Gifts from Bend, OR

Live in Bend, Oregon and want to give a gift from Bend, Oregon? Follow my local gift giving series!

Green your coffee routine

Save 23 lbs of waste this year and start using a reusable coffee cup to keep you caffeinated.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Green plan for 2011

As you all know, I'm a big fan of Practically Green. They take the guess work out of going green gradually and offer up suggestions, products and ways to be efficiently eco-friendly.

New to their site is coming up with a Green Action Plan. Log in and go through the list (this took me two hours) and create it -- it's that simple. As I went through the list, I was already doing some of the actions and I earned a few badges and moved up a few levels to wicked green. It's a gradual process that you won't be able to do over night but my family and I have learned so much since starting this journey, it's amazing!

So here is my 2011 list. I'll tackle a few of these a month and report back. 
If you have suggestion on one of these items, feel free to comment or send me an email: shannon at workingmomgoesgreen dot com. 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In 2011, I resolve to

Lil B and his loot
Each year I say "I won't let the holidays get the best of me. They won't be stressful and I won't say 'woo, what happened?'" But I'm going to say it anyway -- woo, what happened?

I've been light on posts due to the holidays, parties and the one too many cookies I've eaten.  It's that time of year to reflect on what changes need to be made in the new year. I've been making a mental list in my head for weeks but it's time now to put fingers to keys and really commit.

So in 2011, I resolve to:
Change up my iPod in the Jeep. Right now, A Ghost is Born has taken over Wilco (The Album)'s spot. Before that, many U2 cds (I took U2 off my iPod and I think I need to do this to Wilco).

Attempt one craft project a month. For January's project, I am going to make glitter heels, inspired by these and Homa, who whenever I see her is wearing the cutest glitter heels.

Cook or bake one recipe a week from my stash of cookbooks. My cookbooks seem lonely. I'll be working from a Giada book in January. I hope to discover some new recipes and add them to our family rotation.

I will attempt to make homemade gnocchi and tamales.

I try to attempt making different varieties of homemade breads.

Get outside with my family once a week. I live in paradise, yet getting my family to go anywhere other than the park is like pulling teeth. Honestly, my husband would rather be inside playing his guitar but with his support, we will venture out and do something in our lovely paradise at least once a week.

Get healthy. I was telling my friend Ethan that the only healthy thing I've been putting in my mouth as of late is the good food from the fabulous food cart Soupcon. I promise to eat healthier. I have yet to really define the parameters but it I have thought about going vegan but I don't think that will work out with my cookbook resolution SO I will workout 4 days a week and eat in moderation. Diabetes runs in my family and I need to drop some weight. My hope is to get up at 5 am Monday through Friday and get in some exercise and also work on my blog before work.

Work on my green plan. Thanks for Practically Green, I am working on my 2011 Green Plan. More will come on that.

Save money. I have an amount in mind. That's all I will say.

Ask for experiences, not gifts. This year I asked for baking items. I really don't need anything but I want to be a better bread baker. Instead of asking for a material item, maybe an experience is in order. I have a few in mind.

Buy/sell used more used items. Ebay! Freecycle! Craigslist here I come!

Play with my son more. Sometimes I just get fixated on my to do list. Life is short. Sure, I'll help you with that puzzle, Lil B.

Date night once a month with my husband. Sometimes we get caught up in being parents that we don't take time to connect. Let's make that a priority.

Be grateful. Helps keep the negativity away.

Figure out my career path. I know what I want to do ... I just have to do it.

Engage more in social media (for the sake of my blog). I need to comment on blogs, interact on facebook and build a community, along with build a brand. I work in marketing and you'd think I would already be doing this. My hope is to emerge from bed at 5 am and either work out or engage in social media Monday through Friday. I'm also saving money to attend BlogHer in August and Blissdom in 2012.

Buy less stuff. That goes for everyone in my family.

