A Green Heart in the Heart of Chicago

Me (center) with Greenheart manager Katherine and staff member Laura

Me (center) with Greenheart manager Katherine and staff member Laura

Chicago is a city teeming with fabulous restaurants, breathtaking architecture, interesting museums and little neighborhoods full of gorgeous boutiques. Strangely there is an incredible shortage of fair trade boutiques (any Chicago-based entrepreneurs want to take up the challenge?) but one shop has got it right and you don’t want to miss it.

I visited Greenheart a few weeks ago while visiting family in Chicago. The shop is amazing, I wanted to buy one of everything!  Greenheart is the kind of shop that has figured out the perfect harmony between good prices, great quality, and excellent style and selection.  I found the expected variety of fair trade goods – handbags, jewelry, some nice clothing lines, children’s toys and home decor. On top of that they’ve hunted down some truly unique finds such as ethical flip-flops (I’m loving my new pair!), scissors handmade in India, outdoor floor mats made from recycled materials, and the cutest umbrellas made from recycled plastic laundry detergent bottles.

All these great products were laid out in a warm, inviting space where my sister-in-law and I were treated to tea, fair trade chocolate and great conversation with the store staff. I walked away with my funky flipflops and an organic lipstick I love.  Now at Greenheart you’ll find a selection of Bambootique‘s messenger bags from South Africa, jewelry from Honduras and Nepal, journals from Thailand and more!

Greenheart is located on the north side of Chicago. They packed up and moved everything to an even bigger, better space just a week after I was there and I can’t wait to check it out next time I’m in Chicago. Find them at 1911 W. Division and tell them I sent you!

Portland Fair Trade Blog

CaptureSomething new is brewing for fair trade in Portland and I’m not talking about that delicious coffee over at Stumptown. Lois Gearhart, manager of our city’s Ten Thousand Villages store, is keeping a Portland Fair Trade blog to bring the fair trade community together.  Check it out to see what’s new in fair trade in Portland, how you can get involved and who else is talking about fair trade. Thanks Lois and all the bloggers at Portland Fair Trade for keeping us up to date on such important issues!

My Grandpa Eldon

My grandpa Eldon Barnes passed away a few days ago. It wasn’t a surprise – he’d been going downhill for a while and

Grace snuggling with Grandpa the day before he died

Grace snuggling with Grandpa the day before he died

lived 86 full years.  Still when we got the call that he had collapsed and died immediately, I was overcome with grief. Grandpa was a big part of my life growing up and knowing I would not have the chance to visit with him again this side of heaven is a sad, sad thought.

I also was filled with relief and joy. Grandpa seemed to be struggling more and more each time we’d visit him. No matter how bad he felt he always wanted to know what we were up to, where we’d been traveling, what new thing little Grace was doing these days. He always ended up each visit with a feeble kiss and a heart-felt “I love you.” With Grandpa Eldon I felt special.

I think it’s impossible to know just how influential someone is in your life until they’re no longer part of it. In the last week I’ve been struck by the life lessons Grandpa imparted to me simply through his actions. His presence at every school play, choir concert, graduation, birthday and every other major holiday and event demonstrated how valuable I was to him.  His generosity at times when all seemed lost saw me through some otherwise impossible situations, including a private college I never could have afforded without him.  His inquisitive nature always wanted to know more about me and what I was interested in.  He made me feel like I could do anything.  His faithfulness to my Grandma Clara showed me how fun and rewarding marriage can be even after 59 years.

I miss my Grandpa incredibly already. It’s hard to imagine visits to my Grandma will now be without him. And yet he’s free. He became a follower of Christ just a week after his marriage and he lived a life grounded in his faith. He’s no longer struggling and I’m so glad for that.  I honor his life, a life well-lived, one I would do well to emulate.

Bambootique Joins Fair Trade The White House Campaign

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Bambootique is thrilled to join forces with our friends at Anti-Body, as well as other fair trade companies and organizations, to ask Michelle Obama to make the White House fair trade!  The coalition is a grass-roots, non-partisan group of vendors, consumers and fair trade organizations inviting our first lady to make the White House a fair trade home.

You can easily join the campaign by signing the invitation to Michelle Obama. The suggestion to Michelle is to increase the number of items purchased by the White House that are fairly sourced. Think how much coffee it takes to run the country? Or how much chocolate is used in those delicious White House pastries I’m always reading about? Our President and his wife have shown their committment to sustainability in so many ways, most recently in breaking ground on the White House’s own kitchen garden.  This request asks them to take that personal commitment one step further by prioritizing fair trade food, body-care and clothing within their family and staff.

Join Bambootique in asking our First Lady to make fair trade an everyday part of White House life!  (And while you’re at it, check out these great savings from Fair Trade The White House sponsors including Bambootique)!

Bambootique Gift Certificates Make Great Gifts For Grads, Teachers

fair-trade-products-assortmI’ve noticed more gift certificate orders coming in lately and realized it’s that time of year when we give gifts to grads and teachers. If you’re stuck for a unique gift for someone you want to appreciate, consider a gift certificate for $25, $50 or $100 from Bambootique.  If you’re shopping for someone who’s concerned about women’s issues, the environment, sustainable living, or just likes to look great, then I can help you out. Click here for certificates in set amounts or contact me directly for a specific dollar amount.

