Animals, Chipmunks Forever, Veganiness

Save the Earth! It’s the only planet with chipmunks.

Last fall I lost my mind and decided to go back to school. I’m now halfway through my Masters degree in Humane Education a.k.a. Learnin’ How to Save the Planet.

Of course, we all know I really just want some more of those fancy letters to add to my work signature.

Go-Jules-Go-signature

Over the past year, I’ve struggled to find humor while bearing witness to the countless atrocities detailed in the coursework. I even considered throwing in the towel on higher learnin’ altogether. But speaking of towels (wait for it) – there’s still hope! On top of the recent move to tiny living, here are some of my favorite ways of ensuring the world’s chipmunks will have many, many years left to thrive:

1. (S)wipe Left on Paper Products

No, no, no. I’m not asking you to trade your TP for twigs. But getting into the habit of using dishtowels as napkins is the gift that keeps on giving! Who wants to dry their hands with 18 pieces of tissue paper anyway?

napkins
WHAT ARE YOU MADE OUT OF?? Necco wafers and sadness???

I love using soft, fluffy hand towels as much as…

2. Bag Lady

I’m obsessed with my reusable bags. Remember this?

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No more once you switch to sturdy, waterproof bags!

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This is 1/4 of my collection. I may have a problem.

3. From K-Cups to More-than-OK-Cups

Not only do they make gobs of compostable products for any coffee machine, they also sell reusable Keurig K-Cup pods that you can fill with your own coffee, then compost the grinds, for a totally waste-free caffienating experience.

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This is New Jersey. We drink cawfee.

4. Got milk? Yeah, and it’s nuts!

Swapping out any one dairy (or meat) item at any one meal for a plant-based option instead is a HUGE win for woodland critters and humans alike. I know, I know. “BUT CHEESE,” you’re thinking. Thankfully, the plant-based options for milk and cheese are becoming more convincing than ever – check out Chao cheese if you don’t believe me. (For more on the implications of eating dairy, which I know can be confusing – shoot me a note. And here’s a great article with lots of cool charts emphasizing the impact of small dietary changes.)

nut-milk-bag
Then you too can search “nut milk bag” without hesitation at work.

5. Compostest with the Mostest

By far my proudest accomplishment in 2016 was making this composting bin with Babs:

Babs-composting
Booya.

Since then, I’ve upgraded to an item that’s marketed as “the most beautiful composter in the world.” By tossing all of my raw produce, coffee grinds and compostable packaging in there, these bad boys have cut down my garbage by a whopping 75%!

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So beautiful, no?

6. It’s the Little Things that Count

Plastic straws, paper receipts, those little stickers on your fruits and vegetables – they really add up! Say “no thanks” when you can and hopefully these items, much like Scott Baio, will soon become a thing of the past.

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“Global warming” – chyeah right! He doesn’t even need pants! Photo credit

7. This is Us. Not Buying New Sh*t.

Learning about the materials and energy required to produce every single new consumer good was enough for me to reconsider buying that battery operated armpit hair braider. Even recycling itself -turning those plastic Sprite bottles into a rug, for example- can demand intensive resources. Choosing refurbished or borrowed items will make you the Kevin to Mother Nature’s Kate.

This Is Us - Season 1
I hope you’re not using those wafer napkins to dry your tears. Photo credit

8. Do you have your permission slip?

Because it’s field trip time! Visit your local farm sanctuary and be amazed by the animals’ stories. Did you know chickens experience REM sleep and teach calls to their babies before they’re born? They even purr! So cool!

Dolly-the-Llama
Just imagine what I could tell you about Dolly the Llama!

9. Cabbage Patch Pets

Remember how Cabbage Patch dolls came with those nifty adoption papers? There’s a lot to be said for adoption – skip the breeders and pet stores and scoop up a rescue.

Jules-Cabbage-Patch-costume
I don’t know why you assumed I DIDN’T have this photo.

10. Fork You

Switching to reusable utensils (and dishware) was a “sacrifice” that played in my favor! I dine like a queen at work:

work-lunch
What’s with the bubbly, you ask? It’s Tuesday!

