Saturday, May 15, 2010


Congratulations to all of you who completed our 21-day event! I recently sent out an email asking for a poll to vote on our final meeting date. Please respond when you know which days in June you are free. So far I only have had 2 responses. Also, we will be contacting each of you to collect the journals to figure out the final winner. Once again, thanks for all your diligence and participation.

Also, please feel free to use this blog to continue to share with us about any concerns you have or if you wish to continue living lighter. Are there any habits you will keep?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hey guys,

Here's a sneak peak at the Mr.McCloud prize.

simple DIY

Hi everyone,

My friend send me this idea and I want to share with all of you. This simple DIY give plastic bottle a second useful life.... ( I know we shouldn't be drinking from plastic bottle, but if you happen to be buy a drink when you are really really thirsty and forgot your water is how you can reuse the plastic bottle to feel less guilty ...heehee)

This is not only cheap and it really seal the bag to prevent your cookies or chips to get soft....


In response to Denise's post on how I'm doing at the end of this process...amazingly, I'm doing alright! The project encouraged us to wake up early & check out the Farmers Market for 3 weekends in a row. We have a cabinet where we stuff our plastic bags after shopping & I noticed that it's not overflowing as it normally is thanks to utilizing reuseable bags. Although I haven't had a chance to use alternate means of transportation, I have been mindful of carpooling with others when going out. Taking 5 minute showers hasn't been too challenging as I'm quick in the shower anyway. There's much to do in the morning than stand under a shower for a long period of time. Buying organic food has been more of a struggle for me since it's more expensive. I find myself asking, "do the pesticides on this inorganic apple & the environmental impact outweigh the overall nutritional value & its affordability?" Unfortunately, my answer is usually no. I also slipped & made 2 trips to McDonald's during the course of this project. It will take some time for my eating habits to improve! However, I'm not a huge carnivore & can forego meat during some meals.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The crux of what this whole project is about. A "must watch".
Hey guys,

Countdown to Sunday! Our event is ending soon. So far I have 3 submissions for Mr. McCloud. Please remember to submit before the event ends. :)

How is everyone doing today? Hanging in there? Can't wait for the event to end? ...or has it been a piece of cake? Any thoughts?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

worm bin

My nifty 3-tier worm bin is awaiting for worms. :)

This is a super late post. My sincere apologies to Malissa.

You may have already come across this, but Composting 101 gives a great overview
of compost bins, the 411, and of course the do's and don'ts.

Above are some other great books to consider.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Last weekend I took my bike to run a small errand to the grocery store. It was fun and it encouraged me to not buy so much because I had to fit all of my items in the baskets on the bike and in my backpack. It was also some nice exercise and it made for an enjoyable and leisurely tour through the neighborhood. Usually when I take my car I am in a hurry and don't really appreciate my surroundings. We also made it to the farmer's market around closing time and were able to get a great deal on some items that the vendors wanted to get rid of before packing up.
I had a fun weekend at my bridal shower and did my best to "live lighter" that day. The eating part was out the window since I had a meats galore meal. However, I did save all the drink bottles and wrapping paper from my gifts--took them home & recycled them. Parties generate so much waste! I'd have no problem if people gave me gifts wrapped in newspaper. One friend who is very environmentally conscious bought me gifts that were only sustainable and fair trade. I stayed over in a nice hotel and was pleased that their toiletry packaging was made from cornstarch. I even kept to the 5 minute shower rule! I was also able to carpool with friends for a short distance. Better than nothing, right?

Friday, May 7, 2010

grass fed beef

This is my dinner for today! a hamburger made of grass fed beef from Niman Ranch.

I didn't know about Niman Ranch until my teacher (Phil) mentioned it in class. It is run by family farmers and a practitioner of sustainable agriculture. I think it is located somewhere in Marin county too, so it's local as well!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I know you can't see it very well, but that's about 500 worms wiggling around in the middle of my food scraps. Woohooo! I've got worms!

Hurray!!! I've got worms!

