Open Doors

Hello, reader.  I have a lot of great things to share.  Currently, I am in Pennsylvania!  Schools in New England have a one week break in February – isn’t that the most wonderful thing ever? – I spent half of it in North Carolina and will spend the remainder of it here.

My older brother Andrew and his girlfriend Madie live in North Carolina, and my parents and I went to visit them.  It was great seeing both of them, and to enjoy slightly warmer temperatures for a few days.  Our first day there was the warmest – the high was 55 degrees!  But unfortunately the rest of the time was chilly.  Not Vermont cold, but cold enough we couldn’t go window shopping in the cute downtown area of New Bern.  Apparently there were some dangerously cold temperatures in the north, so I’m grateful we avoided that.  However, I’m sad we didn’t get a 70 degree day like it had been the week before!

These pictures were from our warmest day, when we did get to take advantage of the weather and do some outdoor exploring.

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(I’m holding a rooster Beanie Baby in my hand that I bought at an antique place.  I’ve been on the hunt for certain stuffed animals to use at school for a first grade unit on the Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens.  Each of his short pieces represents an animal, and the music has qualities that sound like the animal.  We’ve been doing instruments of the orchestra recently, and this is a fun way to review some instruments and transition on to some new ideas. I just acquired the final animals today so I am all set to teach it next week!)

Onto to the events of now.  Good things about today.

1. Coconut oil

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I’ve been using this magical stuff a lot recently.  I know it seems like the latest health trend, but coconut oil is truly awesome.  I use it as a makeup remover, in my homemade toothpaste, and more.  Unfortunately, the small grocery store I go in Manchester doesn’t sell coconut oil.  I’m sure I could get it at the natural food stores, but I don’t want to pay a ridiculous amount.  But today I was able to get it at Giant for a decent price!  Good thing too, because my previous stash was running low.

2. My pup!

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My parents left Button with some friends of ours while we were in NC.  This morning we picked her up and now I reunited with my old friend!  She was all snuggles and tail wags when we retrieved her.  I missed my pup!

3. Training Run

I am running a half marathon in June, and my training has begun!  It’s been very, very cold in Vermont lately and it’s also difficult to run outside because the sidewalks are constantly covered in snow and ice.  However, I had a nice 2 mile run this afternoon!  It was great not feeling like I was moving backwards, as often is the case when I’m trying to run on fresh, uncleared snow.  It was only 2 miles, but I felt good and it’s one baby step towards that 13.1!

4. Summer Plans

I’ve been intentionally planning on doing nothing this summer.  After my annual 2.5 week tour with the National Guard, my plans didn’t extend further than reading, tending to my herb garden, and seeing how long I could go without driving my car by biking or walking everywhere in town.

However, my late motto fits perfectly here: if God keeps opening doors, I’m going to keep stepping through them.  And God has opened a door for me.  I’m talking that first step!

There’s an organization called WWOOF – Willing Workers On Organic Farms.  There’s WWOOF in the United States, and also many worldwide.  Check the USA WWOOF site at http://wwoofusa.org!

Let me backtrack.  I was researching about buying a CSA share this summer, which if you don’t know, means receiving weekly produce from a local farm.  There’s a farm in Manchester that does CSA shares, and I was on their website searching for some information.  I stumbled across this WWOOF thing on their page.  I did some research about it, and it looks like an incredible thing to be a part of.  Basically, you volunteer to work on a farm for a time frame with anything that needs to be done.  You get free housing and food during your time there.

So I paid the $40 to join the organization, and contacted this farm about working there this summer.  They already e-mailed me back and asked me to come visit!  Each farm is different, as far as the time commitment of a WWOOFer, lodging, work hours, etc.  I looked at several farms in the USA, but I decided I wanted to start local.  After all, I might hate it.  At least if I hate it I could go home during my time off until my commitment was over.