11. Warm Fuzzies

The best thing you can do for chipmunks? Love. Love them, love yourself, and love the land we share.

Chipmunk Smiling
She said “nut milk bag.”

P.S. – Yes I did.

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Blonde Moments, humor, Just For Fun

I Can’t Believe I’m Telling You This.

When I pulled up to my rental cottage in northern Maine this past weekend, I let out out a sigh of relief. Ten hours in the car with a distressed Labradoodle, two wrong turns, and a long, steep decent via gravel road had been worth it.

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I had booked the cottage nearly nine months earlier, anticipating my summer residency, a week-long retreat required as part of my Humane Education Masters degree program. (YES, it’s a THING.)

I knew after nine-hour days of singing Kumbaya and braiding my cohorts’ armpit hair, this New Jersey native and closet introvert was going to need some alone time.

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I think we all remember what happens when Jules tries to be a team player.

I arrived at my little rustic gem with a view and, per the check-in instructions, headed straight for what I thought was the front door. “Doors will be unlocked,” the instructions read. “The key will be inside in an obvious location. Should you need a spare, it will be under the back doormat.”

I jiggled the handle. The deadbolt, apparently, was working overtime.

I jumped from foot to foot, having had to pee for what felt like 127 hours.

127 hours

I walked around the side of the cottage and saw another door. “Ah, of course,” I said to myself. “This must be it.” I turned the handle and once again – door locks working the night shift.

My bladder screamed as I tried both doors again. I checked and rechecked under both doormats. Uncle Jesse, my dog, bounced around me as if to say, “Is it time to go back to Jersey yet?”

I groaned loudly and walked back to my car to retrieve the check-in instructions. I called all four numbers listed on the paper and not a single person answered. My bathroom situation went from a slightly unpleasant Kevin Costner film to Waterworld.

Waterworld

I looked around surreptitiously. People were sitting on the porch at the house to the left, but they were almost entirely shrouded by trees. The house at the top of the hill had a partially obstructed view of Fort Knox my cottage, but, maybe no one was home?

There was no time left to wonder. I grabbed a battered box of tissues from my car and tiptoed to the side of the cottage. With one more wary glance up the hill, I said, “F*ck it,” and, well.

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Like we haven’t all peed on the side of a rental cottage in Maine.

The relief was as sublime as the view. I was a woman on a mission now. After wrestling with several ancient windows held secure by what I think were pine tree shivs, I managed to pry one open.

I climbed inside, unlocked both doors, and started unloading my overstuffed car when I saw a man walking down the gravel driveway. He looked like a cross between a young(ish) Jeff Bridges and a basket handwoven by fruitarians.

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That rug basket really pulled the room fruit together.

I gave a shy hello, crusted in sweat, shame and ten hours of car funk, assuming he was headed towards the small staircase that led to the coastline.

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As he neared, it started to feel increasingly awkward. Maybe he was one of the numbers I’d just called? I took a few steps forward and held out my hand.

“Hi…. I’m Jules. …I’m renting the cottage for the week…?”

“I just happened to notice you pull up,” he said. “I live in the black and tan house that’s shaped like a teepee built in 1971 by a blind nudist colony.” He pointed up the hill, his long brown locks swaying in the breeze.

“Oh, yeah, so,” I stammered. Holy hell. He saw…everything. “I couldn’t find the key and no one answered the emergency number, so, I peed my brains out on the lawn and climbed in through the window…”

“I think I know where the key is,” he said without missing a beat. He headed towards the porch and knelt down by a crack in the wooden staircase. “The owner was just here two days ago.” He handed me a small silver key. “Want to give this a try?”

“Wow,” I said sarcastically. “I feel really secure now.”

He laughed and waited for me to try the key, making small talk about my dog and having once lived in New Jersey. Rattled, I tried to shake him off, and he soon headed down the stairs towards the water, as if that had been his plan all along.

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And perhaps it was. Say hello to my new makeshift curtains.

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