Monthly Archives: July 2010

Solo Vacations

We chose to take solo vacations this summer for a few reasons. First off Hubby had a few weeks more vacation, since I sucked up mine through maternity leave. Secondly, backpacking is something we simply can’t do together with young kids, although we are planning on a short backpacking trip together.

Hubby is gone backpacking this week in the Wallowa Mountains, mentoring through Big City Mountaineers . He is no doubt high on fresh mountain air and freedom from fatherly responsibilities.

Although I was admittedly enjoying myself at the Oregon Country Fair, I’m definitely missing him now that I’m home. I’ve been mentally counting down his return, and attempting to keep some chaordic balance. 

I naively thought that I would be super-Mama, and have the house tidy and all the to-dos tackled when he returns. B ut I got quite the surprise when our Big Guy was sent home with dreaded lice, which has been running rampant. Needless to say, I’ve washed a mountain of laundry and am ever grateful for our extra capacity energy efficient LG washer/dryer.

It’s been a lesson in patience and humbleness, and I sure hope Hubby is having more fun than me this week!  Sometimes absence does make you appreciate the abundance you take for granted.  

Do you ever take separate vacations?
How do you make them equitable and manageable?

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

Online Sales

Do you feel guilt about online shopping? As long as you are thoughtful about your purchases, and sticking to your family budget, you shouldn’t feel guilty. Actually, a Carnegie Mellon study showed that  online shopping uses a third less energy than traditional retail.

I’m really a fan of online shopping simply because I find shopping more stressful than soothing. I also try to be very mindful when shopping online so that I feel more satisfied than suckered into a deal.

My favorite place to shop for kids clothes is Children’s Place. Each season they discount 40%, and you can usually find all the basics for $3-5. Sales are better online and you’ll have the pick of the warehouse rather than one local retailer.

I have a few money-saving habits. 

  • Sign up for sales email from your favorite stores, set them to deliver directly into an online shopping folder so you won’t be bothered constantly.
  • Only shop seasonally as-needed.
  • Know your limits – make a list and budget before you shop and stick to it.
  • Make sure you have cash, but use credit. You’ll earned miles or cash back, plus you’ll  be reminded of how much you spent when you pay your monthly credit tab.
  • Search for promo-codes. I usually save 10-15% or get free shipping. It adds up and is worth the two minutes.

What are your favorite places to shop online?

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


I got a kick out of my recent neighborhood yard sale, and I’ve been thinking about bartering. Don’t get me wrong, cash is nice. But it sure would be nice to simply swap our stuff.

Bartering is like recycling your way to abundance: sharing what you have and received what you need.   By definition bartering is a win-win. You’re also likely build some social capital in the process.

I found some green ideas for bartering for all sorts of goods and services. Canada has a sleek online bartering site called SwapSity. I haven’t tried it yet, but U-Exchange barters in several countries!

Interestingly, I found a story about an  eco-barter  project exchanging goods and services for environmental preservation. Before you jump to judgments, let me share a brief perspective. I stayed on a small island in Fiji, and know that locals will simply go hungry without fishing for sustenance, so an exchange is necessary for survival. I find this arrangement quite different than a mitigation scheme that allows polluters “rights” to certain pollution levels.

Even though it doesn’t add to the GDP, bartering sure makes economical sense and has become popular for good reason.

Does your family barter?

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

Weekly Ebb and Flow

With the summer in full swing, I’m longing to unplug more often and blog less. So, my Twin Sis suggested that I take a cue from the bulk of bloggers who recap the week on Fridays. This should make easier on you, since you’ll be able to catch up on posts you’ve missed too 😉

Poop composter – Cheap steps to being a more sustainable pet owner

Yard Sale Savvy – Make the most of your next yard sale adventure

Milking It – How breastfeeding could save the planet!

Oregon Country Fairness – Creating an annual counter-culture

How was the ebb and flow of your week?

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

Oregon Country Fairness

The Oregon Country Fair is better experienced felt than described or explained. 

Every year since 1969, a tribe of creative dreamers have transformed the banks of the Long Tom River outside Eugene, Oregon into a hippie haven that cannot be rivaled. The Oregon Country Fair is a counter-culture utopia that models how “alternative” living can create sustainable communities. 

If you’ve ever been intrigued the 60s or wish you could relive them, the Oregon Country Fair could be for you. If you could think of nothing better to do than create magical moments under an forest canopy, the Oregon Country Fair is your kind of place. Plus there are foods from around the world, solely handcrafted goods, 18 entertainment stages, drum tower, and a marching-band circus – check the official Peach Pit.  Trekking to the Oregon Country Fair may be too far for your carbon footprint, but I would encourage you to dream up new ways of celebrating sustainability and creating your own new brand of “counter-culture.” 

As a hippie kid, my Twin Sis and I were 10 days old for our first fair experience, and we started on Staff as the first TEEN crew.  I was sometimes embarrassed to have hippie parents, aren’t all parents mortifying at 13?!, but I’m now proud of my  Green Mama and Green Dads . My father has been on the recycling crew for decades now, and it’s one of the only annual events with 45,000 people that recycles and composts virtually everything, plus they reduce with real silverware now!

I’ve taken an extended “maternity leave” since our Big Guy was born, so this will be my first full weekend camping at the fair. Last year Big Guy was lucky enough to spend the whole weekend with his Auntie and Grandma! I’m really looking forward to experiencing the fair through the eyes of my children and connecting with a wholey unique tribe of sustainable dreamers.

If you want to learn more about the history and adventures of the Fair Family, check out cover story articles for the Eugene Weekly.

Have you experienced the Oregon Country Fair?

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