Tag Archive: Life Crafting


Generate electricity from killing flies! Or water your garden with CD’s.

Going off-grid takes a certain amount of ingenuity, and the willingness to explore the world and invent solutions to problems.  Wallace & Gromit’s series, The World of Invention, encourages this mindset and really inspired us to think of new ways to meet our needs for electricity, irrigation, and hauling heavy items.  The series is not so much the perfect, complete way to go off-grid, than it is a sounding board for ideas you’ve been brewing in the back of your mind.  If you’re the garden shed inventor type, that puts you in the ranks of inventor Emily Cummins who created a refrigerator that runs without electricity when she was still in school.  Meet inventors like Emily and learn more about some green inventions you can do at home with kids in this week’s issue of Making Ripples in The Free Weekly!

Here’s a video of how robots generate electricity by consuming dead flies.  If you’d like to watch the Wallace & Gromit “World of Invention” series, and see another robot that uses flies to generate electricity (and fly paper to attract them by itself) then head down to the Fayetteville Public Library where it’s available for check-out.

Check out this week’s issue of The Free Weekly for a concept design of one acre for Making Ripples!

Ryan & I have been thinking hard since August 2011 about how to make the most ripples on a small piece of land.  There are so many wonders to be created on just one acre for Ripples, if it’s healthy, protected and sustainable: native pollinators, trees, and wildlife; rainwater harvesting systems; technology that makes a difference globally; alternative power sources like solar panels; fresh organic vegetables and herbs; healing pathways through the forest, and much more!  These are just ideas, but some of them are already alive and well: technology help for non-profits, our blog and column, a rain barrel, bicycles, and more.  But we can’t make a more tangible difference in Northwest Arkansas without the land.  Have you seen this acre?  If so, let us know by emailing MakeSomeRipples@Gmail.com

Thanks! :)

More details about our earthbag house plans!

Check out today’s issue of The Free Weekly for more detail about our earthbag home design, as well as some pretty cool articles on GMOs and social justice that I can’t wait to read!  We’ll be learning from other small home builders and even earthbag builders in the coming month, and I’m really excited to combine our knowledge and live even more sustainably thanks to the expertise of others who have come before us.  Today, we’re on another land search with our friend Jacob to explore more opportunities for conservation and community service.  Wish us luck!!! Next week’s Making Ripples column will have an update on how this land search is coming along.  Do you know of anything for sale in Northwest Arkansas?  Let us know, so we can start making a more tangible difference with our energy and resources. Thanks!

It’s Fun to Change the World.

Ripples' New Logo

Ripples’ New Logo

So often I’m studying science, technology, or some other such subject like organic gardening and earthbag building, that I forget about creativity.  Ripples isn’t just living without a car and making vegan dinners, it’s also about admiring the rainbows reflected in a prism catching the afternoon light from our window, and playing with the swirls of white “fire” after pouring coconut cream into a cup of black tea.  And, yes, it’s about dreaming of rainbow lollipop trees, with rippling branches and spreading roots.  This logo was sketched on paper with copic markers and ink, but later converted into a digital representation of what we’re trying to express.  Organic. Social Justice.  Deep roots.  Ripples of change.  And before you think, “Wait, nature doesn’t make rainbow trees!”  Think again: I had the enormous pleasure of seeing in person a park full of “Rainbow Eucalyptus” trees when I visited Costa Rica.

I need to remember that our homestead without an artistic spirit is really just a building.  It’s our creativity and personalities which make it come to life with a new message for sustainability-seekers: this is fun.  This is creative.  This is going to make people happy.

We’re continuing with our redesign of Ripples, to include more hand-drawn art in the margins, header, and background of the site.  Expect more changes in the months to come, and please give us feedback on how these changes affect you and touch your experience of Ripples.  We want it to be fun to read about conservation.  We’d like you to laugh when you read about capturing rainwater.  So let us know how we’re doing in the comments below our posts or on our Facebook Page.

What do you think of the new logo?

So far, about 50 people have seen it without commenting or clicking “like”, so I’m beginning to wonder if they’re just busy this week or if I’ve created some socially-taboo tree or something…

Valentine’s Day is a great time to share your care; here are ways to do so without hurting anyone or anything.

I love Valentine’s Day and spreading little notes and treats around.  Although I’m not perfect at it, trying to spread the love without spreading injustice and destruction is a top priority for me.  This week’s issue of The Free Weekly is out today, and contains great articles on Comprehensive Sex Education, loving meat-producing animals, and the latest Making Ripples column about creating a Valentine’s Day gift box from a toilet paper roll!  Here are some reminders for how to love your sweetie without harming the planet and other people:

  1. Buy local.  Shipping things from far away adds to our climate change problem.
  2. Be fair. Chocolate isn’t harmless if children were enslaved to produce the sugar and the farmers don’t get paid fairly, so purchase fair trade chocolate.
  3. Know your ingredients. Even if a product doesn’t have a certified stamp on it, chances are, it could be harmless – research the ingredients if possible.
  4. Reuse before recycling. Turn something old into something new, and help reduce the waste stream.
  5. Roses have more than thorns. Make sure yours are produced sustainably.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Ripples!

