27 July 2008

Managing "solid waste" :)

I have been very busy since my first real post. On my quest to be a more earth friendly mother this time around, I have been conducting a lot of research on better options for "number 2" aka "Strawberry". Though Fiona was born a mere 3 years ago, I have learned so much about the things we expose our children to every day without our knowledge. Though I started to beat myself up about the choices I made with Fifi, I knew I could only move forward. Things are progressing, fortunately. The options that are available today are so much more accessible and affordable. Even Babies 'R Us has tons of organic options - hurray! My latest passion...cloth diapers...

It all started with my neighbor who brought over a Knoxville Holistic Moms newsletter which had an advertisement for a new business that just opened up called Nature Kids Mercantile. NKM is a natural store for kids which features organic cotton clothing, natural cleaning and beauty products, as well as wooden toys. I was very excited to see this type of business being opened up in the Knoxville area. One of the main goals of the owner, GuruBani Whitney, is to create a community of like minded individual. This includes offering yoga, parenting and cloth diapering classes.

Prior to Jill bringing over the info on NKM, I had been conducting some cursory research on cloth diapers. After realizing that just in our family, we single-handedly consumed over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine in order to produce disposable diapers for Fiona for just one year , I knew could not make the same mistake again. There are just so many reasons why choosing cloth diapers is the only way to go - economical, environmental, and health reasons. (If you aren't convinced, go here and learn more! The facts and the benefits of cloth diapering will make you think!)

Early on, I stumbled across the G diaper system at my local Earth Fare. The G diapers just seemed like an easy transition from disposable diapers when compared to the old fashioned flat diapers that you have to fold yourself. I thought this was all that was out there. Little did I know a simple newsletter and a Saturday morning class would open up whole new world to me..

So, I immediately called and reserved a spot for the July 19th cloth diapering class. This would be the perfect place to learn more about cloth diapering in a "safe" environment. The class was fantastic! Very small and intimate with a relaxed atmosphere. The creator of Zoonique cloth diapers (her handiwork featured above) who lives just down the road in nearby Oak Ridge led us novices through the world of cloth diapers. I ended up learning a whole new vocabulary - All in Ones (AIO), doublers, prefolds, inserts, contours..... Bloody hell, there are so many options according to your price range and desire for convenience .
During the class we got a little off topic but hey, that was okay! We talked about everything including toxins in our baby products, why America is so behind the rest of the world when it comes to banning gentically modified foods and produce and how environmentally aware young people are today. It was so comforting to find folks like this in my own backyard!
In the end, I decided that G diapers, whilst a better option than disposables, is still not the best option. The liner or "absorbent" part of the cloth diaper is still producing waste and still has chemicals which will come in to contact with baby's skin. Besides, you have to wash the outside or cover of the G diapers; so, if I am washing the cover, I might as well toss the insert in as well! Voila - no waste!
Armed with more information, I became an ardent advocate of cloth diapers. Instead of the G diaper, I decided to go with the pocket diaper with hemp or flannel liner inserts. After considering all the brands out there - Happy Heineys, Fuzzi Bunz, Kissaluvs, Bummis, etc., I chose to "think global and go local". I want to use the Zoonique line of pocket diaper. The creators were smart to add some special patented features that just pushed it over the top for me. Of course, I like that I am supporting a local mother of 4 also!
I am sure that "non-believers" will question my choice but that's alright. I know that this is the only option for our family. Besides all the practical advantages, there is the more shallow point...cloth diapers are so much more individualistic and fashionable! Who wouldn't want to adorn their baby's bum in such cute creations? Ha, ha, ha!

09 July 2008

Tagged (A Day in Hadleigh, Suffolk)

Lu threw down the gauntlet and tagged me to prepare a post representing my favourite country, my city or state. I have chosen to blog about one of my favourite places on Earth - Hadleigh, Suffolk, England.

Whilst preparing this blog, I found that Lucie's post and mine would be similiar in that despite the geographical differences, England and France, have quite a bit in common.. well, like most other European countries, (Marcus would kill me if he knew I referred to England/Great Britain as "European"...) English folks like to eat, drink, and socialize.

First a bit of background info...Hadleigh is a small village in the county of Suffolk in East Anglia on the eastern coast. I always relate Hadleigh's location to something most people know - it's about 2 hours northeast of London. Hadleigh has a special place in my heart because it is where Marcus's family lives. I have made many happy memories there.

