Project CG

Prjoect CG is my attempt to monitor our Consumer Goods purchases over a year.  When I did our Riot Review I noticed that I had absolutely no idea what we spent in this category.  The Riot separated Food from Consumer Goods, and also made distinctions between buying new, buying used, and buying from a thrift store.

First I needed to define Consumer Goods:  Goods, such as food and clothing, that satisfy human wants through their consumption or use.

That’s a pretty broad term.  One lesson we tried to teach our children is the difference between a want and a need.  We need food, clothing, and shelter.  We want the new book, the new phone, and the toy.  However, I also see where we could, and perhaps should, make a distinction between the apple and the Snickers.  Both will fill your tummy, but only one truly nourishes you.

I basically wasn’t happy with any definition the Riot or the dictionary supplied.   So I’ve decided to make it my own project.  I’ll determine the categories, set some guidelines, set some goals, as well as setting some consequences.

Project CG — Goals and Guidelines

  1. Goal: to track all incoming consumer goods.  By following guidelines I hope to save enough money to pay my medical bills off by the end of March.
  2.  Basic Rule:  Replace only, don’t add.
  3. When to replace:  if it is empty, worn out, no longer usable, or no longer safely usable
  4. Cleaning Supplies:  Eco/green products get tallied, but their cost doesn’t count.  Any non-Eco cleaner or cleaner with a failing grade on EWG will count.
  5. Hygiene Supplies:  Eco/Green products get tallied, but their cost doesn’t count.  Any non-Eco supplies or supplies will count.
  6. Books/movies/music:  1 Kindle reading for pleasure book per month.  1 reading to learn book every 2 months.
  7.  Food:  real food doesn’t count.
  8. Clothing:  Work clothes for Kelly do not count.  I mean, he can’t go to work without clothes!  They will get tallied, but not added to our dollar amount.
  9. Category:  Rule <<since I am sure there are a few I haven’t thought of>>

I’m sure things will come up over the next year that I haven’t considered, but this seems like a good starting place.  My plan is to keep tracking in real time and publish the post on the evening of the last day of each month.



The Amazing Cooling Buff

Someone asked about my cooling buff. Here are all the details and why I love it so much!

To be honest, I wasn’t sure about this little thing at first. I found it in the sports department of Meijer, although I’ve since seen them in other places. It is just a tube of material. I almost passed it by, but with my auto-immune disorder comes a very low tolerance for heat. I figured even if it just kept sweat from dripping down my neck I’d be happy. However, it does so much more than that and it takes up zero space in my purse or backpack.

Here is how I use it. First get it wet with cool water, squeeze the excess out, and then give it a good snapping shake. Then wear it!

I mostly wear it around my neck. Sometimes if I’m really hot, I wear it around my head (and under a hat). Both ways make me feel instantly cooler. Around the house I just hang it up to dry and wash it about once a week. When we were in New Orleans, I carried it wet in a ziplock bag in my purse and would occasionally splash some fresh cold water from my insulated Klean Kanteen onto it. I wore it only when I was out and about, and removed it on the streetcar. That way the instant coolness carried me through the 20 minutes or so of walking around before getting back on the streetcar with its heavenly AC.

I had several ladies ask me about it while walking through the French Market. One told her husband they were going to “Uber straight to the store” in search of one. She joked that she was going to buy one for her head, her neck, each arm, and each leg. Can you imagine the sight? It gives me the giggles.

Cooling Buff

Cooling Buff

Thinking/Writing: project,
Reading: The Hero with a Thousand Faces,
Listening: Headspace meditation, Linguistics class
Watching: Star Wars Rebels with the family

In my Garden: just more of the same. Weeding has taken on a new urgency after more rain.
In my Yard: rabbits playing in their hutches, the dog getting acquainted with the new rabbit

Riot Review

In June 2007 our family began a project called The Riot for Austerity or the 90% Riot.  The goal was to decrease our environmental impact to 10% of the American averages.  We worked really hard and came pretty close.

Since the conclusion of the first year, and the folding of the support group, we’ve kind of coasted on our previous success.  I thought it would be interesting to look at each category and see where are without the rules and accountability.  I’m going to use the same number as 2007 — mostly because I don’t want to take the time to do all the research that would be required to find 2016 numbers.


  • average is 500 gallons per person per year.
  • We have 4 family members currently living in our home, but our daughter is responsible for her vehicle.  So that leaves 3 people with 1 vehicle. = 1500
  • We used 870 gallons in the past year.  (=58%)
  • This includes Kelly driving to work 1 day per week, regular running of errands, trips to church, and a few trips to our hometown.
  • Kelly continues to use ride-sharing, public transportation, and his bike for daily commutes.


