Category Archives: sustainable lifestyle

Neti pot investment

I became “neti pot curious” a few years ago, when my Twin Sis’ friend was advised to use a neti pot for chronic sinus issues

What is Neti Pot? For those still wondering what this is, the basic explanation is that you fill with warm water with a pinch of salt, and then pour into one nostril and out the other side.  If you are stuffed up, it might take a moment to drain, but you will feel immediate relief!

Thankfully, I’ve never had really painful sinus issues, but I was perpetually plagued with an on/off snuffy nose during the winter, and allergies in the spring. I had learned to live with it, but it was an annoying nuisance. So, I took the plunge and bought a ceramic neti pot at New Season’s for about $10 (or available on Amazon) My sis has an enviable cute blue one, (it is prettier than the picture!).  I also know others who have found a cute small Asian tea pot, but it would have to be the right design.

I’m happy to say, that in the past two years, minus a couple flu bugs, I’ve been able to breath clearly all winter with regular use on my neti pot. It only takes a couple of minutes, but the small time investment always pays back. I swear employers should give out neti pots as part of health benefits 😉

Even after two years, Hubby doesn’t quite get the whole neti pot idea (oddly since lately he’s been battling a true sinus infection and refuses to try it!) For the most part I try to do it while he’s walking the dog or already in bed, but when he does “catch” dripping salt water out my nose, he can’t help but give me a funny sideways look. But I refuse to let his taunting get interfere with my health…I don’t care how funny I look!

I do plan on teaching the kids to use the neti pot once they are big enough, and hopefully it will help them stay healthy for more of the year and avoid some of the childhood bugs.

EnviroMom covered this topic a few years back, and the reader comments reminded me that I use my neti pot in the spring to clean out pollen and prevent allergies.

Before trying my neti pot, I wanted a demonstration. So, I found this fun video of a furry guy with ginormous nostrils. If nothing else, I’m pretty sure you won’t look as funny as this dude using your neti pot 🙂

PS The last ten seconds shows a non-family friendly example of what you “shouldn’t attempt at home!”

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

Kid Foodie

Today’s post is a shameless plug: 

My adorable niece is making a name for herself as “Kid Foodie.” She does live interviews with farmers at the Chappaqua Farmer’s Market, and writes a column about her experience of learning about where her food comes from. Our family is so proud of her, and it’s exciting to see a new generation that cares about where their food comes from and how it’s produced.

While specialty food can get expensive, I agree with Amanda about how important it is to support local farmers. We buy as much organic and local food as possible.  Spud really makes it easy . Even during the winter our food related carbon footprint is much less than the average household, and I love how Spud tracks it for you.

A co-worker of mine is very passionate about food, and has a “hobby farm” where she raises and butchers her own animals, and naturally has an organic garden and puts away much of her produce for the winter. Although she not as extreme as the Portlandia couple, she does ask which farm they got the meat from and if they don’t know she’ll go veggie. If you are a foodie/farmer, you should definitely check out her Hobby Farm blog.

Here’s Kid Foodie’s interview with Big Girl Bakery:

Can’t you just see her as the next Katie Couric?!

Do you try to buy local?
Do your kids care where their food comes from?

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

Kids Learn On Transit

I always focus on the environmental and economic benefits when  I’ve talked about our avid bus riding family, and it is true that we save a lot of money this way. But I haven’t mentioned the many learning/social perks we experience on our daily bus/MAX adventures.

I used to call people I met on transit my “bus/train friends”, but with a family I’ve taken to calling them our “bus community.”  As any parent knows, kids are great icebreakers. People are always ready to strike up a conversation if you have a child in tow.   When our Big Guy was a baby, I called the women who would coo over him his harem. Now Girly has her own group of friends she loves to wave and say hello to…the high school boys really love the attention 😉

No matter which bus we catch, we almost always cross paths with someone we “know”. Last week I met several regulars who we hadn’t seen in a while who mentioned how big the kids are getting. If I get on the bus without one of the kids people will ask if someone sick, and I’ve even been approached while waiting by myself with people asking where the kids are!