Organize my closets. If this takes me emailing photos to my sister-in-law Ann and having her come up with a plan, well, then so be it!

Attend a music festival with my family. This one would be AWESOME.

OK, I think that is enough for now. More on my green plan later!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Meatless Monday: Salad with Pioneer Woman Ranch Dressing

photo courtesy of Pioneer Woman
You read that right, ranch dressing.

After gorging myself with cookies, candy, beer, wine, mimosas and Trader Joe's macaroni and cheese balls (pure bliss),  I noticed something lacking in my family's diet the past couple of week -- vegetables.

For Christmas Eve at our friend Jon's house, I vowed to make a veggie dish to make up for the fact I haven't seen them in weeks. Instead of the suggested tomato sauce dip, I opted for PW's ranch dressing which made it's debut at my cookbook club a few weeks back.

This stuff is SOOOO good, I could pour it on everything and bathe in it! And since I went through my first batch on Friday, I made a second batch yesterday and I'm not sharing.  You can make several modifications to the recipes. The first batch I did put in the cayenne pepper and paprika. The second batch, I left it out and added blue cheese crumbles. I blended with my blender stick and then proceeded to drench everything with it.

Homemade Ranch Dressing by the Pioneer Woman

1 clove (to 2 Cloves) Garlic
Salt To Taste
¼ cups Italian Flat-leaf Parsley
2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives
1 cup (Real) Mayonnaise (I used canola mayo)
½ cups Sour Cream (I used non-fat yogurt)
Buttermilk or milk (as Needed To Desired Consistency) (used a 1/2 cup
White Vinegar (optional, To Taste)
Worcestershire Sauce (optional, To Taste)
Fresh Dill (optional, To Taste)
Cayenne Pepper (optional, To Taste)
Paprika (optional, To Taste)
Fresh Oregano (optional, To Taste)
Tabasco (optional, To Taste)
Preparation Instructions

Mince the garlic with a knife and then sprinkle about an 1/8 to ¼ teaspoons of salt on it and mash it into a paste with a fork. Chop the parsley, chives and any of the optional herbs very finely and add to the garlic.

In a bowl combine all ingredients, adding other optional ingredients as you wish, tasting frequently and adjusting seasonings as needed. Chill for a couple of hours before serving, thin with milk or buttermilk if desired.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The thing about Christmas

Lil B in front of our tree
I've been light on the holiday posts mainly because I really didn't know where to start on making it a eco-friendly Christmas. I have had some guidance from Practically Green, my usual spot, but I have to admit, I've  been observing this year.

We would totally fail at being a zero waste household. My husband and I live away from most of our extended family so box after box of gifts have arrived for us and our recycle cart is full. So much for cutting down on the waste.  Instead of tackling the whole list, we did two of the six items suggested not to overwhelm ourselves and add more stress.

I really like reusing boxes, bags, bows and wrapping paper. I haven't had to buy these items in a few years. We also bought a real tree (not a live one) and plan to use it as firewood for our pit when we're finished.

I did cut down on the amount of holiday cards I sent out this year. Usually, we do around 100 but I cut the list down to 25 family members. Some of my family members still really enjoy getting holiday cards so I double them as thank you notes and wrote a personal message on the back. I do feel that thank you cards in the mail are important and more thoughtful and my dad is really good at reminding me about that extra special important touch.

So, on the list for next year? I plan to make gifts and holiday cards. I'm not exactly the craftiest person in the world so I'm saving ideas now. I've saved all the cards I've received since moving here so one thought is to make ornaments out of them and use them as gifts.

In the next coming days, I'm going to talk about our green New Year's resolutions. Yes, we have green goals already but I plan on adding and tweaking what we're already working on.

