Sustainable Halo

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. – Chinese Proverb

Quick Note April 30, 2009

Filed under: Quick Notes — Simple Jess @ 2:23 pm

I just wanted to quickly write that if anyone would like to join an interest list for our newsletter that will be launching in January 2010, please click on the About Us tab at the top of the Home Page. There is an area where you send us your information. We do not share your information with anyone and will treat it like gold! Many thanks to all of you who have already signed up. It is so nice to see that there is interest and appreciation for what we have to say.

You can also write us from that link if you have suggestions, questions or random comments. We do not have comments enabled on here in order to keep everything looking clean and simple. We do, however, really value what you have to say and if its really good or something we are hearing a lot of, we’ll share it!

We send you all love and light to brighten your day!


Summer, summer…TIME! April 29, 2009

Filed under: Sewing the Seeds,Sustainable Living — Simple Jess @ 6:01 pm

It is funny how one really good friend can unleash a rolling snowball of gravity upon your experiences. We are very supportive of relationships here at Sustainable Halo, after all, it is one of the basic tenets of living a sustainable life. So it is only natural that my superhuman, sexy and very sustainable friend, Lauren, would be unconsciously picking my brain today!

I spent my young adult life living on a very small farm. Sustainability was never talked about. Struggle was the topic of the day. As a teenager, I was “encouraged” to use only four squares of toilet paper because of cost and our relic septic system. This was quite an embarrassment when having friends over and I thought that I was enduring the worst social torture a teenage girl could handle. Little did I know, seeds of sustainability were being sewn, WAY before it was cool.

I was taking a shower today, a luxury that all of you mothers out there know is TRULY a luxury. With my husband’s return, summer approaching and our move to the most lovely San Diego any day now, my house of cards (my emotions/sanity) is teetering every single day. The simple act of taking a shower was difficult enough just being a mother of two small boys, but now it is almost equivalent to a day at the spa.

So, back to my story. I was taking a shower and needed to shave. So I turned the shower off in order to lather up and take my time. It dawned on me that many people do not do this.

There are two factors that have made this a habit for me:

1. My dad used to, in addition to the toilet paper rule, make us use a shower head that had a valve shutoff, so you could stop it while you lathered.

2. In the Navy, when I was on a ship, you are a self-sufficient village. You are the fire department, the water department, the phone company…blah, blah, blah. You have to work very closely with others to keep your ship afloat and functioning properly. The worst disgrace is to rely on another ship to come help in some way… not cool and does not happen very often. One’s chain of command could not shoulder the burden of that scrutiny.

I quickly noticed that the old shut off valve that my dad jockeyed for was an old Navy standard. It was second nature to me, but the other girls on my ship thought this was a MAJOR inconvenience. Because of a small thing my dad encouraged, it was really nothing to me. So you can see how small changes that seem uncomfortable can be a beginning to a lifetime of an adaptable mindset.

So, back to my topic. It is summer and such a fitting time to support your local farmers. Most are making changes and trying to adapt to the pressures of Agri-business. But they are truly a dying breed of small business that understands sustainability at its core. Sure, some may not understand the possibilities of the elimination of animal production but in addition to the ones who do, this connection to the land, one’s community and the pride of humanity is being squashed by Conglomerate Corporations looking to improve their bottom line. These farmers might seem like they are out of touch with our modern way of life buy they are exactly what we need in response to the increasing imbalance in our ecological system. Sure some of them could use a good scrub and eye opening to the possibilities of updating their practices but they are truly a resource of wisdom that should be respected and utilized. New age farmers and people looking to educate themselves about the land upon which they live can really learn a lot from them.

Please take this summer to renew your connection with local produce. It truly is the vitality that you are missing in your life! The more you eat well, in conjunction with supporting humane and responsible practices in your community, you will truly find your spark plugs being juiced! Use your body’s chemistry in combination with your spirit. There is no feeling that compares to taking care of yourself and your community in one fell swoop. You will live better and you will sleep better, I am sure of it! If you have any questions or comments please submit them to the contact box on our About Us page!

If you have any questions about your local options, you can always use this resource: Local Harvest

If you are an iphone user, this app is indispensable: iphone

Whatever it takes, you owe it to yourself and your community to make at least some kind of effort. From the most conservative effort to the well seasoned, please take a moment to learn about an untapped resource in your life. It could save you money, improve your community involvement and give your conscious a good dose of happy pill…chemical free!

