Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Five Year Plan

My husband and I bought our first house together with the intentions of fixing it up and selling it (hopefully for a profit) or maybe look into renting it out. It was a great opportunity for us at the time, it was a foreclosure, but still in livable conditions. We didn't have the money or know how to do a true flip. We figured it would give us time, and in the future we would invest in land and build our dream house. We gave ourselves a five year time frame. Well, four and a half years later....we've managed to get the place painted. Finally, though, we are making some real progress. This week, we had new, energy efficient windows installed, and a new roof put on the place. Tomorrow we get new gutters, and in the spring, if the rest of the money we have set aside doesn't have to support us through the winter (my husband is a brick mason), then we will get new floors. The funny thing is, now that we are finally making improvements on the place, I am really starting to like it after all. But, that's the way it goes I guess.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Cost of Happiness

In the Sept 27th issues of Times magazine there is an article called "The Cost of Happiness" (pg.56 Belinda Luscombe) According to a recent study done by Princeton University, a person needs an annual household income of around $75,000 to be happy. "The further a person's income falls below that level, the unhappier he or she is." This information comes from a poll (how come I never get to participate in any of these polls?) concluding that was the amount of money people felt they needed to live a happy life. That was the magic number that would allow them to do the things they wanted on a regular basis and be happy. I think people need a better definition of 'happy.' STUFF does not do it for me. I grew in a household full of stuff. My dad always had the latest and greatest gadgets, and my sisters and I always had new toys to play with. Don't get me wrong, as a kid I thought this was great, but in retrospect, I believe that all that stuff and my parents desire for bigger and better led to the somewhat broken relationship we have now. My mom has a triple digit salary and I can see the misery and pure exhaustion in her eyes. She turned 50 this year, and is no where close to being able to slow things down in her life. Growing up, she was always at work and the bigger her salary, the longer her workdays. They have four TVs and four separate computers in a house that only has three occupants (my youngest sister is 15 and still lives at home). On the other side of the spectrum, my husband and I claimed 29,000 on our taxes last year. We are by no means rich, but we regularly do the things we enjoy (mostly because the things we enjoy cost little to nothing) and are always able to feed ourselves...and in fact we spend more on groceries than an average family of three. This month I will make our final car payment and will have an extra $513 at our disposal every month. Unlike most people we see paying off our car as a way to be able to save a little more, not as a reason to trade up to a newer one, with a new car payment. A few years ago we made as much as 50, 000 in one year, when I had a job as a restaurant manager. I never saw my husband, I was hardly ever home, and what's worse I was spending 80 hours a week with people I really didn't like. It was the most miserable time of my life. I don't think we'll ever see $75,000, and I think we'll still be happier than most.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Favorite Time of Year

Today is the first day of fall, and the beginning of my favorite time of the year. Although, right now it feels more like the middle of the summer with temperatures in the mid to upper 90's and humidity just as high. I can't wait for the leaves to turn and the air to get that cool crisp feel. I LOVE this time of the year!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

One Year

ast Sunday was Isabelle's 1st birthday. I can't believe I have been at this mommy thing for a whole year now. It's going nothing like I planned, but I really can't complain. We weren't going to have a big party or anything, The plan was to go to my mom's and maybe have some cake and give her a few gifts. Like I said, things don't always go as planned. We ended up with a party anyway, and the guest list just kept growing. It's cuz my kid is so lovable! Everyone wanted to come. I decided I wanted to make her cake from scratch, making it as organic as possible. I used to bake a decorate cake when I was younger, but it's been awhile. I forgot how time consuming the whole process is!!. It turned out good though. I was rather proud of myself! Isabelle got a tin of gifts, of course. We put some of them aside so in a few months when she's bored with the one's she's got, we have backups. Over all it was a pretty fun day!
Isabelle opening presents with help from her cousin Kaylyn

Isabelle's first taste of cake

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's Hot

The heat has been HORRIBLE!!! With temperatures in the high nineties and high humidity pushing the heat index into the triple digits, being outside is just miserable, and that makes me miserable. As soon as you step outside, you are drenched in sweat, and you feel like you need a machete just to cut through the air. I can't wait for fall to get here! That is my favorite time of year. Carving pumpkins, and eating roasted seeds, the smell of the crisp air and the sound of the leaves crunching under your feet. Oh sweet release! You cannot arrive too soon!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Solstice!!

