The Friday Feedback Forum

January 1st, 2010 - filed under: Furthermore » Feedback


Well First things first, let me start off by giving a huge and heartfelt thank you to Kathleen A. and Amy H. This week, these two ladies were kind enough hit that tip jar over there on the right. Thank you both so much for your generosity; you have no idea how much it means to me.

As you probably know, Bonzai is entirely reader-supported, so a little tip goes along way towards keeping this site viable. Right now donations are headed towards very-much-needed baby stuff – so THANK YOU!!!

And of course,
hny copy
As you can see from that picture up there, Damian and I had quite the wild night out on the town . . .


Okay, so maybe we were actually at home in our pajamas. But we did have a ‘bed rest blast’ – feasting, playing games, and ringing in the new year with a champagne flute of sparkling apple cider. And honestly, I couldn’t imagine anything better.

I hope you all had a magical new years eve, filled with joy and friendship and adventure. And if perhaps you need some time to recover, well hey! It’s the weekend!

Here on Bonzai that means it’s time to throw in your own 2 cents. So let me have it! How was your week? What’s on your mind? And what do you want to see on Bonzai?!

As usual, the Feedback Forum will remain here at the top of the page all weekend, so if you’ve got an idea or a question or you just want to introduce yourself and say ‘Oi!’, you can stop back by any time. This is your community, so get involved and have your say!

Have a great one guys!


  • Mrs. Money

    You guys are so cute. :) It looks like you had a great night!

  • Valerie

    I’m so glad you were able to celebrate the new year and have a wonderful time! Can you believe it’s 2010!? My question this week has to do with eating locally. I’m starting to become more aware of eating things grown nearby. How far away should my food come from in order to reduce my carbon footprint? How strict should I be on this when I see things that are going to be imported whether I buy them or not? For example: Bananas, I love bananas do I have to give them up? What about meeting my nutritional needs? Getting a variety of fruits and vegetables & eating foods I actually enjoy the taste of. Thanks again for letting me pick your brain and availing myself of your knowledge and experience :)

  • Tabitha

    Hey. Happy New Year! I’m glad yall were still able to have lots of fun. I just want to say that this blog is inspirational, even if I can’t do everything you suggest yet. A lot of my friends think being eco friendly is a joke, and they make fun of me sometimes, so it’s nice to know there are lots of other people out there who take it seriously. Keep up the good work!

  • Kate

    Wow, what are you standing in front of in that first picture? If that is art hanging in your home, I am incredibly jealous.

  • Kate

    I know that some one has asked that you do a ‘geek-out science’ explanation of reasons why you went vegan (how you’re not killing yourself by only eating veggies, nuts, grains and legumes). I just want to second her suggestion :-)

  • April

    Is that a mural you are standing behind? Gorgeous!

    My request is a discussion about green cosmetics. I read your pieces about hair dye and hair gel, and am interested to know more about other beauty products. I imagine that tumeric would make a lovely eyeshadow, but I am looking for other options.


  • Kathryn

    I made some candles. :)
    A lot of people in my life don’t want me to be vegan, so it’s always nice to come to this blog and reread posts. It makes me feel less alone.
    Here’s to the new year!

  • Tenise Rae

    So awesome. Is that piece of art IN your house?? It’s fabulous whatever it is. :D

    I’ll tell ya what I’m workin’ on of late: making a tote out of a bath towel. See, I became rather attached to this one bath towel of mine. It was soft and big, and the best part was a big letter “T” embroidered in calligraphy right at the bottom. Now I’m not a HUGE fan of embroidery (just picky that’s all), but this “T” really tugged at my heart and I fell in love with this towel big time. Unfortunately, it recently got ripped…..still don’t know how it happened…and it’s not fixable. I got some various good ideas from friends and family to either donate the towel to a vet or humane society, or cut it up into rags, etc., etc. The thing is though….I CAN’T GIVE IT UP! I can’t even cut it up into tiny pieces for rags. Sooooo, I decided to make a tote out of it. Why not, ya know?? Seems to me every time I got to the lake, river or beach (summer time of course) I come back with wet items…every time (duh, right?). Then I go to either wash the bag that I carried everything home in only to have it ruined by the washing machine (might be that they’re just cheapy reusable bags) or it just gets mildewy from not drying out fast enough. Then there’s also the case of some bags (mainly backpacks) are just not kosher in my washing machine. So hey, why not have a bag that’s reusable, soaks up moisture well, is washing machine safe….AAAND, has my stylish, lovable, curly “T”. Hehehe. Brilliant I say…BRILLIANT! :D

  • Amy H

    You’re welcome! Glad it’s going to good use.

