Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Years Resolutions, Take 1

I asked my mom-in-law the other day if she had any New Years Resolutions (NYR[s]), and she said she doesn't make them.  I asked, "is it because you break them soon after making them?" and she replied, "no, it's because it's always the same thing every year: Get better organized."

This woman is the most organized individual I've ever met, besides my mom, so it was funny and ironic at the same time. 

Anyway, so I've started to think about my NYR(s) for this year; like my m-i-l, I have the usual ones, like, "lose more weight," but I'm also thinking about long-term life goals (not that permanent weight loss is not a long-term life goal).  I'm thinking about things that I need to resolve to do regarding the environment, especially, but also social engagement - I want to be more involved in helping people.

I really do enjoy helping people.  My job as a student assistant at the university library was a good example of that; I never got tired of helping patrons find things in the stacks, troubleshoot their computer/technology issues, and helping them navigate the library databases and catalog.  So I find myself on the threshold of graduating with my masters in English and deciding that library work is what I'm most happy doing and have decided to continue working towards a masters in Library and Information Science. 

It's taken quite a few years to come up with something that I would be happy doing for the rest of my life and making that decision has opened up some possibilities to how else I can help others.  I have a few ideas that I'd like to share here and will take some time over the next couple of days to list them.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Crappiest Week Ever

My SB spill-proof mug, waiting to be washed.
Okay, I'm about at the end of my rope, here - I'm way late on a final paper, I haven't graded any of my students' papers yet, I lost my glasses (and it is not funny that I am walking around like Velma going, "where are my glasses?"), and now I'm sick - I blogged on SMC about how I got DJ the complete first season of Total Drama Island so I could lie on the couch and be sick (and watch episodes of TDI).  That was about all I could manage for two days; today I'm feeling much better, however, so I'm catching up on my procrastinating from doing honest work by blogging and also to tell you a funny story that happened the other day.

I hate Starbucks.  I don't think I've ranted enough about how much I hate Starbucks and there are many reasons to hate this chain store.  But, regardless of my hatred, I still patronize said company even though I hate their coffee, hate their politics, and hate their attitude towards workers.  Having said that, I really, really love their stainless-steel, spill-proof mugs.  And Friday morning, before I got really sick and everything went all to Hell, I was standing in line to get SB gift cards for the counselors at DJ's afterschool program and a lady in front of me was looking at the new mugs they've made so you can stir your Via instant coffee more efficiently (?! [god I hate this company]).  Somehow I got into a conversation with her about the fact that the SB mugs are spill-proof and pointed to the shelf that contained the model I own.  I started ranting about how great my cup is, I ride bikes all over Gainesville and throw this in my messenger bag/pannier/purse and have never had a spillage problem and on and on.  I'm really selling this damn thing, and the lady says okay, I'm sold and she takes the one I pointed to off the shelf; meanwhile, this gentleman has been listening to my spiel and says he wants to get one too and the lady says, "sorry, sucker, I got the last one (she didn't really say that)," and then the guy goes to the SB barista and asks if they have anymore and is led to the back of the store where they manage to find one more cup.  I was in full self-loathing mode by the time I got to the counter and demanded commission for selling two of those damn cups for SB.

Haha, wasn't that funny/sad?  Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

World Cup of Composting

I'm on the twitterfeed for WastedFood (author Jonathan Bloom's blog) and he just tweeted this interesting link to an Inside Waste Weekly article about Australia hosting the International Symposium on Organic Matter Management and Compost Use in Horticulture - whew, that's a mouthful.  No wonder they call it the compost World Cup for short. 

An interesting point they make in the news release:

“The vast majority of papers deal with the use of composts (made from a wide variety of raw materials), vermi-composts, and mulches, and we received relatively few papers that researched the use of uncomposted animal manures or green manures for managing organic matter in horticultural production systems.”

That's a travesty - we need more conversation about "uncomposted animal manures or green manures," if only to be able to say/write "uncomposted animal manures or green manures."  Because it is 5:30 in the morning and I want to go back to sleep.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Update on Black Work Socks

I just posted about the purchase I made recently from All American Clothing Co., and on a lark decided to try on a pair of the black work socks made by Wigwam that I got for my husband.  They are sooo comfortable and warm, I am reluctant to take them off - even to wash them.

All American Clothing Co. vs. Land's End

So, I wanted to be a big ol' suck-up to one of my profs and make him an iron-on t-shirt and, like all liberal arts professors, he is a hippie so I also wanted to use socially-conscious materials.  I found an online store called All American Clothing Co. that sells only union-made clothes manufactured in the USA.  I ended up buying more than the t-shirt because they had a deal where if you bought 75-dollars worth of stuff you got free shipping.  All in all, I ended up getting one t-shirt, a 3-pack of black work socks and pair of black twill work pants for the Old Man, and two pairs of argyle socks for myself. The socks I was especially pleased with because they are Wigwam-brand socks, probably one of the few remaining sock manufacturers in the US.

I was fretting momentarily about the cost and then realized if I had bought the same items from Land's End (our usual default online store for work clothes and what-not) I would probably have paid the same or similar.
I ended up obsessing on this question for the 5-7 working days it took for the package of clothing to arrive and decided to blog about the comparison of the two companies and their offerings.
So, I already know that my purchases from All American Clothing Co. was $82.91 for the items I described above.  I tried to arrange the screencaps of the two different businesses so that the Land's End items would be on the left and the All American Clothing Co. stuff was on the right.  From first glance you can see that the prices are fairly similar for clothing with similar features. Looking at the prices in black on the LE side, since the red indicates a sale-price, the cost of the LE items next to their comparable AAC counterparts is way more for the t-shirt and crew socks; it's a little more for the LE pants than the AAC pants, and the AAC argyles were actually more than the comparable patterned women's socks offered by LE.  Below is a somewhat coherent chart describing the cost breakdown and the totals.  So, if you include the extra pair of socks I would have gotten from LE in their 3-pack, it comes to about the same price.

Now, you may be asking, "Michele, when have you ever paid for anything full-price at Land's End?" and I would have to say, not too often.  The only things I pay full-price for are work pants and shirts for my husband.  Land's End, I have to admit, makes a fine work shirt that lasts a long, long time through numerous washings (I'm sorry if it sounds like a plug, but it's true).  But, the black twill work pants we got from AAC are pretty sweet, too, with welt pocket construction, a gusset for "extra comfort" (they even have a link to explain what a gusset is), and a special welt pocket on the right leg for your cell phone because, when you're on the construction site, you need quick access to your communication device.  That's what I think.