Until then, Merry Christmas from my family and I!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Filtering out hexavalent chromium

Over the weekend, our local news station ran a story about hexavalent chromium being found in the City of Bend's water supply. Yesterday, the City of Bend released a statement that The Environmental Working Group (EWG) confirmed that the sample was taken from a private water utility that operates with the city - Avion Water. The Avion Water sample tested at was 0.78 parts per billion, ranked 10th among the 31 water systems studied.

The water to our house doesn't come from Avion or the City of Bend but Roats Water. Their line was busy yesterday as I'm guessing a lot of customers are concerned like me but I came across this great post yesterday from Big Green Purse on how to protect yourself.

Diane offers three simple steps (make sure you read her post):
  1. Don't buy bottled water
  2. Filter your water
  3. Contact your elected officials
I haven't filtered my water in years mainly because there was always a claim that Bend had the best water around but I may have to re-think that. And as a friend reminded me this week, we're pretty lucky to have a clean water supply. Some countries don't. Good way to think about it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Meatless Monday: Roasted acorn squash

Image via Food Network
When I was a kid, I would totally turn my nose up at squash when my mom would make it. Instead, she would either fix me leftovers or make me a pb&j sandwich. As I grew older, I began to really love and appreciate squash. 

We're down to the last acorn squash in the household from our CSA and I am so sad about it. I don't really do anything fancy with it ... just cut in half, rub with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast it for 30-40 mins on 350. About 20 mins in, I sprinkle with gruyere cheese. Add a nice side salad and you'll be full. I find the simplest dishes to be the most fulfilling. 

Until next fall, acorn squash.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

One of my favorite Holiday items

My late Grandma Marie made this in the early 90s for all of her children. When my mom died, I took this out of her holiday stash for my house (I believed my brother Chris has the rest of the items). It is now more special since Marie's passing.

Anyway, one of my New Year's Resolutions is to get more crafty so I can make homemade gifts from the heart. If you have a suggestion on a site, book or class, let me know.

Happy holidays!
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lil B and Santa

I have hesitated for the last two years to introduce my son to Santa. We had breakfast with him today and Lil B was so excited, you thought he met a celebrity!

This holiday has felt like I am a kid again. I am grateful for the magic of the holidays this year and for my small family.
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Sulfate, paraben free shampoo

I found this at Costco today. Anyone use it or recommend it? It is sulfate and paraben free but I did notice it did contain PEG.
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The 80/20 rule series: mascara

Since learning about all the bad and harmful chemicals in my cosmetics, I have really toned down my usage of make-up and now only use concealer and mascara with the occasional eye shadow and liner. I have switch out my lipsticks, moisturizers and lotions but mascara -- my staple and a staple for a lot of other women has been hard to replace.

Each natural mascara I try doesn't stand up to my trusted and favorite brand (which will remain nameless). My favorite brand lasts all day, lengthens my lashed and brightens my eyes. The other three brands I have tried flake, don't lengthen and just weren't cutting the mustard. Rather than keep going broke buying different natural mascaras, I may just settle for my favorite and trusted brand.

Unless you have a suggestion, readers. (I am almost out of concealer and am looking for suggestions for that as well)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A call from the Universe? Maybe?

I'm going to take a break from talking about my green journey to talk about my personal journey. I started this blog over summer with the hopes that I would just be able to document the journey of my family from going from big fat wasters to becoming more eco-friendly. I never imagined that months later, that I would be typing that I'm looking for sponsors.

Last week, I counted a handful of people that thought my blog had potential to be sponsored and if I had looked into it. As I realist, I guess I never believed that this would be possible but I just kept running into folks who were reading or saw me present on it telling me get moving - this is real, it's big and it's realistic (to go green gradually).

Being a working mom is tough. Yes, I have the help of my husband but there still is shopping, dishes, laundry, holiday shopping and just taking care of a toddler in general that consume my life after working 40 hours a week. The free time I get during the day is my lunch and after 9 pm when I am just too exhausted to sit down and write. I have a list of things I want to do with my blog (videos, interviews, an original post everyday) and then there are things that I want to do to foster readership (comment on other posts, twitter, get more Facebook followers). I know how to do this as I do this at my day job but applying that to my blog, when do I find the time.