Thanks, Dad!

Love and light,


Farmers Market

Filed under: Sustainable Living — Lauren @ 10:49 am

Produce stands and farmers markets are truly a treasure.  When I think of a farmer’s market, I quickly envision rows of tented tables covered in fresh produce, flowers, nuts, crusty baguettes, organic treats and jewelry located in the heart of Santa Monica.  Sunny cities with a seemingly endless summer are most fortunate in this department.  Still, those of us living in seasonal locations, while often having local winter vegetables at our disposal, must embrace the spring, summer and fall and cherish every ounce of local produce available!

Virginia Beach has fantastic resources for year round local fare.  Within the next month, we’ll have access to local asparagus, may peas, greens, spinach, herbs, onions, and strawberries.  Come June, we’ll have local beets, berries, green beans, squash, and cucumbers.  The 4th of July fireworks celebrate our nation’s independence as well as the culmination of all things local – corn, tomatoes, melons, peppers, okra, peaches and more!

The Chesapeake Bay is rich in seafood and boasts fresh flounder, tuna, rockfish, crab, and oysters!  Welton’s Seafood, Shellfish Company and Dockside Markets are just a few of the local sources for fresh from the bay seafood.

There are many benefits to buying local produce.  The exceptional freshness of produce consummed immediately after being picked from the vine cannot be beat – local food is fresher than produce shipped from other states and countries AND it is not grown to withstand industrial harvesting or long range travel.  Buying local produce also supports your local economy thereby strengthening your community.  Purchasing from local farmers you trust assures that you know where your food came from – even better, organic produce is free of hormones and pesticides intended to extend a product’s shelf life.  While large corporations dominate the food market in America, buying local supports family farms and helps sustain small farms throughout the country.  Lastly, buying local is a sustainable choice.  Local produce does not have to travel by plane, train or long haul trucks, reducing the emissions created in transporting food from the vine to the your table.

So make a date with your local farmer!  Seek out a market or produce stand today and start enjoying what was grown in your own backyard.

XO, Lauren


It’s Strawberry Season! April 28, 2009

Filed under: Food, Food, Food! — Lauren @ 5:39 pm

I spoke with the farm stand this morning and YES, Henley Farms is starting to pick their STRAWBERRIES!!!!!!!

This can only mean that we Virginians are on the slippery slope towards a summer full of juicy berries, succulent ears of corn, garden fresh tomatoes, crisp green beans and more.

Check out the calendar for your complete guide to fresh, local produce:


VOTIVO – Red Currant

Filed under: Gotta Have It! — Lauren @ 5:29 pm

The love of my life LOVES for our home to smell yummy.  I mean really yummy.  He’s the type that can pick a Victoria’s Secret frangrance off a waitress that walks by and once said (ok, he has said this many times) “I want our home to smell like Bath and Body Works”.  We’ve barely moved into our new home, still, I’ve been charged with making the house smell great!

So, I set out on a journey of finding a delicious fragrance that met my standards for subtlety while achieving a distinct, fresh scent for our home.  I’ve looked high and low and am proud to say I’ve found the perfect fragrance in Votivo’s Red Currant candles and reed diffuser!

Votivo describes the scent as “a savory blend of tart red currants and golden fruit glaze ladled over coarsely ground vanilla bean ice cream and served along side of raspberry filled sugar cookies”  I could easily sum it up as perfect, classic, rich yet far from overbearing, truly a year-round frangrance that creates instant ambiance.

As spring settles in around us and the opportunity for wide open windows presents itself day and day, I take great pleasure in the red currant fragrance that accompanies fresh air circulating throughout our home.



Music and the way it makes us feel…

Filed under: Inspirations — Lauren @ 5:02 pm

Jess, I just logged in to write a little something about music and the way it makes us feel and lo and behold, YOU, have just written about how an artist makes you feel…pretty crazy!

This note is coming from a place full of emotion.  Truth be told, I’m having one of those days when things just don’t seem to fall into place and one after the other starts to add up and really get to you.  With wonderful reminder that everything is going to be ok and a “whistle while you work” attitude, I’m just about back to myself and am letting go of that which stirred me up in the first place.

First, it was The Submarines – a husband and wife couple, she’s so cheery and sings the best line of all times, “When our hearts are full we need much less.”

