Saturday, June 28, 2008

It doesn't Matter Which Side You're On...

I found this video on you tube and I found it to be very powerful and have much truth to it. People are always taking a side; whether we're arguing about the human contribution vs. natural earthly cycle of global warming, republican vs. democrat, plastic water bottles vs. reusable ones... it seems we spend more time picking a side & arguing rather than taking action about an issue that is REAL and right in front of us...we are wasteful beings & this has consequences.

please watch...and share.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Enviro-Art: Introducing Gyöngy Laky

Gyöngy Laky uses materials from nature as well as recycled elements to create sculptural constructions known as "Textile Architecture". These constructions are often free-standing or hang on the wall. Her work references multiple social issues and a variaty of subjects that usually form into words, symbols, or letters.
Just another example of a creative mind using nature's sustainable materials as a way of relaying a message to its viewers. lovely work. Be sure to view the video bellow on her appearance in New York Times Magazine's Green well as her website linked above. -Lu-

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bake & Impress

Bread is... "green" - (according to this)- It provides more food energy than any other type of food compared to the resources required to produce and deliver it to the consumer. But.... it is even more delicious and environmentally friendly...if you make it yourself. So save yourself a trip to the grocery store, a few dollars a week (it all adds up quickly), and impress your family & friends with this scrumptious recipe.

Introducing: "A Lesson on Bread with La Martha Stewart de France" because yes...i guarantee the real Martha does not make bread THIS good. ; )
Believe me this bread is sexy, it's tasty, and it's easy to make...

1. Bread Flour (4 cup 1/4 )
2. Salt (1 tsp 1/2 )
3. Yeast (1 tsp 1/4 )
4. Sugar ( 1 tsp)
5. Water (1 cup 1/2)
- Mix all dry ingredients. If you own a kitchen aid mixer (lucky) it's easiest to go ahead and mix the ingredients in the mixer's bowl

- Slowly stir in water. If you do not have a kitchen the dough with hands.

-Gather dough into a ball and place in center of mixing bowl. Place a cloth over the bowl and let it sit for a good 20-30 minutes. *if it's hot outside, use this to your advantage and place bowl on table outside. The dough will rise quickly!

-Once it's risen, start kneading! The video bellow is a good example of how to knead bread...once you've finished the kneading and shaped your bread (you can braid it *like the one pictured above*, cover it and let it sit another 10-15 minutes.

-Meanwhile...Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
- For the golden look..."paint" the top layer of your bread with water.
- You can add seeds/seasoning on top if you want. (Lucienne likes the poppy seeds & sesame)
-Bake bread for 25 minutes, and you're finished!

Hope you like!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

cardboard +creativity= furniture

It's quite impressive the things you can do with cardboard. From furniture to giant evil robots...anything is possible with this heavy duty paper product. I stumbled across an interesting article highlighting some of these creations made of cardboard, and am now currently thinking of ways to convince my boyfriend, Mitchell, to make me some cardboard furniture.

For instance, this "Eco-crib" sold by Mothercare is completely made of cardboard. Very adorable, sustainable, and even better... affordable for the price of £27.99...the price roughly equivalent to filling up my gas tank : ( <----- but that's another topic and future entry)
- but not why make your own for even cheaper! Find some sturdy cardboard and make your own design. It can be done. This designer did it...and it seems that Leo Kempf sees no limitations to the potential of cardboard. But just how sturdy are these designs? With the use of corregated cardboard and a sealent much like one used for a pair of suade shoes these coffee tables can be sat on without any bad consequences. I highly recomend a look at his site, his designs are quite impressive.

Some more links to cardboard furniture:
- DesignBoom
-Frank Gehry
-Miss Julia
-CNET Green Furniture

I chose to make an evil robot. What will you do with cardboard?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Projects, update (Am)

If anyone recalls, about two weeks or so ago (at the beginning of this blog), I wrote a post about my "projects of the week." Since then I've been busy being a post-graduate worker and getting tired really easily, because, well, I spend at least 8 hours/day on the computer and on the internet. A girl like this gets fatigued easily...why be on the internet anymore than you really, really have to? Being online all the time, has actually, believe it or not made me appreciate being outside and the "outdoors" much more than I ever did before. [Even if the outdoors for me is lounging in my backyard in the sun.]

