Conscious by Chloé

Chloé Lepeltier - Conscious By Chloé

Bonjour & Welcome! Conscious by Chloé is a Sustainable Lifestyle Blog focusing on Zero Waste, Slow Living, and Ethical Fashion.

A Day of Home Cooked Meals

A Day of Home Cooked Meals by Conscious by Chloé

It's been a while since I last wrote about food around here. So let me invite you into my kitchen for a day of meals.

A Day of Home Cooked Meals by Conscious by Chloé

Breakfast

I'm always super excited to wake and get up on Sundays because this means I get to go eat croissants! Those delicacies are very rich so I try to only allow myself to eat them once a week. So, as soon as I'm up, I trow on a cozy outfit and run to the bakery while Octave warms up a cup of hot cocoa.

My favorite: a plain croissant.
His favorite: an almond croissant.

We might sometimes spice things up with a pain au chocolat or a bear claw, but tend to stick to classics.

A Day of Home Cooked Meals by Conscious by Chloé

As freelancers, we too easily forget to take time off and slow down, so I figured that a Sunday morning tradition would be a tasty way to make our Sunday mornings a little special (we also eat breakfast out on Wednesdays at our neighborhood café).

And let's not forget that we are both French and that we're lucky enough to have a bakery that sells delicious viennoiseries in our neighborhood. Their employees are also the nicest, usually know what I'll order before I do and always mention how much they love that I bring my own cloth bag to carry my croissants back home.

We alternate between a chai latte and hot chocolate. I usually have a bottle of homemade almond milk ready so all Octave has to do is pour a little milk in a saucepan and add chai or cocoa powder.

A Day of Home Cooked Meals by Conscious by Chloé

Lunch

After such a fat-rich breakfast, we should have upped our fiber intake and balanced our diet with a vegetable-based meal but opted for a quick and easy meal: a quinoa bowl.

This is a staple in our household. And Octave likes to cook a big batch so we can eat leftovers of the following day, usually wrapped in a tortilla (yum!).

Quinoa, tofu, avocado and a hint of sriracha. These are 4 ingredients that were not part of our diet at all before we moved to the US. Now, I don't think we could do without them (we're slowly building up our tolerance to spicy food).

This is not particularly noticeable but the water we're drinking here is actually sparkling water. We recently purchased a Sodastream) and are very happy about it because: a/ we only have to bring the gas bottle back to the store every other month to exchange it for a full one - so this means no glass bottle or metal cans! b/ we drink way more water now than before. Sparkling water looks so much more appealing than still water. I'm famous for serving it in a wine glass #fancydrink c/ we experiment much more with natural flavors and ditched our usual drinking vinegars, which contain too much sugar.

A Day of Home Cooked Meals by Conscious by Chloé

Snack

Time to eat veggies!

My favorite Oregon farmer, Andrea Bemis, published a book last year and not only have I read it like it was an autobiography, but I also dive back into it on a regular basis when I want to try a new dish with seasonal ingredients.

My favorite recipe in the beet butter. And I just realized that it's on page 84 - my birth year. Coincidence? I think not!

I've switched a couple ingredients with ones I had in my pantry and whipped up this delicious and beautiful dip in no time.

Beets, cashews, maple syrup, toasted sesame oil and a pinch of salt is all I used to make it.

Then I sliced a carrot and added a little parsley for the picture.

A Day of Home Cooked Meals by Conscious by Chloé

Dinner

Not only is Octave an amazing photographer, he's also an awesome chef! This is how we share chores at home, he cooks, I wash the dishes.

Last year, we made 2 major purchases for the kitchen (a food processor, a pasta attachment set for our KitchenAid and and have not regretted them a single second.

We use them several times a week - if not daily. They save us a lot of time and make cooking an even more enjoyable task.

I cut the mushrooms and shred the parmesan with the food processor while Octave mixes the dough and shapes the pasta with the KichenAid.

He's gotten really good at it and it now takes him around 30 minutes to make pasta from scratch!

I personally could live on a pasta diet...

A Day of Home Cooked Meals by Conscious by Chloé

We rarely drink alcohol (I especially, because, migraines), but when we do, trust us, it's the good stuff! Octave's father is a cider producer and hooked us on natural wines (no sulfates, no sulfites, no bad stuff added). We have a pretty solid selection at home so if you ever come over, bring dessert!

