31 January 2011

Fruit Salad with wires

I spend almost a week trying to figure out Facebook Fan Page ( finally up and almost running the way I wish..) Still working on the welcome page ...
But you are more than welcome to come visit and click on the LIKE button :-)

And then I found this via my EcoEtsy team Daily. This made me laugh !
We all went banana last week with many Eco Etsy members trying to help each others...
So here to all of us "nutcases" trying to strive to follow the new technologies...

28 January 2011

MAISON & OBJETS Sept 2010 / January 2011

Realized that I still had in my camera photos from M&O last edition (september 2010)... Oh well, I simply add them towards the end...
For today it will be mostly pictures as 
I am running late to pick up my girls from school...

12 January 2011

No impact week Day 6 & 7 :: WATER - GIVING BACK & ECO - SABBATH

Challenge for day 6 :: WATER

(from So British)
Soak up the personal benefits of using less water!
You’re now six days into the No Impact Experiment.
Having looked at your trash, transportation, food, consumption, and energy habits, there’s one major
daily lifestyle change left to tackle — water. A whopping 71% of Americans are trying to reduce their
footprint. Of those 71%, 60% are reducing their water consumption, and saving a lot of money on their
water and electric bill. In this economy, every flush counts! Turn off the tap. Believe us, you'll feel better
about yourself.

Our family apparently use 367 liters/day direct use...
And 5136 liters/day as virtual water... ( due to tea/coffee being drink in the morning) according to Kermira ultra zenish calculator.

I don't know how truly accurate this water footprint calculator truly is but it is simply fascinating and scary to put a number on water. But there are also this site and this one.

This is not the challenge where we are best at... It is so easy to take water for granted by simply turn on the faucet. We talk about the water shortage other countries are currently facing as a strong reality check. It works for one day and then old habits keep coming back. That's said, we did few changes over time.

We change our regular bathroom faucets and shower heads for those ones that reduce the water flow by 60% by mixing water with air. It is as efficient and when we do linger a little longer in the shower it does not make us feel as bad ( only 50% bad...).

The kitchen part is the trickiest one. We spend most of our day in this room since food prep is important in our family way of life. I think i will try for a week [as an experiment] to keep a deep bucket somewhere below our sink and try to re-capture some extra water (glass of water half drunken,water from veggie washing, etc.) . If it is duable without being too "painful" I will try to keep it going.

When we go out I order tap water for the girls and I. We only switch to bottled water when really the water has a strong chlorine taste. But most of the time -where we live- the water is fine.

Challenge for day 7 :: GIVING BACK

Pay it forward. Feel the benefits of service.
Welcome to day seven and the weekend, baby!
By now, you’ve probably slaughtered some of your carbon footprint — trading in some gas guzzling for
sweat equity, phasing out prepackaged processed food for delicious local dishes, shopping less and
saving more, turning down the lights, and quenching your thirst with tap water while lightening your
planetary load. Pat yourself on the back for coming this far and do a little dance: it’s time to share some
of your exuberance with others!

 We were asked to make a list with three columns: 

1) all the charities you’d love to help out, 
2) why you feel you can’t 
3) how you can address and remove those barriers. 

Do your barriers — as legitimate as they may seem to you — outweigh the importance of
participating ? Remember: you needn’t become an “activist” or even a leader to be active in your community! 
Simply participating in an ongoing project is giving back and living your values.

All right, so here my list ::

Charities I would like to help and actually CAN and WILL.

 # 1 Colibris

This a French organisation Created by Pierre Rabhi that I follow very closely. I read many of his books and I enjoy every little bits he shares. His website for his association allows people to learn and sign up for volunteering. I would love to do it with my husband and my children. Tessa is still a little young to fully grab the concept and the importance of it.
His wife and he also create a one of a kind school called les Amanins. To understand waht les Amanins are follow this link and then use your Translate Google to translate it in english...

For  # 2  I have 2 organizations that I admire also and need to choose which one I could give a percentage of my sale to. Those two organizations are ::
This is the choice I am currently facing. They are both highly important to me but can not direct my attention to both in my current situation. So I will think about it, have a talk with my husband and commit to one of them soon.

