Fair Deal Christmas Special

December 10, 2013

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I would love to invite you to check our our Fair Deal Christmas Special over at the Frustrated Farmgirl store.  We love Bryan’s recycled chopstick soap trays over at Chopstick Art.  Buy three bars of Frustrated Farmgirl soap, and we would love to give you a Chopstick Art soap dish for free.  It’s an $8.50 value.  We think you’ll love our soap (and Chopstick Art soap dishes) as much as we do.

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Today is World Orangutan Day!  Frustrated Farmgirl celebrates these amazing primates today.  In fact, these creatures were a key contributor to the creation of Frustrated Farmgirl’s soap recipe.  They are one of the reasons why our soap contains no palm oil.  Here is an excerpt from a  post three years ago when we pushed forward with our palm oil-free soap recipe:

First, it’s destroying the habitat for the Sumatran tiger, Asian rhinoceros and the Sumatran orangutan- all of these animals are endangered. Second, many of the areas that are being leveled to raise oil palms are biodiversity hotspots. Biodiversity hotspots are areas where there is a huge variety of flora and fauna- much greater than in other areas. Third, many of the areas that are being de-forested to plant oil palms are peat bogs. There is a huge amount of carbon sequestered in peat bogs- when these bogs are leveled, it releases a significant amount of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere. According to wikipedia, the destruction of peat bogs accounts for 4% of global greenhouse emissions. While palm oil production isn’t at fault for all of this, it is a contributor. Lastly, the land of the the Dayak people of Borneo is being planted with oil palms without their consent and despite their objections.

Today would be a great day to look in your cabinets to identify the products that contain palm oil.  It’s in a wide variety of products from crackers to cookies to cereal.  It’s also in almost all soaps.  The choice of where we spend our food and soap dollars truly does have an impact.  Who knew a bar of soap or a cookie mattered?  Apparently, it does.

Distant Village

June 6, 2013

It’s been a busy week for the Simpson household.  We’re in production for our first wholesale order.  Between soap making, gearing up for a summer focused on extreme poverty at our church, revamping a work space for Elizabeth and preparing for our next school year, I have a very full plate.  All good things- all of it worth doing.  In the midst of that, I wanted to share a bit more about the supplier of our packing.  Distant Village is a wonderful Fair Trade company that is providing sustainable employment in the Philippines.  In addition to paying a living wage, they are also building schools and funding scholarships.  I love our sinamay bags.  Sinamay is a sustainable material made from banana fibers.  Here’s a quick introduction to Distant Village:

Happy Earth Day 2013!

Today, I want to give you some suggestions for how your family might reduce your paper usage.  Our family has reduced our  paper usage a good bit over the last few years, and I would love to share that with you.    We don’t have our environmental act completely together.  While I love the zero-waste movement, we haven’t tackled that at this point.  We have trash every week.  I still use some plastic products.  But, we have taken some steps to reduce our paper usage that have been fairly easy and haven’t added a lot to our weekly work load.  Don’t take all of these on right now.  Just pick one and make it a habit.  If you try to do too much at a time, you’ll wind up doing nothing.  Here are some ideas:

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1.  Consider replacing paper towels with bar mops.

We stopped using paper towels several years ago and purchased some bar mops to use instead.  They see heavy use in our household.  They are our kitchen towels and our cleaning work horses.  I have “special” towels that I use for absorbing oil from fried donuts or oven-roasted potatoes.  Keep these oil soaked cloths and use them only for these greasy occasions- this will help all your other kitchen towels to stay thirsty.   As you can see, these towels are heavily used.  I don’t use bleach, so mine get stained.  I would love to be able to show you a beautiful stack of pristine towels, but that’s just not realistic if you’re using them for everything from dusting to cleaning up carrot juice spills.

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2.  Consider replacing paper napkins with cloth napkins.

This is fairly easy.  Buy some cloth napkins, and start using them instead of paper napkins.  I have a lot of cloth napkins.  I have some from when we first married that I still use.  They are easy to throw in our pack on days when we eat away from home.    You will not need to change these at each meal, or even every day.  Each person in our family has their own napkin ring, so we can use our napkins for several days before replacing them.

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3.  Consider replacing kleenex with handkerchiefs.

This is a very easy place to begin.  Buy a dozen handkerchiefs and start using them instead of kleenex.  If I have a guest who wants a kleenex, I just give them toilet paper.

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4.  Consider replacing toilet paper with wipes.

I put this one last because it’s the most fringe.  It might ick you out.  But, our family replaced toilet paper with wipes several years ago, and it’s just not a big deal.  Here’s how we do it.  If you come to my house, I will have toilet paper for you ;-/.