Land’s End
Cost per item
All American CC
Cost per item
Crew socks
19.50 (3 pack)
Crew Socks
10.99 (3 pack)
Ladies socks
16.50 (3 pack)
Ladies socks
23.98 (for 2 pairs)



I'm pretty convinced that buying from AAC is the better option, mostly because when you buy from them you know you are buying stuff that's been what they call "grown and sewn" in the USA.  It gives Americans jobs and anything that helps our national economy, especially now, is a good choice.  My only big question is whether or not the clothes are union-made.  I find it interesting that the site doesn't state anywhere if this is the case; I was linked to the AAC site from the Union Plus website, which lists union-made clothing manufacturers.  As a caveat, the t-shirt I bought did state on the label that it was union-made, so at least my prof is going to get the ultimate in socially-conscious apparel.

I've decided that one of my new projects is going to be how far I can get with buying union-made clothing for our family.  My next stop: Bras.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kombucha update: Doing too well

I never thought I'd be writing a post about how well the kombucha is doing and complaining about it.  But, here we are.  Goodness knows I've done my usual, half-assed caretaking of it, but yet it is thriving on top of the refrigerator.  Actually, "it" means the original kombucha scobie and all the scobies it has generated since I started about a month ago.  I am being overrun with scobies at this point.  I don't know if the top of my refrigerator will support a kombucha farm.  If you need a kombucha scobie and some general instructions on how to get started email me at  Please.

Friday, December 03, 2010

'Accidental Environmentalism' now on Urban Dictionary

Was looking something up on Urban Dictionary the other day (probably something like 'crunk' or 'foshizzle') and decided, why not add 'accidental environmentalism' to their list?  The editors at Urban Dictionary reviewed it and here is the link to my definition of 'accidental environmentalism.'  I am such a nerd...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Newsweek: Divided We Eat: What food says about class in America

The Old Man (I really should just use that ubiquitous "DH" but I'm in a rut, whatever) told me about this article he stumbled across, in his capacity as science news writer for a university in the southern United States, and thought I'd share.  It's called What Food Says About Class in America (it's also called "Divided We Eat," so I'm not sure which goes before which); to be honest, I haven't read the whole thing but OM/DH says that it's interesting because the topic of foodyism/locavore-ism in the context of class hasn't really been discussed in the media.  The comments, apparently, excoriate one of the people interviewed for the article - so, come for the depressing article about class war on the food front, stay for the flame war?  Fun!

It's interesting to me because I've had a couple of students in two different classes discuss proposals for stemming childhood obesity, and they've both observed that socioeconomic status has a lot to do with the problem.  I should also post sometime on FLOTUS Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign.  Oh, wait, I guess I just did.

I'll have to read the article and update - that's the problem with grad school; it really cuts into my writing time because everything I write is not for this blog!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bitter-Sweet Kombucha Love

Here is the kombucha update on its deadness.  This is the result of the first kombucha culture I tried to cultivate - didn't follow DD's finely drawn/written directions and put cheesecloth over the top instead of a paper towel, which of course attracted the fruit flies and resulted in the kombucha's untimely, moldy death.  So now it sits in our carport, festering, much like the compost I've had in the past that was decaying anaerobically in its rubbermaid container after it got too disgusting to look at.  I'll get around to dumping it out.  Right now, though, I've got two bottles of kombucha that are thriving and ready to separate into the two empty pickle jars you see to the left - unless I kill those, too, from neglect.  Ugh.

Black Friday Open Thread

Haha, I've always wanted to say "open thread" on AE; I have a feeling that's going to take a few more years, however.  Anyway, here's an "open thread" for anyone who wants to post their Black Friday Tales of Terror, if you chose to venture into the mall or big box store this day, or linkys to news stories from your part of the world.  I'll be in an out and will do my best to update and moderate comments as quickly as I can :)

Update:  Well, so much for open threads!  I can only hope that this means there were no Black Friday tragedies this year but lord knows I will be combing the internets looking for them if only to satisfy my vicarious need for these stories to show how awful Black Friday is.

In the meantime, here is a picture of an alligator we took while the fams rode bikes to campus look for alligators.  This was one found in Graham Pond, just next to the intersection of Gale Lemerand and Museum Rd.

And here's a baby gator we found next to Lake Alice:

I cross-posted this at my other, even more neglected blog, Jorts!™ The Official Blog of Gainesville™.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Walmart Black Friday

Just about to go with the fams (including the g-rents) to Steinhatchee for Thanksgiving seafood at Roy's (I'm not sure - one year we went fishing on Thanksgiving), but wanted to update on this Walmart flyer I got when I went there yesterday to return an item.

Notice it says on the right, "Shop while you wait."  So you can start shopping at 12:01 with special deals and hang out there for 5 hours until the Black Friday sales start at 5am.  Whole families living nocturnally at Walmart on Thursday and Friday night of the Thanksgiving weekend, yikes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lieberman-Warner Climate Bill and Senator Bill Nelson

I was just thinking about this video that I found awhile back; I originally used it for a 2009 post on DailyKos where I basically call Senator Bill Nelson a hippie.   The video is Senator Nelson's plea to pass the Lieberman-Warner Climate bill, which had come to the floor of the senate for debate in 2008.  I decided to show this video to my students last Thursday; our focus this semester has been on science and technology and thought this would be of interest because we've had some discussions about global climate change and a couple of the students are in aerospace engineering so I thought they'd appreciate that Senator Nelson is a former astronaut.  None of them knew who Senator Nelson was, so I think it was also a good thing to introduce them to one of their senators from the great state of Florida.  At one point in the video Senator Nelson shows a map of Florida and how south Florida will be completely submerged because of rising sea levels; I asked my students how many lived in south Florida and about half of them raised their hands.  I think it had an impact, especially when he gets to the part towards the end where he talks about his experience seeing the earth from a space shuttle and the changes to the earth that can be seen from this perspective from climate change.   

Article: Surviving 'Black Friday'

I should probably do a Google Alert on Black Friday news items, but alas and again, I am lazy.  And why I am up at this hour, I do not know.  Anyway, here is an article by Ethan C. Nobles of on how consumers are going to get through the holiday season.  He cites a recent FICO survey on how people will shop this year:

* 40 percent say their biggest worry heading into 2011 is credit card debt.
* About half expect to charge an extra $100-$500 this season – and many will take up to six months to pay it off.
* Three-quarters of people are changing their holiday traditions because of the economy.
* Only 15 percent will pay cash for holiday shopping.
* Most have not made advance preparations for holiday bills.

Nobles considers these findings concerning, but I found the fact that "Three-quarters of people are changing their holiday traditions because of the economy" to be rather encouraging. 

I'll be in and out throughout most of this Thanksgiving week - have to update on the kombucha!  So much has happened!  Please send me Black Friday stories, either first-hand accounts or news items from your neck of the woods -

I'll update if I can locate the link to the whole FICO survey.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Black Friday, it gets earlier and earlier

I don't think I did a Black Friday post last year; graduate school has been a blog's worst friend.  Anyway, I've been doing a lot of stuff like more successful kombucha culturing but I'll have to get to that in another post. 