# 3 Pay it forward 

I have seen the "Pay it forward" movie and really enjoyed it. 
Applying it in real life and make a "family affair" is a really nice idea.
The girls school do every year a "Love in The Box" project where family are asked to put in a  box all the bare necessities for low income family (from toothpaste to warm hat, cookies, chocolate , crayons, books, etc. ) gift wrapped it and simply write boy or girl and age appropriate gifts that are inside. This is done between Thanksgiving and Christmas and I like the link it create between the two celebrations.

Now, we can always do more and I plan to be able to get some projects done with the girls  after reading those inspirational stories from the Pay it Forward website. The one I like is the Birthday Box with handmade items and homemade goodies.

Community  ideas I like here in France ( existing in the US and elsewhere also) ::

:: sharing food  (with little money)
:: second hand store with  heart &  soul (Paris)
:: community gardens

Challenge for day 7 :: ECO SABBATH


Today, Sunday, is about awareness and taking some time back for yourself. This is a chance to lay off the lights, televisions, computers, appliances, cell phones, flashing gadgets, and other stuff that seems to make the world go round. It’s a special time to hang out (or in) by yourself or with friends and family. It is a time to reflect on the well-being of yourself and the planet. This first Eco-Sabbath you may wish to reflect on your No Impact week. Consider what worked well for you, what was particularly difficult, and what you’d like to permanently adopt. Consider how you can go even further. Think about how your week affected others in your life and what adjustments, if any, are in order. This is a time to discover and appreciate the bare necessities.

Sorry could not resist to embeed this video (one of my favorite).

Last Sunday was NOT an eco Sabbath at all in our family.
Plans were already made ( birthday party to attend for our youngest, since it was some way away I went to a wifi place and work online while waiting...) and my husband and I  had all our electrical gadgets on and we probably use them all throughout the day. 

But next Sunday :: I am hoping to be a different one. It will require some planning since we are not use to not respond to the call of those gimmicks when they flash, beep or ring. 
Maybe we should have friends over or if weather permitted (they announce huge rain fall...but the weather report is not always THAT accurate...) we should go for a bike ride or a simple walk nearby.

The word will be U.N.P.L.U.G. and it is not as easy for us as it reads...

SO as a synthesis of all what happened over the NO IMPACT MAN week ::

  • The easiest for us was the food :: local, in season, vegetarian, homemade
  • For water and power use :: we are honestly the best we can in our current situation.
  • The toughest was reducing our trash :: we DO recycle everything possible BUT we do make a lot of recyclable trash nonetheless... Some how even in organic store (besides maybe BIOCOOP) there is very little things that comes in bulk and simply require a paper bag to compost in the end. We buy Tofu (plastic wrapped many times), non diary milk (out of a bottle made of a combo of cardboard and plastic which I am not sure recycle well at all) and bubbly water ( if anyone heard about a device that can make our own bubbly water :: I am all ear!).
  • Finally, the one we all need to learn and commit more than once a month is Eco-Sabbath.
It was a really great way to start the New Year and remind us to not take everything for granted because they are simply not.
It will give me the extra push I need to actually take action in 2011 to align our values to our actions and apply it to my little business UN LIEU SUR TERRE.

06 January 2011

No impact week :Day 5 :: ENERGY

(wall stickers from Hu2 )

Today challenge is this one ::

Replace kilowatts with ingenuity — explore no-energy
alternatives to accomplish your daily tasks.
Are we going to "eliminate" or "mitigate" ?

Just to be clear up front :: we are not going to live without electricity. 
So mitigate we will try to go.
I know my husband and some family members read this blog :: I don't want them to freak out ! 

We will keep our fridge, our washing machine ( I truly enjoyed the grape stomping bath tub style in the movie : I am willing to try it out one day), our dyer  [Ya, ya : I know  shame on us for the dryer :: but, look we live around Paris where we have about 4 months of dry season and the rest of it we are soak wet and cold...so...here you go: dryer !].I am not saying I am proud of it though, I am just being pratical, for once... We do get the laundry to dry out when days are sunny or breezy. They smell better anyway.

We will keep our TV ( we have only one that we watch sometimes but use it mostly for DVD carefully screened by maman...) and our computers ( ours like in 3, ahem... :: a year old laptop for each parent and a big one bought second hand 6 years ago..). Girls are not addicted to TV at all : they play a lot with wooden, recycled dolls, ( Emmaus = Goodwill / garage sale) toys or dress-up. We also enter the board games age with Alana. Craft making is big too. They have a special drawer in the kitchen and we share a space in my atelier. And reading (or pretending to for Tessa) is a BIG emphasis in our family. 

