Tuesday, November 29, 2011

random updates on life and fam

*alex has started traveling for his work.  its kind of a bummer in ways, but i will start traveling with him from time to time.  that's why, this week i am in san jose with him!  yay for road trips.  this is our first time traveling with kids (we weren't allowed to travel anywhere with the foster kiddos).  so far it has been easy, but that's probably because esther is still at a pretty easy stage.

*esther is getting bigger and rounding out.  thanks to her nutritious mama's milk :)

*i am going to start giving my extra milk to a milk bank!  i could only find ONE non-profit milk bank in all of california.  isn't that ridiculous?  all of the other ones sell the milk for profit. ironically, it happens to be in san jose, but i can just mail the milk in, i dont have to drop it off (though I could do so now that we are traveling there so often).

*the reason i am pumping milk is to keep my supply up so that i can give breast milk (and hopefully NO formula) to our next foster baby.  i like esther a lot.  but i am also already looking forward to our next little one.

*i am experimenting with infant potty training, also known as elimination communication or EC.  so far, i am pretty encouraged: esther goes about half the time i put her on the potty.  i am not completely committed yet, but i have seen enough good that i think we'll stick it out.  most likely we wont see results super fast, but if we keep up she very likely could be completely potty trained by 18 months or earlier.  i would be ok with that! :)

*this year will be my seventh time having a christmas cookie decorating party!  this one might be the biggest.  no matter if its big or small, i am pretty excited. :)

*i am spending a lot of time these days researching vaccines.  i've found its a pretty hot button topic.  that's all i will say, lest i hit any other hot buttons.  although, i have noted with interest that the people i have talked to with the strongest opinions on the topic don't have any kids... interesting.

*i am loving this stage of life!  i feel very blessed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

organic: why pay more?

'sign of the times' photo (c) 2011, various brennemans - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/if you know me, you know that three words describe me well: frugal, frugal and frugal.

this is why, until about a year ago, i never bought organic food, since it can cost two to four times as much as conventional.  even if something organic was on sale for just 10 cents more than conventional, i just couldn't pay the extra for it.

until i did the research.  and i realized that it is worth it to pay more for some foods.  i have realized that there are some hidden costs of conventional food... you may think you are saving money, but ultimately you aren't.

i will share some of the reasons that we are transitioning to organic food.  my guess is that about half the food we eat is organic (or "wild" or "pesticide free").  i pray that one day it will all be organic (and hopefully mostly homegrown!).

pesticides damage the health of farm workers.  if farm workers were upper middle class citizens, we would probably have TONS of laws and regulations about the use of pesticides.  since most of our produce is picked by undocumented mexicans, most people don't care about the effect that pesticides have on them.  studies show that the children of mexican farmworkers exposed in utero to pesticides have IQ's that drop off dramatically after age 5.  their children are also at higher risk for various birth defects, such as spinal bifida.  the workers themselves are also at higher risk for cancer and neurological disorders such as seizures and uncontrollable muscle contractions [source and source and source]

legally, organic food cannot be genetically modified.  about 75% of grocery store food contains gmo's, and does not have to be labeled as such, so you cannot know what you are buying. eating organic food is one way to be assured of avoiding gmo's.

buying organic often supports smaller, family owned farms.  this is certainly not always the case, but organic produce is more likely to come from a small farm, especially if you buy from a farmer's market, CSA, farm stand or u-pick farm.

pesticides are linked to many diseases including cancer, hormone disruption (including congenital hypothyroidism) and brain/nervous system toxicity.  pesticides are chemicals that are designed to kill things.  it makes complete sense that these chemicals will also damage the health of the humans that ingest them.  it makes me especially sad to know that pesticides may be the reason for esther's diagnosis.  paying more now for pesticide free food can save you money later on medical bills.  aside from money- who wants to be sick anyways? [source and source]

organic produce has higher levels of antioxidants.  for example, wild blueberries have almost twice as many anti-oxidents as regular blueberries.  why?  antioxidants are what help repel the berries' pests.  wild blueberries have to work harder to keep the pests away, resulting in higher antioxidants, which are healthier for us as humans.  yay!  (side note: trader joes sells wild blueberries, which means they are pesticide free, for $1 less per pound than certified organic blueberries.  score! :D )

