Category Archives: sustainable lifestyle

Zero Dollars Per Gallon

This has been an invigorating week for me, and it isn’t just the beautiful fall weather that has me beaming a little brighter. I’ve biked with the kids 5 of the past 6 days. 

As I wrote in late spring, I finally got myself geared up bike with a toddler seat. Well as much as the cheap bike seat worked for Girly, it left me with a Big Guy who still isn’t big enough to bike downtown. Plus, I really needed to be able to haul all the stuff that I typically tote on the bus every day. 

So, I was ever so grateful when my Father picked me up a Burley trailer from Craig’slist. It handles so nicely that I almost would never guess that I’m trailing almost a hundred pounds of cargo. It hooks on/off really easily and is light weight enough that I can lift it up the stairs by myself. I truly wish that I would have brought down and bought one years ago!

My best story of the week was when I was inching my way up the long steep hill home, and a huge red pick-up truck came along side me…I saw this buff guy’s arm come out and I wondered if he was going to yell some obscenity, but to my delight he smiled and yelled out “Way to go! Keep pedaling!” So when I slowed to a crawl today, my sweet Big Guy yelled out “Mommy, you can do it!”  Experiencing  bicycle culture  helps make any extra effort feel worth my while.  

While I’m not really saving any money by bike commuting instead of busing, we did save save a little gas money on our neighborhood trips over the weekend. Plus, it’s free exercise and a fun way to start and end my office work day.

I don’t know how much we’ll manage to bike once the weather turns, but I’m setting a goal for myself to get on my bike at least once a week. I used to bike in all weather, and I know the most important thing is to wear the right layers.

Lastly, if you want to pick up your own $0.00 9/10 shirt for yourself, I found a sweet one on Etsy.

Beyond the MPG, what benefits to find from biking?

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

Yoga @ Home

I’ve always been a bit of a hermit when it comes to practicing yoga. I took two college Hatha Yoga courses to begin to understand the philosophy and approach to whole body health. Yet, my goal was always to practice in the privacy and comfort of my own home.

My strategy was two fold. I was a poor college student, and wanted to get the most personal benefit from all my student loans. I also felt like I would stand a better chance of creating a life-long practice if I didn’t have to leave my home and rely on teachers for instruction. Somehow I also channeled my future busy-mom lifestyle, and knew that yoga would become wellness touchstone.

I haven’t gone entirely on my own though, since I mostly practice with audio/video instructors. My all time favorite CD is Shiva Rea’s Yoga Sanctuary. In just a 30-40 minute routine, and I feel toned and fit. I’ve also picked up a few GAIAM DVDs to switch things up from time to time, and I have great yoga deck that I picked up at a neighborhood yard sale.  I used  another   prenatal deck   that has some very affirming meditations, and Shiva Rea’s   prenatal DVD  during my pregnancies .  I’ve probably spent about $100 over the past decade.

I think my strategy has paid off, because I was astounded by a quick calculation:  I’ve saved about $12,000 in the past ten years! ($5 per class 4 times a week)  I’ve also saved on yoga attire, and can hardly believe the price of yoga attire. I’m kind of in disbelief that yoga outfits now cost over $100…I’m still using my college pajamas!

Despite the substantial savings, I certainly think that classes would be fun and may some day  prefer to practice socially in a group. There’s a new Lotus Seed yoga center in my neighborhood that I would like to check out, but for now doing yoga at 5:30 while Hubby walks the dog works best for me.

Do you practice yoga?
Do you prefer classes?

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

Bicycling Culture

With the last Sunday Parkways of the summer coming up, I’d like to share about bicycle culture.  Bicycling is a way of living with a history, traditions, and trends that signal social change is shifting gears toward sustainability. 

There’s a strong biking community in Portland, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance now has over 5,000 members! When I first moved to Portland in 2000 I bike commuted from Ladd’s Addition to North Portland and would see a handful of bikes daily, now 2,745 commuters now ride along N Williams and Sunset magazine even profiled this hip place to bike!  

Bicycles had a   thriving history  before car culture took over. I love this article about   packing 6,000 bicyclists on a ferry   from Seattle-to-Bainbridge, which also talks about the history of bikes in the NW.

Having lived in Denmark, I know that Portland has only scratched the surface of the depth of bicycling culture. Bicycling is like second nature in Denmark. Like most Danes, I had two bicycles, one at each train station. My headmaster rode to school in a suit, stilettos are not uncommon either. Girls with unbelievably short skirts pedal. One of my best vacations ever was spent biking around the fairytale island of Bornholm. Danes aren’t selfish though, and are ready to share their love of cycling worldwide through their Cycling Embassy. If two wheels make you gush, check out Copenhagenize – “for the love of bicycle culture.”

Lastly, I’d like to share about a fun new bicycle book called Joyride, it’s getting some great press and hope to read it before too long.

Does your family bicycle for fun? 
Do you bike-commute to save money and reduce your footprint?

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


Some people are treehuggers, but I’m a genuine riverlover. So, I was excited to learn about a new “Love Your River” campaign, and will keep you posted about any family finance related actions.

I know not all of you are from Portland, but I want to share about “Treebates” that are available to plant trees: small $10, medium $20, large $50. This is a great incentive to plant trees to shade your home and watch grow with your family. As the saying goes, “the best time to plant a year was twenty years ago, the second best time is now!”

Here’s a fun little video about “50 Ways to Love Your River:”

How do you love your river?

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

Seven Generations

While I know my every decision does not in fact achieve sustainability, I am inspired by the principle of sustaining the Earth for seven generations. One of my most cherished experiences at the Oregon Country Fair was to hear the wise voice of Grandma Agnes Baker Pilgrim. I first met Grandma nine years ago in my early non-profit career, and I was eager to reconnect with the most inspiring people I’ve ever known. As always, she was down-the-earth, joyful and wise. I was excited to learn that she has connected with a dozen other wise indigenous Grandmothers who are on a journey to help us heal the Earth. They have a soon-to-be-released documentary “For the Next Seven Generations“, and I’ll share the trailer: 

For The Next 7 Generations Trailer from Laughing Willow on Vimeo.

Most us are more familiar with the brand Seventh Generation, and I think that’s progress too. I find 7Gen has a wholistic approach to sustainability while providing high quality products that I truly need. When I became a Costco member I requested their products, and still hold out hope that some day conscious consumers will be able to buy a year’s supply of TP.  So, I didn’t cry “greenwashing!” when I saw they will soon be supplying Walmart shoppers . I personally don’t shop at Walmart, but the fact is that many families on a budget rely on Walmart. If we are truly making decisions for the seventh generation, every family needs affordable access to products that don’t deplete the Earth.

How deeply do you consider the seventh generation?

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