We’re getting ready to build our earthbag house…and you’re invited!

I’m not sure how to write this post.  This will be a refreshing change from writing how-to guides, recipes, or links to factual and inspirational sites on the internet.  This post is what is literally going on at Ripples this week!  It isn’t about the future or dreaming, it’s about right now.  For some reason I think “right now” details will sound boring to you.  But they’re very exciting to me! View full article »

Amanda’s upcoming surgery questions our resolve to exclusively focus on alternative medicine.

This is a third update to our previous posts, Healing from an Ovarian Cyst Naturally, and 35 Days Pain-Free (the second update).  I’m sorry to say that the alternative medicine approach did not work for me in the long run – it eliminated my symptoms, and increased my overall health and ability, but did not shrink or cure the large complex cyst on my left ovary.  My follow-up ultrasound revealed that the cyst still hovered around 9cm in size, not getting much bigger or smaller since it was discovered in April 2012. View full article »

This is for women who need to know how to fix basic problems that could happen at home.

It recently occurred to me, while browsing the library stacks for the usual mindless entertainment I enjoy, that I have absolutely no knowledge about simple home repairs.  This PBS home video jumped out at me as a solution to wanting to build a sustainable house with a lack of skills in plumbing, electrical wiring, etc.  Dare to Repair was a great introductory video in how to fix minor problems in your standard house or apartment, and much of what I learned can be applied to our off-grid earthbag house someday. View full article »

Just like Peter Pan, we can fly with happy thoughts in our daily life!

Introducing the NEW Happy Thoughts box!

NEW on Ripples – located at the bottom right-hand side of every page on Ripples’ blog, you will find a new feature called our “Happy Thoughts” box.  Right now, you can see this box is filled with one happy thought from Ryan, and one from me, Amanda.  Every day around 6:30 in the evening, before cooking dinner together, we sit underneath a rainbow umbrella and tell each other what thoughts we’ve had that day which make us feel the happiest about our future dream of living off-grid.  Maybe it was a good day, or a challenging day, or sometimes even a day of despair and great physical or emotional pain, but no matter what happens, we always take turns sharing one happy thought. View full article »

Make a Resolution to Feel Good, and Green!

New Year’s resolutions don’t necessarily have to be sacrificial, boring, or difficult. What if you resolved to do something that makes you feel great, and also helps the environment?

It’s true, changing our habits in favor of sustainable actions is challenging. Resolutions can be a daunting and unwelcome start to the new year. But imagine the first month of 2013 being easier and more fun than the last month of 2012. After all, “enjoying life more” is among the Top 5 New Year’s resolutions most people make. Your green resolutions could have a positive effect on your enjoyment of life – if you pick the right one for you.

Think about something unpleasant, something you don’t enjoy. It could be taking out the smelly trash, cleaning the house with potent chemical cleaners that make you dizzy, or maybe picking up all the wrapping paper littered around your house after the holidays! Then consider what actions would make you feel better in these situations. For example, not having to take out the trash would be pretty nice. Never smelling those harsh chemicals again would make cleaning more pleasant. And never having to pick up wrapping paper strewn about the house could mean a blessing on your back.

So how do you accomplish achieving a more enjoyable life in these instances? You can’t simply stop taking out the trash; however, you can eliminate or greatly reduce the amount of trash created in your household. Maybe you’ll become a zero-trash household, like some families have achieved, or perhaps you’ll only have to take out the trash once per month instead of every week. Either way, you’ll be smelling less garbage! Right now, if we used a full-sized trash bag, we’d take out the trash only 2 or 3 times a month. Everything is a process of making life more enjoyable, and greener.

Switching to sustainable cleaning products will give you a year without a chemical-induced headache and make your home smell like lavender and oranges. You might go one step further and save up money for a weekend getaway by making your own toothpaste, deodorant, and all-purpose cleaners from baking soda and other commonly found household ingredients.

If picking up wrapping paper and shredded packaging bothers you, especially if you’re like us and have pets that love tearing it into itty bitty pieces, resolving to only use fabric wrapping paper or boxes that can be reused might save your back next year. It can be fun to try using Japanese-style gift wrapping methods, something that’s now become popular among teens who enjoy anime.

Resolving to save the planet may not stick past January, but making a resolution to create a more enjoyable life – now that’s sustainable!