Hadleigh’s history is a long and fascinating one, so much so that the Council for British Archaeology placed Hadleigh among 51 towns “so precious that ultimate responsibility for them should be a national concern.”

Archaeological finds from the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age have been unearthed in the area, as have the remains of a 1st century Roman villa and other Roman artefacts and there is evidence of a 5th century pagan Saxon occupation in the area around George Street.
Hadleigh later came to prominence as one of Viking King Guthrum’s royal towns and it is thought that the Danish leader - who died in 890 - was buried in what is now St Mary’s churchyard.

This area of England is particularly beautiful in my opinion because it is mostly a farming area. It reminds me a lot of East Tennessee with its gorgeous rolling green hills. In the spring time, the countryside is lined with beautiful yellow fields which contain rapeseed flowers.

Rapeseed field along the road to the next village, Kersey

So now we shall embark upon a typical day in Hadleigh. ..

The English are no different than other folks in that they love their food. Despite its bad reputation, I have to say, they have some excellent culinary offerings.

The day might start out with a full traditional English breakfast which consists of eggs, bacon (thick and hearty - not the puny Oscar Meyer stuff), sausage, tomatoes (one of my favourites!), baked beans, mushrooms, and black pudding. I pass on the black pudding as it is is a blend of onions, pork fat, oatmeal, flavourings - and blood (usually from a pig). I generally just have porridge and toast. Of course, the only drink to accompany any meal in England is a nice "cuppa" of hot tea. While we have tried to find American substitutes, there is nothing greater than the tea in England. We always have to get a supply of PG Tips tea bags when we visit.

After our breakfast, we venture over to the lovely walking paths right near my in-laws house. The path takes you along the River Brett to Toppesfield Bridge. There are always ducks in the river and Fiona loves to go feed the ducks. Here she is with Auntie Stephanie throwing bread to the ducks on a recent visit to Grandma Rae's.

Following the river walk brings us into the town center where we do a little sightseeing...

The Guild Hall

In the center of town are some beautiful buildings featuring gorgeous architecture. The Deanery Tower was built in 1495 and was intended to be the entry way/gateway to a grand residence for an archdeacon. However, the stately home was never built. The Guild Hall was built in the 1430s and was used to trade wool and cloth. It has housed a number of different businesses and non-profit entities. It was once home to a grammar school which Marcus attended as a boy.

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary's Church is one of the grandest Suffolk churches. It is one of the only churches in this area that is adorned with a medieval spire. It was built in the 14th century and is also one of the longest churches. I love to walk amongst the graves and crypts that are scattered in front of this magnificent church.

After browsing in the second hand book shops and boutiques along the High Street, we head out to the nearby village of Monks Eleigh for a nice lunch at Bridge Farm Barns (formerly known as the Corn Craft). This family farm features a gift shop, a quaint restaurant, and craft shop. "Corn dollies" are featured prominently through the farm. Creating the dolls from the last sheaf of corn is an art form dating back to the pagan times.

I have to visit every time we go because I MUST get my cream tea fix. A cream tea consists of English scones, Devon clotted cream, garnished with strawberry jam and a hot pot of tea. The pictures do not do a cream tea justice - believe me! It is a little bit of heaven on Earth.

After a bit of shopping at Bridge Farm Barns and a full belly, we head back to Hadleigh. There we would meet up with some friends at the pub - an English tradition. Pubs are the focal point of most English communities. No doubt the regulars will be stationed on their favourite bar stool. Over a pint of traditional British cask/real ale, a stout, lager or cider, we would discuss the lastest football (soccery to the Americans), rugby or cricket matches or perhaps try our hand at one of the many 'fruit machines' - gambling games that feature many different themes.

Since we have had a few pints, we could then hop on the bus and head into Ipswich city centre for a little shopping. Public transportation is cheap and easy to find in England. With petrol prices the equivalent of $8.00/galloon USD, many people park their cars and take advantage of buses and trains to get them around. For those who do drive, they tend to drive small, fuel efficient vehicles like the Smart Car.

Once in Ipswich, we could browse around "Marks and Sparks" - Marks and Spencer, one of the most iconic and widely recognised chain stores in the United Kingdom. For more upscale shopping, we might head over to Debenhams or for those who are looking for fashion on a budget, how about H&M? My trip to England isn't complete without a "poke 'round" my favourite shop - Accessorize - a store dedicated to nothing more than jewelry, purses, and scarves.