and as days like today (especially when the weather is as beautiful as it is here) are meant to be outside, that is exactly where I am going.....Happy Summer Solstice to all!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Friends

             As I've mentioned before, I take my daughter to the park every morning (weather permitting). The exercise is good for me, and the fresh air good for both of us. We've been going for nearly three months now, and I dare say we are considered among the 'regulars'. Every day there are several individuals keeping up the same morning routine as me, so now, with stopping to say hello and chat, what used to take me a little over an hour, now takes me almost two. I'm not complaining. There is an older gentleman who walks every day wearing khaki pants, whit t-shirt and a cap. He usually has a younger male companion, and two ladies trailing behind him. He always says hello and comments in a playful way that my baby is not wearing any shoes (she never does, because she won't keep them on now that she can reach her feet.) He also always calls her a 'he' no matter how much pink she's wearing. It's okay though. The is also a British lady who walks her beautiful weimaraner. She's always see me near the end, when Isabelle has fallen asleep and her usual comment is "good morning! sacked out again is she?" There is another older gentleman who always wears the same red and blue plaid shirt and walks with a can. I think it must take him hours to walk the four miles because he goes so slow, and stops at every bench because he's out of gas". I say good for him for being out there at all. And there is one other lady whom I see every day walking her little black pug. The're a friendly bunch of folk, and though I don't know any of their names, I would consider them friends.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Free Audio Books

Every morning during the week I take my daughter (who sleeps in her stroller the whole time) on a four mile trek around the park near our house. Recently, I began listing to audio books on my mp3. I found this great website that has free strings attached. You don't have to sign up for a free trial and cancel at the end of fourteen days or anything. It's mostly classics...which doesn't bother me...and not all the chapters are read by the same person...but that doesn't bother me either. Right now I am listening to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Check it out at

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Quote of the Month

"Currently, more money is being spent on breast implants and Viagra than on Alzheimer's research. So in the very near future there should be a large elderly population with impressive breasts and magnificent erections, but no recollection of what to do with them."
                                                                                      -Sally Feldman
                                                                              (taken from Simple Prosperity by: David Wann)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Welcome Earth Fare

Recently, a new grocery store made it's way to Chattanooga, and while it is a chain, it has become, I believe, one of the best options in town. Earth Fare is similar in style and goods as Whole Foods (which we don't have here). It's small and friendly atmosphere make it nice shopping there. They offer a wide variety of organic and natural food and home goods selection, and most importantly, support local farms and businesses. They have what they call their 'food philosiphy' which goes like this.

Earth Fare sells foods that are as close to the ground as it gets. Products with these ingredients/processes will not be sold at Earth Fare:
NO hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils (added trans-fats)

NO high fructose corn syrup

NO artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners & preservatives

NO antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones or animal by-products in the feed (fresh meats & milk)

NO bleached or bromated flour

NO irradiated single source spices, produce or meat

NO animal by-products in pet foods

NO inhumane treatment of the animals providing us with dairy, meat and eggs

I firmly believe that everyone should know exactly where there food comes from. They should know how it's handled, and what kind of people are behind it. I think that Americans are too out of touch with what they put in their mouths to nourish their bodies. I'm glad to see new option opening up to help educate people. So, welcome to Chattanooga Earth Fare! To find out more, visit them at

Monday, May 3, 2010

Good Book

I picked up this book for 75 cents at our local used book store. It's a collection of essays by three conservationists. It's really good so far. Won't take long to read. It's called Coming To Land by: Peter Forbes, Kathleen Dean Moore, and Scott Russell Sanders

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Raising Baby

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, especially about my daughter. She's getting so big so quickly, and really starting to pay attention to what I do. It's going to matter now more than ever that I set the right example for her. This year, Earth Day was probably bigger than I have ever seen it. This is probably because it 'in' right now to go green. That's not necessarily a bad thing, so long as is sticks around and is not just another fad. I've really been thinking about it, though. I was raised by parents to whom the environment is last on their concern list. My husband the same. Make me wonder how we came to care so much, without the parental influence. I don't want to be so extreme with her that as an adult she is turned off because it was shoved down her throat, but she does need to be aware. I've always wanted to have a lot of kids. I think siblings are great, but what kind of world will I be bringing them into? And on the flip side, I believe I could raise great children who would really make a difference. There is so much to think about when it comes to being a parent. But it's totally worth it, becuse, well, isn't she cute!