  • Minna

    What IS that behind you guys? Wow. Haha. I love your sense of humour :D (And also, cute PJs!)

  • Kelly

    You two are adorable! Happy New Year!

    Tenise…I would love to see that tote when you’re done!

  • Amycat

    You guys look so happy and vibrant!! Happy New Year!! Thinking of my New Years affirmations(instead of resolutions) And seeing what it’ll take to get me off my ass and start making music and singing again! What I want to know is what you do for a new year resolution, when you already lead what seems to be the healthiest, happy life anyway! Haha!

    Lots of love, Amycat xxx

  • Salekdarling

    Your art piece behind you makes me very happy. I want it!

    You two look like you had a lot of fun! Happy New Year. :-) I totally did the same thing you did. (We danced, played games, drank) I gave my fiance a kiss when the ball dropped and than we headed to bed. haha!

    I don’t have any resolutions. I have goals! I’m eatting more dark green plants and staying away from starchy foods. Oh! And I’m learning to be a “morning person”. That’d be easier if I wasn’t such a night owl. =]

    I’m off to bed, although I don’t want to. Good night!

  • Allison

    I finally talked to my new duplex neighbors (with whom I share a backyard) about their garden and the prospects for my own garden. I have a sort of hillside that has been untouched and fully, naturally mulched by surrounding trees and bushes. I am really excited to get started, but also really nervous. I tend to get overly ambitious and get in over my head and then never actually get anything accomplished. Hopefully having someone here who has already been through one growing season will really help. I am about to reread through all of your farm posts for some motivation and inspiration!

  • Melisa

    Love the two pics! Really made me smile. I also would like to know about the “city” you’re standing in front of. And April read my mind. Tell us everything you know about green, cruelty-free cosmetics.

  • Sayward

    Thanks everyone for the compliments on the background art. It is in fact hanging in our living room, and it is super awesome. Here’s the story:

    Damian’s grandfather grew up in Portland, and comes from a long line of artistic eccentrics. He himself was a jeweler in Hollywood in the 50s-60s-70s, and man has he got some great stories! Anyway, *his* father had this piece of art commissioned by a local Portland artist, I think around the late 30s or 40s. It’s absolutely enormous (as you can tell), and 3-dimensional, and it lights up (we rigged it with LED x-mas lights). It portrays a spooky night in downtown Portland at roughly the turn of the century.

    When Damian and I moved from SoCal (where we grew up) to Portland, it seemed only appropriate that we take the piece back to it’s home. We rescued it from his parents garage, cleaned it all up, and now it’s the centerpiece of our living room. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen and I’m so lucky to have stumbled into it!

    @ Valerie – This is a great question but unfortunately, it’s a really complicated answer. I’ll need to devote an entire article to answering it properly, but here’s a general response.

    I’m not as big on local products as a lot of other people. It’s a very popular idea right now, because it seems to make intuitive sense. But if you dig a little deeper, it’s really not so simple. There’s a number of reasons.

    Firstly, not everywhere that people live can support year-round food growth. For example it does not make sense for someone in Phoenix Arizona to shop local in the summer! The amount of energy that it takes to transport *resources* like water and fertilizer, into the dessert in order to grow food, is SO much more than the energy it would take to grow the food where it naturally grows, and then ship it in.

    Same with New England in the winter. Is it better to buy a local veggie that was reared in a green house that had to be heated and let 24/7? When you look at the actual carbon footprint, it’s not.

    People often focus on the end result, the ‘food miles’. But this ignores the many many other factors that go into food production. Water is a huge one, and people forget that water is literally shipped all over the country. So, depending on where you live, it’s not always better to shop locally.

    Then there’s the whole issue of community. Of course it’s important to support your local community, but what about the global community? There are countries who’s entire economies are based on export of fruit and veg. What would happen to them if we all ‘went local’? Google ‘Kenyan green beans’ for a poignant example of what I’m talking about.

    Now, I hope I’m not being too discouraging. I certainly don’t mean to bash the whole locavore movement. But I do believe that it’s often an overly-simplistic way of looking at food politics.