Ah yes, Black Friday - I did my first post on Black Friday in 2007, and I think this is a topic that needs to be discussed in terms of our consumer habits as Americans and how awful this day is.  While there is a vicarious thrill at watching the unrepentant consumerism during this time of year, I do dread the news reports on Black Friday.  Looking around on the internet, there is so far one news item about Black Friday from Bakersfield Now, mostly to tell readers that some stores will actually be opening up an hour earlier!  So Targets across the country are opening up at 4am, instead of 5am, which still seems insane. 

What we need to continue to point out is that, especially with our economy in a shambles and jobless numbers continuing to skyrocket, for stores to continue this practice every year is cynical and ruthless.  This is not to say that Americans immediately fall into lock-step when it comes to "holidays" designed to make us spend more, but the temptation to consume is ever-present in our society.  Let's face it, we're broke and we've got to scale back our spending, especially right now.

I don't advocate Buy Nothing Day, even though it is a laudable goal - I find it too hard to adhere to when it comes to groceries and little odds and ends that I regularly forget to buy the night before.  My only participation in Black Friday sales is to screech yearly about how awful it is. 

I will be doing more screeching two Fridays from now, so join me with your Black Friday first person tales or news reports from your part of the world.  Use the comment thread or email me at

Got the Black Friday poster from Twenty-Four Frames blog.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Gainesville Top 10 for Farmers Markets

A good bit of news - 89.1 fm just did a story that says Gainesville is ranked in the top 10 of cities that use farmers markets, based on a survey found at livability. com.  Here is a link to the article itself.  They only mentioned the Union Street market, though, and not the 441 or Haile Markets. The point is, more people in Gainesville are buying local produce!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kombucha: ITSALIIIIVVE!!!!!!

I squeaked with pleasure this morning when I went to the workshop to obsessively check on the kombucha; it was happily floating on the surface of the jar full of sweet tea, swirling in its blobby membranous slime.  YAY!

AE Reaches 40 Eco-Peeps Mark!

Just noticed that 40 folks are following AE, something that I never thought I'd see for this blog!  I am humbled that people reading AE consider it worthy of their further consideration and show support by adding their avs to the Eco-Peeps list.  The AE is four years old and this has been an amazing way to share my efforts to help in the efforts we all struggle with to live more lightly on this earth.

Thank  you, everyone! 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I think I killed the kombucha.

It's been about half a week and the fungus kombucha blob is just lying listlessly on the bottom of the sweet tea.  Here's why I think I killed it:  When I was trying to get it out of the bottle to put into the pickle jar I accidentally peeled off the slimy goo that forms a protective membrane around the fungus.  DD assures me that this won't kill it, but my spidey senses were tingling when that happened so I'm not so sure.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kombucha! (and also kind of about ginger beer)

I had been talking to DD (my abbreviated secret name for Dave, friend, landscaper, bike mechanic, patriot) over the summer about kombucha - he's a kombucha aficionado - like, they have a magazine called Kombucha Konnoisseur, and he's regularly the cover guy - that's how into kombucha he is.  Anyways, so we were talking about the prospect of culturing kombucha, since I am all into wild fermented beverages these days, and thought I might like to try brewing kombucha, but wasn't sure how to procure the starter fungus.  So Dave shows up the other day, to help the old man with the yard, with a kombucha culture and, later on, instructions and an old glass pickle jar.  Right now I am soaking the jar and boiling some water to make the tea, admiring the instructions for their artistic beauty - like, if The Enchanted Broccoli Forest had been illustrated by a dude.

So, I'm going to make some kombucha, now - it doesn't seem like it will be as labor intensive as the ginger beer and I'll see if I can get the old man or DJ to take some photos of production process. 

Oh yeah, I was going to say that I had some more of the ginger beer last night, and it was a lot fizzier - there was the characteristic "pop" when I took of the canning jar lid.  It's a light fizz, nothing fancy, still very refreshing!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Ginger Beer, Second Batch

So, I ended up making a second batch, just because the first batch seemed so strange and such a seeming anomaly.  With this second batch I was a little more controlled; taking the old man's suggestions to heart, I took notes as I was making it.  My math, however, is severely limited as I learned when I tallied up the ounces I had actually bottled versus the recipe; the recipe (which, as I have stated earlier, comes from the book, Wild Fermentation) calls for adding enough water to make a gallon.  I had ended up making about 194 ounces in total, so I feared that it would be a lot weaker.

Overall look of the beer:  As you can see from the photo (which is ridiculously unfocused and fuzzy because I took this out of the refridge) there is a lot less sedimentation than the first batch.  This may be partly from the watering-down of the final mixture.

Taste and consistency:  No fizz!  This may be because I bottled the last bits in these small 6-ounce fruit jars I had in the cupboard and, if I remember correctly, when I bottled some in one of these jars the last time there was no fizz in that one, either.

The taste is a little sweeter -- I put the full sugar amount (1.5 cups) that the recipe calls for -- but is still pretty non-sweet in comparison to some of the commercial ginger beers you can buy.  It is still very gingery, however.

I couldn't believe that the batch was not fizzy, so I just got one of the 12-ounce jars and opened that one.  No "pop" when taking off the lid; when I poured some into an empty jar there was no head formation, but there is definitely some carbonation rising from the bottom and on the sides of the glass.  It also tastes carbonated, but it's hard to discern the carbonation away from the intense ginger taste. 

Conclusion:  I'm going to calls this batch a bitter-sweet success.  Still tastes great and is very refreshing.  I'm getting used to intense flavor.  I'll share some with Dave and his friend but I'll drink up the rest and then make another batch!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Super Duper Summer Update: Getting back on the wagon

It's almost the end of summer and thought I'd do a final summer-ish post, to update on my various projects and activities before the real onslaught of seminar work/teaching takes over my life for a few months.
In a previous post I mentioned that I was buying food from my friend Bren's food-buying club she formed recently.  She had a blog for awhile about Gainesville food and household deals around town, and that had a decent following; the woman knows her frugal living.  This new venture is through a distributor where she buys organic produce and food stuffs and sells them for next-to-cost to a small group of families (there's a small gas charge tacked on for hauling the food over from the distributorship). 

I never really jumped on the organic produce bandwagon; even though larger, more mainstream grocery venues like Publix have made organics more accessible, it's still way too expensive for me.  Bren's food-buying club actually made me take a second look, however.  The food was reasonably priced -- higher than buying non-organic, but still cheaper than buying organic from the store.  And it got me to try buying organic, grass-fed beef and organic cold cuts.  I've had to back away from buying through the food club, unfortunately; my decision not to teach over the summer put us in financial straits by the end, and we're just now recovering.  Ultimately, however, I think it is a good deal and it has been very instructive to compare freshness and taste of organic vs. non-organic items. 

Planted a garden this summer and I'm sorely disappointed that I didn't get any pictures of the garden; planted tomatoes, eggplant, and  basil.  It's about tapped and I should follow my other front-yard gardening neighbors and pull up the garden and let it winter over.  We added another raised bed but ended up not doing anything with it.