  • Average is 900 kWh per month
  • We have a green energy credit since we pay a premium to buy sustainable electricity.
  • Our monthly usuage ranges from 450 kWh to 1100 kWh.  Our average is 900 kWh.  Our Green Energy Credit brings that down to 550 kWh. (=55%)
  • We did much better with electrity during the Riot.  Our numbers have gone up substantially due to my auto-immune disorder. I cannot tolerate the heat like before, and I can’t be out in the sun to take advantage of a pool to keep cool.  We still keep our AC at 80 at night and 84 during the day.  Our furnace which provides supplemental heat is kept at 55.
  • These numbers might be changing even more this year.  We do not have a wood supply that will last this entire winter.  I am looking into options, but nothing is certain yet.


  • average is 4.5 pounds per person per day
  • We have 4 people contributing to garbage in our home.
  • We average 8 pounds per week. (= .006%)
  • Our 8 pounds equals 2 bags.
  • Occasionally we will have a massive clean up and fill a 2nd garbage can.  This happens maybe twice a year (Fall and Spring)


  • Average is 100 gallons per person per day
  • We have 4 people using water, so they average would be 12,000 gallons.
  • Our monthly usage is 4,700 — this is pretty constant.  Only one month last year did we use more, and that was when we had to wash blankets daily for a week due to a very sick (and dying) Opal.  That month we used 500 gallons.  (= .4 %)

Consumer Goods:

  • Average is $10,000 per household (new).  Used from thrift stores does not count.
  • I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I have not tracked this over the past year.
  • I’m working on a project to track this from August 2016-August 2017



Thinking/Writing:  Consumer Goods project, journal prompts using Headspace meditation

Reading: The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Yoga Journal Sept issue

Listening: Headspace meditation, linguistics class

Watcing:  Still Olympics, Star Wars Rebels

In my Garden:  tomatoes, cucumbers, flowers, a couple of strawberries, weeds

in my Yard:  2nd rabbit hutch, tall weeds in a pile waiting to be burned, and the brightest Bluebird ever


Bag Comparison

Wow!  I woke up this morning to emails asking for pictures comparing my old bag to my new travel bag.   I’m happy to do so!  I just wish I’d thought of it myself.

These bags hold the same amount, 30 liters, and I stuffed both with the same packing list to see how the carry load compared.  There is no doubt at all that the Osprey carries the load much better and much more comfortably.

Old bag on the left and new bag on the right.  Bags are empty in the first and packed out in the 2nd.  You can see how with the book bag everything sinks down and that adds pressure on the shoulders.  The Osprey stabilizes the load and you carry the weight over the whole back (along with the hips).



New Orleans –Packing List

I have a rule:  never take more on a trip than you can comfortably carry on your back.

I used to have a 30 liter schoolbook type backpack that I travelled with all over the world.  It held all my stuff including instant oatmeal, Amazing Meal, and homemade trail mix (usually enough for a week).

When preparing for this trip, I noticed I couldn’t carry the same weight comfortably on my shoulders.  Getting older does have a few drawbacks.  So I began the search for a new perfect travel bag.  (Please note this is a travel bag, not a hiking pack). After reading a ton of reviews and trying on packs in several stores, I decided on an Osprey Porter 30 Liter travel duffel.  Amazon Link. 

Here’s why:

  • Osprey has an incredible reputation and warranty.
  • Comfortable shoulder straps that can be zipped into the bag when you aren’t using them.
  • A hip belt that actually helps transfer a bit of the weight. — This is a major upgrade from my bookbag/backpack I used to carry. This hip belt tucks away into the back of the pack too.
  • Pockets, enough but not too many.  Just enough to organize without confusion. One awesome pocket to hold things you really want to be able to find — In my case, my 311 bag and snacks.
  • The main compartment unzips in a U-shape that allows you to pack like a pro.  No stuffing things down into the pack.  This also means you can find things at a glance.  Love this!
  • At 30L I can still carry enough to go almost indefinitely (providing you have a sink, Dr Bronners, and a clothesline (which I do).
  • Cinching straps that make the pack compact and stable on your back.
  • The size fits perfectly under the airplane seat.  Also allows for a purse/messenger bag to fit alongside it under the seats.  = Awesome!
  • Several handles to grab onto if the straps are packed away (also great for someone to hold onto while you’re getting into the straps), plus a place to attach a shoulder strap if you roll that way.

The only thing I didn’t absolutely love about this bag. . . .  The lack of a water bottle pocket.  I always carry my Klean Kanteen.  I had to resort to some creative carrying techniques.  Some of which were less than stellar — I cracked myself in the head with the Kanteen, cracked Hannah in the head with it, and finally stowed it in my shoulder bag which was really uncomfortable.