    Here’s what I believe are the absolute best ways to reduce your food-related carbon footprint:
    1) Cut out meat. Seriously, it’s the absolute best thing you can do for the environment. Here’s a study, for example.
    2) Shop your farmers market, for as much of the year as you can and for as much of your food as you can. By doing so you will eat seasonally (and locally), which will cut your energetic outtake a ton.
    3) Buy food fresh in season, and then can or freeze it for later. I buy bell peppers by the bus load when they’re in season, because they’re cheap and I love them in everything from stirfrys to pasta sauces, etc. Best of all they freeze great! I wash them and core them, then dice ‘em up and store them in glass jars in the freezer. And voila! Vitamin C all through winter. You can do this with all sorts of veggies, and that way you won’t have to buy out of season.
    4) Buy organic! Commercial fertilizers are the devil on the environment. ‘Nuff said.

    That’s my perspective and I’m definitely going to write more on this later, but hope that helps for now! Luck!

    @ Tabitha – Thank you sweetie! I’m so sorry you don’t have a lot of support in your real life, but that makes me so glad I can be here to offer it up. You are not alone and you ARE doing the right thing! Keep it up!

    @ Kate – Do you mean an article on veganism from the health perspective? I am working on a series of articles that will cover various nutrients/vitamins/minerals, but if there’s something else you’re thinking of please let me know! I love writing about veganism. =)

    @ April & Melisa – Oh man! I’m so busted, I’m seriously using leftover makeup I’ve had for years (is that gross?). I haven’t gotten new makeup in AGES. I do plan to cover this topic in the future, as I agree that it’s very important. I’ll keep it in mind but honestly, it may be a while because I have a lot of research to do. I apologize!

    @ Kathryn – Congrats on the candles! So cute in the teacups (and beautiful header on your blog) Sweetie, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Please stop by here any time you need to be told that. And feel free to email me as well. I’m sorry it’s lonely out there, but you are doing the right thing and you are definitely not alone! *hugs*

    @ Tenise Rae – I love that idea! So creative, and of course it makes SO much sense to have a water absorbent, washable beach/lake bag. That’s a really great idea and I may have to borrow it. =D

    @ Amy H – Thanks so much again, and it IS!

    @ Amycat – Oh no! No way, you’re not allowed to think that I’m ‘perfect’, haha. Seriously though, I have so much room for growth it’s not even funny. I focus on the positive because that’s how I try to live my life, but that doesn’t mean I’m all together and I certainly don’t have everything figured out! I mean, I appreciate the compliment, but you know . . . we’re all on the same journey here, growing and learning. =)

    @ Mrs Money, Minna, Kelly, Salekdarling, and Allison – Thanks guys! I love your comments and hearing your stories, especially all your amazing goals for the new year. Happy 2010!!!

  • Dylan

    @Valerie-I was so tempted to offer my own response to your question since ‘local’ is my biggest issue, so I am glad Sayward did first and I can now respond to your question by way of responding to Sayward’s answer.

    First I agree wholeheartedly with Sayward’s suggestions and comments and only have additional comments and some adjustments to her emphasis. Starting with the comment that local makes ‘intuitive’ sense, I would agree and expand that to “local is a holistic concept that refers to a holistic way of living”, there is much more to it than just food-miles and carbon footprint. As a function of my 30 years of working in this area (local vegetable farming and produce wholesale, distribution and retail), I can tease out what that intuitive holistic sense is all about.

    The two aspects of ‘local’ that are not explicit in the term but fundamental to our sense of why we want to support local are ‘scale of operation’ and ‘directness to the market’. We realize when we look at what is going on that small scale producers must market more directly and treat their land, laborers, product and customers more holistically, healthily and sustainably, whereas large scale producers must distribute over broader areas, use more mechanical, chemical, environmentally and ecologically harmful, labor exploitative and nutritionally harmful means of production, storage, and distribution, and, market their product as a commodity where price and supply, profit and market share are the main concerns.

    As well, buying more directly strengthens community, enhances consumer control over quality and selection, and increases our knowledge of and connection to land, nature and the process that allows us to feed, clothe and shelter ourselves. Which almost certainly means buying from smaller scaled producers.

    The other concept that I believe is included in this ‘intuitive’ sense is ‘displacement’. When you buy bananas, are you displacing other fruits that are produced more locally and diverting capital away from the local farm base, or are you economically leveraging your cash flow to enhance your nutritional needs and increase your enjoyment in life?

    If you do like Sayward said and buy seasonally (local)from farmers markets (CSAs, food coops, small local outlets etc.)then you probably do a good job of supporting local and are not displacing local producers when you buy non-seasonal dissimilar items from outside your area.

    I also agree that buying meat and animal products is one of the worst ways to increase your carbon footprint as well as other environmental/ecological costs. However,I do see value in including animals in an ecologically integrated agricultural system as increasing diversity, and enhancing production and nutrition in an environmentally sustainable way. But then I am not a vegan and the moral issue of animals in agriculture is a whole other factor that I am not addressing.