One result of adding the other bed was that we had to pull up the compost bin; I had slacked off on the composting before pulling it up, but now I'm really not composting and I've got to figure out another place for the bin.  Perhaps it'll go in the backyard this time, not sure. 

I decided to give baking soda and cider vinegar for my hair another try.  I've been doing it diligently for a few weeks now; the first couple of weeks my hair freaked out like the last time but it seems to calmed down, now.  My association with shampoo had gone back to that dark place where I was using shampoo and conditioner; you know conditioner can't be good for the water supply, much less shampoo. 

Anyway, the last thing I wanted to update on (and of course I'm sticking this at the end of the post!) is that I'm stepping back from the Need-a-Bag? project as my final year in the masters program promises to be even crazier than the first.  I miss the farmer's market but I also like having the extra time in the mornings to cook breakfast and spend time with the fams before I have to sit down to study.  Erika of the sweet-and-tasty citrus is picking up the slack, though, and hopefully will be able to help implement some of the ideas we came up with at the last banquet.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ginger Beer: The Tasting

I can't believe it's taken me until Tuesday to try the ginger beer.  I completely forgot to try it on Sunday, when it was at the two-week mark, and remembered to put a couple of bottles in the fridge last night before bed.

I couldn't wait any longer so I popped one of the mason jars open and put some in a fruit jar (The only clear glasses I have).  I figured I could drive myself to the urgent care if I got really sick.

Promise that I'll put up a picture as soon as I can of the first glass. It is fizzier than I expected.

Taste:  It is like no ginger beer I have every tasted, and not in a completely good way.  It is insanely intense ginger-wise, which I do like; however, it has absolutely no sweetness to it at all.  As I've said earlier, I like an intense ginger beer that is not too sweet; this is not sweet at all and way, way gingery.  I actually had to put some sugar in it.

Reaction:  I am feeling a little light-headed and I'm beginning to suspect that the ginger beer is slightly alcoholic.

Will update later after the old man gives it a try.

UPDATE:  The old man and I finally got a chance to have a ginger-beer tasting after DJ had gone to bed.  He thought it was really intense but very good and suggested I make another batch and take notes to make sure I can start being consistent with the recipe.   His remark about the taste was, "it is definitely a sipping ginger-beer."  The old man, however, did not think that it was alcoholic.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Need-a-Bag? Project update 07.31.10

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

It has been a seriously long time since I've updated on the project; mostly because I'm lazy and it's been so dang hot I haven't take pictures or done much observing; I get my usual chickens from Laughing Chicken Farm and some danii from the Flour Pot booth and then high-tail it back to the car and wait for DG to finish her shopping.

There was a woman doing this project as part of a project for her degree -- nutritional science?  I am such a bad citizen journalist -- I didn't get her name or remember her project dealie.  Serves me right for waiting a month to post this.  She had all sorts of great, simple recipes you could make with all of the crazy amounts of produce that were flying around the market; I got a pretty blue card that had a recipe for sauteed bok choy with rice and egg.  It was pretty yummy! (UPDATE: I changed this paragraph around so I could take out the photo of woman because I was told that this was not a cool thing to do because of privacy blahblahblah - I get it!  I changed it okay?!)

Since then, the number of booths has been dwindling as well as the number of shoppers.  And then number of bags being taken has decreased proportionately.  You know how many bags I put out this past Saturday?  Four.  Why?  Because I was late and now that Erika of the citrus and her dad have packed it up for the season, there is no one available to take bags off the fence.  I'm not sure what we're going to do for the rest of the season; I'm thinking because neither DG or I are going to want to make two trips to the market, we'll probably just leave a few outside and let the elements take them.  I don't know, though, we'll have to think about this.

Finally, here's a bag that we've had for so long and has been recycled through the project so many times that it still has the adhesive gunk on the front from when we were still ironing on the labels.  We have finally settled on stapling them on as it is way faster -- thanks to Jackie for the idea!

So, the upshot of it all is that it is really, really hot, there are fewer booths at the market, fewer customers, and less bags being taken.  We are officially in the building stock phase of the project, getting ready for next season.

Ginger beer update, 8.1.10

Okay, I know I said I was going to update on Need-a-Bag? and I WILL STOP BUGGING ME

I tried boiling the Kombucha bottles with the caps, but the caps got all warped so I had to hand-wash (thoroughly) four of the unboiled ones in order to cap the four bottles of those.  Then I used mason jars for the rest; the one with the cheese cloth is the new starter batch.  Then I put the whole mess into the workshop where it will sit for two weeks.  Hopefully, they'll go through the process without exploding and/or becoming toxic.  I'll have to be the test subject so I'm picking a time when the family is awake and able to take me to the emergency room if need be.  Haha, only half-joking!

Got the recipe, by the way, from the book Wild Fermentation, and uses no added yeast.

Checked on them yesterday evening, and they were already bubbling away; this morning I checked again and the bubbling was more subdued (it was relatively cool in the workshop) and there was a lot of sediment on the bottom.  Before bottling, I strained the ginger through a piece of unbleached muslin and used filtered water.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Update on Ginger Bug 07.31.10

I promise I will do a Need-a-Bag? project update but first I want to report that the ginger bug is bugging!  It's bubbling and I'm going to bottle some ginger beer today!  Right now I'm boiling some Kombucha bottles that my friend and bike mechanic gave me; I'm also going to use mason jars to see which one is better for bottling. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ginger Bug, Day 4

Okay, after the first two days, the mess I have out in the workshop was bubbling like crazy but I still didn't have the bottles ready, so I fed it with two more teaspoons each of sugar and ginger.  Now, nothing.  I'm wondering if shaking it was the problem, or possibly using the grated ginger from the fridge; the ginger was straight from the cold, and I'm wondering if that retarded or killed the flora.  So, I'm going to feed it again -- I should add that when I say "nothing" I mean that although there are slight bubbles around the edges, it wasn't as vigorous as the first time I checked and before I fed it.  This time I'm going to let the ginger get to the temperature of the workshop, leaving it in a covered bowl for a few hours next to the ginger bug.  And I'll try to restrain myself from shaking it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Update on Ginger Bug

Today was the first day I checked the ginger bug and, by gum, it was already bubbling!  I wasn't prepared for that bubbling because I do not have the bottles to bottle the ginger beer, yet.  So, I fed it some more sugar and ginger and put it back in the workshop.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ginger Beer!

I tried making beer once and it was an abysmal failure -- even though it was a Mr. Beer kit I picked up at a garage sale, I just could not get it going.  Maybe it was that the ingredients were old.  Also, trying to make beer with your 7 year-old son may SEEM like a fun, family activity, but it is not.

So, now I'm going to try ginger beer.  I have a thing for ginger beer -- it's great on really hot days (like now) and I like my ginger beer more on the gingery side, rather than the sweet side.  So when I was hanging at Bren's the other day (for the food coop, which I'll get to in another post), I saw this book on different things you can make from fermented things.  I decided to try my hand at ginger beer.

