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Blue Friday-Blue Movement cleanup

Friday, November 24, 2017, was Blue Friday. To some it was Black Friday, but not in our house. We haven't participated in Black Friday for many, many years and the only time we went was twice, back-to-back years, and after a good kick in the leg from a lady with steel toed boots the last time we went I decided it just wasn't worth the effort, the money, or the time-or pain. The kick she gave me was on accident, but nonetheless it left a rather large hematoma on my leg for over a month.  So for a good alternative to the madness and the consumerism we decided to do something completely different and clean up a waterway around us by joining forces with United by Blue

The Willamette Valley has some of the most beautiful views with water or a snow capped mountain in the background, especially this time of year. This year, being our first year to participate, we decided to keep it small and clean up the local canal that runs through the city here. The Lebanon Santiam Canal has a stretch that is surrounded by a park-Ralston Park. There are a lot of homeless that congregate at the park during the day and into the evening. There is also a lot of foot traffic through the area too. Most people that visit the park are respectful, but once in awhile we get the few that don't seem to care and litter their trash, clothing, and cigarette butts. Tons of cigarette butts. We ended up clearing over 60 pounds of garbage. Most of it could be recycled, which made us sad to know that someone couldn't take the time to place the items in a recycle bin instead of the ground near water, or in the water. One of the cleanup crew member we had said the perfect explanation of why: It's because some people just don't care. heartbreaking, yet true. So to remedy that "don't care" attitude, help out year round and clean up after yourself and the ones that don't care. The more care you put into something the more it will offset the others. Here the highlights of our cleanup this year.

We received our kits and were really excited to get started with the cleanup. United by Blue included a Blue Movement bandanna with the kits this year and we wore them proudly. The kit also included a trash bag for waste, one for recycle, and some heavy duty rubber-tipped gloves.

We began the cleanup efforts at 2:00 p.m. west coast time and worked until 5:00 p.m. when the sun started to set.

We covered the entire length of the canal that the park surrounds. In between trash collecting and cigarette butt removal I took pictures of the cleanup.

Plastics are definitely not for the environment. 

A shoe.

The Bean removing rusted metal chicken wire.

The Bean found some unusual items in the canal. Here he found a broken window that someone had thrown off the bridge, but missed and it hit the bridge and broke into several large glass pieces.

Getting down and dirty with the cleanup.

Plastic bags, Mylar balloons, cigarette butts, plastic container and bottle, chicken wire, glass, etc. It was absolutely shocking to see so much liter in our city's canal. Extremely disappointing.

United by Blue has great information on the Blue Movement on their website, Twitter, and Instagram. We will be setting a time and place each year where we live in order to participate. If you would like to get involved, you can do that right here. Or here!

Remember, every little bit helps and it does more good than you know! And I probably don't have to state this, but the best thing you can do to help out with the efforts is to not litter, pick up other's litter when you can, and always try to recycle items that can be recycled. My number one suggestion would be, don't bring waste into your home in the first place and stop using disposable items, especially plastics. Simple changes in your habits can have a big impact overtime.

-UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. -Dr. Seuss "The Lorax"

Five simple things


-I am a day tardy with this, but with reason. We have had some productive last two-ish days. Thanksgiving on Thursday, Blue Friday on yesterday, and Small Business Saturday today. They were productive, yet fun. Hope you are recovering from food comas, over-sharing of Thanksgiving pictures, too much extended family time, and the liquor/beer to cope with it all. Ha. We had a wonderful time this Thanksgiving remembering what it is to be thankful and letting go of all of the stress that leads up to the holiday season. This is the first Thanksgiving without our sweet Baz, but we are extremely grateful for the Thanksgivings we had with him. We spent the day yesterday with good friends and hosted the holiday at our small home. I got a call from my parents in Arkansas, while on their way to a friends house for the holiday meal too. It was nice to hear both of my parent's voices on a day of being thankful. I am thankful they are both healthy and well, and that they called to say how thankful they are of the three of us. Family and friends are always important during the holidays and I feel it's important to spend this time with the ones that love you unconditionally. We are so thankful that we have a small network of those people that call, or come by, just to say hello from time to time. The Mr. and I like to call these people "our tribe." It's the ones that just show respect to you no matter what the occasion is. "Our Tribe" is small, but it's strong. I do hope that your Thanksgiving was just as love-filled with the ones that are in your tribe.