Sigh. Well, as usual, that was a rant. My point to this rant is, or was, that I have been working on those "projects of the week" that were written about some weeks ago. It was also a lame excuse for my rollercoaster-like posts (i.e. not posting for four or five days and then posting 2-4 posts in one evening).

Even though these projects haven't been going as fast as I had planned, I do have some pictures of one of the ones that is still in progress and pictures of one that I didn't even write about but that I wanted to show off, anyways.

First off, is the corkboard (below). It's still in progress, obviously, but nearing completion. It's a pretty simple project; so far, it's consisted of cutting wine and beer corks in half. I just have to round up some more corks, which shouldn't be too hard in my apartment ;).

(The handmade vino-corkboard.)

And for second, handmade curtain ties. My mom had gotten me a giant, completely impractical curtain that was made of a gorgeous sheer fabric. I eventually somewhat destroyed it but not to the point of where I couldn't use it anymore. All I did was cut out strips of the curtain and tied them around my handmade curtains (which weren't made by me but by the infamous La Martha Stewart de France [Lu's mother]).

(Curtain ties made from, well, actually an old curtain.)

I eventually (one day when there is absolutely nothing else in the world to do) plan on hemming the ties so that they won't fray and unravel any more than they already are. But for now, and for probably quite some time, this works perfectly. :)



Today, I was reading a very intriguing article in Wired (half of which I thought was pure bullcrud and half of which I thought was completely valid), where I discovered a website called

(Picture from current Wired article.) is a website that...

is a solutions-based online magazine that works from a simple premise: that the tools, models and ideas for building a better future lie all around us. That plenty of people are working on tools for change, but the fields in which they work remain unconnected. That the motive, means and opportunity for profound positive change are already present. That another world is not just possible, it's here. We only need to put the pieces together.

( editor Alex Steffen's book.)

I really enjoyed looking at this site and plan on visiting it on a more regular basis now, especially after reading that Wired article (it was very negative and pessimistic and it also made me feel like all my efforts towards sustainability were for naught,even though I believe in getting many well-rounded views on all things). I suggest all to go here and check it out. It reveals many efforts that are currently being made towards living more sustainable, diverse, holistic and renewable lives on a large and small scale.

Vino, anyone?

I've been browsing a variety of sites today, trying to figure out what is most appropriate for the next post, but I just keep on finding so many things...I can't decide which is the coolest/best!

(A fine, full-bodied Bordeaux, anyone?)

So here's one thing...for those of you who are concerned about the "carbon footprint" your favorite wines are making. Today, I read a post about the actual carbon cost of wine. The writer was curious and took the initiative to find out. In the simplest way I could say, it's like this: if you are on the east side of the United States (see map) then it's better carbon-wise to consume wines that are from Europe (Bordeaux, specifically, according to the writer), and if you live on the mid-west to west side of the U.S. then it's better to get your wines from the California area.
There are definitely more factors to this equation then what I've mentioned, like how it's being transported, what it's being transported in and how it was produced (organically vs. non-organically), but this is just a taste of what to do when browsing through the wine section at your local market. Sante!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Green" Houses #2 (Lu)

Why can't humans live like hobbits? I've always thought their homes were ideal. Small, adorable, cozy, practically one with nature, and very very very environmentally friendly.

-4 months of hard work
-1000-1500 man hours
-100% dedication
-maybe a few friends to kindly help you out
- £3,000 (roughly 6,000 dollars)
.... you could have this home!