I read Crush It a few months ago and I was a little inspired to possibly wake up early and work away on my blog but then my grandma died and well, I lost my spark. I was still doing green things but I was more exhausted. After speaking last week and inspiring  folks, I think I now believe I can do this. Who needs sleep when you're motivated.

So here it is ... I'm looking for sponsors. I want to have it all. I have a vision on where I want to be a year from now. I know I will be there (that I'm not sharing with you but I have developed a vision board on this).

I won't take just any sponsor. It has to fit with the mission of my blog. And I don't want to be a giveaway blog either. As you can see, I'm still hashing this out.

I'm also not going to quit my job anytime soon. That's the realist in me.

But the first thing to do is tell the Universe which is exactly what I'm doing now.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

80/20 rule/confession: fast food

This should actually fall under confessions category but I already admitted this to the AdFed crowd and then I realized that I have never blogged about it. In talking about the 80/20 rule, this sorta falls under the 5/95 rule if that makes sense.

I am not a mother that is ever going to be able to say "my child has never eaten McDonald's." Yes, I know what a Happy Meal looks like after 137 days (image to the left). I am also a mom that won't be able to say "my child doesn't eat McDonalds anymore." My husband has a strange fascination with the McDonald's dollar menu. It's cheap, it's by his office and he loves hamburgers. When he was a work from home dad for a year, he treated my son to a cheeseburger every now and then. I swear that my child could say McDonald's before he said "mama." About twice a month, I let my son have his cheeseburger often as a treat for doing such a good job at the swimming pool (my husband is determined he'll be the next Michael Phelps). He knows this is a treat and he gets excited about it just like he does M&Ms (another thing he doesn't get often).

Personally, I don't eat McDonalds anymore. I would rather spend $5 at the local soup cart where be sources everything locally. I didn't eat a lot of fast food growing up as my parents would reserve that for us as a treat. The most important thing is that I teach my child that eating homemade, local/seasonal foods are important and that cheeseburger shouldn't be an everyday thing.

As for my husband, I have turned him onto the local food cart. He's hooked and hopefully that cuts down on the number of $1 cheeseburgers he eats.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The 80/20 rule series: disposable diapers

In working on my Adfed Ignite presentation, I realized that I have never wrote up anything about what I call the 80/20 rule. The blog, No More Dirty Looks, touched on this in a post back in August. The idea being that 80% of the time, my family will work hard at going green, being natural and supporting sustainability. And then there is the 20% of the time we won't be able to or can't or we're just not ready to make that change.

Going green just doesn't happen over night. It's a process. It's like a ying yang balance - we do want to do it all. There are some things we won't be able to do. Or something that we're not quite ready to give up. Over the next few days I'm going to talk about those items.

Thank goodness we're close to potty training and the end of diapers. We do not use cloth diapers and this is mainly because I tried and I couldn't keep up with the washing and my husband didn't quite support me on this effort (he would put a disposable on our son instead of a cloth diaper). As a working mom, something had to give. Instead, we chose to use compostable baby wipes because 23 million end up in the landfill. I know it's a small act compared to using cloth diapers but it's what we can do.

Has anyone tried Nature Babycare Eco-friendly diapers? This was something I stumbled upon when ordering Elements Naturals wipes by the case on When I order my next case of wipes, I might have to order a pack and see. Their claim "100% chlorine-free and keep oil-based plastics away from babies delicate skin. Our absorbent pulp is from sustainably harvested Scandinavian forests and the unique center-channel means a less bulky fit while enhancing leak protection. Since we use 60% natural materials instead of plastic, our diapers are soft and cloth-like providing comfort without sacrificing protection."

Hmmm, to me, harvesting Scandinavian forests doesn't seem very sustainable because doesn't it take years for a tree to grow?

