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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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Great Reading

What Are Your Favorite Blogs?

As you know, I took a bit of a (LONG) blogging break.  I’m so happy to see so many of you returning – it has been making me smile to see your names, and to meet so many new readers!

So, since I’ve been away and many of you have not, I’d love to know if you’ve found any fabulous blogs out there while I was gone. What are your favorites?? Old or new – I’d love to know about them.

Green blogs, sustainability blogs, frugal blogs, simple and happy living blogs… Try to keep it somewhere in the neighborhood of the things we discuss here, but anything thereabouts works for me.

Go for it – list away!!

Please don’t be shy – I love your voices!

Sites Mentioned So Far…

Book Giveaway: Ecofrugal Baby

I am going to pause for a bit to let everyone catch up – I know I’ve written a slough of posts lately!  In the meantime, I’d like to post the first of a few giveaways up my sleeve in the coming weeks.

Ecofrugal Baby

Ecofrugal Baby is written by fellow blogger Laura K. Cowan at 29 Diapers. The 174 page book is packed with tips to save money in your baby’s first year without skimping on quality – and without leaving a long-term negative impact on the environment or your baby’s health.

A baby’s first year in the United States costs an average of $10,000.  Laura claims you can save about $7,000 using the tips in this book – and she writes from experience, having done it herself.

The book comes with a Savings Calculator to help guide you to purchase what you need and save where you can. While some of the tips are pretty standard to our community here (Craigslist, Freecycle, garage sales), there are definitely quite a few resources I didn’t know about.

Table of Contents


Part I: One-Time Baby Gear Costs

1. Mobility Gear

2. Sleep and Comfort Gear

3. Cleaning and Changing Gear

4. Cloth Diapers

5. Feeding Gear

6. Safety Gear

7. Nursery Furniture and Storage Gear

Part II: Ongoing Baby Care Costs

8. Clothing

9. Food

10. Toiletries

11. Entertainment

Part III: Baby’s First-Year Savings Calculator


In the spirit of eco and frugal and the title of the book, I will give an e-copy of the book to 2 (two!) lucky commenters! 

Just leave your name and the little one’s name (or future name, or name you make up) in the comments below. I will pick two names on Sunday afternoon at 3pm PST.

Good luck!  And thanks for reading.

Kids In The Garden Book: Winner Plus 40% Off Coupon!

Kids in the Garden

Thank you all for your interest in Kids in the Garden. I LOVED all your responses and stories – it was really rewarding to read about you all passing on the enjoyment of gardening!

For those of you who did not win the book, I encourage you to check it out at the library or pick up a copy – I imagine when your children grow older, it will be a lovely hand-me-down.

40% Off Coupon!

Send an email to with the subject line “One Green Generation offer”, and Jessica will send you a 40% off coupon!  They are a lovely company – I encourage you to check out all their books.  (Ellis, our black dog, loves the name of the company, too!)


And the winner is…

Chidren in the Garden winner


Christina, please email me with your address, and you’ll soon be the proud owner of Kids in the Garden. (And please note that you have until 28 April at 12pm PST to email me, otherwise I’ll draw a new name.)

Thanks for joining in the fun!

My Favorite Children's Gardening Book: Review and Giveaway!!

Kids in the Garden

I receive a lot of requests to review products, and I’ve seen a lot of children’s books that relate to sustainability, gardening, or other green ideas.  But this one is different.

It’s so good, I wanted to keep it for myself – there are an amazing number of tips and recipes I’ve never read before!

But alas, I have a heart.  So… if you have children or little ones you care for in some way, please let me know if you’re interested in having this truly lovely book in the comments.  Next Wednesday at noon, I will draw a winner who will receive this fabulous book!

Those who don’t win and can’t find it in the library, I have a 40% discount for you – I’ll give you the details on Wednesday.

Kids In The Garden - detail

Review: Kids In The Garden

I read this book from front to back in one sitting and loved it.  No kidding!  I was mesmerized and actually learned a lot myself.  It is full of incredibly easy and useful gardening tips, and it’s even quite useful for small space gardeners.

The pictures and illustrations are lovely and fun, and intermixed with a few terrible veggie puns.  :)  Q: “How do you fix a flat pumpkin?”  A: “With a pumpkin patch.”  Duh!

Kids In The Garden - detail

Within this short 100-page book, there is an amazing amount of information.  I learned how to take cuttings, jump start seed starts with aluminum foil and a cardboard box, and build a worm bin.  Plus the recipes look fabulous and unique.

AND did you know runner beans are the only edible plant that twines counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere?  I will be watching my beans this year!

Beetroot Brownies

by Kids In The Garden

  • 10 oz melted chocolate
  • 10 oz melted butter
  • 10 oz sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 6 oz self-rising flour
  • 8 oz cooked beetroot, peeled and grated
  1. Put the beetroot in a colander to drain.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease an 8×10″ cake tin and line the bottom with baking/parchment paper.
  3. Mix chocolate and butter together.
  4. Cream eggs and sugar together in a bowl until likght and fluffy.  And chocolate mixture and stir until smooth.
  5. Fold in the flour, then beetroot, until just mixed.
  6. Pour mixture into the cake and bake in the oven about 30 minutes, until a knife pushed into the middle comes out clean.