organic produce and meat has higher levels of vitamins and minerals.  wonder why people have lived for thousands of years without taking a daily multi-vitamin?  the answer is in the soil.  farmers have had to work hard to make sure that their soil has lots of nutrients, so that their plants grow well.  well nourished soil results in well nourished fruit and veggies, which results in well nourished people.  these days, conventional farmers only focus on 3 nutrients, which they supplement artificially (the infamous N-P-K).  soil quality has gone down, and produce contains fewer nutrients.  conversely, organic farmers usually use quality fertilizers with a variety of nutrients beyond N-P-K, such as manure or compost, resulting in more nutritious produce. the same goes for organic meat, poultry and fish (these are especially high in nutrients when they are wild or pasture-fed/grass-fed).  or to tweak the saying, "you are what you eat eats". [source and source] more in depth on this here:

pesticides and herbicides leach into the water supply.  it really bums me out that the water we drink that we think is pure can often times be full of chemicals.  i recently heard a story on NPR about people in california not being able to drink their well water from their own property due to agricultural run-off from neighboring farms. contaminated water has the same health effects listed above: hormone disruption, cancer and birth defects. [source]

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

are you building your house?

'building a bronzeage house' photo (c) 2008, Hans Splinter - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/"the wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down."
[proverbs 14:1]

are you building your house or tearing it down?  your heart and actions impact not only your life but the life of your husband and children (and this is true even if you are single... what you are doing now has an effect on the men that you will attract and even your future married life, see proverbs 31:12).  fortunately, proverbs [and the rest of the bible] has a lot to say about how we can build our house, by God's grace.

by fearing the Lord

"the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" [proverbs 1:7]

"in the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge.
the fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death" [proverbs 14:26-27]

by seeking to make our homes peaceful

"better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife" [proverbs 17:1]

by speaking positively about our husbands and children to others

"the mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life" [proverbs 10:11]

"when words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent" [proverbs 10:19] 

by speaking positively to our husbands and children

"gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body" [proverbs 16:24]

"anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad" [proverbs 12:25]

by rising early

"[an excellent wife] rises while it is yet night" [proverbs 31:15]

by disciplining our children  
"whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but whoever loves him is diligent to discipline him" [proverbs 13:24] 

by being generous

"[an excellent wife] opens her hands to the poor,
and reaches out her hands to the needy" [proverbs 31:20]

"blessed is he who is generous to the poor" [proverbs 14:21] 

by trusting God and not worrying

"strength and dignity are her clothing, she laughs at the time to come" [proverbs 31:25]

"you are [Sarah's] children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening" [1 peter 3:6]

by seeking and accepting mentorship, teaching and guidance from other wise women

"where there is no guidance, a people falls,
but in an abundance of counselors there is safety" [proverbs 11:14]

"whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm" [proverbs 13:20]

by loving God's Word, the Bible

"whoever despises the word brings desrtuction on himself,
but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded" [proverbs 13:13]

"blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
who greatly delights in his commandments.
his offspring will be mighty in the land,
the children of the upright will be blessed" [psalm 112:1-2]

by preparing for the future

"she is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household is clothed in scarlet" [proverbs 31:21] 

by having discretion

"the simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps" [proverbs 14:15]

"like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion" [proverbs 11:22]

by being content with what we have

"a tranquil heart brings life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot" [proverbs 14:30]

"there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world.  but if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content." [1 timothy 6:6-8] 

by providing for the physical needs of our households

"[an excellent wife] provides food for her household...
considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard...
she makes bed coverings for herself, her clothing is fine linen and purple" [proverbs 31:15b, 16, 22)

by working hard

"in all toil there is profit,
but mere talk tends only to poverty" [proverbs 14:23]

"[an excellent wife] looks well to the ways of her household,
she does not eat the bread of idleness" [proverbs 31:27]

and what is the result?