This family did it! And proper respect to them for creating this beautiful, sustainable, environmentally friendly, affordable home.
Here are some of the key points to this construction and design that I have copied and pasted right from their website, which you should be sure to check out here: Low Impact Woodland Home
  • Dug into hillside for low visual impact and shelter
  • Stone and mud from diggings used for retaining walls, foundations etc.
  • Frame of oak thinnings (spare wood) from surrounding woodland
  • Reciprocal roof rafters are structurally and aesthaetically fantastic and very easy to do
  • Straw bales in floor, walls and roof for super-insulation and easy building
  • Plastic sheet and mud/turf roof for low impact and ease
  • Lime plaster on walls is breathable and low energy to manufacture (compared to cement)
  • Reclaimed (scrap) wood for floors and fittings
  • Anything you could possibly want is in a rubbish pile somewhere (windows, burner, plumbing, wiring...)
  • Woodburner for heating - renewable and locally plentiful
  • Flue goes through big stone/plaster lump to retain and slowly release heat
  • Fridge is cooled by air coming underground through foundations
  • Skylight in roof lets in natural feeling light
  • Solar panels for lighting, music and computing
  • Water by gravity from nearby spring
  • Compost toilet
  • Roof water collects in pond for garden etc

Simply amazing.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Local & Organic: Nine Mile

Today I went with Lu's brother, my bf, to this great local restaurant. And do I ever mean local: it's right across from our house!

(Inside Nine Mile, all aglow with good vibes & good times.)

Nine Mile is a "cozy casual full-service vegetarian-friendly restaurant and bar nestled in the heart of Historic Montford (Asheville, NC)." They serve Caribbean-inspired pasta dishes that are loaded with local and organic ingrediants. They also serve often-local and often-organic beers & locally-made yummy desserts (like the chocolate spliff cake!).

(My demolished plate - the "Oh My Gwan ." [I'm not sure now exactly, but it did have the word "gwan" in it.] It was yummy organic vegetables & wild-caught salmon on a bed of linguine pasta.)

The restaurant also has mellow staff and is owned by some lovely young Ashevillians. They have a Marley, as in Bob Marley, themed vibe to the place, as well. They play reggae music and, today, had on the EuroCup up on the ole' television. While there, we also both had a great local AND organic beer: the Pisgah Endless Summer.

(Enjoying the fruits of our community's labors. The boy, his "Nine Mile" plate, & the Endless Summer brew.)

I just wanted to let all in on this little experience. It's wonderful to eat at a local restaurant that is deeply involved in their community and that serves great local, organic food! I encourage all who can to do the same and search out and support their local joints!

Oh, and p.s., everyone should congratulate Lu a Happy Birthday! She's turning the big 21! Finally! It seems like she's been 21 for a long time already! Now, she can legally join me & her bro in enjoying the local, organic brews...:)

# 3 for Sustainable Living

Here's an idea: dry your clean, wet clothes on a clothesline, instead of a dryer!

Drying your clothes out in the bright, lovely (and lately scorchering) sun will of course be better for the environment than drying your clothes in a heat-building, energy-sucking dryer! [Even if you have a super-energy efficient "Energy Star" one;)]. It will also make your clothes smell nice & fresh!(My AFFORDABLE clothesline from a cheap non-Wal-Mart store. Just $2, & still unhung.)

I've been thinking about doing this for a while; the idea of hanging clothes up on a line on a gorgeous bright, sunny day makes me feel very bright just thinking about it! The only caveat I'm afraid of is that there might be lots of bugs, spiders, etc. that might want to join the clothing in the process, and I'd like to not fight with my clothing every time they're dry...
Anyways, here's couple of the spots I'm contemplating in our backyard for a clothesline:And I've just recently read about this Clothesline book that has sweet stories, nice-smelling recipes & lovely tellings about the memories and the comeback of the clothesline. So nice. It'd be a perfect very, very early Mother's Day gift. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The No-Plastic Revolution continues....

The many reasons of never ever using a plastic grocery bag not only include helping your environment, but also being able to use....reuse &...use again...and continue using one of these instead:

My sweet mom, Lucienne, also known as "La Martha Stewart of France" due to her incessant creativity and masterful skills has been busy sewing these three bags. These bags are patterned after your original grocery store plastic bag & made of recycled fabric including one of my very very old "old navy" sweatshirts. Props to this webite: for giving mom very good directions on how to create these lovely bags.

and if you think paper bags are better like I may want to take a look at this:

Video brought to you by Pretty Green. If you don't have the sewing myself, or you don't have a Martha Stewart in your family...just check out these lovely bags from Pretty Green.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Living Green, # 2

Recycle! Please, at least do it for me...