I’m guessing you’re wondering if these habits contribute significantly to our laundry.  I do 1-2 loads a week of towels, wipes, handkerchiefs and napkins.  I do them separately and add vinegar to the rinse to keep them nice and thirsty.

What about your family?  Have you tried any of these?  How’s it going?  Any new habits for Earth Day this year?

Three Words- 2013

February 26, 2013

For the past few years, I’ve chosen three words on which I want to focus.  I’ve had some trouble narrowing and choosing my words this year.  There’s so much that I want to do and be.  Areas where I want to leave space.  Areas where I want to grow and change.  Areas where I want to work a bit harder or focus a bit more intensely.  Having to choose just three words was more difficult this year than it has been in previous years.  We’ll see how it goes. But, this year, I’m choosing margin, simplicity and community.

Margin

Margin was one of my goals last year.  While I did ok with it, I feel like I need to focus on it again this year.

Physical Margin

I want to continue to protect my sleep.   I’m working through a soft tissue shoulder injury from swimming.  I need to protect my time in order to do my exercises daily.  In the end, I want to be back in the pool and working out with my masters group.  While I’m hoping to be able to do all four strokes again, I may have to kiss butterfly goodbye.  Exercise is an investment in my mental wellbeing and future health.  Whether it’s walking or swimming,  I need to be moving at least five days a week.

Relational Margin

I want to invest in my relationships with Charlie and my children foremost, then in extended family and friends.  In order to do that, I need to not let my iPhone or computer suck my time away.  Charlie and I need regular dates in order to sow into our marriage.

Financial Margin

I want to continue to save money and to live frugally.  Gotta love Dave Ramsey.  In 2013, we want to move forward in his plan to financial freedom.

Spiritual Margin

I want to give my spiritual growth time and energy.  I want to spend regular time reading the Bible and praying.  I want to make myself accountable to other women in my faith community.  

Simplicity

If you follow my blog, you already know that we’ve been clearing out our house.  I’m loving the way our space feels.  I want to continue to pursue simplicity in our environment at home.  For us, this means not owning too much stuff.  It also means maintaining what we do own so that our home runs smoothly.  We’re pursuing a rhythm of cleaning our house so that we stay on top of it and don’t get overwhelmed by it.  We’re pursuing a rhythm of giving each of the children 15-20 minutes of our time each week dedicated to keeping their rooms de-cluttered and picked up.  We’re pursuing simple food.  Simple isn’t always easy.  The article on junk food from the New York Times last week reminded me how much I want our family to eat fresh, whole foods.  As you know, this takes time and effort.  I want to spend time and money here so that the way we eat matches with what we value.  Over the last few years, we’ve lost sight of pursuing fresh, whole, healthy food as we’ve been getting our company started.  Time to get back on the horse.

Community

Frankly, I stink at community.  It’s always seemed elusive to me.  I want to be good at it.  I want to pursue it.  I have friends who are great at it and who talk about it a lot.  But, I’m not good at it, and I want to be.  So, I want to sow into community this year.  Charlie and I are great with sitting at home and reading a book in our spare time.  Having two strong introverts leading our household makes it easy to just stay at home.  Which works just fine until it’s not fine.  Until we’re lonely.  Until we don’t have the support system that we need to live the lives we want to live.  So, this year, I’m not going to focus on getting community.  I’m going to focus on being the community I want.  I want to be the lady who takes people dinner when they’re having a hard time.  I want to regularly have people in our home for meals.  I want to have kids playing at our house.  Even if the noise bothers me.  I want to sow community in my faith community.  So, I’m looking for opportunities.  I want to be ready to say yes when I see an opportunity to sow community.  It completely goes against my introversion, but I want to change in this area, and I’m ready to lean into my discomfort and my desire to just go read a book.

What about you?  What are you working on in 2013?

Freedom Summit Video

February 25, 2013

I wanted to share this video featuring Frustrated Farmgirl from the Freedom Summit.  It will give you a peek inside our business and story.  If this video brings up questions for you, please let me know in the comments.  In the coming months, I’m hoping to better tell our story.  Will you  help me by letting me know the questions we need to answer?  Thanks!

Open Arms Scarf Give Away

December 5, 2012

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I’m thrilled to be giving away this super cute scarf from Open Arms!

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Open Arms is a wonderful for-benefit business out of Austin, Texas. They are making beautiful up-cycled clothing and providing sustainable, dignified employment to refugee women. They have a wonderful on-line offer running through the holidays. If you purchase two items, they will give you this beautiful scarf for free. You can also leave a comment below and be entered into a drawing for a free scarf. If you tweet, post on Facebook or pin the give away on Pinterest, you’ll get additional entries. I’m going on the honor system- just let me know you did it in your comment. I’ll put the names in a hat and pick one on Saturday. Good luck!