Then, Carrie Underwood, “Let’s get out of this town” – I used to listen to this song certain I could convince Morgan to run away with me rather than leave for extended periods of time…I was wrong but the hope helped me get through.

Billy Currington – LOVE him, singer of songs full of love, hope and joy

Leann Wommack – I am such a sentimentalist, “I found it in you” is one of the all time sweetest songs

Gary Allan’s “Still Learning How to Bend” – the anthem for young love

Sara Bareilles (yep, the one that sings, I’m not going to write you a Love Song” – “Fairytale” is phenomenal

Special shoutout to Leland Grant for his song “Noone Gets Left Behind” – breathtaking and emotional

Still, there are few things that reach deeper into the soul than the voices of Pat Monahan, Gavin DeGraw and Chris Martin – seek them out if you do not already know them.  I suppose in sharing this, more than wishing to influence what moves you, I encourage you to find what moves you then enjoy every note and every lyric because music speaks to the soul.

I would be foolish if I didn’t mention one of my new favorite artists – Lady Gaga – she’s loved by many as evidences by her itunes and Billboard status.  Still, I was able to bond with new friends at a wedding reception this weekend while dancing to “Just Dance” and “Poker Face”.  I believe it’s impossible to dance without smiling.

SO, crank up the tunes and dance around or find the depth you need in an emotional tune and experience the way it makes your soul feel.

XOXO, Lauren


David Archuleta – American Idol

Filed under: Inspirations — Simple Jess @ 4:30 pm

Okay, I am stepping out on a limb here! A lot of my friends are really into music and enjoy various alternative styles. I still love Radio Head, Peter Gabriel, Blind Melon, Fugazi, Cold Play, Ani DiFranco…

But there is a side of me that lives between Broadway and New Orleans. I LOVE music, the arts, cinema and all things artistic. There is something about a really special singer, though, that reminds me of singing songs with my sister. As kids, we had very little activity prepared by our parents. We were expected to go outside and entertain ourselves in the summer…be home by dinner and to not get into trouble. But at night, we got really creative as a family. We would color, play cards and I used to create my own board games out of old boxes we had received Christmas presents in. It does not get more Eco than that, right?

But one of our favorite activities, my sister and I, was to sing songs in rounds. She is 5 years older than me, had boyfriends and was often in high school plays while I was trying to make do with old barbies (cutting off all their hair and coloring it with markers to make them “punk,”) riding my bike all over town (small town in Iowa,) playing with my homemade board games and paper dolls cut out of my grandmothers catalogs, babysitting for money and participating in every sport known to our small town, just to come home and jam to Amy Grant records.

My sister would come home with wonderful songs from plays, like Hello Dolly, and I would help her practice her lines and we would sing. We always sang, preferably in rounds. But that did not stop us from singing Whitney Houston while doing the family dishes, she is the soprano to my alto. We made fun out of mundane chores and the simple life.

It may seem that I have digressed a bit, but the point I am trying to make is that I really appreciate a good vocal performance and I still carry with me a little Sound of Music.

For me, David Archuleta is a modern example of someone using their talents to inspire and is a throw back to a time when I swooned over Amy Grant records.

I listened to his itunes downloads throughout my pregnancy with Peter and also during labor…he has a very special place in my heart. His first album, David Archuleta, following up his Idol appearances, first struck me as the David that I love but a bit teenage market driven. But the more I listened to it, it was David! The song To Be With You is particularly special. It makes me think of my children and the process of growing, birthing and raising babies. My appreciation of his music begins with the song You’re the Voice, which he covered on American Idol. This was one of the judges least favorite songs. I usually agree with the judges, particularly Simon. But he tore David apart for that song choice and suggested that it was made by someone else. David replied, with his usual common sense approach, “No, I just really like that song.” He always has such a humble, sensitive and genuine reaction to the attention he garners and that is one of the reasons I adore him so much.

So You’re the Voice stuck with me, even though it was clearly not a chart topper. I was pregnant with Peter and I used to listen to it in the bath tub to connect with my baby and sooth my restless legs. So it was only natural that I listened to it over and over during Peter’s birth. This relaxation was actually a factor in my being able to deliver VBACK, so David Archuleta holds a very special place in my heart and if this post speaks to you, you should at least listen to his craft a few times and give it a chance, if you haven’t already.

Love and light,