But beyond the social aspects, there are lots of other lessons.

Bussing teaches kids geography – our kids know our neighborhood and city from riding transit. They don’t go from one curb to another in a bubble, but know the street names that the bus drivers call out. He showed his Auntie the whole way to his school on the and led her to the post office too!

Taking transit helps kids experience the environment – kids love seeing the world anew each day, and ours just love crossing the river each sunrise and sunset. Girly waves emphatically as she calls out “wa wa”. They also get to experience all the weather of the seasons…we love dry weeks like this one!

Exercise – we all get a little exercise from riding the bus. We only have a 2-3 block walk, but from small kids and parents with lots to tote, this is enough to feel like a trek. Plus, you’ll often see me running with Girly on my hip to catch the next bus…she giggles hysterically every time too 🙂

You may think it’s a stretch, but taking transit can teach early reading and math skills. Big Guy knows all the bus names and numbers, loves reading the countdown until the comes…”only four minutes Mommy!!” I have no doubt that as his time telling skills get better, he’ll be figuring out what time need to catch the bus on time – talk about real life problem solving.

There are occasions of unsavory urban activities on the bus, but I’ve never felt unsafe. In fact, the closest was when a belligerent woman was having a hard time staying in her seat and other rider quickly came to aide to make sure she didn’t come any closer. And earlier this winter the front porch of an abandoned house at our bus stop temporarily became a defacto shelter, but it was really just another teachable moment. I love the fact that they see people from all cultures and socio-economic classes, they are all part of our community.

While we haven’t gone car free, I really appreciated this article about how  transit is good for kids . I knew that I was making the right choice when we happened to be in stuck in a car in traffic, and our Big Guy spotted some buses and shouted “Mommy there would be a lot more cars with those buses! They take away all the pollution!” That’s an important lesson at any age.

Now you may be thinking, sure bussing is fun for kids, but how does Mom/Dad manage it? My mantra is snacks – must have lots of snacks, plus water, and a cloth handkerchief. Sometimes we bring books or toys, but typically we just talk, sing songs, and enjoy each other’s company. I’ll take cuddling with my kids any day over driving downtown!

Riding the bus is a priceless routine for our family.

Lastly, here’s another perspective from my favorite transit mom blogger called “The sane person’s guide to bringing kids on public transit.”

Do you ride the bus with your kids?

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

Go Paperless

Lately I’ve been taking a moment here and there to save some trees and reduce my finance clutter. I’ve wanted to “go paperless” for years, and until recently it felt like wishful thinking. But suddenly everyone seems to be pitching paperlessCostco AmericanExpress, One PacificCoast Bank, Regence BlueCross, our family doctor and my City of Portland water/sewer bill.

The New Ecologist shares more about how the new economy has given companies the extra push to go paperless. Companies like PayItGreen are leading the way to a paperless future, and in my mind none too soon.

Paperless billing and workflow all hit a top ten technology trend list for 2010 Here are some great tips for making sure that paperless billing goes smoothly: like keeping all your passwords!  Good thing I try to stay organized with GoogleDocs 😉

How many paperless bills do you have ?

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

Green Work

The so-called green collar jobs sector has exploded, but you can work on sustainability issues no matter your title or workplace.  I’ve believed this ever since I decided to become an “professional environmentalist when I grow up.”

Here are my favorite places to find green jobs:

My career started in the non-profit sector doing climate lobbying, and my Master’s is in Environment and Community. But I don’t mind that sustainability isn’t in my current job description. I still keep my environmental impact in mind with all of my decisions and look for green opportunities regardless of the task. I also serve on our Green Team, which meets monthly to discuss the challenges and progress of reducing our collective carbon footprint. We tackle everything from reducing to office paper waste to shifting our social workplace norms about what it means to be green.

Really the key is to love what you do and continue to advance your skills in ways that give you meaning and pride in your work.

Do you have a so-called “green job”?

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