-Yesterday was Blue Friday and Opt Outside with REI, but it's often the day that most people think of "Black Friday" deals and the over-excess of consumerism. Ugh! The day I like to think of as the day that separates two kinds of people: The people that haven't figured out that they have/are being tricked into buying things they don't need, and those that have. I hear every week how someone "got a great deal" on something they bought and I just smile and say, "oh..." It's unfortunate how so many people don't realize they are the ones controlling the economy with their over-spending and over-buying of crap. One of my favorite sayings is by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist, "Never underestimate the importance of abandoning crap you don't need." This saying holds so true for Black Friday. So here is the remedy. Blue Friday with United by Blue. Yesterday we headed out to the Lebanon Santiam Canal area near Ralston Park here in Lebanon, Oregon. We cleaned up about 60 pounds of trash-probably more-and we enjoyed cleaning instead of spending. It's a great way to give back to the community without spending money on unnecessaries that we all don't need anyway. There is nothing The Mr., The Bean, or I need right now so why not give back to the community in some small way and we are also getting outside for #Optoutside too. I've participated in Black Friday twice in my life. Both times one of us came home with some type of injury from someone else. We decided that Black Friday isn't our thing and the spending habits we have now wouldn't justify it anyway. So we are Opting Outside and now doing Blue Friday instead. Here is the listing to our clean-up group here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. If you want to get involved with Blue Friday next year and avoid Black Friday, check out the map of clean-up groups here. We'll be adding ours to the list next year too!

Here are five little things that made this week great!

1. These leaves.

Fall is in full effect here in the Willamette Valley and the leaves are falling like snow. 

2. This canvas.

How wonderful is this? Baz is forever memorialized on a canvas print. He hangs in our sitting room and is with us. I can't wait to put up our Christmas tree underneath his picture.

3. Blue Friday.

As mentioned above, we participated in Blue Friday with United by Blue. Their Blue Movement is about removing trash and other items that contaminate our waterways throughout the nation. You can read more about our cleanup here.

4. Thanksgiving day.

We hosted a small group at our house this year and had a wonderful time. And The Bean came up with a clever way to keep the drinks cold through dinner and the rest of the evening. Smart kid!

5. Ducks again.

These funny fowl have made the list for the second week because we just can't get enough of them. Rosey and Happy are their names and they are the most fun!

A few more things:

Making PAP-Porridge

The Thanksgiving lie

Indigenous Peoples Day

• Using Food to Change the Thanksgiving Narrative

Rethink gift-giving

-One last thing. Today is Small Business Saturday. Although you should support small businesses year round it's nice to have a day to focus just on small businesses in and around your area, or online. A lot of small businesses that begin at home are based online only and that holds true for my shop. I have hand painted burlap prints posted and would love to have you check them out. They are made to be unique and are perfect for that out of the ordinary gift. Check out my shop here and thank you for supporting a small business.

Have a great holiday weekend!


Honestly, you've probably never heard of PAP, but I will assure you, it's a quick and a really historic dish. My grandmother, Edna-Mae, was Cherokee Indian and also grew up during the Great Depression. Somewhere along the way there's a book that talks about family on her side walking the Trail of Tears. If you recall, my family is in Arkansas and we also have family in Oklahoma, where my grandparents, on my mom's side, live. My uncle/aunt, cousins, second cousin, extended family, etc. still live in Oklahoma. Right on the edge of the Oklahoma/Arkansas state line is a town called Fort Smith, Arkansas. Fort Smith is the end of the Trail of Tears. My grandmother had it rough at times and the stories family tells about her is amazing. Her family, my great grandmother/father didn't have a lot and my grandmother would dig for used notebook paper and erase what was on the page so she could use it again for herself in school. I don't look at that as poor, but as resourceful and honestly, she was recycling before recycling was cool.