A Day of Home Cooked Meals by Conscious by Chloé

Talking about dessert, unless we have guests, we will not prepare something special. According to our mood, we'll either eat a piece of fruit or a square of the darkest chocolate (bonus points if there's a salted caramel stuffing).

Notes

Event though we try to reduce our carbon footprint and the amount of trash we produce by shopping local, organic and in bulk, we still purchase certain products packaged, like cheese. Oh, and yes, we (still) eat animal products, such as cheese, meat, cheese and honey though those occurrences are getting rarer and rarer and one might call us semi-vegetarians or flexitarians.

Check out what fellow Ethical Writers & Creatives eat in one day over here:


How much do you think about what you eat and its impact on the environment?

Pictures by Octave Zangs for Conscious by Chloé.

Zero Waste Period

Zero Waste Period by Jola Kokoszka for Conscious by Chloé

Periods are a private and delicate subject and I'm usually not one to share intimate details publicly.

But since feminine hygiene can be an important source of waste (and social injustice), I thought I'd share my insights on the subject.

First, let's have a look at the various options available:

  • Menstrual cups A small, flexible cup that is worn internally and sits low in the vaginal canal, collecting rather than absorbing menstrual flow.

  • Reusable Pads or Liners Similar to "regular" pads or liners, they usually have wings that fasten around the underwear (some feature a removable insert made from absorbent material).

  • Period Panties These look like regular underwear, except that they can absorb a day's worth of menstrual blood.

The last two can be used as back up for menstrual cups or (organic) tampons or to completely replace disposable feminine hygiene products.

  • Free / instinctive bleeding I do not know whether this is a hoax or just the latest woo-woo trend, but I just wanted to put this here. Has any of you heard of it? It consists of learning to know your body, to control it and then let yourself bleed freely when you go to the toilet...

Why I chose the menstrual cup

I first heard of menstrual cups close to 15 years ago when I was working as a hostess during my studies. One of the girls on my team was actually the first menstrual cup salesperson in Switzerland and introduced us to this new product. Most of us were grossed out and I never heard of the menstrual cup for the next 10 years, until I finally decided to make the switch close to 5 years ago!

As far as periods go, I've always been an advocate of the less is more approach. My mom and I went to the supermarket on the first day of my period and got all the options available. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted one product for any type of situation (swimming, sleeping, camping, traveling). Pads were too uncomfortable and bulky, swimming) and tampons with applicators took too much space in my bag. I've never really been introduced to any other product so my choice was easy: tampons. No applicator, no liner.

Everything went smoothly and I would have never had to change my routine until the eco-activist living in my head told me it was time to rethink this aspect of my life.

I remember the day I purchased my menstrual cup. Octave was actually there with me. I was visiting him (or had just moved in with him, I'm not really sure). We had not been together for very long time and I felt a little weird telling him I had to stop by the pharmacy to "get something". I remember him asking what it was, and ultimately decided to tell him about menstrual cups.

Zero Waste Period & Menstrual Cup by Conscious by Chloé

My experience with a menstrual cup

Having used tampons without applicators for many years, I had no apprehension to insert the cup and got the hang of it pretty quickly (fold and insert).

After 4+ years of using the cup, I can report that I've never felt freer. Here are a couple reasons why I love my cup.

  • It's zero waste. Duh! This is good for me, good for the environment, good for future generations (Am I exaggerating?). Oh and it's convenient for when I go hiking and camping (no bloody trash bag to haul back to the nearest trash container). I just carry a squirt bottle to rinse it and clean up.
  • It's inexpensive and saves me money. Considering I got mine more than 4 years ago and have not spent one dollar on feminine hygiene products ever since, you do the math!
  • It's discrete. I remember looking for my badge in my pocket as I was approaching my office building one day and heard something else fall on the floor. Yep, a tampon. I'm pretty sure none of my coworkers who were standing outside smoking a cigarette (boo!) saw it, but I did blush for a second. The only time I have to carry the cup with me is when I travel and know I'm gonna have my period. It usually comes in a small fabric pouch, very cute!
  • It's comfortable. Is it just me or have you ever felt your tampon inside of you when you were sitting (a little TMI, but I'm pretty sure some of you know what I mean). Well, this never happened with a cup, it's lightweight, it's flexible. You pretty much put it in place and forget it's even there. Cups usually come with a stem at the bottom. Keep it as is for the first couple days you use your cup, as the stem makes it easier to remove the cup. But know that you can trim this stem. I personally totally trimmed mine as the stem was a source of irritation.
  • It's efficient. The only accidents that happened with my cup are pretty recent. And now that I'm writing this article and doing a little research, I just realize that it might be time to retire my first cup and get a new one.
  • It's easy to use. You might want to lock the door of a clean and well-lit bathroom with easy access to a sink the first couple time you use a cup and practice insertion and removal. After a couple times, you'll become an expert and master the single-handed gesture (or not, this is not a competition). Personal tip, we recently installed a bidet on our toilet. I love that it helps me feel extra fresh during that time of the month.
  • It's easy to clean and maintain. I usually empty my cup 3 times a day according to my flow (morning, noon, evening). I simply empty and rinse it during the day and clean it with soap once a day when I'm in the shower. At the end of my cycle, I scrub it with baking soda (check the manufacturer's cleaning recommendations) and a dedicated brush (an old bamboo toothbrush), clean the suction holes with a dedicated toothpick, boil it in water, dry it completely and store it in its pouch until the next month.
  • It makes periods real. Ads want to make you believe that menstrual blood is either gross (it should never be seen) or nonexistent (or turquoise blue). But it's a great indicator of your health and of how your body works and should not be disregarded. I love to be able to see and "study" it. What shade of red is it, what's the texture like, is it abundant? Of course, you can also just dump the content of your cup in the toilet and never have to look at it.