Okay, the title sounds kinda gross, but it's true. I finally got my composting worms in the mail yesterday and quickly put the little buggers to work. I think I followed what most of the vermiculture do-it-yourself websites suggest pretty well. I lined the bottom of my compost bucket with damp shredded paper, dumped my food scraps in with a handful of potting soil, placed the worms in the mix and covered them with more damp shredded paper. So all good right?

Wrong! These little wigglers did not want to stay put. After about 15 minutes I had oodles of worms working their way up and out of the little holes I drilled for ventilation. 20 minutes of worm wrangling later I tried covering my newly acquired bird bait up again with a little more potting soil and wet paper...and waited. No surprise, they still weren't settled. So, I tried what I should have done in the first place (and what I recomend for anyone else who tries this). One site suggested just covering the pile with a whole sheet of dampened newspaper and placing a light directly overhead. The light encourages the worms to burrough deeper into the compost pile, in theory at least. I didn't want to bring the bin inside so I just made do with the patio light outside. By now it was about 12:30am so I decided to pull it in for the night and hope that $30 worth of worms would stay put overnight. Hell, I'd be happy if I only kept $10 bucks worth at that point.

After a somewhat anxcious day at work wondering if I just blew $30 buck, I came home and quickly checked my compost pile...and wah da ya know...I still have worms. I'm not sure how many really, but they seemed to have finally settled. I did have to round up a couple stagglers, but for the most part I think the last technique worked. Now I just hope they're hungry enough to eat all our food scraps.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mr. McCloud

Hello Everyone,

It appears that Nancy is our only participant who submitted their entry in on time. After much discussion with Evelyn, we would like to extend the due date to the end of the 21 days. We also understand that some of our participants have other things going on. Our project is only successful with group participation, so we're highly encouraging everyone to submit an entry. However, we understand that this is not fair to Nancy, so we will give her a movie ticket for her dedication and diligence. We hope to receive a submission from each and every one of you. ;)

Denise & Evelyn

Monday, May 3, 2010

Marc & I went to the Farmer's Market yesterday & got organic tangerines, tangelos, and asparagus. It was a beautiful day and I couldn't resist a chocolate croissant again. We spent Saturday afternoon sorting through our recyclable cans, plastics, and tins, and were rewarded with over $100 at the recycling center! I continue to go to the library to get my books instead of buying them to save both money & paper. When I'm done with my magazines, I'll either give them to my friends or donate them to the library. It seems like such a waste for only 1 person to read 1 magazine--let's spread the love in a magazine!
Today I went to the grocery store and for the first time brought reusable bags with me. I only have 4 so the rest of my groceries had to go in plastic bags. We do reuse the plastic bags for taking our lunch to work and for sorting. It was nice to not use so many plastic bags. I think that I will eventually buy some more reusable bags and switch over completely. I just need to remember to keep them in my car.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Yahoo's "green" news

I wasn't aware that Yahoo had a section dedicated to green living...check it out!

my breakfast

We (Kamilah and I ) found this organic milk at target the other day, and I have been eating it with cereal since then for breakfast. It's yummy and USDA certified organic!!

Rave Burger

Congratulation for everyone, I am so proud for all of you, it's the 6th day, very soon lighter living will become part of you. Personally I think being ecotarian is the hardest for me too. It's really hard to find a happy cow to eat :p
I want to share a burger place in San Mateo downtown called Rave Burger. I haven't try it yet but i will soon. They use beef from Niman Ranch, which their cows are humanely raised and never ever given antibiotics or added hormones.

Come and try if you happen to pass San Mateo.
I saved a record of 5 bags yesterday by using my own reuseable bag. Yeah! It felt good. Apparently, Target credits you 5 cents everytime you bring your reuseable bag, but I'm not sure how they enforce that. I was at 2 different Targets yesterday & was not credited at all. But, I did notice that the bathrooms only had hand dryers, no paper dispensers. (Marc noticed in the men's bathroom too.)

I saw a news segment about goose-down filled items such as jackets, pillows, & blankets and where they come from. Supposedly, there are farms that pluck the feathers from LIVE geese. There was graphic footage on it & it was so sad and disturbing. At this time there's no way to see if a goose-down product is cruelty free or not. I think I have 1 goose-down jacket & now I feel so bad about having it. No more goose-down products for us!