But I don’t think I’ll hate it at all.  I think I’ll love it!  I have no idea how long I would be able to commit to working, but I’m thinking between 2-6 weeks.  I know there will be so much to learn.  This particular farm is known for its organic vegetables, but also for its homemade bread and other organic produce like eggs and canned goods.  I know a lot of basic gardening skills, but nothing on the scale of a multiple acre farm!  It would be such a great learning opportunity, and a fun way to get outside and meet new people.  I am really excited about this!  It’ll be so different from anything I’ve ever done.  And if I really love it, I think it would be a great tradition to start going to a WWOOF farm every summer during school breaks, stateside and abroad.  Stay tuned for updates on my WWOOF adventure!

5. Apartment

So far in Vermont, I’ve been renting a house with a roommate.  It’s been really great (shout-out to Merrill if you’re reading this!), but our lease is up in a few months.  I started searching around, and decided to get an apartment of my own.  I’m so excited!  I’ve never lived anywhere by myself before, so this will be new for me.  This apartment is teeny tiny, but it goes along with my growing mindfulness about being less wasteful and reducing my carbon footprint.

The living/dining/bedroom area is one, not-so-big room.  There’s also a narrow kitchen and bathroom, both perfectly adequate for one person.  Probably the best part about this place is my own covered porch and open deck area!  Neither are huge, but I already have big plans for my pallet herb garden, and turning the porch into a sewing room during the warm months.

One of the reasons I’m so excited is that currently I don’t own a whole lot of my own furniture.  I have a desk and dresser that both belonged to my great grandmother and that my mom refinished for me.  I love them.  But I don’t even own a bed, a couch, or even a vacuum cleaner!  So I’ve been planning very carefully how I want my new apartment to look.  With such a small space, it’s important I plan out my furniture and color scheme with immense care.  I already have a color palette in mind but I won’t share it yet.

I have a few leads on furniture that I want.  My goal is to buy everything secondhand.  Although it’s tempting to just go buy a bookshelf, a painting, and a couple armchairs from IKEA, I am sticking to my less wasteful lifestyle and finding these things on Craigslist. If I find something I like but in the wrong color, I have the skills to make it something I love by painting it or reupholstering it with my sewing skills.

Besides, I want furniture that is of good quality.  If I buy something secondhand, the condition I get it in is probably the way it will be forever – gently used but sturdy and lifelong.  Sometimes, things look so beautiful in the catalog or on in the store, but they are poorly made and begin to fall apart quickly – much like a lot of the clothing we buy today.  Plus, why put more plastic, styrofoam, and other un-recyclable packing products in the garbage from buying something new when I can get the same thing without creating any of this waste?  I know buying secondhand is not for everybody, but it’s definitely for me.  It saves me money, makes me feel good knowing I helped someone clear out their extra clutter, and helps the planet a tiny little bit.

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I hope all my talk about less waste, DIY everything stuff doesn’t bother you, because these kinds of posts are not going to go away.  More and more I am realizing the importance of how much waste we create, and how easily we could make small changes to prevent filling the landfills.

Here’s just one example: instead of a plastic hand pump soap dispenser for washing hands, I asked my mom to find me a secondhand soap dish.  She found me a beautiful ceramic white one for $0.97.  I have a ton of local bar soap that has no packaging from the farmer’s market that I use now instead in the bathroom.  It’s the little things that add up to big things!

I read Lauren Singer’s blog often, www.trashisfortossers.com.  In two years, she’s generated 1 mason jar worth of trash!  She offers so many alternative ideas to creating waste with personal care, cooking/grocery shopping, traveling, and more.  Check it out if you have a minute!  I really enjoy reading it because she’s the same age as me.  She’s environmentally conscious, yet stylish and successful.  Who says being a hippie is bad? 🙂

Goals for the rest of the evening: watch the news, snuggle with Button, and browse Craigslist for the perfect armchair.  Stay warm everyone!  Spring will be here before we know it.

“I’ll look back on this and smile because it was life and I decided to live it.”

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