With a little rudimentary education, everyone can become an avid, ok, maybe not avid - let's not push it - but at least a regular recycler.
Plastics, paper, glass, cardboard, and metal.
They all can be recycled. And, typically, most towns and cities have their own municipal recycling centers and pickups. Now, not everyone, granted. But there are also
private recycling centers. These will even pay you a little cash for your recycling, sometimes. I live in the city, so I get mine picked up every two weeks. But my parents, who don't live in the city, have to keep up with their recycling on their own and take it to a recycling center, on a somewhat regular basis, that is about 20 min. away from them.

Of course, having your recycling picked up for you makes things simpler. But you can still recycle on your own! Be like my parents and many other people out there!

(Different plastic recycle symbols: Korea, Japan, United States)

Now, as to what can be recycled...
Plastics are by far the most complicated material out there to be recycled, at least sorting and technicality-wise. Listen here folks, there's not just one kind plastic. We live in a world of plastics and one of the worst parts about this is that most of them can't be recycled. There are at least seven, count 'em seven, types of plastic out there with recycle symbols. Numbers 1 and 2 are the most common and the most commonly recycled. The other numbers can be recycled but, unfortunately, most places don't - meaning don't have the capabilities to - recycle them.

And don't forget: batteries, CDs, DVDs, and floppy discs can also be recycled. (They just have special recycling centers.)

For more information on all this jazz, visit earth911. They have some great facts and tips about recycling, plus they can tell you where your closest recycling center is.

Thrifty Finds

So my sweet "maman" has been looking for a round kitchen table for a very long time. And she found exactly what she was looking for at a... Thrift store. Perfect sized round table that might as well be new. Now...she could have found this same table or quite similar for three times the price she payed...but this is just another example of how wonderfully good your local thrift stores can be to you.
Price of the her thrifty find: 40 dollars even
General price of a round table: much more than 40 dollars ;)

Thrift stores are your friends.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Your home is a container?

Why not use cargo containers as homes? This was most likely the very question an intelligent human being asked before creating these recycled homes. These are becoming more and more popular and they are indeed sustainable, affordable (depending on the architect), very creative, and you can live inside them.

Here are further links of different Container Home projects currently on the go:
-Container City
-SG Blocks
-Container Bay


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Green Travels (Lu)

Sustainable, unbelievably creative, but not so affordable. This RV is indeed the future of green traveling. I was quite impressed with the ingenuity of this design. You can reserve yours (start saving your moola) or simply dream of this RV by viewing their site here ; ) The unbelievable Westfalia Verdier Solar Power


Friday, June 6, 2008

Idea #1 for Living Sustainably

Fabric bags, not plastic, please...

Wanna help the planet? Then don't ever, ever, ever use another new plastic bag again. If you're going to use plastic bags, then just reuse them, over and over again. Take the ones you haven't recycled back to the grocery store and just use those instead of getting new ones.
Or, if you want something a bit more stylish then just take a look around your local food store. Many grocery stores now carry their own tote grocery bags, usually made of canvas, but some have gotten more creative for a higher price. But, personally, my preference, and upcoming project, is to make more fashionable ones out of fabrics that are already lying around the house. For instance, that old t-shirt that you never wear anymore? This could be an awesome grocery bag! And it's really not that difficult to do. Here is just one set of instructions for a shirt-to-grocery bag transformation. Oh, and speaking of grocery: you don't have just use these bags for groceries and food, but also anything else that you buy! Go ahead, start the no-plastics revolution!~Am~

Thrifty Finds (Lu's)

I've always loved the quote "One man gathers what another man spills" or "one man's trash is another man's treasure". I find these words to be very true, and thus I spend much time wandering the many thrift stores in my area.

I love thrift stores because:
1. You SAVE money
2. It is going to be re-used if I buy it
3. The money usually goes to charity
4. It is like a treasure hunt (and when I find that amazing item/clothing/piece of furniture...oh man...I am a glowing woman.