Speaking of Costco...

I was just there today. They have those wonderful free samples they were handing out. Without even thinking I took a mini cup of those rice samples they were giving out. When I finished, I tossed the mini cup into the compost bin, and then I stood there dumbfounded just staring at my plastic spork! They conned me into adding more trash to my pile....aaaahh. Talk about mindless consumption. Never go to Costco when you skipped your lunch.

On a lighter note, I love that Costco sells a pound of Organic Spring Mix salad for $3.79. If you eat salad by the pound, which I inhumanly do, you really get the most bang for your buck. Today I discovered that it is in fact amazingly local (Earthbound Farms is located in Carmel Valley if you visit their website), and it's economical and the box is made from 100% recycled plastic. Located on the bottom, there is a triangle with a number 1 on it can be recycled again....yay!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I discovered this at lunch today. Apparently costco sells an organic knock off of Starbucks' Frapacino. Taste basically the same too. Hope this helps anybody else who has a serious caffine addiction.

A Burger Treat

Alright, it's Day 5! Thank you for all your hard work! I know that for some of you, not eating meat is hard. So...last night, I found something special. Here's a treat for all of you who have been going vegetarian. Sonoma Chicken Coop serves 100% grass fed beef burgers. I had dinner with the family last night, and beside the menus, I found this little card next to it. I'm not much of a burger person, but I was tempted to try it. It came with a side of fries or you could choose to have it with sweet potato fries. Now here's a dilemma...sweet potatoes are good for you (A nutritional All-Star — one of the best vegetables you can eat. They're loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. )...except when they're fried. I often find myself in this ambiguous war. "Lesser evil" does not equal "good". It's like when they have a company like Pepsi who creates Pepsi Raw (a natural version of soda) Although cane sugar is not as bad as high fructose corn's still sugar! Maybe it's just me who experiences these excruciating dilemmas....and yes, I'm probably being dramatic.

So anyway, I overall had a dinner loaded with fat and yes, I chose the sweet potato fries. I ate half of it, and saved the rest for another meal.

"Broke Even" i think...

Yesterday Mr.Cloud must have approved my efforts to live lighter.. considering my way of doing things before i started this project..

Though i drove to work.. i biked back home and today morning i biked to work.. (google map says it is ~7 miles each way..) Yay..

Shower wise i am doing ok... on an average they are about 4min 20 secs.

I am getting better on the food front too..At least i am trying to go meatless . Yesterday we went to chipotle for lunch and i ordered a veggie fajita bowl (for the first time ever.. though i must say it was pretty " blehhhh" compared to my carne asada fajita bowl). We went past L&L hawaiian bbq .. and it was hard not to be tempted.. I have given up on coke for now.. and got my own water.

Well i guess, if you know you have to save your trash you make a conscientious effort not to generate much.. Maybe once the project is done i would think of an imaginary trash container that i am filling up..that might be a motivation to reduce consumption


I hope the little wigglers are hungry when (if ever) they arrive. We're accumulating a lot of compost already. Good thing this bucket has a good seal :-)

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Gadget's good and bad

Well today's post is going to be a short one. Mostly since I've been struggling for a while now to get my phone to work with the blog. For some reason I can't send pictures to the blog!?? Anyone have an LG Dare and know how to do this? I'd like to post some pics from my phone but can't seem to figure it out.

The shower's are definitely getting easier now, the eating is just about as tricky, but the biking is getting tougher. If only I could make myself more aerodynamic somehow, this mornings commute would have been so much nicer. I did splurge a bit (on the bike) and copied Jay with the odometer idea. Thanks Jay! You're right, it's amazing how much waste you can produce with just one purchase.

I also like the bucket idea in the shower from Denise. It took at least 1+ minutes for the shower to warm up this morning leaving me with little time to take care of business. It never seemed like as much of a waste before Cloud7, but now losing a minute of water is like losing 1/5 of your shower! That, relatively seems like a lot of water now.