Crazy Coupon Shopping

Today I saved $254.65 on my family’s weekly groceries!  However did you manage that? I hear you ask.  It took a lot of prep, two hours of shopping at two different grocery stores, lots of bribing Grace, plus a trip through the Burgerville drive-thru on the way home. My deeply discounted purchases included organic beef, wild caught salmon, organic fruit and vegetables and organic milk, and I saved big on every single one.

Before I tell you how I did it, let me tell you who inspired me. I read this article in our local paper a few months ago about Louise Jaffe, a local coupon guru who regularly saves 75% off her grocery bill just by shopping smart. She blogs about it so I turned to her site for advice last week to see if I could do the same while still shopping sustainably.

I’ve always been a coupon clipper from the paper but now I’ve gone hardcore, at least this week.  First I perused my Sunday Oregonian for grocery store ads and manufacturer’s coupons.  I compared what was on sale at different stores to my grocery list and made a list for each store.  I chose to focus on just two stores as I knew my schedule (and sanity) couldn’t accomodate more. I chose Safeway and Thriftway since they’re both reasonably close and had the best prices on the things I needed.

My list for each store was made almost entirely of items on sale at that store that I needed. I also found I had a number of matching manufacturer’s coupons plus both stores offer double coupons. On top of that, both stores offered $10 off your order of $50 or more this week through coupons in the paper.  I stocked up on items that were really, really cheap and would store or freeze easily.

Here are some examples of my favorite deals today:

Safeway

  • Buy one, get one free on organic blueberries and organic grape tomatoes (neither available yet in the farmers’ market but both coming soon to our yard!)
  • Wild Atlantic salmon for $9.99/ pound. I bought 5 pounds, had the butcher wrap each pound separately for easy thawing and froze them all.
  • The clearance section was full of organic beef tenderloin at 50% off. I bought four packs (about 10 pounds worth $76) for $38. It’s all in the freezer.

Thriftway

  • Organic Valley milk is on sale for $3.69. I printed off $1 off coupons from Organic Valley’s website (you can print the coupon up to two times) plus used double coupons to get a total $1.50 off each half gallon, or $2.19/ half gallon.
  • Kettle chips are on sale 3 for $5  or $1.69 each. I was kicking myself for not having anymore $1 off coupons from the Chinook book. If I had I could have doubled them for 50 cents more off (the max Thriftway will double a coupon) and paid $0.19/ bag. Alas I did not have any more but $1.69 is still a great price.
  • While not organic, I did save really big on my husband’s favorite Raisin Bran Crunch cereal. The Thriftway insert in Sunday’s paper had a coupon for buy 3/get 3 free. Then I had 3 manufacturer’s coupons totaling $3.50 off. My double coupon gave me another $1.50 off. All 6 boxes cost a total of $7 or $1.25/ box. He’ll be happy with that for quite a while while I enjoy my Barbara’s Shredded Spoonfuls.

My total bill between the two stores was still higher than a normal weekly shopping bill.  After all the savings I still spent $228.44. However we’re now stocked up on really nice meat and fish for at least 2-3 weeks. We’re also headed to the beach with friends this weekend so my bill included several meals for 12.

I don’t think I could shop this way every week but I don’t think I’ll have to to still save big. If I do crazy coupon shopping (my new moniker for it) every 2-3 weeks I can stock up on canned goods, cereal and meats I can freeze when they’re on sale. We’re growing a lot of berries and veggies and buying the rest of our produce at the farmers’ market so I figure I can shop there weekly for fresh items.  Now that I know how much money I can save if I just put some thought into it, I’m pretty sure I’m hooked.

I’d love to hear what deals you’ve found and how you manage to save money for your family while shopping for sustainable foods. What do you do? Have you tried this kind of crazy coupon shopping and does it work for you?

Going Green With Baby Book Signing in Beaverton – June 13th

41kuwbjbgul_sl160_1 If you’re a mom concerned about living green with and for the sake of a little one, you have to get a hold of Melissa Moog’s new book Itsabelly’s Guide To Going Green With Baby. I’ve blogged before about what a complete guide it is to being an eco-friendly eco-mom. Now you can get a signed copy of the book, meet Melissa in person (she’s really great), and enter for a chance to win a $400 stroller from Baby Planet.  Here’s the full scoop:

EVENT:

Itsabelly’s How to Choose Safe Baby Products Event
Saturday, June 13th at 11:00 am
Barnes & Noble Tanasbourne, 18300 NW Evergreen Parkway, Beaverton
Local author Melissa Moog, author of Itsabelly’s Guide to Going Green with Baby will offer simple and practical Baby Safe Tips including:

* Shopping tips & reviews on safe & eco-friendly baby products
* How to go green without breaking the bank
* Tips about organic and natural family living

Raffle drawing for $500 in eco-friendly baby products (Stroller System, Earth Mama Angel Baby Gift etc.)

Refreshments provided by New Seasons.