I googled "ginger bug" the starter you make for ginger beer (I've one started in the workshop, where it is warm), and found this great eco blog, Sustainableeats, that talks about the process for ginger bugs -- I think this person is making rhubarb soda but I didn't really read it all the way through).

Monday, July 19, 2010

Okabashi Saga: The Conclusion

The Okabashis came back sooner than expected; they also sent the pair I wanted in exchange, which I was kind of surprised about (see this post about returning the defective pair).  I decided to get another pair of the EuroSport sandals that I have worn daily for about two months with no problems whatsoever, and chose a pair in navy to fit DJ.  He says he likes them because "they have the little bumps that massage your feet." So now we have matching sandals and he does not seem at all perturbed by this.  I'll give it another year.

Jonesing for my JanSport

Here's a picture of my bag, right before sending it back to where ever hippies come from (Washington state, I think), and -- oh, yeah, who the hell put those people in my shot?!  That's right, I was at a celebratory dinner recently at The Warehouse (see this post for my original impressions) for the person on the right, and decided to take a picture of my bag and those three people thought I was taking a picture of them.  Haha, they do not realize how obsessed I am with this stupid bag.  I MISS IT SO MUCH WAHHH!

UPDATE:  Haha, I am such a crybaby!  The same day I posted this I also FORGOT to check the mail, and when I checked it the next day, the bag was tucked in awaiting my return!  It is so wonderful to have the back bag from the kind hippies at JanSport -- once again they have come through, not only replacing the zipper I had a problem with, but also the main compartment zipper, as well as putting on new pulls.  All for the price of priority postage.  You gotta love this company.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jansport makes me officially a hippie from the 70's

I sent back my beloved JanSport satchel to JanSport so they could fix the front compartment zipper.  I've lugged this thing around for 15 years but I have yet to find (or make) anything that could replace it (here is a post from 2007 where I have the same complaint).  So back it goes.  JanSport just sent me this postcard:
I like that they UNDERSTAND my loss at not having my trusty JanSport.  They are also a pack of hippies.  They feel so much.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Research: Reusable Grocery Bags can carry E. coli and other bacteria

This is kind of a "duh" headline but something we need to consider if we are going to help people transition from plastic grocery bags to reusable ones.  Here is the full article.

The research, done as a joint project between Arizona University and Linda Loma University, showed that random samplings of reusable bags used in the Los Angeles area showed coliform bacteria, such as E. coli,  found in half the bags. 

Here is a further pullout from the piece:

The study also found that awareness of potential risks was very low. A full 97 percent of those interviewed have never washed or bleached their reusable bags, said Gerba, who added that thorough washing kills nearly all bacteria that accumulate in reusable bags.
The report comes at a time when some members of the California State Legislature, through Assembly Bill 1998 (Brownley), are seeking to promote increased consumer use of reusable bags by banning plastic bags from California stores.
“If this is the direction California wants to go, our policymakers should be prepared to address the ramifications for public health,” said co-author Ryan Sinclair, Ph.D., a professor at Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health.
The report noted that “a sudden or significant increase in use of reusable bags without a major public education campaign on how to reduce cross contamination would create the risk of significant adverse public health impact.”

I just want to make it clear to people that the Need-a-Bag? Project ALWAYS washes the bags we bring to the market, make no mistake!

Got the article via mistermix at Balloon Juice.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Okabashis returned: I still ♥ Okabashis!

Okay, I finally washed the Okabashis and have filled out the return form. I'm going to get a pair of the same style I have for DJ. Here's what I said on the return form, under "Return/exchange reason:"

I purchased the Merinos at Walgreen's and they lasted about 3 weeks before they started getting cracks and tears in the upper.  I've already replaced them with a pair of black Eurosports and wanted to get a pair of navy Eurosports for my son.  Thank you!  I love Okabashis!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mega-long post: Gainesville Community Ministry and Need-a-Bag? Project

I went the Gainesville Community Ministry Thrift Shop on 34th St. today to find some tote bags for the market this weekend; found a ton of them very cheaply, but while I was there I had to endure a really loud and uncomfortable argument going on between the store workers (I'm assuming they're all volunteers with the ministry).  It seemed to revolve around the store closing and apparently the gentleman who was an official from GCM was being very argumentative about the reasons behind it, like people getting to the store late and what-not.  I don't know what the real reasons for closing this store are, but the people who work there are fabulous, caring folks and I would hate to see the store close.  Anyway, that prompted me to write this letter -- half-complaining about the kerfuffle, half-singing the store's praises -- and I'm reprinting it here because it counts as a blog post about the Need-a-Bag? Project:

Michael Wright

June 15, 2010

Dear Mr. Wright,

I am a longtime costumer/supporter of the GCM thrift shop on 34th Street, and I wanted to make you aware of an incident that occurred while I was there today.

At about 10:00 am, I had entered into the shop to do my usual tote bag scavenging (I’ll get to the reason in a bit) and there seemed to be a rather loud conversation going on at the coffee bar. A large, older gentleman with glasses and wearing the dark green GCM polo shirt, was presiding over this conversation and he was the loudest voice of those at the bar. After shopping a little bit I realized that it was some kind of meeting of the store workers and the gentleman seemed to be talking about something that the others didn’t agree with. The woman who was working behind the cashier’s counter was very upset and in tears. One of the other customers went up to the coffee bar at some point and asked them to keep their voices down as the conversation (now, seemingly, an argument) was being “broadcast throughout the store.” This did not seem to deter the gentleman, who continued to be very loud.

The workers were trying to be respectful, but it seemed like the argument was very contentious and had something to do with the store closing. I really hope this doesn’t happen. As long as I have been shopping at the GCM thrift store on 34th St. (as well as the now-defunct Main St. store), I have always had a great shopping experience and have found many items for my family. I also shop there to find tote bags for the Need-a-Bag? Project, started two years ago by myself and a friend. The Need-a-Bag? Project provides reusable shopping bags to shoppers at the Hwy 441 farmers market each Saturday morning. Thrift stores like GCM with reasonably-priced items are the heart and soul of our project, and closing this store would be a regretful decision. We provide over 200 shopping bags each year to people, many of whom who have low incomes and shop at the market with vouchers for the WIC and ElderCare programs; your store provides us with many of the bags that we use to provide sustainable bagging and reduce the use of plastic grocery bags going into the waste stream.

In closing, I would like to say that the men and women who work at the 34th St. GCM Thrift Store have always been lovely, wonderful people who are always eager to help customers; I feel that this is part of your ministry and I believe they feel that way, as well. I don’t understand fully what occurred while I was at the store this morning, but I hope that if there is a decision to close the store that you will reconsider.

Thank you for reading my letter and I wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors with Gainesville Community Ministry.



Saturday, June 12, 2010

Crist signs HB 971

Ugh!  Where was I?  I never even heard about this -- serves me right for not keeping up with this story.