"her children rise up and call her blessed,
her husband also and he praises her:
    'many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all.'
charm is deceitful and beauty is vain
but a women who fears the Lord is to be praised"
[proverbs 31:28-30] 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

lots of reasons that breastfeeding far outshines artificial feeding

breastfeeding releases oxytocin in the mother, which promotes bonding (this is the same hormone released when you fall in love!), increases maternal behavior and helps the uterus return to its normal size after birth.  the uterus of a non-breastfeeding mother will never return to normal, it will always remain slightly enlarged.

breastfeeding calms the baby. feeding from a bottle increases a baby's blood pressure, while breastfeeding decreases it.

breastfed babies are less likely to die before their third birthday.

breast milk has perfectly balanced nutrition to meet baby's needs.  artificial milk, on the other hand, is constantly being tweaked by scientists to match breast milk.  but it is never as good.

breast milk is always the right temperature and easily transported.  there were multiple times with our foster baby girl that i would accidentally leave the house without formula or a bottle... not fun.

breast milk is more digestible than formula.  most formula is made from one of the two most highly allergenic foods: cow's milk and soy.  lots of artificially fed babies have to be switched from one formula to another until one is found that they can digest.

breastfeeding lowers the mother's chance of breast cancer, postpartum hemorrhage, and ovarian cancer.

breast milk changes with baby's needs.  the milk the mother of a preterm baby produces differs from the milk the mother of a full term baby produces.  the milk a mother produces in the morning is different than the milk she produces at night.  the milk she produces when baby is two weeks old differs from the milk she produces when baby is six months old.

artificial milk increases a baby's risk for obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes later in life.

artificially fed babies are at higher risk for allergies, asthma, ear infections, SIDS, bacterial meningitis, respiratory infections, childhood lymphoma, hodgkins disease, ulcerative colitis, crohn's disease, cavities, speech impediments, eczema, multiple sclerosis, urinary tract infections and breast cancer (in baby girls).

...which is probably why artificially fed babies require about $1,500 more of medical care in their first year of life.  breastfed babies require fewer doctor's visits, and their parents have to take fewer days off of work.

and add to that another $1,500: the approximate cost of formula per year.  double this cost if baby needs a specialty formula.  about $500 million of our tax dollars every year go to feeding formula to low-income babies (through the WIC program).  breast milk, on the other hand, is free.

breastfeeding is more friendly to the environment.  no packaging, wrappers, bottles to sterilize daily, etc.

artificial milk contains GMO's (genetically modified organisms) and artificial growth hormones.

breastmilk has natural healing properties that can heal wounds faster, and cure eye infections when applied topically.  personally, i can attest that breast milk cleared up esther's clogged tear duct soon after she was born.  no need to use the OTC medicine the doctor prescribed.  yay!

no need to rinse the cloth diapers of exclusively breast fed babies.  anything that saves me time is a plus!  and the diapers are less smelly.

dr. jack newman's guide to breastfeeding

Saturday, November 12, 2011

a strange paradox

"for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor"
[2 corinthians 8:9]

"the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’"
[acts 20:35]

"whoever gathered much had nothing left over,
and whoever gathered little had no lack"
[2 corinthians 8:15]

"one gives freely, yet grows all the richer,
another withholds what he should give, and suffers only want.
whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered."
[proverbs 11:24-25]

"whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows bountifully will reap bountifully"
[2 corinthians 9:6]

God has really been challenging me in the area of giving and pointing out my selfishness of recent.  i have realized that i have a hoarding mentality when it comes to my time, my energy and my money, and i want to give the best of it, and really almost all of it, exclusively to myself and my family.

yet Christ, for my sake, decided to become poor, though he was rich.  and He himself said that i am more blessed when i give to others than when i receive from them.  do i really believe this?  do you? think about it this way... do you forward to other people's birthdays or your own?  do you want to give others gifts and attention, or receive it for yourself?  do you look forward more to going over to someone's house for dinner, or hosting them at your house?

paradoxically, not only is it more blessed to give than receive, but when we hoard our blessings,  we wont be building them up, they will actually start to diminish.  but the one who generously, freely, joyfully gives away their blessings, that is the person, the bible says, who will continue to grow all the more rich.

the good news is that we don't need to force ourselves into this kind of generosity.  it will come naturally as we learn more about God's lavish generosity towards us, and as His spirit works inside us.

praise God :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

book review: food rules by michael pollan

i did something yesterday that i never thought that i would do:  i read an entire book in one sitting.  granted, it was only about 100 pages, and had a lot of illustrations, but never the less i accomplished it.

and i enjoyed it.  so i though that i could share with you my thoughts about michael pollan's "food rules".  this book was originally published two years ago, but was recently re-published with some added material and illustrations (i read the newest edition).  i have also read pollan's "in defense of food", and this book seemed to be a concise list of the principles found in the previous book.