Thus, in this new and about to be wonderful blog. Am & I will be doing a series of entries titled " Thrifty Finds of the Week" -on the magnificent world of thrift stores including our treasures to be found and a comparison of the treasure (money) we could have lost buying similar items.

Looking for these amazing stores in your area?
just click here - Thrift Store Directory


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Projects of the week (Am's)

Hola. Here's some things I've got cookin' for this week:

1. Cork Board. I've been working on this thing for couple of weeks now, but I'd like to get this done soon. Pieces of cork have been lying around my kitchen "island" and living room coffee table wondering if they're just their for their good looks and sweet reminders of good, wine-y times.
2. Charger Box. Gah - I very much dislike (hate? no) cords all over the floor. I trip on them all the time.3. Shoe Rack. I trip and fall over my boyfriends' shoes all the time. They greet me everyday I come into my apt. Of course, I seem to have a problem with tripping, so maybe it's just me; nevertheless, this must stop.
4. Cards for Special People. A variety of people in my life have some birthdays comin' up, so I want to make them some handmade cards to brighten up their days. :)

A Welcome, A List

Welcome, or, Bienvenue! In this, our newest and first joint blog, we, Lu 'n Am, have come together to muse about just what our title says: affordable, sustainable, creative, living. We're both still in our early twenties (Am can't say that for too much longer), and we feel that we have good angles on our combined topics. Lu is currently in college at UT studying art and education, while Am has been out of the hippie college (Warren Wilson, anyone?) she went to for a year now, and she studied history, political science and english.

Our perspectives and interests on these topics come, we think, from how we've grown up and where we are now in our lives. Lu spent her first seven years of life in France. Her entire family is French and most of them still live there. At the tender age of seven, she moved with her mother [maman], father [papa], and brother [frere] to this grand land of the United States of America (cue the music). She has lived in Eastern Tennessee ever since then. She also started drawing and painting at a young age, and with the encouragement of her family, has continued to pursue these interests in college. Lu is artistic & creative, to say the least, and has always had a love and respect for the earth, people and animals.(Lu's birthplace - Epinal, France)

Am has lived in the U.S. all of her life and has actually lived in the same area all of her life. She has lived in a small community in the mountains of Western North Carolina, called Asheville, since a dear child and every day has more respect and love for this place. Am also started drawing, more fashion drawings than anything, at an early age, but instead of following her creative being, decided to stay close to home and pursue her college career at Warren Wilson College. Am still sketches sometimes, but now fills her time when not writing and working for her online marketing company by taking on little creative projects to organize and simplify her home life. Since graduating, her passion for the earth has grown one hundred-fold and has now made it her life goal to become more sustainable and more friendly to the earth.(Am's hometown - Asheville, NC)

Lu n' Am hope to share with all their potential readers (themselves) and non-readers (everyone else) all their findings & musings in all things related to being & living affordable, sustainable, creative people & lives. So, as a starter, here is a list of our major blog-topics-related goals for this year of 2008:

Enjoy :)

1. Be plastic bag independent. I want to never use a new plastic bag again. It's seriously bad for the earth; talk about a non-renewable resource.

2. Be chemical-free. Or at least, start being chemical-free, beginning with household cleaning products. It's much more simple that I thought it would be. I've actually already started making my own cleaning products. :)
3. Make/alter clothes on a reg. basis. This isn't really happening right now because I need to find a decent sewing machine before anything really productive happens. But I have all these creations in my and on many pieces of paper that are dying to become real.
4. Write & make a book based on the same topics as our title. I want everyone to know how to live sustainably and know that it's waaay super easy. And then, once it's finished (never?), give it to friends & family!

1. Finding ways of saving... our environment, our community, our health, our money, our education... Just saving.
2. Opening our eyes. To be aware of the art, architecture, and design that surrounds us & the important issues targeted through these mediums.
3. Inform others of the very inspiration and creativity that surrounds me on a daily basis.
4. Remind. To remind us of the beauty of this planet. To remind us of the intelligence -this can be rare ;) & creativity of a human being that has few & far boundaries.

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