I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds so interesting, doesn’t it?


Interested?  Leave your name and a comment below.  I’ll draw a winner on Wednesday 21 April.  Good luck!

Sustainability Bloggers That Changed My Life: Part 1

I have been blogging for over three years now - three years!! (We’re on our third year of Growing Challenges!) And I will tell you that this blog has changed my life in so many large and small ways.  And know this:  it has most definitely set my life down a different road than I would have taken without it.  A very, very good road.

I began writing as a way to catalog Matt and my journey toward self-sufficiency back in Geyeserville, California, town of 1,600.  I wanted to help others learn from our failures and few successes.  But I had never written a blog post before in my life!

It has been a long road to learning and growing as a writer as well as someone who lives sustainably.  I’ve had the help and support of several people along the way.  This series is about the bloggers who have been there for me – they’ve helped push me in sustainable living, in my writing, and in becoming who I am today.

Sustainability Bloggers That Changed My Life

Rhonda1.  Rhonda Hetzel, Down To Earth. Who knows how we find the blogs we do – we follow one, and their blogroll leads to another, which leads to a third, where we click on yet another link until we find something that really sticks.  Is that about right?  Well however it was, one day I ended up upon Rhonda’s blog and was amazed at the way she was able to engage her readers.

So, I wrote her!  I wrote Rhonda and I asked her how she built up her blog, what tricks she might pass on, and just how she started.  She was ever so generous and kind with her time.  I think quite honestly what helped me the most was her telling me to look at some “How to Blog” blogs.  I spent many many days reading and reading!

But more than anything, Rhonda has been so supportive of me, my writing, and my life.  She and I trade emails occasionally, and we blog together at the Simple Green Frugal Co-op – which Rhonda founded!  Thank you, Rhonda, for all you have done and continue to do.  You are truly an inspiration.

Green Bean2.  Michelle/Green Bean, The Green Phone Booth.   Michelle and I actually met via the Riot for Austerity listserv.  She was looking for ways to help her son through his newly diagnosed asthma, and I had already gone through all of that for myself, so I had loads of tips!  We kept in touch after that, sharing local food resources (we lived probably 50 miles from one another), learning both of our husbands have the same name, and generally supporting one another as we built our online communities and learned about sustainable living.

A couple years later, Michelle found her sustainable life was taking her outside of her home to work with her child’s school and do many things in her community.  So she gave up the beloved Green Bean Dreams blog and started up a cooperative blog – The Green Phone Booth – with several other green moms.

While having never met her in person (someday!), I am proud to call Michelle a friend of mine – we have learned a lot from one another, and without her support it’s likely I would not be where I am today.

To Be Continued…

What Are Your Favorite Blogs?

Please share!  Are there blogs that have really changed your life?

An Interview With Melinda on Living Sustainably!

BizyMoms Top Blogger

I’m still working away on some amazing projects that are keeping me beyond busy.  I’ll be back soon!!

In the meantime, I’ve been interviewed by BizyMoms as one of their Top Home and Garden Bloggers of 2010.  So cool!  I’m honored to be in the midst of  Ronda Hetzel and Susan Harris, both wonderful bloggers I admire.  Here’s what they’ve said about us:

Meet some of the world’s most exclusive bloggers on Home and Garden issues

Bizymoms has chosen some of the world’s top-notch bloggers who are maintaining hugely popular blogs to discuss everything related to home and garden. Bizymoms recognizes these wonderful men and women for their great endeavor to reach out to humanity using the extraordinary power of blogging in such a positive way. This is an exceptional series of interviews with these bloggers to get an insight into their bright minds, and to understand what they stand for when it comes to home and garden. This series comes exclusively from Bizymoms for its reader community. Check it out and learn something new and unique from each of these world-class bloggers.

It’s awesome to me that they’ve included a representative that writes about sustainability in their Home and Garden top blogs.  I do believe that is a bit of redefining normal, don’t you think??!

Anyway, please go check out my interview!  I’d love to hear what you think (comments there don’t seem to be working – sorry, they’re working on it, some tech problem – so until they fix that feel free to comment here).

Storytelling and Noise

Filmming a Recent Client

I have written an article at The Lab, the first in a series called “Best Practices in Storytelling”.  As someone who has spent most of my life learning how to tell stories that can change the world, in one medium or another, I have made it a part of my work and I’m beginning to write down what I’ve learned.  I would love for you to come take a look.

I have also written an article at the Co-op, called “Turning Down The Background Noise”, which picks up where Toxic Soup left off.  Some really interesting comments there as well.  Please visit!

I hope you’re all having a lovely week.

photo by Aurea Astro