The Florida Bicycling Association put up this post about Crist signing HB 971 into law; it also links to the Florida Government website news release about all the bills he just signed.


Need-a-Bag Project Update 06.12.10 -- Hope and Change

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

DG is out of town this week so I went to the market with my supply of polyprop bags; some kind soul (probably Jean) dropped off three bags on the fence and I took this photo of the nicest one -- it wasn't the biggest or the most colorful, but it was definitely the most cheerful and positive.  Look at all the positive sayings it has hand-written all over it!  I call it the Hopey-Changey bag; it was quickly snatched up by someone who shared my belief in the powerful messages this bag holds.

As I was putting bags on the fence, a woman came up and asked if these were for free, and I replied that they were indeed for free and she could help herself.  She showed me her own reusable bag and said she was fine but was interested in learning more about the project.  I told her that me and my friend started doing this project two years ago and we bring out reusable bags for people to use.  The woman, who was with her daughter, asked if people bring the bags back when they're done.  I said "well, that's the theory, but we generally just end up putting out more bags."  The daughter was looking at me like I was some kind of hippie communist, and the woman was polite but ready to move on with her day.  Oh well, some people will get it and some people won't, I think. 

The market was hopping again, as usual, but the bag numbers are staying consistent; I put out 11 bags and by the time I left about half were still remaining.

New Need-a-Bag? Project Strategy

Before I go into a dispatch from the 441 Farmers Market this week, I wanted to share an idea for promoting the project.   You know how at check-outs the cashier may ask if you want to donate 1-dollar to this or that cause?  I usually say "yes" at least once a week to those queries, but I usually eschew putting my name on the paper tag that gets taped to the wall with the other names.

Well, I was at CVS and realized that all this time I could have been putting "The Need-a-Bag? Project" on all of these tags!  Curious folks would eventually google the phrase and find out about the project!

Why did it take me so long to realize this bit of free promotion for the project?!

Friday, June 11, 2010

How to Not Get Hit by Cars

I was listening to the Bill McKibben talk, "Earth to Humans: Enough Already," and at one point he talked about his 5-day walk across Vermont to call for 80% reductions in CO2 emissions by 2050.  With the oil spill in the gulf going full-bore, why don't we have a walk across Florida -- say, from Tallahassee to Pensacola, to call for extreme energy reform.  Eighty percent reduction by 2050 isn't going to cut it anymore, I think. 

Anyway, I was thinking, how long would it take to walk/bike/Segway across Florida, from Tallahassee to Pensacola?  Before I get to the answer for that, as I was searching on Google, I came across an oldie but a goodie of bicycle safety, Michael Bluejay's seminal "How to Not Get Hit by Cars," on his Bicycle Austin website.  I mentioned this site in a post from 2007, and looking over it again I realized I should post it here because it is very relevant to situation right now with HB 971 and the wording in the bill that would require cyclists by law to ride on the right-hand shoulder or in bike lanes.  After reading the bicycle safety guide again, I decided to post this screen shot because it makes a very good case about why the wording in the bill is not a good idea:

Even if you are riding on the right-hand side of the road, you are still at risk of colliding into a car.  I encourage folks to read the rest of the guide -- it's fairly short and succinct in its advice. 

Last night I was thinking about another reason why this would be a bad idea.  Since DJ got a new bike for his birthday, he has been wanting to go on evening bike rides when he gets home from school.  I've been incredibly nervous on these rides because DJ is still a little inexperienced with a bigger bike, and he has been looking down at the pavement in front of him instead of looking for cars.  On our way to the new bike trail (one of his favorite trips), I have to start yelling at him when we get closer to Main Street and go past the Kangaroo's really busy driveway.  On the sidewalks he rides in front of me, but  on the side streets I like to ride to the left of him, so that I can see cars coming from behind or in front, and generally play defense with the traffic.  If this new law went into place, I wouldn't be able to ride to his left, since the law was worded to stop 2-or-more-abreast team cycling.

UPDATE:  I just realized that I never did say how long it would take to walk/ride/run to Pensacola from Tallahassee.  Well, I decided not to do anything with this idea, anyways, so my apologies if you were expecting an actual answer :(

Got the screen shot from

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mad Max Meme and Peak Oil

It's been a long while since I've done a good rant; among other things, the cataclysmic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has reduced me to feeling utterly helpless about our addiction to oil in the states.  But the thing that really, really bugs me about this crisis is the way Americans are being portrayed in their reactions to it; politicians think deregulating the oil industry further is the way to make sure we never have another spill (!) and/or think that drilling in protected, land-locked regions is the only option away from deep-sea drilling.  The one thing that both terrifies and amuses me is the whole "survival seed bank" meme, and its tie-in with the Peak Oil Movement.  I don't know what to think of these clowns, but my first thought is that we have finally maximized the attitude of "I Got Mine" in this particular narrative.

For those unfamiliar with the idea, companies have been around for a while, hawking "survival seed banks" that you can purchase and hide in your bomb shelter for the coming economic apocalypse.  Now, this idea has spread to the people who believe that, when we run out of oil, the economic infrastructure will completely collapse and we will be reduced to a Mad Max world of survival of the fittest.

You can tell I'm a little skeptical about this, and it angers me when usually calm people start getting obsessed with this doomsday scenario of an America when there is no more oil to power our cars, computers, and pool filters, such as this New York Times article reports.  It makes me think that people really want us to fall into a chaotic abyss; in fact, this article on the Earth First (not the organization) site discusses this exact point.  The shorter of this article is the philosophy that many radical environmentalists hold, which is that any cataclysmic disaster (such as a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico) will ultimately be good for the earth; once we kill off a few billion humans to plague and pestilence,  the earth will have a fighting chance to recover. 

Part of this, I think, comes from the nagging realization that we have reached our zenith of growth as a society; growth in this context meaning growing larger and more bloated on stuff.  I look at the small pool I bought for my son and his friends to enjoy over the summer months, and think, "this might be the last summer we can have a pool like this; water might become more scarce or so polluted we'll have to forgo daily showers and stick to drinking filtered water."  This is my own doomsday scenario-type thinking, but I'm not stocking up on seeds or bottling water for the coming water apocalypse (other than the usual hurricane season supplies, that is).  I feel the same way about oil; this might be the last few summers that we're able to enjoy an air-conditioned house and years with non-stop computer-surfing, not to mention going on long car trips.

The old man and DJ had this discussion about peak oil, because DJ asked me just yesterday about the prospect of running out of oil.  He was pretty upset about the whole thing (even though he liked the idea of the Mad Max society), but I tried my best to assure him that civilization is not going to collapse; it's just going to shrink.  I also explained that humans have been on the earth for thousands of years and we did just fine before the Industrial Revolution; we will do just fine beyond it. 

