Tuesday Update: gasp…it’s a garden!

Last August, I put together a list of goals that I was working toward. I have to laugh, because just yesterday, I planted my first vegetable garden. Yes, I’ve taken up gardening! I am shocked.

I don’t like bugs. I don’t like being outside on hot days. I don’t like getting dirty. I’ve never liked plants or flowers that I had to care for, and usually just let them die. Flowers in a vase are fine, because I don’t have to do anything, but bouquets wrapped in cellophane are a hassle! Unwrap bouquet, trim stems, find a vase, fill it, dissolve the plant food, find a spot for the vase, discard dead flowers in a week and wash slimy vase. No thank you!

Last fall, someone suggested that tending a garden might help my older son to focus. When the weather was cool enough for me, I took my son to the garden center and together, we picked out a few plants and flowers. I had visions of him doing all the messy work, the digging, the watering, and the weeding. Those visions did not come to pass. I didn’t like the planting part, but we all had fun with the daily watering! We also all loved the way our garden looked. It was such a pretty view driving home and seeing life. I knew I wanted to plant another garden in the spring.

Over the past few months, I’ve felt inspired to plant a productive, rather than decorative, garden. I don’t think to eat vegetables and often buy them only to forget about them. As a kid, we mostly ate canned vegetables, so I never got into the habit of putting them on my plate (in any form) as an adult. I do love most vegetables, and thought that if I grew them myself, I might eat them more often. I’d also alleviate the guilt over not springing for organic.

I wanted to go big right away, but knew that container gardening would be a better choice this year. No weeds and less watering. Sounds great to me! I picked up some self-watering planters so there’s a chance some things will survive. If I succeed, I’ll start Square Foot Gardening next year.

It’s been less than 24 hours, so I can’t quite say I’m a gardener yet. But I’m so ridiculously excited about these vegetables! And herbs, which are foolproof, right? I figure even if my lettuce doesn’t make it and my carrots don’t pop up, at least I’ll have fresh basil, parsley, and thyme.

As for my other goals: I’m still working out regularly and I think I now qualify as being in shape. I ran/walked a 5K last weekend. I’m still adding clothing to my donation pile, and making careful and focused shopping lists (though given my post yesterday, those lists will change). I don’t feel much of the stress and anxiety of special-needs motherhood anymore, and honestly, that has been the most miraculous change this year. I’ve had some of the best times with my kids lately. I also have a seedling of a spiritual life again, growing nicely!

I can’t wait to tend to my little garden tomorrow! (Really? Did I just say that?)

Wanted: New Shopping Criteria.

I’m ashamed to say that I found out about last week’s factory collapse in Bangladesh while reading one of my favorite fashion forums. It wasn’t on my radar until I was looking at what to buy next, and what everyone else is buying… and then I didn’t want to buy anything. I froze. I wondered if I should return a few things that still have the tags on them. I chased my own tail, wondering why I love clothing so much, what compels me to buy new clothes, why I’m not living a minimalist lifestyle, etc. No answers, just lots of fashion flotsam floating around in my head.

Today I read an article about how boycotting stores and/or brands might not be the best answer. I decided to look into the brands of the items I was about to purchase or recently purchased, and was overwhelmed. Are they “good” companies? Are they “bad”? What does “bad” mean? What issues do I care about right now, and what should I care about? Price and quality have always been my main concerns, but this factory collapse has challenged me to think about more than, well, myself. Over the years, the issue of sweat shops and forced child labor have come into the news, into the forums that I read, and into my mind, but not enough to make a mark.

Things are starting to make a mark now.

The problem is, what am I willing to sacrifice over ethical issues related to the apparel industry? Fashion and clothing are a passion of mine. While I do a lot less of it now, I still love to shop for clothes. It’s clear that I want to be a more informed consumer. But at what cost? Macy’s is nearby and offers tons of coupons. Target is right up the street. Those darned Gymbucks get me every time.

Do I need to do my due diligence and figure out a safe set of clothing brands, and stick only to those? This poses a problem, as I am lazy! It would be easier if I went to a company’s web site and it said right there whether they were doing the right thing by their employees, factory workers, and the Earth. It is much harder than that to dig up the truth and I am overwhelmed by all the corporate lingo. Even if I do find what I’m looking for, I need to figure out my threshold of what I find acceptable. I’m telling you, I’m L-A-Z-Y, and just typing this out makes my brain shut down! Am I really going to do all this research? It would be easier to just not buy anything.

Is it going to cost an arm and a leg to become an ethical shopper? I really like a bargain. Not cheap clothes, but decently made clothing for a lower-than-expected price. I already have a quality threshold, but along with it goes a price cap. I’m only willing to pay so much for quality… and then I’m willing to sacrifice quality for a good price. I’m worried that only high-end or boutique brands will fit my new shopping credentials. Oh, and I’m also not quite there with quality over quantity. I can’t bring myself to spend my whole month’s clothing budget on a single piece. I get a lump in my throat just thinking about it!

Where does this leave me? Off to do more research, and even less shopping. Please comment if you have anything to add!