A couple more things

Feminine hygiene is definitely a very personal subject. There is no right or wrong way to take care of yourself during this time of the month.

Just know that some of us are lucky enough to have that many options to chose from and be aware that many brands actually donate a portion of their proceeds to women who are not as lucky as us.

I compiled a little selection here.

Do you have any questions on menstrual cups? Feel free to ask me anything! I'll be happy to share a little more about my experience.

Picture by Jola Kokoszka for Conscious by Chloé. This post is not sponsored but when you shop via some of the links above I may make a small commission from a sale. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Conscious by Chloé!

Foraged Wreath DIY

Foraged Wreath DIY by Conscious by Chloé

On our way back from Southern California, we stopped on the side of the road for lunch and I took this opportunity to get the supplies I needed for a project I had in mind.

Inspired by Max Turk's creations, I had been meaning to give wreath making a try.

So while Octave was preparing lunch, I grabbed a knife and a bag and went for a stroll to forage. I had no idea about how much greenery I would need and pretty much eyeballed it. My advice: take more than what you think you'll need. A wreath can never be too crowded, and, worst case scenario, you'll have enough supplies to make a second one and give it to a friend or neighbor!

Foraged Wreath DIY by Conscious by Chloé

Back home, I unwrapped my bounty and tried a couple designs on the floor of the living room.

Some people create the wreath by making a circle of branches. Others like to use wire to secure the strands around the wreath. I chose the easy route and found frames for 75 cents each at SCRAP, my local second-hand artist's supplies store and decided to just use some cotton thread to wrap the straw around the frame.

The end result looks nothing like what I had in mind, but I'm happy about where trial and error took me.

Foraged Wreath DIY by Conscious by Chloé

Foraged Wreath DIY by Conscious by Chloé

Foraged Wreath DIY by Conscious by Chloé

Foraged Wreath DIY by Conscious by Chloé


FORAGED WREATH DIY

Wreaths are a great way to decorate your home on a budget at any given season. They're common for the end of the year celebrations but can be created at any time of the year to bring the look and smell of nature into your home!

Active time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours

Supplies

Tools

  • Scissors

Instructions

  1. Forage seasonal greens.
  2. Arrange your greens on a flat surface and test various patterns.
  3. Tie a knot around the frame.
  4. Roll the thread around the greens all around the frame to create a base.
  5. Slip bits and pieces to cover the thread and create a pattern.
  6. Hang your wreath and take a step back.
  7. Add more greenery to create balance.
  8. Enjoy the view and the smell of your creation as long as you deem necessary.

Notes

For this wreath, I foraged crested wheatgrass, sagebrush, and rabbitbrush in Southern Oregon. But any kind of greenery will do. Go for a hike and work with what nature offers you. The secret is to have some thicker material for the base (to cover the frame) and tons of little bits (dried berries, pine cones) to use as ornaments). After you take your wreath down at the end of the season, compost the greenery, reuse the thread, and store the frame for the next season.

Foraged Wreath DIY by Conscious by Chloé

Foraged Wreath DIY by Conscious by Chloé

Foraged Wreath DIY by Conscious by Chloé


Have you ever made your own wreath? What did you use? I want to see pictures (tag me on social media so I can see them)!