pollan starts out the book giving his history with researching food and health issues.  pollan is a journalist, and figured that with enough research he could get to the bottom of the whole debate of which foods are and aren't healthy (low fat? low carb? meat or no meat? etc etc.) unfortunately, the more research he did, the more he realized that the field of nutrition is just too young and doesn't really have a lot of firm answers.

the only thing that became clear from his research is that the western diet (ie lots of processed foods, high in sugars, refined grains and vegetable oils) is the only diet proven to make people sick (the vast majority of people in the whole world with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many cancers eat the western diet).

on the other hand, people who eat traditional diets have very low incidences of these diseases, with a very broad spectrum of what their traditional diets consist of.  he gives examples of traditional diets that are very high in fat (the inuit of greenland subsist mostly on seal blubber), very high in carbohydrates (native central americans eat lots of corn and beans), and very high in protein (the masai in africa live mostly on cow blood, meat and milk).  this low rate of disease also holds true for traditional diets that are more mixed.  pollan points out:
"what this suggests is that there is no single ideal human diet but that the human omnivore is exquisitely adapted to a wide range of different foods and a variety of different diets. except, that is, for one: the relatively new (in evolutionary terms) Western diet that most of us are now eating.  what an extraordinary achievement for a civilization: to have developed the one diet that reliably makes people sick!" 
pollan's aim with the book was to compile a list of traditional sayings and grandmotherly teachings about food and compare them with what we do know about food from science.  in the process he came up with about 80 "rules" about food.  he makes it clear that these are not rules we should be enslaved to, rather they should be helpful in guiding us towards the best choices for our health.

here are some of the "rules" that i particularly enjoyed:

"if it came from a plant, eat it.  if it was made in a plant, don't"

"no snacks, no seconds, no sweets — except on days that begin with the letter S.” [pollan says to treat treats like treats.  treats used to be expensive, and therefore infrequently eaten and highly appreciated when they were.  now we have access to as many treats as we want, which leads us to indulge often without thought or appreciation.  when treats are more infrequent, we will truly appreciate them and enjoy them.]

"do all of your eating at a table" [this way you will be mindful of what you eat, and make eating something that happens at a specific place and time, not just whenever]

"eat all the junk food you want, as long as you make it yourself" [he makes the point that almost anything you make will be healthier than buying it at the store.  also when you make it yourself you will probably make it less often than you would buy it, and consider it a "treat", as you should]
"don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food." 

and, lastly, my favorite (shown in the illustration from the book, above): "when you eat real food, you don't need rules" when all you buy is healthy, whole, clean foods, you don't need rules.  make whatever you want out of it, and it will nourish your body.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

saving money while eating healthy: dairy and eggs

it looks like i might actually be getting around to finishing my blog series!  earlier this summer i wrote about saving money while eating healthy on produce and meat.  now i am going to continue the series by talking about dairy and eggs.

'Eggbowl' photo (c) 2006, Amy - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
like i mentioned about meat, i make it a priority to buy milk and eggs from animals that are raised properly.  this means, for milk, i try to get it from cows who eat 100% grass and are not given any hormones or antibiotics.  for chickens this means that they should be pastured, which gives them access to eat grass and bugs, along with their feed. 

second best to these are products labeled "organic".  store-bought organic milk usually comes from cows that are given mostly organic grain, but also some grass, and no hormones or antibiotics.  store bought organic eggs come from chickens who eat organic grain, but usually dont eat any grass or bugs (even if they are labeled "free range").  (side note: although most organic eggs are brown, brown eggs are not inherently better or healthier than white eggs.  it still depends on how the chickens are treated, and again grass-fed, bug-eating pastured chickens with organic feed supplemented is the best).

the third choice is conventional dairy and eggs.  if you have to settle for this (and often times you will find conventional eggs and milk in our fridge too) at least stick with dairy products that specifically state on the label that they do not use the rbST (a bovine growth hormone).  for eggs, the label "free range" doesn't mean much, so don't pay more for "free range" conventional eggs.  i also see a mark-up on conventional eggs that happen to be brown, but again, the fact that the eggs are brown tells you nothing about the nutrients in the egg.

one more important note about dairy: consider buying raw milk.  after researching this issue, i really believe that raw milk is the healthiest kind of milk you can buy because of the friendly bacteria it contains and also because the vitamins aren't destroyed by being heated and because the fats have not been altered through homogenization (read more about raw milk here).  if you cant get raw, steer clear of ultra-pasteurized milk and stick with pasteurized.  also, if you cant buy raw milk, try to at least find unhomogenized milk (several brands of yogurt these days are also offering unhomogenized versions, usually labeled "cream top").  lastly, as i believe that it is best to consume foods in their most natural state, buy whole milk and full fat dairy products. 