    Finally, in response to Sayward’s comments about the difficulty of eating local in Phoenix I would recommend reading “Coming Home To Eat”, a book by Gary Paul Nabham for an alternative viewpoint. The book covers a year in his life of trying to eat as much as possible on food grown and harvested from within 150 miles of Tucson, his home.:)

  • Katie

    Hello! I’ve had such a fabulous time reading through your blog. My husband and I relocated recently and I’ve been in the grips of grad school with very little time on my hands, and this blog has been a great relief, and a source of lots of ideas and inspiration for how to put our house together in a creative and conscious way – thanks for putting so much time and energy and ingenuity into it!

    (I heard about it from Amanda – this is her old friend Katie – I think we’ve met a couple times, but ages and ages ago. Congrats on the impending child, and Happy New Year!)

  • Valerie

    @Sayward & Dylan-Thank you so much for the outpouring of information! You introduced me to aspects of the locavore movement I would have never thought of, you have given me a ton to think about & research.

    I am a vegetarian currently, with some vegan tendencies as well (I have some sort of milk allergy that gets worse every year so I am am reducing my dairy intake one product at a time, also I am learning things about the industry that have sped up my reduction as of late).

    When I lived in the Phoenix area I was a member of a CSA and am currently looking for a year-round CSA in the Puget Sound area. Another great resource in the area is Pikes Place Market and I am currently trying to get my hands on a used bicycle so that I can take the ferry to down-town Seattle and get fresh local produce at least once a month. I also can’t wait for the summer when the local farms market starts up again. I would also like to start gardening this year, although living in an apartment complex, I am relegated to container gardening, but at least its a start.

    I am definitely going to look out for what is in season stock up on it, and preserve it. I am constantly dreaming of a walk-in pantry and a chest freezer. Finally I got my husband to agree to let me pay for organic foods! Until he saw Food Inc. he though it was just a waste of money and didn’t make any difference. Now I just have to wait for him to make the step of becoming a vegetarian, although he has, of his own volition, given up red meat.

    I know this response is a bit rambling, but I want to say thank you so much for creating and contributing to this community. I am so glad I checked the blog before I did my grocery shopping today. I look forward to you post on the locavore movement

  • Lisa Hoffman

    Hey guys!!!! Portland looks GREAT! AND so do you!! Uncle George would be proud! Thanks for preserving such a unique piece of art work. It’s FABULOUS!! Can’t WAIT to see you!

    Happy New Year to you – it’s going to be absolutely WONDERFUL!!!

    Sir Jack sends his barks…..

    Mom & Lee (Dad)

  • Sayward

    @ Dylan – Thanks so much for the awesome response (I was wondering if I would see you come in on this one), and it’s clear you are much more familiar with this topic than I am. I’m still learning about the local movement, and still sorting it all out for myself. I do appreciate, and agree with, pretty much everything you said. And of course, I had to randomly choose Phoenix, and you and Valerie BOTH have links to Arizona. HA! But I will check out that book. =)

    @ Katie – Hi! Wow, crazy, how are you? And I’m so glad you like the site. You talk to Damian on Facebook, right?

    @ Valerie – Yay for The Pacific Northwest! My in-laws live on the sound as well, it’s so beautiful there. It sounds like you are well on your way. It’s all a journey – for all of us – and it sounds like you are moving fast in the right direction. Also, you can do a lot with container gardening! =)

    Good luck with all your ventures. Let me know what you discover!

    @ Lisa Hoffman – Yay Mama, can’t wait to see you TOMORROW! Crash and Harley eagerly await the appearance of Sir Jack. =)

  • Katie

    Hello again! Things are good – living in New England, getting used to shoveling snow and all that. We just moved out here a few months ago; I really like it, actually, despite a few noticeable drawbacks (specifically a lack of vintage and secondhand clothing and books…grrr).

    I talk with Damian now and again on fbook – I wrote recently to send congratulations on everything that’s going on for the two of you! I heard that you were expecting from Amanda, and I rolled over here to check out your blog and discovered that it’s fantastic! I love how thoughtfully you two are putting your life together and growing your family – it’s inspirational, seriously, the level of consciousness with which you operate. It’s wonderful.

    At any rate, congratulations! Be well.

  • Sayward

    @ Katie – Thanks lady! I’m gonna go hunt you down on Facebook now. It sounds like you’re doing great, too. Congrats on the marriage! And the move. I love New England and all it’s awesome quaint culture. Especially in the fall when the leaves are changing. =)

    Okay, going to find you on Facebook . . .