Add to all of these ... a brand new iPad for Mummy ( a Santa gift !) ... and two cell phones among them my new iphone (a cool upgrade for me and my old one has been recycled by our phone provider as a second hand phone...)

Oooops , i know : if Colin's wife Michelle was addicted to her TV screen, I am definitely addicted to Apple... And this will remain as is for the moment. 
Gotta have some addictions somewhere, right ?... Right. 
Well, I have two : some magazines that I love buying  & all the i.something. Voila.

But to power all those gimmicks we trade the regular EDF french electricity company powered mostly by nuclear :(  for a fantastic electricity supplier  called ENERCOOP. After intensive research (I am a Capricorn, so when I say Intensive :: I mean INTENSIVE) I found out that their founding member is.... GREENPEACE and a big organic food store called BIOCOOP. No more hesitation : we made the change. So even though we still have and use our appliances we are powered through GREEN ENERGIES. So we feel like we are actually doing something in the end. 

In my little business, I use very little energy. Besides walking across the courtyard to go to my studio, all i need is my sewing machine, some music, some direct daylight, my screen printing tools, my creativity and some brain cells... 

Of course my ideal house will be this one. It is "Guest House" where we stayed a year ago to celebrate our wedding anniversary with our girls. It is a self sufficient house powered by  solar and wind.

Things we need to improve to power down :: 
* turn off computers at night to avoid the ghost power
* install a drying rack inside to cut down on use of dryer

... and get away from this computer !

Bye bye !

05 January 2011

No impact week :Day 4 :: FOOD

This part of the challenge is for us quite easy as we already eat locally, in season and organic.
We belong to the French version of CSA called here in France "AMAP". Our AMAP is awesome and very active. We go and help out on their farm sometimes. They organize all sorts of events and screening. Love it!
In the summer, we plant and grow some veggies in our backyard. But not enough for the 4 of us...It is more a way to teach our girls he way things grow and how to be patient and thankful for the food and the people growing it.

We are also (and first timer for my husband and children) vegetarian ( not vegan). We do eat eggs and LOTS of fish ( the kind that are not overfished or farmed from Norway since they use pesticide to kill the lices they develop being so stressed by the number they are raised per square meter.

Before moving to the USA, I was already a vegetarian. But the truth is the meat in the US was excellent compared to the one in France. And it was the forst time I ever had marinated meat on BBQ ( Flank steack was my favorite). But moving back to France 4 years ago we started to go greener and the more we read, watched documentaries or movies about sustainability, ecological footprint,  industrial food, cruelty toward animals we decided to take responsabilitie for our own health and make our food our first medecine.

We both lost weight  and feel fit and healthy.
Eating out is getting tricky as you do not find organic restaurant around where we live that easily. So we usually go for sushi (no tuna) or indian vegetarian food.

At home we invested in a fantastic machine called Thermomix.
We (read : I... my husband is a bit puzzled by it but he loves it !) use it everyday several times a day on the week end. We make soups, bread, brioche, cakes, vegetarian dishes and really good desserts. The girls love the fact that they know where the food come from and that everything is home made. In a world where junk food is a every corner :: we are really happy about this outcome. I just wonder how long it will last as Alana will enter teenagehood within five years.
Hoping good habits will stay tatooed on her mind...

04 January 2011

No impact week :Day 3 :: Burn calories, not fossils fuels.

( basquiat :: photo taken at the Moma in Paris)


( my husband going back and forth in our little paved street :: hence NO helmet. 
And Tessa sitting  atop  the bike since no child seat on it!! 
But she really wanted to go for a short ride...)

We are lucky to live in the heart of a small town nearby Paris. Everything is within minutes of a brief walk. Local stores ( boulangerie, cremerie/fromager, poissonnier, you name it). So we usually walk everywhere or when needed we use our awesome TRIKE to go groceries shopping to our local organic store. We even used it in 2008 for a huge Trike rally in Paris. We had lots of fun!

 In Paris by Notre Dame. I was VERY nervous in this traffic. 
Where we live it is much more peaceful...

(In our neighbourhood)

(on the way back from school along La Seine, 3 years ago)

(doing errands with the trike :: sometimes there is groceries, 
load of books from the library and the 2 girls in there . 

a friend of mine trying it out with all the girls!

My husband commutes to work by public transportation. Everything will be wonderful if i did not have to DRIVE a total of 2 hours a day to get to our girls school.... 