To that end, I heard Bill McKibben speak rather eloquently on on this issue the other day when I was listening to Alternative Radio, in a show entitled "Earth to Humans: Enough Already."  I bought the program to listen to as I drive to pick up DJ, but McKibben's basic point is that we won't collapse into a chaotic world of survival, we will adapt to a post-oil future.  I encourage folks to listen to this program or get the transcript; it is a bit of sanity in an unsane community we're living in right now.  I can only hope the folks come to their senses and soon; the sooner we work together to get real energy reform, the better it will be for all of us and our descendants. 

Got the photo from Stephanie Rogers' article on Earth First

Last Summer's Gardens on My Street

I meant to post this during the winter, when everything's brown and gray; last summer I went around to  my neighbors' yards and took pictures of various gardens and landscapes.   My original post was "Yards of Distinction," where I pointed out a couple of yards on my street where they had done some unique xeriscaping from the traditional grass yard.  I was going to follow up with another post on front yard gardens, since they have multiplied on our street; of course, like most well-intentioned posts, this one never got off the ground.

Now that my time grows short as a footloose and fancy-free blogger, I decided to post those pictures from last May:
Some of my neighbors weren't home so I wasn't able to get permission right away for taking pictures of their yards; the yard after this first one (the one with the closeups) was more successful because the gardener/neighbor was home and was happy to show me some of the finer points of her garden.  The second picture is of a nice looking green pepper, and I think the next picture where she is pointing out something in the foliage was of an heirloom variety of something (the vegetable escapes my memory of over a year ago).  I'm sorry I forgot your name, helpful gardener/neighbor, and will rectify this when I appear at your door with the url for this blog.

The fourth and fifth photos are of Mark and Mike's yards, respectively.  Mark has a great garden system that involves a rubbermaid-type container that he crowds with tomatoes and lettuce.  It all looks simply delicious and seems relatively painless to grow.  I'll have to get a more in-depth story on his before the end of the season.  Now that I have a microphone for my iTouch I can start doing better interviews and (hopefully) some short videos of various things going on in the world of sustainability

End of Summer A Blues: Okabashis to be returned

It's not even the middle of June and already the summer's almost over for me; soon I will be hunkered down in graduate student-mode, reading my butt off like I have the past fall and spring.  I can't complain, though -- I got to blog whenever I wanted, got to have a really fun birthday/sleep-over for my son, had a barbecue, and got to read and watch manga and anime non-stop for almost two months.  I cannot complain.

Now onto some late-breaking updates; remember how I was all happy about my Okabashis and how sustainable they are?  Well, they may be sustainable, but they aren't sturdy, and almost a month into getting them they developed cracks and tears in the uppers. 

Here's a picture of my poor Okabashis with the tear on the right one.  It has since grown a little larger since the taking of this photo, because I had no other slip-ons for taking that walk down the driveway to get the mail (I got another pair soon after, however). 

On the left one is a crack near the ball of the foot (there's also one on the right, not shown).  Maybe it's because I got a larger size so I could wear socks, and the shifting of my foot caused the tear, or maybe it's just the general design of the sandal.

In any case,  now I've got to run them through the washing machine and then send them back to Okabashi.  I downloaded the return form, but sending things back to the manufacturer is not one of my fortes,  so we'll see if I actually get around to it. 

So now I have a new pair and they seem to wearing quite well -- it's a different style and (I think) one for women, so maybe it'll hold up since it's closer to my shoe size. 

Saturday, June 05, 2010

New Cargo Carrier!

The old child carrier that I got when DJ was small, and then became a bike trunk after he outgrew it, was stolen out of our carport a couple of months ago.  I hadn't used it in a while;  the universal adapter didn't fit well on the Gary Fisher and would keep falling off during trips.  It was also getting old and weather beaten and my idea was to remove the canvas part and fit it with a piece of plywood and make it into an honest-to-goodness cargo trailer; unfortunately, someone else had the same idea.  Because I have panniers on the Gary Fisher I have been able to stuff at least two reusable grocery sacks-worth of groceries on the bike, but for larger hauls I was going to have to come up with something else.

First, I looked around for DIY cargo carriers, and saw this great site and I encourage everyone reading this to check it out.  It's a called Community Bike Cart Design, and if I was a welder I would totally try to make one of these things.  I almost DID take a welding class with Santa Fe's Community Ed program just so I would have the skillz to make one; then I realized it would just be like the glass bead making class I took where I bought all the equipment and then never did anything with it because I am afraid of combustibles.  So, unless making the thing requires wood and maybe a power drill, I was not going to be doing no welding.

Community Bike Cart Design has different-needs type carriers, like an ambulance carrier and a "Bicycle Empowerment Trailer."  I donated 10-bucks to them because they are a super cool group like The Kickstand

I finally broke down and got this Aosom cargo trailer on Amazon for 100-bucks.  An okay deal, actually, considering I got the bike carrier for DJ, used, for 50-bucks.

Today I took it on a first trip to the grocery, taking the new bike path behind Buddha Belly which lets me off right at the side entrance of Publix.  The path is still officially closed, but try telling that to pushy cyclists like myself. This photo (I think) is actually of the stretch behind Publix -- the entire path goes all the way to 8th Avenue which is going to be super great for commuting to campus in the fall. 

Here are a couple of photos of the results of the shopping trip.  I was able to fit three bags, a six-pack of beer, and a small bag of charcoal and still had plenty of room left.  The cover fits over it really neatly; I would have been happy with just an open trailer, so I consider the cover a bonus.  Scotch-garded it before I left so it'd repel some water if it gets sloppy rainy, as it has been the past week (thank goodness!  We really needed the rain -- hey, it's raining right now, in fact!).

There are two problems, one with the trailer and one with the bike.  I was not able to inflate one of the tires; I think the stem is crooked but I don't know how to fix it and will have to consult with my bike mechanic.  Oh yes, you didn't know?  I now have my own bike mechanic -- okay, it's DG's brother, but he is so nice and decent it makes me take back everything I've ever said against bike mechanics.  Even with one under-inflated tire, however, the trailer performed magnificently!

The bike, on the other hand, is going to have to get traded back in at Spin Cycle.  Maybe I'm just so used to the Gary Fisher, but I think it's more that the frame is too small.  I'll try raising the seat but I think I just have to get another bike -- I'm using the Schwinn I got originally for the Burley ride-along because it doesn't have quick-release wheels, which won't take the rear-hub adapter for the trailer. 

Very, very happy with the new cargo trailer; it will become especially useful during the parts of the fall and spring semesters when I am constantly lugging books and teaching materials back and forth between campus.  And, of course, it will be super-handy for hauling lawn chairs and a cooler to the Homecoming Parade!  Yay!

Need-a-Bag? Project now at High Springs Market!

Ugh, I have to get back to housecleaning but I wanted to quickly post on the Need-a-Bag? project's newest franchise and franchisee.  Jackie is the mom of two adorable children and writes the Accidentally a Mommy blogspot blog, and now she is the project's newest member!  She emailed us about a month or so ago and wanted to start up the project out at the High Springs Market.  Here is a photo from their maiden voyage at the HSM.  I also have a post from when DJ and I went out there and bought some yummy gulf shrimp before they all died, but I will post on that later.  Perhaps I can convince Jackie to send the AE periodic dispatches from the HSM (hint, hint).