Carbon Footprint Calculator - What's My Carbon Footprint ?

Carbon Footprint Calculator - What's My Carbon Footprint ?

The above link will help you calculate your carbon footprint number in pounds of co2 per year. Mine number, four our household of three (though it didn't take into account that one of those three is only eight months old) was a 47. The US average is 80. It make me feel good to be below average, but at the same time I know that it's not enough. We have a compost, and we recycle everything that we can. We turn off lights when not in use and have fluorescent bulbs, but our house still uses A LOT of energy. We have an older home with outdated appliances. We desperately need new windows to cut down on our heat loss, and a new, more efficient ac unit and water heater. These things cost quite a bit, though, and we just don't have it...yet. We will eventually though.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day - 40 Years

In celebration, here are a compilation of article and post I've found interesting on the subject

by Clayton Browne
Earth Day 2010: A Brief History of Earth Day and a Look Back at 40 Years of Earth Days

Earth Day is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin as an environmental teach-in held on April 22, 1970. Earth Day is celebrated in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and fall in the Southern hemisphere. Some places celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues. The first Earth Week was in Philadelphia in 1970 (it began April 16 and culminated on Earth Day, April 22.) Earth Day Network, a group that wishes to become the coordinator of Earth Day globally, asserts that Earth Day is now observed on April 22 almost everywhere on Earth.
World Environment Day, celebrated on June 5 in a different nation every year, is the main United Nations environment-related observance.
My, how have times changed. So strong was the antibusiness sentiment for the first Earth Day in 1970 that organizers took no money from corporations and held teach-ins “to challenge corporate and government leaders.”
But now, forty years later, Earth Day has turned into a major marketing platform for selling a huge variety of goods and services.
For this year’s celebration, Bahama Umbrella is advertising a specially designed umbrella, with a drain so that water “can be stored, reused and recycled.” Gray Line, a New York City sightseeing company, will keep running its buses on fossil fuels, but it is promoting an “Earth Week” package of trips to "green spots" like the botanical gardens and flower shopping at Chelsea Market.
F. A. O. Schwarz is using Earth Day to showcase Peat the Penguin, an emerald-tinted plush toy that, as part of the Greenzys line, is made of soy fibers and teaches green lessons to children.
Eco-consumerism, creeping into our society for decades, is intensely frustrating and detracts from Earth Day’s original purpose to many long-term environmental activists.
“This ridiculous perverted marketing has cheapened the concept of what is really green,” said Denis Hayes, who was national coordinator of the first Earth Day and is returning to organize this year’s activities in Washington. “It is tragic.”
By the same token, the eagerness of corporations to be a part of Earth Day also reflects the environmental movement’s increased tolerance toward corporate America: Many “big greens,” as leading environmental advocacy organizations are known, now accept that they must take money from corporations, or at the least become partners with them on some levels, if they are to make significant progress in changing social behavior.

