Monthly Archives: July 2009

Starbucks is Still Dumb

I pretty much gave up on Starbucks years ago. I didn’t like that they wouldn’t support fair trade and organic coffee and their baked goods, to put it mildly, sucked. So I’ve continually stuck with my local coffee shops and only hit a Starbucks when we were traveling and it was the only option for coffee.

But then Starbucks decided that they were buddies with Target and planted themselves in ever store. Target is my unfortunate necessary evil. Toilet paper, swimsuits, underwear (what do my kids do with all their underwear? They always need more underwear!!) require that I venture there at least once a month, twice since I usually forget something.

And then I had a third kid. Trips to Target seemed to be non stop, because with three kids I always forget something. And my timing is bad. And then they are hungry, and I didn’t get enough coffee that morning and suddenly…there is that Starbucks. And I notice the ads: “Fair trade!” “Real food!” I take a look and yes, they do now offer fair trade organic coffee and cookies made with the same ingredients that I’d use at home. Still not as good as my local haunts but it’s right here, and I don’t need to drag all three people back in and out of the car one more time.

So I give in to Starbucks, and it’s not bad. They do make a mean iced coffee and the baked goods actually taste good. Until last Friday.

The five of us had ventured out to the way outer ‘burbs to pick up our mini van (yes, we finally got one!). On the way back we passed a Target and stopped to pick up a few things. And of course there was Starbucks beckoning to us on the way out, “You need an iced coffee!” The Skeptic ran out the the van, brought in our mugs and took the boys back to the car while I placed our order. And then had the most frustrating conversation I’ve had in a long time.

You see, I’ve been hardcore this year about not wasting disposable cups. I’ve been planning ahead and 90% I’ve got a mug with me. So like I usually do at any coffee shop, I hand over my mugs and order iced coffees. The girl takes my cups over to the counter and I hear her mumble a “Hmmm…” as I proceed to check out their free mp3 of the week.

Then I notice she’s mixing them up in plastic cups. That’s weird, I thought. And then my jaw dropped as she then proceeded to dump whatever she mixed into our reusable mugs and then (yous see this coming, don’t you?) she dumped the plastic cups into the garbage.

“Did I just see that right?”

“I made you iced coffees with milk. That’s what you ordered, right?”

“Yeah, but I mean that I gave you reusable mugs specifically to avoid putting two more plastic cups in the landfill.You just made my drinks in two plastic cups, dumped them into my mugs in threw the cups out.”

“Umm….we’ll, we have specific measurements we need to use.”

“You couldn’t have washed out those cups and used them again?”

“Umm…”

“Or maybe get a measuring cup? This is just really disappointing, because the whole point of a reusable mug is to NOT make more garbage, you see?”

“Ohhh….” A light started to flicker. I think she got it. “You should write to Starbucks.” She had this terrified but strangely chipper look to her. Obviously this conversation had not come up before.

“Yeah, I will, do you think maybe you could mention to your manager that you guys might need a measuring cup, or something?”

“Ummm, we’ll you can write to Starbucks about it.”

“Yeah, I will. Maybe next time you can just rinse out the cups, right?”

“Yeah, I see what you’re saying…”

But I wasn’t convinced that she did. At this point, I left, dumbfounded and headed back to my car. “It’s hopeless. We’re all going to die.” And I relayed what took place in the store.

I need to stop this saga now as I have two small boys hanging on my legs. So, I urge you to try it out. Take a reusable mug to Starbucks. Order some sort of iced beverage and see what they do. Report back, because I’m hoping that this was just a case of a girl who just doesn’t think that much. Although, if Starbucks was smart, they’d know they have employees like this and provide them with a measuring cup. And a 20 cent discount for a reusable mug, like my local coffee shop does. So yeah, they’re trying. I appreciate that. But they’re still dumb.

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Woolen style

One of my goals for the Tour de Fleece was to attempt new things. I recently purchased Spin Control and The Intentional Spinner and I must say, these were the books that have been missing from my spinning library. Everything I’ve had has been either too basic or too complex. (Alden Amos? Love him, but that stuff is complicated. Have you seen that math in that book?!?)

Between Amy’s excellent information on making your wheel work for you and Judith’s brilliant explanation of woolen vs. worsted (she has flow charts!!) I finally figured out how to spin woolen style. For you non spinners it means you are drafting (pulling) the fibers as they are being spun. Much trickier than worsted spinning, in which you don’t let any twist into the drafting zone. But woolen results in a nice, fluffy yarn with air trapped in the core. Both authors explain this stuff in a very understandable manner. Add to that this You Tube video I found….

…and suddenly I’ve got it!

Here are the singles. The singles look terrible:
woolen spinning

But once I plied it there was a huge improvement:
Woolen spinning

Apparently the trick with woolen is to underspin, overply. Sadly I do not have a picture of the finished yarn, because once I gave it a good soak it looks even better. Nice and fluffy and fairly even despite that once thick hunk you see.

Not bad for my first attempt and now that I have it figured out I’ve got lots of experimenting to do!

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Something to watch….

Pay a visit to:

The Urban Homesteader

From my friend Rebecca:

I am sending out a call for submissions. We are starting a new online magazine and forum called The Urban Homesteader. It will hopefully be up and running in the next few months. We are looking for articles, art, pictures, stories, recipes, how-to’s related to all things Urban Homesteading.