All this shopping may have stimulated our appetite so we venture over to our local "chippy" for a "take-away" order of fish and chips. A traditional dinner would consist of battered cod or haddock fish, thickly cut potatoes slices (french fries), doused in vinegar and wrapped in white parchment paper.

If you aren't in the mood for fish, how about another British staple? A nice curry! Curry is the English description of any of a general variety of spicy dishes, best-known in Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan, Nepali, Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai, and other South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines. Curry houses are quickly outnumbering the traditional fish and chip shops. In a relatively short space of time curry has become an integral part of British cuisine, so much so that, since the late 1990s, Chicken Tikka Masala has been commonly referred to as the "British national dish".

After a nice dinner, it's back to the pub for karaoke or heading out to the nightclubs with your "mates".

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the East of England. Cheers, Kimberly

07 July 2008


It's only appropriate that this first blog entry be entitled "enchanté" as it is Lucie who brought me to the world of Blogger. For those of you who don't know, Lucie, she:
  • originally hails from France
  • is an amazing artist
  • is a style diva devoted to affordable, creative, sustainable living
  • is a woman my daughter adores
  • oh yes, and is my cousin's girlfriend

My daughter, Fiona, and Lucie as 1950s domestic goddesses

I am honoured to know her and her family.

Recently, Lu called me out on her blog for not having my site up and running yet. She further challenged me by tagging me to post an entry about my favourite country, hometown, city, state, etc. I am up for the challenge but thought it might be a bit more appropriate for me to first introduce myself since I am new to the blogosphere. So here goes..

Tree Huggin' Mummy with Fiona - May 2008

My name is Kimberly. I live in East Tennessee nestled amongst the beautiful Smoky Mountains with my British husband and 3 year old daughter. We have daughter number two on the way - due in September. I grew up in a military family so we moved around a lot. This not only fed my desire to travel but nurtured my spirit which thrives on change.

After high school graduation, I moved to the Washington, DC area and lived in various suburbs around the nation's capital for four years. I was able to exercise my activist nature by participating in a number of marches and protests. From there, I went on to complete my undergraduate degree at James Madison University majoring in Cultural Anthropology and History. (I have long admired Jane Goodall and Margaret Meade and had hoped to make as big an impact as they have.)

Flash forward two years and a failed marriage, I found myself single and the world my oyster. My girlfriend who was helping me through my divorce suggested that we embark on a lifelong dream of going to England. In the spring of 1999, I took my first trip to the UK and was smitten. Determined to move to the land of fish and chips, double decker buses and great cups of tea, I looked into a Master's degree programme at Birmingham University. It is on one of my "reconnaissance" trips that I met Marcus - the landlord at Molly O' Grady's Irish pub above Victoria train station.

Marcus and I had loads in common - he had grown up moving around too: Africa, Holland, Malaysia, the Bahamas, etc. for example - and from that day forward became inseparable. After I completed my degree programme, we decided to hop the pond to America (his decision!) and become husband and wife in August 2000.

We enjoyed five years of wedded bliss before our first child came along. Fiona was born in April 2005 and has been the joy of our lives for the last three years. As I mentioned before, we are due with our second daughter in September. (Marcus who has 3 sisters has determined he is destined to be around women all his life!) We have a pretty estrogen dominated household - Mummy, Fiona, baby girl on the way, and three female pets - Lulu dog, Molly cat, and Biko cat.

Our lives are hectic but zany and fun-filled.

As for my "career"/occupation: after 7 years in the non-profit arena, I made an effort to find a more sane life. I work now in the insurance business but I find corporate America and I are not good bedfellows. I strive to secure an occupation that will allow me to travel encountering new cultures for a living (Travel Channel: here I am!!).

Throughout my life, I had always been interested in "saving the world", nature, the environment, conservation, etc. and becoming a parent has only reinforced my ideals. I continue to learn, grow, and become a better world citizen. I am thankful for my friends, my fellow bloggers, and the caring community out on the www who continue to inspire and guide me on my quest.

Hopefully this little introduction provided some insight into my life. Stay tuned because there is more to come...

Next up... a trip to jolly ole England