No school around closer ??
Oh yes 5 of them..! But all of them are French schools. Our girls are bilingual and it is important that they attend a international shcool where english is the primary language.  So the closest one from home to be an international shool is about 20 to 30 minutes drive ( one way and back) in the morning and again for pick up time...  Here you go 2 hours of MY time spend in THE car...
Luckily, I work from home... my studio is across our courtyard...

This school being quite a driving distance away  is our {I should say : my) daily big challenge.
There aren't any buses going there, no subway, no bike lane and no carpool possible since we are mostly the only one in this town going to that school.
When we fist move to France, our oldest used to go a darling French school where I was going by trike at least once if not twice a day. They had snacks, blankets and books for the 30 minutes ride to school . The  usually my youngest was going for a little catnap on the way back...
But this time is over and commute is by car... I do try to associate as many errands as possible while being in the school areas. It works.

So my today challenge was not met.
Plus Tuesday is our CSA day...
A little more driving to do compared to the rest of the week to go get our veggies from our super nice farmers.  At least it is a short and really nice drive in the woods.

But my ideal world :: it would be to go to school like this ::

03 January 2011

No impact week : Day 2

Today was "Stop making trash".
what a smart idea I had over the week end to purge some of our spaces to start fresh for the New Year! I did make trash : mostly from paper and cardboard (all those unfinished craft projects from our girls...). But thankfully i also ended up with lots of too small clothes and pair of shoes, toys they outgrew or needed to be repurposed in house where plastic is welcome (not in our, but you can not control birthday gifts well meant even though made out of plastic).

Food scraps from vegetables ( we are vegetarian so we have a lot) usually end up in our worm compost. They are a bit lazy/asleep over the winter time .That means we do find more food scraps in our bin during the cold months ( which in Paris it seems like an eternity....).

Part of my New Year cleaning : there is a good pile of magazines that i think i will give to a local hospital for a change. I usually put them in the recycle bin. But I came to realize that my magazines are from 2009-2010 : compared to some you can find at the waiting room in the ER :: my guess they should be favored over the 1995 ones you mostly find...


I mostly needed things for my studio and business. I actually found myself at Ikea today ( yes just like that :-o ... shame on me, I know...) to get my frames for my wall artwork. I also get couple pillow inserts since i needed 2 for right now and my regular supplier does not ship so quickly.
My youngest is growing at an amazing speed and she needs couple things . But those will come as usual either from hand me downs from very good friends or from second stores ( Emmaus the French counterpart of Goodwill in the US).

Where we live in France we have no Starbucks, Tea leaf, and other "trendy" coffee place where you can get to go drinks or food ( besides the boulangerie). So we are doing good on this side. We don't make trash due to temptation...!

All right, as i write this it is 11:30PM ... I need to go to bed.

Tomorrow challenge will be difficult : day 3 is GREEN TRANSPORTATION.
And I am afraid that my day won't really accomodate such a noble pattern... I will tell you more tomorrow.
For now i heading to bed !

01 January 2011

new [green] year :: new [green] start


I thought I would reflect upon the past year but Shanna did it so well 
that I felt like I would not be able to capture the beauty of the 2010 year .

2011 will be an important year on a personal level. 
It will be the year of the magic numbers :: 40 for me, 
50 for my sweet love and 
10 as the number of years since we met...! 
Lots of [green] celebrations ahead !
It will also be the year when for the first time my husband and I would take a 10 days trip without the girls :: a big premiere since we have not taken a single vacation away from our children ...yet...!

As far as my little business is concerned I hope that 2011 will be a blooming year as I have lots of projects and hope to be able to fulfill them all.

I believe that if you want to make the world a better place you need to start with yourself. You need to take responsability for oneself and 
how we all co-exist within this world.
All of the above is certainly easier said than done though. I very often find myself at lost at how to go about achieving it.

As for now, I thought it will be a good idea to start the new year with a green attitude!
So I decided to follow the "No Impact Week".
I first discovered Colin Beavan through his book and later on with his movie.  
I since follow his blog and sweet family in their great lifestyle change for the best.

Tomorrow Sunday the 2nd of January 
will be Day 1 of the NO IMPACT WEEK EXPERIMENT. 

So I signed up (and it is free) :: 
I don't know if i will be able to report everyday 
but I will try for sure !

Would you like to join me ?
If so please click here !
When you do :: please let me know !