What is Urban Homesteading? It is the creating of a more sustainable life on the micro and macro level in urban and suburban areas. Growing food, raising chickens, bee keeping, but also engaging in the local politics of positive people centered policy or the struggle to achieve that. For example, are people in your community attempting to build an intentional community? Is there push back? Who are the unrecognized leaders in your community that keep it all stuck together. Is there an Octogenarian that has been maintaining a garden for 50 years? How does she can? Where does he keep his seeds? Is there someone off grid in a McMansion? We want to hear about it! Write an article, take pictures. Share your art and recipes and tips and how -to’s. Write a book review or product review. Love your CSA? Co-op? School? Elected official?Tell us about it.
Share this post with others you know, friends, neighbors, college students, high school students, home school students. We are interested in all regions. We cannot offer compensation at this time other than publishing.

I’m very excited she’s getting this publication going. Even if you’re not interested in submitting anything, please take a minute to visit the blog and keep your eye out for the first publication!

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Moments

There are lovely moments with boys that I often tell myself, “remember this moment, remember this feeling.” Of course, time goes by so fast and so much happens that it often feels impossible, but I saw one today that I didn’t want to miss:

Little Roofer

Little Man, the roofer….the hammer hanging on his pants, that boyish determination to do something so grown up. We’re having our roof redone this week, and the boys are in love with the crew. Roofers are their newest heroes, so of course as soon as they cleaned up and left for the day Little Man had to go downstairs, get Daddy’s tools and get to work. I especially love the fact that he put on his jeans since I usually can’t get him to wear them. He was sad that I nixed the saw, but said a tape measure and hammer would do.

(Those power lines look frighteningly  close to his head, I promise, they’re not!)

We had a visitor due to the roofing:
visitor

This baby sparrow was found living in one of the many gaps in our roof, not quite ready to be on his own. The Wildlife folks said it would be best just to bring him to them since there was nowhere else to move the nest and mom probably wouldn’t find it anyway.

My Tour de Fleece is coming right along. I can tell you that respinning something S when you had already spun it Z is worthless. The good news is I had enough red silk hankies to spin more, S style and finish with my plan:
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The crazy batt is black and full or silk and glitz, plied with red silk spun from silk hankies. Lovely stuff. I wish the picture showed it as black as it really is.

I’m experimenting with woolen spinning now, and I actually think I’ve got it. I’ll be plying tonight and will show the results soon.

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Go Local

Time for a Go Local update, I missed it last week.

I love local eating just for the fact that I get delicious food, support brilliant small farmers and give big agribusiness one more kick in the pants. But I’m also smitten with the fact that I can save a buck or two. Some fruits or veggies  that I might put up are total money savers. Red peppers? They are practically free in the summer and cost the price of a small car in the winter. But others, it’s pretty close. Let’s see how I made out with the berries….DSC06093

I ended up with 13 bags of 12 ounces a piece. I paid $2.50 a pound for these organic berries, total of 9.75 pounds of berries, wow! That comes to about $2.11 a bag.

Frozen organic berries at the coop cost about $3.99 for a 10 oz bag, $2.79 when I stock them up on sale. So my 12 ounce bags are still cheaper than the ten ounce bags on sale. Strawberries? An obvious winner! Next year I need to do twice as many.

As for my other “alongs” my Tour de Fleece has a flat tire and my fiddling? Yeah, I didn’t tell you about that one, did I? Well, let’s just say I haven’t gotten too far. But hey, that’s life with three little boys, isn’t it? All in due time, I say. And now, it’s breakfast time. Hope your day will be as beautiful as ours!

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So what happens?

DSC06216

WOW! Excuse that glaring flash. I was trying to capture all the pretty bits of this batt I spun up but I think this picture just may make me blind. I need to remember to photograph in daylight.

I spun up this batt using the double drive on my Ashford Traveler rather than the scotch tension I usually use (I’m experimenting for this tour, right?) The plan was to then ply it with some red silk hankies I’d been spinning on my spindle.

The problem? I always S spin my singles on the wheel, and just realized I Z spin on the spindle. So the question is, what happens if I just run the silk singles back through the wheel, S spinning them so I can ply it Z style? Guess I’ll find out as I’m about to try it tonight.

Tonight as he was falling asleep, Little Man reported to me that he thinks he’d like to be “a little bit Amish.” He then requested a horse for the backyard.  I love six year olds.

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And I’m Off

I began the Tour de Fleece with a rolling start this weekend.

A little spindle spinning in the backyard on the 4th:

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I’m not smitten with this fiber. It reminds me of trying to get a really bad knot out of my hair. I’m not sure what’s up. I’ve tried spinning from both ends of the roving and it doesn’t make a difference. I picked this up a few years ago, and the other fiber I’ve gotten from this seller has been lovely. This fiber is a bit coarse, long staple length but then has all this short stuff mixed in. Not enjoyable so far, but the color is pretty.

I took my wheel for a ride and went to my spinning group at the Fiber Studio. (Psst, Pam’s having a sale!!)I thought taking my wheel for a bike ride was a fitting way to start the tour.
DSC06200

While I was there, I finished up this blue, sparkley fluff that I picked up at Ewetopia. Going by my plan to try different techniques, this was meant to be a singles yarn. But as you can tell by that pile of spaghetti it’s a little, shall we say… energized. I may have to find something else to ply it with but I’m not sure what. Plus, despite the absolutely gorgeous color (I wish my photo was better) it is a pretty coarse yarn. Not good for the neck or head. So I’ve got to think about this one.
DSC06206

Lastly, I finished up the mix of Spinner’s Web Promethean and Punta that I plied together. I’m so, so in love with this yarn. It will be a sweater for Spinner for his birthday, not sure on the pattern yet. I’m open for suggestions! I have two big skeins of this yarn and for the first time I spun what I had planned on, with a project in mind. It’s a worsted weight.
DSC06215

Both of the above skeins are soaking and drying right now. I’m quite on track with my Tour goal of spin as much as I can, with as many techniques as I can. Oh, and take notes!

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