Well, I can't wait to use my new bike gadget. Guess I should sleep so I actually have time to pedal to work tomorrow.
This is a test. I just set up mobile blogging on my phone. Let's see if it works

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I haven't had a chance to use an alternate form of transportation yet and would like to at some point. I'm driving an average of 20 miles a day. Funny enough, Marc's made me drive everywhere since we started this challenge... :)

Showering continues to be a bit of a struggle and I finish close to the 5 minute mark every time. My hair is long so it takes extra time to lather and rinse all the shampoo & conditioner out. I assume it's easier for the guys to wash their hair!
Today was the first day I was able to get my shower under 5 minutes. It usually takes over a half a minute to get the water warm enough to tolerate which leaves me with a little over 4 minutes in the shower. I think I am getting the hang of being as efficient as possible which allowed me to meet the 5 minute rule.

Yesterday was my first grocery trip since starting the challenge and it was tough. It was hard to not buy the usual items that I like to get such as frozen chicken and ground beef. My friend at work who is a vegetarian gave me some vegetarian dinner ideas to try out. Tonight I tried bell peppers (organic) stuffed with a rice and bean stuffing. It was really tasty and filling.
Yesterday nothing much happened in terms of me living lighter.... I drove almost 20 miles back and forth form work and also to get lunch (i carpooled with Jay for lunch though)...

I tried to make up for it by going meatless.. we went to Costco to get a slice of cheese pizza each.. For the first time i noticed (or Jay pointed to me :) )that Costco has separate bins for trash, compost and recycle.

I had generate some compostable waste (coffee residue, banana peels etc) which i disposed off at the compostable bins in one of the Stanford cafeterias.. On a geekier note, I found this journal article online which makes activated carbon from coffee residue. It is interesting since there is some research on using activated carbon for storing hydrogen for fuel cells.

Today was a rather uneventful day in the Cloud7 universe. I took a gamble and road my bike to work again today, praying the weatherman to be wrong...which of course he was (which made me happy, but more importantly dry). I've noticed, since I'm lucky enough to live so close to work, it really only takes me about 3-5 more minutes to bike to work as it does to drive. Something I'll try to remember once this project has wrapped up.

I felt a little bad about the Baja Fresh yesterday, so in attempts to "neutralize" yesterdays' meal I eliminated meat from my diet today. Normally tonight's pasta dinner would have had a meat sauce to go with it. Instead I just about tripled the amout of mushrooms that went in to "hearty" it up a bit. Admittedly, I still miss the beef, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Hopefully a new stockpile of Boca Burgers will make the Veg eating a little easier.

Still no worms yet, but I did start prepping their new home: a newly ventilated Rubbermaid tub with some shredded paper on the bottom. From what I've read these are pretty nice diggs for a red worm. Guess I have a good use for my old junk mail.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Not much to report today. I spent most of the day in a meeting at work and created way too much waste by using plastic utensils and paper plates/bowls during lunch. However, I was the last to leave the office today and made a conscious effort to turn out all the lights in the building. Marc & I had a meatless dinner tonight--yummy pasta that he made. We made a quick trip to PW Market last night and I was peeved to learn that I spent $5 on organic juice concentrate! There was no price tag on the product and now I know why.
Hey everyone,

It's Day 3, and I see that everyone has a little difficulty, mostly with food and showering.
Thank you for your participation, I left a comment to everyone who has posted.
Keep up the good work!

day 1 ( late post )

The first day was great! Perfect timing to have the start of the project be on a beautiful Sunday in spring, when all the farmers markets were out in full bloom. I bought a bunch of food for the week, all of which was from certified organic local growers.

The 5 min shower was longer than I had expected and I preemptively jumped out over a minute earlier than I could have.

I also bought a bike odometer to track my mileage, though this ended up producing a bit more trash... While I haven't produced much trash today, it's really amazing to see how much of the stuff we create on a daily basis, mostly through the things we buy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

New challenge...ecotarianism

So day two seems to be revealing a greater challenge than the 5 minute shower. This one stretches throughout the day and involves something very important to stomach. Sure a 5 minute shower is a bit of a challenge, but at least it's over with by mornings end. When it comes to eating sustainable foods however, I've noticed things are definitely easier on the weekends.