now that you know what kind of dairy products to look for, how do you keep the costs down?

make homemade dairy products

this will certainly save you money, especially on high-yield dairy products like yogurt and kefir.  a gallon of store bought organic yogurt costs about $16, but i can make it at home with about 20 minutes of work for $6.  a gallon of organic kefir is even more, around $20, but it also only costs me about $6 to make it, with only about 5 minutes of work involved!  i have also made yogurt cheese (similar to cream cheese), cottage cheese and sour cream at home.

another increasingly popular venture is making homemade butter and cheeses such as feta, mozzarella and cheddar. i have not tried these yet because they are not cost effective to make for what we pay for milk.  it is worth the time to do the math on what it would cost to make these at home, to see if it is worth your while.  however, i can pretty much guarantee you that at least homemade yogurt and kefir will save you money (and your belly will thank you for the friendly bacteria :) ).

buy from a farmer

if you want to buy raw milk, buying from a farmer may be your only option, depending on where you live.  regardless, buying from a farmer is likely cheaper than from the store, and you can have a better idea of the quality of milk you are getting by asking the farmer questions about how the cows are treated and what they are fed.  if you get some friends together to form a buying group, you may be able to save even more, as well as split up milk pick-up duty.  i look forward to the possibility of one day living close enough to a dairy farm to get our milk fresh from there.  you can find a listing of farmers who sell raw milk here.

buy medium eggs

i haven't been able to figure out how to do the math on this to figure out if it is actually definitely cheaper to buy medium eggs (as opposed to large or jumbo eggs), but i'm pretty sure it is.  i usually buy medium eggs about half the time, depending on availability.

raise a dairy goat, cow or laying chickens

two people on our street have laying chickens (i hear them squawking all the time!) and we hope that we will be able to sometime in the future as well.  if we ever live in a more rural area, we also hope to get a dairy goat.  not only is this great for your health, as you can make sure you are eating fresh from well-fed animals, but it is also kinder on the environment, as your food does not have to be shipped from afar.  it also assures a constant supply of these household staples!

buy in bulk

buying dairy products and eggs often times isn't an option (because of the fact that it is perishable, and also because it is not often sold in bulk), but sometimes it is.  a few examples from our life: sometimes eggs that are about to expire go on clearance, and i will buy 4-5 dozen.  i hard boil most of them, which extends their life by weeks (to be used on top of salads or by themselves as snacks), and i also make lots of egg recipes the next few days (things like quiche).  eggs are usually good for a week or more past their expiration date, so i don't sweat it if they are a bit past the label's date.

another thing that can be bought in bulk is cheese, though you may have to hunt around for a source such as a co-op.  i buy a lot of our cheese this way, in five pound blocks, which will last for weeks in the fridge (or months in the freezer).  another possibility: most farmers markets will give you a discount if you ask when making a large order.  i used to buy our raw milk at a discount by buying five or more gallons at a time (and freezing the extra).  many farmers markets also sell eggs, cheese and yogurt, which could probably also be bought at a discount in bulk if you ask (added bonus: you can talk directly to the farmer and find out the living conditions of the animals, what they are fed, etc.  many foods that are not labeled "organic" may still be raised in an organic way, but the farmer may not be able to afford the organic labeling).

read your labels, write to the companies when you have questions

reading labels will sometimes also give you a clue as to the quality of the product.  for example, trader joe's sells a cheddar cheese that is from 100% grass-fed cows who are not given growth hormones.  this is almost as good as organic in my eyes (and better than some organic dairy products that may come from grain-fed cows), but it does not come with the "organic" label, so it is much less expensive than cheese that is officially organic.

also, dont hesitate to write to a company when you have questions.  sometimes you will be disappointed by the answers you get (like when i wrote to general mills to ask them if they use GMO grain in their cereals.  the answer was yes. :/ ) some other times you will be pleasantly surprised.  for example, one time i wrote to trader joe's to ask what kind of diet the cows eat that produce their organic milk.  they told me that they require that their cows eat a diet of at least 80% grass!  as i mentioned above, 100% grass is ideal, but 80% is still unusually high, and i was pleasantly surprised.  because of this, i try to always buy our organic milk from trader joe's.

