare for the worst and plan for the best.


  • Are you prepared for a natural disaster? 10 ways you could be
  • Mormons reall know how to prepare: Prepared LDS Family

  • Here are a few more good references on this topic:


    Does your family have enough supplies to last 72 hours? 
    What else does it include?

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    Sustainable Family Finances
    The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.