So far I think I'm following the ecotarian diet moderately well...though I know it can be done better. Right now most of my meals really only have one local ingredient and one organic ingredient. Fortunately, as it's spring, most everything's in season. Hopefully as the days progress we'll restock our fridge with more sustainable goods from the Farmer's Market or Whole Foods, but right now we're just trying to use up our other "Pre-Cloud7" purchases so as not to be wasteful.

Snacking has turned out to be a bit tricky as I found out at work today. I had one bowl of instant ramen noodles and it practically doubled my Sundays' total trash production. Guess I should have stuck with the fruits for snacking. Lesson learned.

The end of the day was the hardest. After biking to and from a long day at work, I was in no mood to cook and neither was Nancy. Inevitably we caved to the pressures of eating out. So, of course we now had to decide where to go that would fit the bill, no easy task when you're already starving. After little debate we settled on Baja Fresh. :- Not necessarily ecotarian, but a slight step up from McDonalds. Neither of us ordered steak, so I'd like to say it was a step in the right direction, but who am I's not really sustainable dinning. I even tried to find some sort of local ingredient list on the website to no avail.

All in all, today's meals have been a valuable learning experience. Or better yet, a lesson in preparedness. As soon as possible I'm hoping to get to Trader's or Whole Foods to make this step of simple living just a bit more simpler.

I know this post was a bit of a rambler. I'll try to keeping it short and sweet next time.

Soon I'll be attempting a new challenge. Vermiculture!!! I've ordered the worms, now I just have to build them a home before they get here. Stay tuned....
The second day of my living lightly would not make Mr. Cloud particularly happy. For starters i drove almost 30 miles. On the way, i stopped at Safeway to get some groceries. Once, there i realized i did not get my shopping bag and hence had to use the Safeway plastic bags. Hoping to improve my Karma, i intended to fulfill three instead of the minimum two criteria required for choosing a food item. But Safeway let me down, i realized it is not the best of places to be eco-tarian. For example, i wanted to buy bananas, but they had bananas only from Ecuador and no information about whether it was organic/sustainably grown etc. Same for rice. I kind of redeemed myself by buying organic milk, coffee ( USDA approved, though i did not find coffee which was bird friendly) and Kettle chips (instead of my usual Lays Wavy Ranch).
Oh well.. i will try Traders Joe next time and see if i can fare any better.. Also would do some research online to know more about the eco-brands before i go shopping next time...

So far weekends seem a bit more easy for me to keep up with the 7 habits. On Sunday I was able to take my time preparing lunch and dinner and was able to use veggies that we got at Farmer's Market. On weekends we don't travel very far so alternate transportation (walking and biking) fit in nicely to our schedule.

Weekdays however are another story. I am usually in a hurry to get out the front door in the mornings but today I packed up last night's left over spaghetti to take to work with me for lunch. Unfortunately, my work commute is about 100 miles round trip per day which is not very good because I drive to work. I will have to get into the habit of taking my bike to run short errands. This evening we rode our bikes to the gym instead of driving. It worked out nice because we got cardio taken care of on the way to and from the gym.
I hate Mondays & reaaallly wanted to stand under the hot shower for more than 5 minutes, but I made a commitment to living lighter and turned off the water with 8 seconds to spare. LOL, I had 19 seconds left yesterday!

I fueled up at a Safeway that had a gas station and was very impressed because their station was run 100% by wind energy. I have never been to a gas station that offered that and thought it was pretty cool.

I also bought a cute reuseable bag at a craft store. I definitely think this will motivate me to carry it around everywhere since I love the design. I put a reuseable bag in one of my cars and need to remember to put one in the other car. Marc & I have also placed the bags closer to the door of our home so we get in the habit of grabbing them when we go out. So far, so good!

As a means to eliminate paper waste (and save money), I have been tearing only the needed amount of paper towel, rather than the huge perforated amount.