when we cant afford organic milk, i have a second best.  after doing research i found a conventional milk company that has cows raised without rbST that eat least a partial diet of hay (ie dried grass).  again, 100% grass-fed and no antibiotics is ideal, but this is still a step up from other conventional milks, and i wouldn't have known this unless i did the research.

it may sound overwhelming to look around for different sources, compare prices and ask farmers or companies about how they raise their animals.  however, let me encourage you in a few things.  it doesn't have to happen all at once; it has taken me more than a year to hone in on the best dairy/eggs for our budget, writing to companies here and there when i have time (the internet makes this pretty quick and easy!) and i continue to research and shop around for the best.  also, once you have done the research, you can know that you are doing the best thing for your family's health and budget.  lastly, eventually you will settle on the best products and can get into a habit of buying those, without having to wonder what is in what you are buying every time you go to the store (or co-op.  or farmers market).

what are some ways that you save money on dairy products?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

4 strange ways to save water

some of the green/earth friendly things i do cost us more money, such as buying pesticide-free produce.  but fortunately, many of the things i do actually save us money.

'Water Drop & shadow' photo (c) 2009, Emran Kassim - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
saving water is one of those things.  saving water is important in most places (unless, i guess if you have a well.  i would like to have a well one day, but that is a whole 'nother blog post :) ), but especially in southern california.

did you know that we are using up the colorado river to the point that it now literally dries up soon after it reaches mexico? so cal is a desert, but we are in denial so we pump in water from afar, with much damage to the environment.

besides loving the earth (and specifically the colorado river and all the wildlife that depends on it), i have another reason to try to save water: our water bill!  lets just say its pretty astronomical, especially compared to what we paid in the midwest.

so, because i am frugal and because i want to steward God's creation well, i have incorporated various habits into my life to save water.

recycling dishwasher water

if you live in so cal, you have probably seen signs that say something like "this area is watered with recycled water" or "greywater in use here".  that gave me an idea... are there ways that i could re-use non-dirty water from our house?  and it gave me an idea... our dishwasher water!

we have a portable dishwasher, which means that when its time to wash, we have to manually move it over to the sink, hook it up, and turn on the faucet.  when it is running, the used water is drained into the sink.  this would just go down the drain, but now i catch it in a bucket and use it to water our plants outside.

some might wonder if the soap in the water might be bad for the plants.  i use an all natural, earth-friendly soap (bio-kleen brand), so i am not worried about this.  and, it is possible that the small bits of food in the recycled dishwasher water might even be providing the plants a nutrient boost.

i don't flush the toilet

well, kinda... i usually don't flush the toilet if i am the only one around the house and i just go #1 (i try to go 3-4 times before flushing).  this was especially helpful when i was pregnant, since i literally went to the bathroom every 30 minutes.

this might gross you out, and i am ok with that.  that's why i only do it when i am the only one home.  this is actually a regular practice in many (most?) countries of the world.  when i lived in germany, there were actually two buttons on the toilet; one flushed more water and one less, depending on your need... i wont go into detail, hopefully you can figure it out :)

washing my face with cold water

when you want warm or hot water, you have to turn on the faucet and let it go for a while until the warm water comes out.  this wastes a lot of water.  recently, i have begun washing my face at night in cold water.  sometimes its easy (in the summer) but sometimes i have to brace myself for the initial moment of discomfort (but its really not that bad).

wash my hands without water

when i am washing/scrubbing my hands, i make sure that the water is turned off.  since we use (homemade!) foaming soap in the bathroom, i just use two squirts of foam, and then i don't even have to wet my hands at the beginning.  this way, all i have to do is rinse my hands briefly after i scrub, which only requires the faucet to be on for a few seconds. 

this is especially helpful since i am washing my hands almost twice as much since esther was born (because of diaper changes through out the day, also after i go out i wash my hands to protect esther from germs i come into contact with... i am not a germophobe, but i have to be proactive like this to avoid germs since we want to avoid some of the recommended vaccines, especially with our frequent doctor's office visits due to her diagnosis.  we have averaged two doc visits per week since her birth, but it should be less frequent from here on out).

another tip for mothers of multiple littles in diapers... change everyone's diaper at once.  if you change one kiddo, change the other.  and then wash your hands after both.  this not only saves water and time, but also your skin, especially in the winter!!

what are some things you do to save water?