Our Car-Camping Checklist

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Tonight, Octave and I are headed out for what will probably be our last road trip of the summer together. After a one-week trip across the State of Washington, we're headed to Eastern Oregon until the end of the week (I am FINALLY going to see the Painted Hills!).

For the past year and a half, we've been hitting the roads of most of the 13 Western States with Charlie, a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser Octave refurbished when we first moved to Oregon.

After many car-camping adventures, I think I pretty much nailed the whole packing thing and can confidently share our checklist with you.

Some of the products mentioned are really Charlie-specific (tent, shower), but for the most part, this is a simple packing-list for a road trip, big or small (I'm actually planning a car-camping trip to the coast with my little car in 2-weeks).

I hope you'll find this packing-list useful and that it will inspire you to hit the road - no matter the size of your car (remember our trip to Iceland?).

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Bedroom

Lately, I've been bringing the pillows and duvet we have at home instead of our camping gear.

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Kitchen

We go grocery shopping the day before our trip and store everything we shop in bulk in... Ziploc bags. While this seems wasteful, it is actually the best solution for us so far. While we'd love to bring Mason Jars on trips, the roads and paths we use with the Land Cruiser can be VERY bumpy. Ziploc bags are reusable, lightweight, sealable (we've all seen the videos or bears breaking into cars).

  • Dish soap in a GoToob + Dish sponge + Dish towel
  • Colander

Filter your washing up water with the colander and throw whatever remains in it in a cathole (more on that in the bathroom section).

  • Garbage bag

Even though we aim to produce no waste, we always carry a trash bag with us, at least to pick up the trash left by previous campers.

When we feel lazy or when we're in a rush, we'll stop by a coffee shop in town in the morning and get a caffeinated drink to go.

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Bathroom

  • Shower (or this portable shower)
  • Flip-Flops (to shower in the dirt)
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste (DIY: coconut oil, baking soda and peppermint essential oil mixed together)
  • Soap
  • Solid Shampoo
  • Dry Shampoo (DIY: arrowroot and cocoa powder)
  • Microfiber towel (I personally love my microfiber robe)
  • Washcloth (for the times when it's way too cold to take a shower but you still want to feel clean)
  • Toilet paper
  • Shovel (check out this article to learn how to dig a cathole)

I also recently started using a GoToob filled with water as my travel bidet!

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Safety

Chose the right product according to the region you visit. Are you in bear country? In a humid area? Etc.

Power

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Extras

You can make your campsite as comfy and pretty as you want it to be. It just depends on how much space you have in your vehicle.

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

  • Paper Maps (always useful, you do not want to rely on electronics only)
  • Satellite Communicator (only if you travel to remote areas)
  • Washington Discover Pass
    For access to Washington state parks & other state recreation lands in Washington.
  • America the Beautiful
    For access to all National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands in the USA.
  • Northwest Forest Pass (day use)
    For access to all Forest Service operated recreation sites in Washington and Oregon where a day use fee is required (unless you already have the America the Beautiful pass).
  • Oregon State Park Permit (day-use)
    If you're camping at a state park, you don't need a day-use parking permit. Just display your current state park camping receipt on your dashboard.

I have to admit that it takes a while to process all this information. So don't forget to check a map as you plan your trip, to know which areas you'll be covering, and don't hesitate to check out the state website or stop by the first ranger station on your itinerary. We've always had the best experience there and met the most knowledgeable people about the regions we visited!

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

In conclusion

Getting all this equipment is not cheap. I'm aware of it, believe me! As Octave uses this rig for his filming business, it made sense for him to outfit it with the best gear. And this is pretty much the only way we travel now (except when we go visit our families in Europe), so it's an investment made for many, many trips to come.

After this initial investment, all our holidays cost us is food & gas. (and the occasional treat).

Spending time in nature is the best way to disconnect, recharge your batteries, get away from the daily hustle. And it's so much fun to "play house" in a different way, where your only preoccupation is to be safe and warm.

Camping on public land is free, you guys! Get a good map and hit the road.

So load up your car (or beg a motorized friend to go on an adventure with you) and hit the road, you won't regret it.

Be safe, protect your land, and report back! I want to know all about your camping adventures!


Pictures by Octave Zangs for Conscious by Chloé.

Plastic Free July

Shibori furoshiki by Conscious by Chloé

It's been a year and a half since I've jumped on the zero-waste bandwagon. I've been applying its principles even more seriously since I've moved to Portland exactly a year ago. But lately, I've been feeling like I've hit a plateau.