My only dilemma is what to eat for dinner tonight. I'm starving & want to eat out but not sure how ecotarian I could be with a growling tummy.
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thank you to my first three participants who have shared their experiences with us today.
The first 4-5 days may be the hardest. But, the body loves repetition. So the more you develop a daily routine, the easier it gets.

Also, the only way I know how you're doing is through this blog. So I can not stress enough, please participate and don't forget to record daily data in your journal. Thaaaaanks!

A moderately successful trasition

So the day is done and what an interesting day it's been. I think Nancy and I both approached the day with a bit of trepidation...unsure of what exactly we'd gotten ourselves into, but as it turns out things weren't so difficult after all.

First challenge to tackle was the dreaded 5 minute shower. As I'm definitely not a morning person, I typically don't wake up until 5 minutes into my shower as it is. Perhaps I'll try jumping in before the water warms up to remedy this in the future...we'll see. In the end I logged a successful 4.5minute shower (non-shaving). Maybe I'll just go full-blown "aggro" and grow a beard for three weeks...we'll see about this as well.

Our next experience living green was at the Campbell Farmer's Market. As wedding planning had us up early already, we figured our next stop should be to pick up some local produce. As our fridge is pretty well stocked already we left with just some organic bread and strawberries. Overall it was a nice experience, perusing the stands and picking at samples. I'm excited to go back next week and do some more significant shopping.

The biggest challenge of the day...or rather the least successful challenge of the day was our means of transportation. I'm assuming Mr. Cloud would be a bit stormy since we drove about 43 miles running errands around town in our own alternative transportation today. At least we could say we car pooled right? Okay, so I'm stretching it a bit. Guess I'm biking to work tomorrow (and likely most of the week) to make up for it. Which reminds me, I've gotta check my tires.

Well, good luck everyone. It's time for me to do some serious bike maintenance.


1 day down.. 20 more days to go !!!!!

Trash i generated today (two candy wraps.. candy i did not buy, was gifted to me)

First day was easy.. easier than i thought.. part of it was because we went for an Indian buffet last night.. and i had stuffed myself up to the neck..
Net result did not eat meat the entire day.. yay.. had rice and organic kale with some onions and carrots that Denise cooked (said No to leftover Spicy Sicilian sausage and pepperoni pizza... another first..)

In the morning we went to the Campbell Farmers market..we got our own bags.. but denise got a bio-bag from one of the stores to store her compostables to take to SF on wednesday..

We did not go play tennis, went hiking instead as the tennis courts were far and we did not want to take the car.

I survived Day 1! Marc & I were able to browse around the Campbell farmer's market an hour before it closed. I wasn't a fan of the crowds and hot sun, but the chocolate croissant I bought made up for it. Yum! We didn't purchase too many items because we have some produce at home we want to use up first. I did notice many vendors' signs had a CCOF approval (CA certified organic farmers) and am proud that I know what the acronym stands for now.

We stopped at Nordstrom Rack and I purchased a coat. Unfortunately, it's made in China which probably means it was made from a sweatshop. I'm not proud of that fact, but it was a great deal I couldn't resist! However, I did tell the cashier that I didn't want a bag. I felt REALLY awkward carrying the coat out the door without a shopping bag and felt like I was stealing. I bet the man sitting by the exit door believed I was stealing. You don't typically see people walk out of clothing stores with the items visibly in hand! I'll be sure to remember my own shopping bag next time to avoid any stares or assumptions made by society.

I babysat my 2.5 year old nephew today and discovered kids are messy and use lots of napkins! It's hard to conserve napkins when sticky hands are reaching for you every other minute. Maybe I'll use a cloth washcloth next time...that way I won't be wasting a stack of napkins and can use the same washcloth throughout the day.
Welcome everyone to the first day of your challenge! I'd like to thank everyone for coming yesterday to participate and listen to our presentation. It was a successful event and great turn out.
Much gratitude to our chefs, Michele and Denny for the organic lunch beautifully fused with local freshness and creativity.

We've got some blue skies and friendly sunshine today. I hope everyone got a chance to stop by the Farmer's Market and stock up for your weekly supply. If you're busy today, here's the list of local farmer's markets if you don't get a chance to stop by today.