Let's all give Jackie a wild round of applause (CLAPCLAPCLAP!) for being brave enough to venture on her own into the uncharted frontiers of High Springs, Florida, and for getting herself mixed up in a really nutty sustainability project!

Photo from Jackie, featuring her absolutely adorable little girl GS (for "Good Scout"), holding some local honey, no doubt.

Need-a-Bag Project Update 06.5.10 -- Tote Bag Roundup!

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

DG had to work overtime to round up some new totes; this is the time of year when EVERYTHING is in season and people are snatching bags off the fence faster than we can hang them.  It's a good feeling!  Anyway, to keep it short and sweet today I've assembled a few of the faves from the new collection.

This is probably the favorite -- it was probably slavishly produced by someone out of a beloved pair of jeans and is totally in step with the Need-a-Bag? philosophy:  Take pants, cut off bottom, sew up bottom, use left over material to make handles, then tie with cute fabric/scarf belt -- voila!  And it even has pockets to put the Need-a-Bag? label!

Moo-cow bag is perfect for the little shopper on the go; DG thought the right eye rubbing off in the washing makes it look demonic but I think it is adorable!  The photo definitely makes it look more friendly/less demonic.

And, finally, here's another farm-themed bag for the really little shopper on the go.  Look how cute it is, the label is almost as big as the bag!  You could fit maybe a strawberry in this bag or possibly five blueberries.

There was an awesome Swiss Army tote bag that was practically brand new that DG procured and I wanted to steal it but she stayed my hand; she has already given me her fabulous Strand Bookstore tote bag that I have coveted so I cannot complain!  She got a ridiculous number this week, and all for less than a dollar each; we have finally begun to follow Jean's philosophy of tote purchasing.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Florida Legislature Pushing Cyclists Into Bike Lanes

The Gulf oil spill has a been an incredibly disturbing event and it's been hard for me to blog about the usual stupid stuff I like to yammer about, but the way cyclists are treated in Florida is a really important issue to me, as well.  

Currently, cyclists in Florida have equal rights on the roadways.  That may change if a 16-word addition to highway safety bill, HB 971, moving through the legislature is not vetoed by Governor Crist.  It seems cyclists will be marginalized and restricted to either using bike lanes or using only the right-hand side of the road if the bill goes through with the current language pertaining to cyclists.  Here's part of the Orlando Sentinel piece:

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, who said Wednesday that he often rides a bike and cannot understand why his fellow cyclists would be against his proposal. 

"If they don't want to ride in the bike lanes, why are we spending all this money on them in the first place?" Aubuchon said.

Obviously, Rep. Aubuchon has never had to make a left turn at a busy intersection while on a bicycle.  A lot of this is simple belly-aching on the part of motorists who feel like bike clubs hog the roads when they are pedaling in formation.  Having been both outside a car on a bike and inside a car trailing a cyclist or cyclists, I know each side of this debate by heart.  But as I've said before on this blog, I'd rather ride very slowly behind a cyclist when I'm in a multiple-ton vehicle than side-swipe a cyclist because I couldn't see them on the right side before turning.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Learn Blacksmithing!

I don't know about you, but when I get an email from Facebook that says, "So-and-So invited you the the event 'LEARN BLACKSMITHING,'" I click the link.  Brought to you by the nice folks at SMArts.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Haha! It's called SoDo!

How pretentious can you get?  Brilliant!  I was informed by DG that the term for the South Main St. "emerging district" is called SoDo (SouthDowntown?).  Yeek, now to get back down there and take more pictures!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Look! Hogtown is Hip!

Well what do you know about that?  Actually, Gainesville's always been a hip town, at least the downtown area -- I remember a few years back they tried to designate the UF campus area as "downtown" in an effort to marginalize the east side of town, but that kind of fell flat.

The thing that's really been exciting me of late is the area south of the St. Francis House, along South Main Street.  It was painful watching this part of town die a long, slow death from economic cancer, and now it's suddenly revitalized into this little Bohemia.  Okay, let me rephrase that -- a Local Yokel Paradise?  No, wait, still not right...Locavore District?  Gah, nevermind -- anyway, here are some pictures of how this four-block area has really come back from the dead.

Behind the old Hi-Fi Warehouse, on the corner of Depot Road and South Main Street, the Kickstand first started, almost three years ago.  They're still going strong, thank goodness, providing a place for people whose only mode of transpo is of the manual, two-wheeled kind, to get help with repairs and education on maintenance.  I've talked about them in a 2009 post and I am so glad to see that this completely grassroots organization is doing so well and helping so many fellow hogtownians. 

The great thing is that the Acrosstown Repertory Theater is just across the street to the east, another completely local, downtown happening that's been going strong for 20 years, in an area that's seen many economic changes, both good and bad.  As the neighborhood switches from a strange mix of industrial/residential to mostly service and residential, it's going to be fun to see how it all shakes out.  I used to live in this neighborhood so I am well aware of what it was like 10 years ago. 

Next to the Kickstand is what is to become The Warehouse Restaurant and Lounge (the only link I could find was to Adrienne Jensen's portfolio page for the proposed website that will be up and running soon.  I emailed Adrienne to get permission to use the link -- really, I should just have gotten a photo of it).  It's based in what used to be an old car parts store for imported cars; it will be very exciting to see what it develops into as a chic, urban restaurant.
Update 5.10.10:  Adrienne was nice enough to email me back with permission to use the link, but suggested just using the link, because the new website would be up and running in a couple of days.  Thanks for the tip, Adrienne!

Across from The Warehouse and a little to the north is a strip of businesses that has been struggling for a long time.  Now it houses The Civic Media Center (or, as a Hogtown Alumni once referred to it, "The Michael Stivic Reading Room" [oh, alright, here's a link for the youngs who aren't catching the drift of this joke]).  I am so glad the CMC is in a good spot for growth -- it was housed on University Avenue for a long time in a space that I am sure drove the local realtors mad with lust because of its proximity to campus.  Soon there will be so many reasons to hop on your bike and come down to this part of town!  Right next door to the CMC is the real reason for this post:  The Citizen's Co-op has finally gotten a storefront after almost 2 years of fundraising.  It is in a great location, and the co-op, CMC, and the South Main Arts Center (SMArts) have a nice-sized parking lot just across the street to the south.  If you live in Gainesville, you know that parking is always an issue for the faint of cycling heart. 

I haven't visited SMArts yet, but I remember it used to be a bike shop for a long, long time; I bought a beloved bike from the guy who used to run the shop, for 5 dollars -- and he was willing to give it to me for free but I forced the issue (I only had 5-dollars in my pocket at the time, otherwise I would have given him more).  What a nice guy -- I hope he's doing well.