...I digress, with the family of my late grandmother being part of the Indian-forced movement and also being in the middle of the Great Depression hoarding of food, and trying to extend the use of food happened. And of course, more thought was given to the children and babies than the older children, or adults. So PAP was created as a makeshift type of baby food, since actual baby food was expensive and babies are finicky when it comes to eating. PAP could still be used as a baby food nowadays, but with the options and healthier varieties, it might not be the first choice. Many a night has my grandmother, and many others, during the Great Depression gone to bed hungry. Porridge has been used for centuries, different forms of it, but used nonetheless for a quick, cheap food option to feed many. Makes you appreciate the way the world has become and how it's easy for us to go and find food when needed. We make PAP at least once or twice a year and I think it's best on Christmas morning with pancakes, and reminds us that family history is amazing and we should be grateful for what we have now thanks to their sacrifices.

Here's how it's made-which is incredibly simple.


What you'll need:

5 cups organic whole milk (We prefer Organic Valley brand)
2 cups organic sugar (more to taste, if you like)
1/2 cup organic white flour (or more for desired thickness)
Ground cinnamon (We use Simply Organic brand)

What to do:

Add all five cups of milk to a double boiler. If you don't have a double boiler you can use a saucepan full of water and a large bowl over the sauce pan. the point of the double boiler is to keep the mix from burning, which is easy to do. While making this recipe do not leave the stove, or mix unattended. It's a slow process, so be patient. Bring the milk to a small boil over medium-high heat. Don't allow milk to boil rapidly because it will boil over. Once the milk is at a small boil add the sugar and turn the heat down to medium. Stir with a whisk until the sugar is dissolved, about five minutes.

Once the sugar is dissolved add the flour at one tablespoon at a time, whisking the entire time. It will begin to thicken over time, so go slow and add the flour slowly one spoonful at a time. You can either have runnier PAP, or thicker PAP. We enjoy the thicker PAP in our home and growing up my mom's mix was a thick mix as well. Keep stirring in the flour with the whisk until your desired thickness is reached. Removed from heat and allow to sit for five minutes. Serve up on a flat plate one ladle at a time until you have a good amount of the plate. Sprinkle the middle of the PAP with ground cinnamon and serve. You eat the PAP by stirring the middle cinnamon area to combine while leaving the sides white. It's wonderful and I hope it becomes a tradition in your home like it was in my grandmother's, my mom's, and now mine.

Serve it while it's hot and enjoy!

Other forms of PAP:

-Version One
-Version Two
-Version Three
-My post from 2012

(As with any recipe, be sure to use quality, non-gmo, organic ingredients) 

Five simple things (November 17)


Today is a beautiful day in Oregon and the sun is out, but it's still 48 degrees. When I woke up this morning it was about 39 degrees and a little foggy. We are anxiously waiting for winter to hit here in the valley and dump buckets of snow on us. We got a good snowfall last year and we are hoping it happens again this year too. Fingers are crossed in our house. As far as the rest of the week we have been having lots of rain and wind. The wind happened to topple over our gazebo and actually break one of the support bars. We were pretty bummed, but we are able to return it to the store we bought, so it's not a huge loss. We always take it down before the weather change, but the weather change came a bit sooner than expected this year. At least we are able to return it and get a new one. We have cleaned up our garden for the winter season and while putting a layer of straw over our strawberry plants we got a nice "end of the year" strawberry waiting for us. 

The Bean was the one that got to eat the late season surprise and he said it was pretty juicy. We are getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday and have a lot planned for our menu, Thanksgiving Day fun, and togetherness with some good friends. But for now, here are the things that made this week great.

