Thursday, June 10, 2010

Quarter Century

This weekend was a breath of fresh air.

I must admit that one of the hardest adjustments for me in moving to Portland is the lack of outside time. Being used to the warm sunny deserts of Tucson AZ, I'm not very enthusiastic about camping in the rain. Also, it takes so much longer (and so much driving) to get to a good hike. I miss being able to drive 15-20 minutes to Pima Canyon or Sabino Canyon or Saguaro National Park and get out on the trails...

But N and I took four days this week and drove up to the Olympic Peninsula for my 25th birthday. It poured down rain on the drive up and back, but the weather was gorgeous while we were there. We took a short hike into the Quinault Rainforest, where I was super duper excited to see berries ripening!! This time of year I always have my berry vision on, my eyes eagerly scanning the trail for bright spots of red or blue. N gets a little annoyed after a couple hours of me pointing out every berry I see!

We saw some huckleberries, and some thimbleberries and salmonberries just beginning to ripen.

Then we headed out to Oil City to backpack on the beach. Oh, the weather was beautiful. I wore shorts and actually got to run barefoot and splash in the waves! We saw barnacles, and touched squishy sponges and poked starfish and stared at anemones. We climbed on huge old trees washed up on the beach and found one eyed monsters in the rocks. N balanced rocks and drift wood. One of the things I love about being with N is how well we play together.  We are goofy and silly and excited as kids.

We had some exciting times because we were trying to hike impassable portions of the beach at pretty much high tide. We ended up racing the waves down the beach and pretty much rock climbing along the face of the cliffs to get past. I was missing the security of my harness! But what's a birthday without a little adrenaline, right? We had a lovely campsite to watch the sunset.

After we hiked out from the beach, we headed over to Olympic Hot Springs. I neglected to take any pictures of the springs themselves, because I was just too relaxed soaking in the warm water and listening to the river rushing below. I did take some pictures of our tasty dinner though. Fanciest backpacking dinner I've ever eaten. :) We totally splurged and brought heavy food.

Here we are heating tortillas and roasting sweet potatoes and onions in the fire.

The finished product with some homemade tomatillo salsa. YUM! All in all, a wonderful birthday. I'm one lucky gal.

Also, I can't wait to get back to the Olympic Peninsula for some more adventures!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One Small Change Update

Wow, this post is long overdue! I was busy moving and settling in in April, and things are definitely not slowing down at work as summer approaches. I've been doing my changes each month, just not blogging about them. So here is a quick rundown of the past few months:

March - The change to the family cloth went really well. I'm still keeping up with it at the new house. I didn't say anything to the roomies, just quietly put my two little boxes in the bathroom and went about business as usual. I love it! So clean and comfortable.

April - I switched to 100% renewable energy on the electric bill. Believe it or not, this is actually the first time I've had a utility in my name. Every other house I've lived in, I just paid utilities to the owner, and not directly to the power company. It adds about $7 to the bill monthly. Not bad!

May - This is a big one; so big that I will be carrying it into June. I decided to tackle my personal care products. I consider myself to not use that many, by normal cultural standards. Here is a picture of the products I used on a regular basis:

In the past I've tried to use natural products as much as possible, as well as keeping it cheap. I'm on an Americorps stipend, after all. I also just plain don't use very much. I've had that deodorant and face wash for about a year and a half now. Anyway, a quick rundown: natural shampoo and conditioner, handmade natural soap, St. Ive's facial scrub, Neutrogena face wash, mascara, eyeliner, powder foundation, mousse, facial lotion, and Tom's toothpaste/deodorant.

My May challenge was to use even less of these products, and to try replacing them with homemade/more natural alternatives when they ran out. For one, I wanted to stop rubbing hormone-disrupting, cancer-causing chemicals in the form of pthalates (or "fragrance") into my face and scalp. I also wish to cut back on my consumption of plastics.  Check out this link for more info: I figure that the extra money I will probably spend on natural products will even out with the money I save on making some of the other products at home.

My first change was to go no poo, which I've been doing for about three weeks. I'm doing the baking soda/apple cider vinegar combo, and it's working great! I don't find my hair to smell like salad, and I only use it about 3 times a week. The other times I just rinse my hair. My only complaint is that I have naturally wavy hair, and I feel like it doesn't curl as well with the baking soda/vinegar.

I've cut way back on how much makeup I wear. I mean I don't wear that much normally, but I used to feel compelled to wear makeup every day. I'd feel naked/ugly without it. When I was in college, I might roll out of bed and go to class in my sweats, but I always took a minute to swipe on some concealer and mascara first.  Now I am very happy that I feel comfortable with a bare face. I think living in Portland has helped with this. There are many women here that I think are beautiful that don't wear a bit of makeup. It was just how I grew up that made me think I had to cover up my face every day. Now I wear it maybe half the time?

Now here is my question for you: Do you have any tried and true recipes for homemade products like deodorant, face washes and scrubs? Please do share! And if you can recommend some natural/organic makeup products, that would be great as well... I need to do more research in this area.

One other change I've made is my toothbrush.  My old one was getting nasty, so I switched it out for an Ecodent toothbrush, which saves money and plastic over it's lifetime because you only have to replace the head, not the whole handle. Genius!

And here's a bonus for making it all the way to the end of this post: one of my fierce little hens. She has so much sass.