At the beginning of this year, I read a book that, once again, completely changed the way I approach the food I eat, the clothes I wear, and the objects I welcome into my home. It got me wanting to dive deeper into my habits as a consumer, especially for material belongings. This book is Plastic Free, by Beth Terry.

I thought I was doing pretty well, having reduced the number of times I have to take the trash out each year and having decluttered the house during our last move. But Beth's manifesto opened my eyes even more on the consequences of plastic on our health and on the environment.

I first thought that adding yet another rule to my consumer habits would lead to disenchantment. And I have to admit that, looking at all the plastic that surrounds us at home, I panicked a little. But I decided to take things slow and opted for a step-by-step process.

First, I realized that I could use it as a guide to help me solve the dilemmas I face whenever I need to make a purchase. Adding plastic in the list of noes made decisions simpler.

For example, we decided to get sporks for camping and were presented with 3 options: BPA-free plastic, bamboo or titanium. By eliminating plastic from the equation and choosing titanium for its durability over bamboo (which could be a great option, since it's biodegradable), the decision was made for us. Simpler, greener, happier.

Of course, there are different ways of looking at this. What is the carbon footprint of the production of each one of these 3 items? I don't know. In the end, the best solution in these cases is always to borrow or buy second hand in the first place.

For those of you who are curious to see why and how we could and should ditch plastic, this amazing plastics mindmap sums up part of what Beth explains in her book and makes for a great inspiration to reduce our plastic consumption.

Plastic Free July Plastics Mindmap for Conscious by Chloé

Observations

  • Plastic lasts forever
    Plastic cannot be recycled, it can only be down cycled, which means it will eventually end up in the landfill at best, or in our waterways.

  • Plastic kills animals
    Whoever has participated in a beach clean up will have seen how much plastic pollutes the ocean. Now you can imagine what percentage of it will make its way into the organism of innocent or confused sea creatures.

  • Plastic gets in the food chain and comes back to us
    If fish eat plastic and we eat fish, do we eat plastic? Also, BPA and phthalates are widely used in plastic bottles and food packaging, they can contaminate what they hold and interfere with human hormonal function.

Actions

I'm pretty happy with what we've been achieving at home since I finished reading Plastic Free. But, but I thought I would get a great boost by signing up for Plastic Free July and challenge myself to avoid all single-use plastic including the top 4 (straws, plastic bottles, plastic bags & coffee cup lids) for all of July.

Here are some aspects I'm going to focus on, based on our actual situation:

  • Ask for paper-only packaging
    When I need of something that is not available locally or second hand, I usually order it online and tend to forget to look and ask for eco-packaging.

  • Make our own tortillas
    Octave and I both work from home and cook all three meals every day. Tortillas entered our pantry since we moved to the US and are a great solution when we run out of inspiration. But the only ones we can find are wrapped in plastic. Octave is usually in charge of cooking and his first attempt was pretty successful. So we should just make a habit of it and prepare a big bunch of tortillas and freeze them so we always have a couple on hand when we're feeling lazy.

  • Buy cheese at the counter
    I recently found a great place in Portland which sells a lot of good fresh products at the counter and even has feta and mozzarella. It is located close to my CSA pickup so it saves me time and gas.

  • Start collecting produce stickers for Stickerman
    Instead of automatically putting produce stickers in the trashcan, I'm gonna attach a piece of paper at the back of a cupboard and stick them on it every time I'll buy fruit. I'll use it as a reminder to sign up for the fruit CSA next year instead of the veggie one (now that we have planted the prettiest veggie garden at home) and will send the sticker sheep to Barry Snyder so he can make more educational art.

  • Be more aware of the composition of the fabrics my clothes are made of.
    I'm planning on doing a lot of reading about fabric origin, composition, production and will simply continue de buy second hand and focus on natural fibers. I'll keep you updated if you will.

That's it for this month's challenge. If you need more inspiration, Beth also compiled a great list of 100 steps to a plastic free life on her website.

If you're interested in what I will be up to during this Plasic Free July, know that I'll be documenting my daily victories and failures on Snapchat. Just add me as your friend, my username is: chloelepeltier.


Has anyone signed up for the challenge yet? If so, let me know, we'll be challenge buddies! No pressure, it can be as simple as just deciding to order drinks without straws during a couple days this month. Come on, it will be fun. But watch out, once you start, you'll see plastic everywhere.