If we do have baby #2 someday, I may be up for trying cloth diapers again or an alternative like Nature Babycare.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Meatless Monday: Easy Pasta Fagioli

Image courtesy of HBO
When I think of pasta fagioli, mobsters from The Sopranos come to mind. For our first Christmas together, my husband bought me The Sopranos cookbook and I've made a few of dishes from it but many of them are all day dishes and who has that time? (at one time, I did) I was happy one day when in my Everyday Food Magazine, came a recipe for easy pasta fagioli in under 40 mins. Unfortunately, that recipes is not online but I found one that is really similar from

Fagioli is good with a good glass of white wine and very kid-friendly.

Easy Pasta Fagioli courtesy of


1 Tbs. olive oil
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 thin slice onion, diced
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
4 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 14-oz. can chicken broth
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbs. dried parsley
1/2 Tbs. dried basil leaves
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 C. ditalini pasta

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute carrot, celery and onion until soft. Add garlic and saute briefly. Stir in tomato sauce, chicken broth, pepper, parsley and basil; simmer for 20 minutes. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ditalini pasta and cook for 8 minutes or until al dente; drain. Add beans to the sauce mixture and simmer for a few minutes. When pasta is done, stir into sauce and bean mixture.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Haven of upcycled crafts!

Today marked Bend's annual Indie Craft Loft, an event that happens a couple times a year, showcasing some amazing and gifted crafters. My whole intent in going this time was to get an upcycled gift for a holiday party I'm attending on Monday. I wanted to walk out with bags and bags of stuff for myself but this time of year isn't about me and really, I don't need anything (but sure do want a lot).

Here are a few that caught my eye ...

Upcycled Christmas stockings. Priced
$100 and up
Jenny's Vintage Creations
These are the most beautiful Christmas stockings! According to Jenny's Vintage Creations Facebook page: Jennifer Walters Nordby specializes in creating hand made vintage Christmas stocking that will make your mantle sparkle! Every holiday is her favorite, she creates beautiful Easter boxes embroidered in vintage findings she also makes fantastic Valentines Day cards, St. Patrick's day boxes, and beautiful Halloween creations!

I really want a set of these for my mantle. What a great heirloom!

got the blue one for Lil B
Stuff Made by Sweet Pea
Sweet Pea makes the cutest plushies. I've had my eye on one for my son for a while but when I got looking at them up close and personal, Sweet Pea suggest I pick one up with a cap on it.

According to her website: My recent obsessions are with plushies and prints, but I can't be limited to just that. I work from my kitchen table while my husband works in the garage making sculptures and my grouchy, black cat sleeps on the couch. The smell of coffee is ever present and the stereo is always on. Making stuff is my favorite thing to do.

Want want want!
Altered Designs by Tami
Tami takes watch parts and makes amazing necklaces. She takes scrabble pieces and makes rings and each time I look at her work, I want all of it! I didn't purchase anything for me but I did covert that necklace you see pictured to the left.

According to Tami's website her inspirations comes from being an altered artist I love looking for odd bits and bobbles that typically go unnoticed. Old cameras that no longer work become sculptures. Perhaps these funny little boys and girls will take you to the past or simply put a smile on a visitor's face. My custom made typewriter key bracelets can hold images of family near or far; bringing them closer to the ones that wear them. I collage necklaces using glass slides with vintage and new items that can compliment your mood and attire. I hope that you enjoy these pieces and they can be passed on to friends and family and bring a little bit of joy into your lives.

If you live in Bend, the Indie Craft Loft is happening today until 5 p.m. and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Gossamer, the Knitting Place.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fake tree, Real tree debate

Our tree 2009
At the end of November, I asked my Facebook friends, "Fake, real or no tree? And why? I want to know." I received over 20 comments (which usually doesn't happen). It's a mixed bag on the green blogs what a "green" tree really means. I've found it's different for all folks and really there is no wrong answer to this question. If you believe your fake or real tree is the green way to go, I'm not going to pass judgement on you. 