New Orleans in July/August Packing List — 6 days:

  • UV shirt
  • t-shirts x 3
  • UV skirt
  • capris x 2
  • 3/4 sleeve shirt
  • tan cardigan
  • UV hat
  • Undies (enough for 3 days, then wash)
  • PJs x 1
  • workout shirt & sports bra
  • swim suit (bottoms = workout shorts as well)
  • rain jacket
  • cooling buff (amazing little thing)
  • walking shoes, teva sandals, and dress sandals
  • Turkish towel (blanket, towel, and impromptu yoga blanket)
  • Journal & Pencil
  • shaker cup with packets of Amazing meal
  • insulated Klean Kanteen
  • Instant Oatmeal, homemade trail mix, truvia, tea bags
  • iPad, case, charger
  • iPhone, charger, nifty stand, ear buds
  • 311:  sunscreen, Argan Oil, Dr Bronners, toothpaste, Tide stick, contact solution
  • Non-311:  glasses, nail file, extra contacts, salt stone, clothesline, Toothbrush, Rx and OTC
  • packable grocery bag
  • Tom Binn small cafe bag (which is my daily purse) with wallet, phone, charger, snacks for the day, water bottle, reading glasses, sunglasses, map, and my UV hat.

The only thing I wished I had taken, and had planned to take, was my travel yoga mat. I couldn’t get it to fit comfortably for the trip down.  In hindsight, I would have left the oatmeal and trail mix home to make room for the mat.  The grocery prices in NOLA were similar to home so schlepping so much food down didn’t save me money.  So instead of yoga on my mat, I did yoga with shoes and my towel.  Still kept me moving, happy, and flexible, but not ideal.   Next time I will not leave the mat at home.  It will pack in first and everything else will fit around it.

I wore both the UV shirt and the cardigan daily.  UV every time I went outside and cardigan around the hotel — so I’m thankful I had both.  The cardigan aired all day and the UV shirt aired all night.  Perfect balance.



Thinking/Writing:  upcoming project, Riot review, using Headspace as journal prompts

Reading:  The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Listening:  Headspace meditation, Linguistics class

Watching:  Olympics (bits and pieces of gymnastics, rowing, men’s indoor volleyball), Star Wars Rebels with family

In my Garden:  cucumbers, tomatoes, flowers, lettuce going to seed, chives, and the very last blackberries.

In my Yard:  a struggling cherry tree, tall weeds surrendering to the clippers, a super happy dog chasing about a hundred motorcycles — from the safety of his fence😉

Reflections on New Orleans

Hannah and I just had a whirlwind trip to New Orleans, LA.  She was invited (as part of the CNA Edge team) to speak at the yearly Pioneer Network Conference.  The theme was Changing the Culture of Aging.

It was an amazing opportunity for the team and they did an incredible job.  They communicated clearly and thoughtfully.   They represented CNAs with dignity and clarity.  I was overwhelmed and very proud.

I was just along for the ride, to support Hannah, and have a vacation.   I am so thankful I was able to go.  I learned a lot about the industry of elder care.  I have a lot of thoughts to process through.

My favorite part of New Orleans had to be the streetcars.  I bought a Jazzy Pass which gave me unlimited access to all the public transportation.  And boy, did I use it.  Every morning, except Tuesday when Hannah was speaking, I would walk out the hotel doors by 8 am and board a street car.  I learned a lot about the city by just talking to the drivers and the people who use the streetcars for transportation. I rode every line from beginning to end.  I would get off at one stop, walk my way toward the next stop and see all the sights along the way.  Then I would ride the line all the way back to the hotel in time for lunch.  After a quick trip for lunch supplies, then lunch, a nap, and some quiet reading time it would be time for Hannah to finish for the day.

Picture of my favorite streetcar stop — along with Hannah!


She and I would head out for a different streetcar and repeat the whole thing.  I must have ridden about 5-6 hours a day.  It was incredible.  The streetcars are either air conditioned or they have fans.  So I never got overheated, and I never got too much sun.  Between my UV shirt, hat, and capris, I was in pretty well covered in sun protection.    We were always back in our room by dark and enjoyed a quiet evening together reading or watching a show.   That quiet end to the day kept me from overdoing it and wearing myself out.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures.  Mostly I took pictures to help me remember where my stop was so I could catch the correct streetcar heading back.  So many memories though.

My second favorite part of New Orleans was Rouses’ grocery store.  It was about 4 blocks from our hotel and I walked down 3 times for lunch stuff.  It was a pleasant walk and at lunch time I could chat with locals about their day and their lives while standing in line to check out.  They were so friendly — and a little surprised to find that grocery shopping is my favorite tourist stop.  You can learn so much about a city from watching people in the grocery store.  New Orleans grocery shopping is laid back, chatty, and the accent is so smooth.  You don’t race through the store to find the things on your list.  You glide down the aisles, nodding and chatting with everyone — it was so incredible.


Upcoming posts:  on traveling lightly,  a project,


In my garden:  Lots of weeds that grew while I was gone

In my yard:  One happy dog who missed me

Readng:  The Hero with a Thousand Faces by J Campbell

Watching:  Olympics, a bit here and there

Listening:  Headspace (meditation) and lectures on linguistics (a favorite topic).  The lawnmower as Michael attempts to finish cutting the grass before more rain moves into our area.


New Orleans — 2016



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