How the First Earth Day Came About
By Senator Gaylord Nelson, Founder of Earth Day What was the purpose of Earth Day? How did it start? These are the questions I am most frequently asked. Actually, the idea for Earth Day evolved over a period of seven years starting in 1962. For several years, it had been troubling me that the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of the country. Finally, in November 1962, an idea occurred to me that was, I thought, a virtual cinch to put the environment into the political "limelight" once and for all. The idea was to persuade President Kennedy to give visibility to this issue by going on a national conservation tour. I flew to Washington to discuss the proposal with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who liked the idea. So did the President. The President began his five-day, eleven-state conservation tour in September 1963. For many reasons the tour did not succeed in putting the issue onto the national political agenda. However, it was the germ of the idea that ultimately flowered into Earth Day. I continued to speak on environmental issues to a variety of audiences in some twenty-five states. All across the country, evidence of environmental degradation was appearing everywhere, and everyone noticed except the political establishment. The environmental issue simply was not to be found on the nation's political agenda. The people were concerned, but the politicians were not. After President Kennedy's tour, I still hoped for some idea that would thrust the environment into the political mainstream. Six years would pass before the idea that became Earth Day occurred to me while on a conservation speaking tour out West in the summer of 1969. At the time, anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, called "teach-ins," had spread to college campuses all across the nation. Suddenly, the idea occurred to me - why not organize a huge grassroots protest over what was happening to our environment? I was satisfied that if we could tap into the environmental concerns of the general public and infuse the student anti-war energy into the environmental cause, we could generate a demonstration that would force this issue onto the political agenda. It was a big gamble, but worth a try. At a conference in Seattle in September 1969, I announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment and invited everyone to participate. The wire services carried the story from coast to coast. The response was electric. It took off like gangbusters. Telegrams, letters, and telephone inquiries poured in from all across the country. The American people finally had a forum to express its concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air - and they did so with spectacular exuberance. For the next four months, two members of my Senate staff, Linda Billings and John Heritage, managed Earth Day affairs out of my Senate office. Five months before Earth Day, on Sunday, November 30, 1969, The New York Times carried a lengthy article by Gladwin Hill reporting on the astonishing proliferation of environmental events: "Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation's campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam...a national day of observance of environmental being planned for next spring...when a nationwide environmental 'teach-in'...coordinated from the office of Senator Gaylord Nelson is planned...." It was obvious that we were headed for a spectacular success on Earth Day. It was also obvious that grassroots activities had ballooned beyond the capacity of my U.S. Senate office staff to keep up with the telephone calls, paper work, inquiries, etc. In mid-January, three months before Earth Day, John Gardner, Founder of Common Cause, provided temporary space for a Washington, D.C. headquarters. I staffed the office with college students and selected Denis Hayes as coordinator of activities. Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.

Also, I came across this footprint calculator interesting...more on this topic later

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shoes at my door

When my husband and I first got married (about five years ago) his mother gave us a tiny pair of gold colored shoes and said to put the somewhere in our house pointing at the front door. I did so (because when you are first married you want to be polite to the in-laws) and didn't think anything about it. It's a tradition in their family and it's not supposed bring riches or anything, but to keep you from going under. Every time we moved, I would put those little shoes in the living room on the entertainment center facing the front door. I never really gave them much thought over the years, and while we've never been wealthy, we've always been able to pay our bills and feed ourselves. A couple of months ago, we purchased new furniture for the living room. We had to move all the old stuff out the day before. I moved the shoes into the kitchen for the time being. The new furniture came, but I forgot to put the shoes back. Within a week, my husband was laid off from his day job for lack of business, and the restaurant he worked weekend night at closed. We were rapidly going through our savings, trying to figure out what to do. His mother and aunt came to visit form California (to see the baby not us of course), and one night his aunt said "I moved your shoes back into the living room for you, I noticed they were out of place." Within another week, my husband's job called him back, and he also got hire on at another restaurant that is actually only four minutes from our house (as opposed to the fifteen he was driving before). I will never move those little shoes again!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Welcome to my world!

My name is Amy and my big little world is currently centered in Chattanooga, TN. I am 24 years old and married to a wonderful guy named Andrew. This past August I gave birth to our first child..a girl named Isabelle Marie. We have a dog named Abby and a cat named Lola. We live pretty simple, normal lives. I recently left a retail job (which I hated anyway) to stay home and take care of Isabelle. Andrew works two jobs to support us, so I spend most of my day with the baby and our animals. I love to read, and I am a great starter of crafts. I say great starter because I never seem to finish anything. At a young age I learned to knit and crochet, sew and cross stitch. I cook and garden and dabble and making soaps and candles. I am no Martha Stewart though. My house looks more 'lived in" (to put it nicely) and I don't know anything about etiquette. I have never been accused of being a domestic diva. I went to school for environmental science (but didn't finish because of finances) and I receycle. That's basically me.