So what are the pros and cons? Let me break it down ...

Fake tree: 
Pros: reusable, not killing a tree, no pine needles to pick up, no watering, great for folks with allergies, easy assemble, inexpensive
Cons: Made from harmful plastic, you have to store it, it's probably made in China, will sit in a landfill forever

waiting for Santa 2009
Real tree:
Pros: supporting the local economy (sometimes a charity), they smell great, grown as a renewable resource at a local tree farm (if you live in the Pacific Northwest), help with thinning the forest (if you head for the mountains and pick your own), biodegradable, compostable, could also use it in your fireplace/pit, you have fun picking it out off the lot or create memories if you head to the mountains to pick it out

Con: have to water it, could start on fire, have to keep heat away from it, bad for folks with allergies, you'll be picking up pine needles for the next 6 months, dying trees release greenhouse gasses when they decompose and overcrowd our landfills

Betsy of Eco-novice has a great blog post about this topic.

Potted living tree:
Pros: You plant it when you're done, supporting the local economy, they smell great, grown as a renewable resource at a local tree farm, you have fun picking it out.

Cons: You have to plant it (and if you don't have a yards, well, you'll need to find it a home), have to water it, could start on fire, have to keep heat away from it, bad for folks with allergies, you'll be picking up pine needles for the next 6 months, have to store it until the spring so you can plant it

Sarah at Practically Green has a great blog about this!

Christmas tree hunting 2007
So what are we doing? Since we don't have a yard, a potted living tree is out of the question so we're going real tree! We will be purchasing off a lot though in the past (pre-children) we have driven up to the Deschutes National Forest and hunted for a tree. We're going to save that task for when our son gets bigger and start creating memories. 

Again, there is no wrong answer to this question. If you believe your fake or real tree is the green way to go, I'm not going to pass judgement on you. 

We're picking up our tree tomorrow and I'm so excited to get it up and into the holiday spirit. had a great blog on Christmas trees fake vs. real that was a great resource for this post.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Story of cosmetics and AdBite

Today I did an Ignite style presentation about my blog to the Ad Federation of Central Oregon. I thought I would post my inspiration for my blog, The Story of Cosmetics for all my new AdFed readers.

Some other tidbits:
This is the third Ignite style presentation I've done and as usual, I get all worked up and nervous and then do a fabulous job. Now, I feel I need a nap.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Revisiting Goal #5: Learn to compost!

image courtesy of
Wonder Worman
It's time to check in on goal #5, composting. We're almost about to the two month mark and I have to say that I had no idea how much vegetation I was throwing away. I have a daily reminder when I go out to feed my worms my leftover banana peels (toddler eats them by the ton), strawberry tops, compostable baby wipes and other veggies. But it's winter and well, I'm worried that my little guys might crock!

So what does Wonder Worman have to say? Here official statement on cold weather and worms reads this on her blog:

I am often asked, “Wonder Worman what should I do with my Red Wigglers during the winter?” 
Depending on my mood, I may reply…
“Oh, avid composter, don’t fear!  You can still feed your Red Wigglers!  Just put on your comfy, warm boots and venture out in the beautiful, fluffy white stuff and feed those wigglers.  Just make sure you add some soft, colorful leaves to the bins to create a thick layer of natural insulation.  You want to keep your babies warm!”
Some days, I can’t stand Central Oregon weather, and I may reply…well, I really wouldn’t say this.  It’s kind of rude…but wouldn’t it be fun.
“Oh, whatever, don’t worry about those dreadful, icky, cold, crappy, days.  Even though I can’t stand those days,  the Red Wigglers don’t mind!  Just feed them when you can! They’ll live.”
Thanks Wonder Worman. Now, I need to go get some leaves (no trees in my yard) and give them a nice blanket of insulation.


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