1. Veteran's Day.

We took the day last Saturday and traveled to Albany, Oregon, to watch the Veteran's Day parade. We watched the Northwest Civil War Council walk through with their large number of members and their rebel flag flying the way it's supposed to be represented. We also saw some older men and women that were part of World War II. The older history-type displays are always our favorite. 

2. These socks.

I'm not one to show off my bare legs, but I can't help but brag about these socks. They have been wonderful with the colder nights and mornings we are in right now. The socks pictured here aren't sold anymore, but these are similar.

3. Little library.

After months of contemplating it we decided to go for it and get our own Little Free Library. It's brought about a lot of kids and adults looking for free books to read and share.

4. These boxes.

Yogi Surprise Lifestyle box and Jewelry Box for this month was pretty on point, as always. The Walball is getting worked overtime in out house lately and I'm loving the Gratitude bracelet from the Jewelry Box. You can pick up your own here and Get 25% Off Your First Box When You Use Code: YOGI25

And just a side note, Honest Beauty has a new acne treatment out now and it's working wonders for The Bean's teenage acne. Check it out here.

5. These ducks.

Our ducks, Rosey and Happy are loving all of the rain lately. They don't have a proper swimming hole, so we've set up a make-shift one in the wheelbarrow and they love it!

• A few more things:

Instead of Black Friday join us for 
Blue Friday here in the Willamette Valley. 

Have a great weekend!

Five simple things


Something wicked this way comes... Halloween was a success this year, and with over 600 trick-or-treaters, it was exhausting. We spin cotton candy for the community and it's a lot cheaper than passing out loads of candy treats, and honestly, it's a lot more fun. We enjoyed seeing some repeat visitors and a lot of them reminded us of who they are and we did a proper catch-up. It was nice seeing some of the kids another year and it made us feel great that they put our house on their list for another year.

Today we have taken down the decorations and we've steered clear of the rain so far today, but I think tonight will bring more showers. The temperature has dropped a lot in the last few days and we've had to fire up the fireplace in order to stay a little more toasty than the heater can bring. I enjoy this time of year, but the rain makes it a little less enjoyable, so we are hoping if it does rain that it won't stick around for days on end. I've gone through all of the Halloween decorations as we take them down to see what we can part with and no longer store throughout the year. The Goodwill box is overflowing and we are now down to a small cardboard box with only a few things we feel set the mood for Halloween night. And the minimal journey continues. Oh, for a zero-waste household. Definitely a work in progress still. *sigh*

Here are the things that made this week great!

1. Monopoly man.

The Bean went as the Monopoly Man this year and he rocked it well.


2. Cookies.

I did a bit of baking for Halloween night and decided to give Annie's Organics a try since they are USDA Organic. I normally make a pot of chili for the night and call it good, but I think baking some of these cookies might be an addition to the tradition now. 

3. Persimmons.

I contemplated on whether I should include these or not, but then I thought, my mistake might help others that are interested in the persimmon seed weather predicting. So I purchased these persimmons in the hope of cutting them open and viewing the seeds. The folklore is sort of ongoing fun in our house and this year we decided to give it a try. Well, we purchased the wrong persimmons. I guess there are a variety of different ones and the ones we picked up are the seedless variety. Ooops. Well, now I know that the ones I need to look for are called the American Persimmon. I am not sure which ones we have here, but they are seedless and do us no good. So watch out for that if you decide to give the weather prediction to persimmons a try. We will give this another go with the right persimmons and update on what we find.

4. Mightynest.

This month's Mightynest was olive wood spoons. These are great and much needed in this house. If you haven't given Mightynest a go, try it out here. They send you an item(s) that helps your home be greener and more environmentally-friendly with each shipment.

5. November books.

This month brings us "Simple Matters" by Erin Boyle. She is the creator behind the blog 'Reading my Tea Leaves' and gives such helpful ways on helping one live more simply. I've been following her advice for the past year now and it has brought a new thought process to our home. It's a great read and her blog is a necessary addition to your daily internet cruising. The other books below are suggestions for this month as well and there are new selections each month that can be found here. 

Have a great weekend!