Our Extraordinary Solar/Wind Hybrid Powered Clothes Dryer

A few months ago, with the awareness that a clothes dryer is the most energy hungry appliance in the house after a fridge, we bought an extraordinary invention.

It is a wind and solar powered hybrid.

It requires no energy to run, and dries clothes in just a few hours.

It scares crows.

It is…

a Hill’s Hoist!

hill's hoist

Oh, Hill’s Hoist, How I love thee. I love that you hold all of my families clothes with ease. I love that you can wind down to easily load the clothes, or wind up to spin in the air. I love how efficient you are. I love how reminiscent you are of our other home, Australia.

Could I have been scrappier? Sure, and we are – we actually have a clothes line made from leftover nylon rope on our porch. But damn, the hoist is a thing of long term, sun-drenched beauty, and dries our clothes in about 3 hours in the full sun. That’s my kind of investment!

Since When Does Lemon Have Ingredients? A Mild Rant on Travel

To get to Seattle, we had to fly from New York. Two things amazed me about this, and every plane trip I’ve taken lately – 1) how truly unsustainable airplane travel is, simply in terms of passenger service, and 2) How it took me this freakin’ long to notice. It was only when reading Joel Salatin that I really stopped and thought about the tremendous waste that goes into airplane travel, and it extend so far beyond the gasoline and carbon costs. 

It really hit home when I ordered a soda water with lemon. In every other flight I’ve been on, they’ve always had a sliced lemon, or not had it at all. (Now, I know that ordering lemon slices from New York airport is about as non-local as physically possible, but – well – I like my citrus.  I also know that ordering canned soda water isn’t the most sustainable option either. I was thirsty. I’m not a saint.)

Instead of a sliced piece of fruit, however, they gave me packets of powdered and crystalized lemon.  It was, of course “100% natural” – but looking at the ingredients?

lemon packets

true lemon

If it now takes paper packets to serve lemon, we’re in trouble. Not to mention, the tremendous amount of plastic associated with each drink and snack.  

As a consumer, I have a responsibility. I have a responsibility to either bring my cup (which I forgot at home, along with the frittata disaster of 2013) or at least, save it and not throw it away between service. You can’t bring your own beverages on flights through the airport, but I could have had a water bottle and filled it at the airport water fountain.  However, even when I do my part, I can’t understand why the policy is to collect the cups after service, only to re-distribute out new cups afterwards. Is there something inherently unhygienic about sipping from the same cup, naught but two hours later? Not to mention, isn’t this less financially viable?  I mean, they loose twice as many cups as necessary!

Also, the hermetically sealed, many varietal processed snacks frustrate me. I’m a gluten-free and refined sugar-free person, so I carry my own snacks. For most people with specialized dietary requirements, they don’t rely on the airline to provide for their needs.  For everyone else, having such a tremendous variety of processed, package snacks is unnecessary, and just creates so much garbage and waste, in their digestive system and the landfills.

 So I wonder, what would happen if we had either reusable and washable bowls, or if that’s not feasible, compostable bowls, with a vegetarian and a meat-based soup and a hearty bread (and of course, gluten-free bread, for those who need).  Have the airline attendants ladle them out individually to each person, so there’s no cross-contamination of anything. At the end, collect the scraps for compost, and use the compost to grow attractive plants alongside the runway (I thought of saying food trees, but that seems like overkill, considering the amount of pollution and fumes. Not to mention, probably don’t want anything high too near a runway.)

On shorter flights, the same could be done with nuts (I know this may be questionable for those with nut allergies, but they now serve packaged nuts, and from what I understand, the hermetic seal really doesn’t makes all that much of a difference once the package is open.  If anyone reading has a severe nut allergy, please correct me.)  They could hand out either compostable or metal tins of raw or roasted nuts, and throw them in the dishwasher at the end of the flight, or compost the containers.  

Alternatively, they could have the local fruit of the season, which would be a dramatically cost and health effective option – local apples in New York right now were around $2.00 a pound (for about 3-4 apples) while chips, cookies, etc., retail for $1-2 per pack – they could cut the cost by 4, and increase health and sustainability!

I know these ideas may seem ridiculous at this point, but remember, a few years ago, you would have been hard pressed to find a “local” label, and the idea of canning supplies in the local Target would have been comical. This changed because consumers demanded it. What if we demanded something that was cheaper for the airlines, and healthier for our waist line and our waste?

I imagine things would change, and quickly too.

I know this seems a bit rant-y, and for that, I apologize.  It’s more just a wonderance – what would happen if we came together, and instead of continuing to follow the most obvious and unsustainable patterns, we really paused, thought about new options, and tried them out? I really believe it would be amazing what we could accomplish collectively. 

First Morning In Seattle

Our first morning in Seattle was fantastic.  When Ant and I travel together, 80% of the time, we use airbnb.  It can really make or break a vacation, but luckily for us, this one was made by our awesome hosts, Megan and Saul.  The room was private, comfortable and spotless, they were happy to share their kitchen, but most importantly, they were friendly and relaxed.  Little things, like being perfectly happy to coordinate cooking times, share their spices with us, and tell us the details of their composting make the stay as special as staying in a fancy B&B.

On the first morning, after having a breakfast at home, we headed out to Pike Place Market.  We both really wanted to focus on the special and unique parts of Seattle – not necessarily the first Starbucks, but the quirky and the delightful.

We found that first in Caffe Vita, a fabulous roaster and coffee house in the Capitol Hill area. 

Caffe Vita - Seattle

They roast their own single origin espresso, have stellar baristas, and a friendly and laid back vibe. It was so cool to see “local coffee” redefined, as they roast each and every bean they brew and press, right out the back!


It was amazing to see, particularly while sipping such a delightful brew. What we loved most about it, however, was the staff.  From day one, they were super friendly, but when we came back on day two, we were so surprised that they remembered us, asked us how our first day in Seattle was, and were more than happy to make restaurant recommendations that they enjoyed. It make us feel like we were the locals. (By the way, please check their website for incredible detail on their blends, single origin espresso, and roasting process – so fascinating and far more in depth than I could dream of posting here.)

Fully revved up, we continued walking down to the infamous Pike Place Market. 

Pike Place Market

If we had expected a quick, 30 minute trip, we were absolutely wrong. Pike Place requires at least a few hours to really get the feel of all the amazing shops, stalls and things to see. For photographers, it can’t be beat. Luckily, I’m not one, so snapshots sufficed. 

pike place nuts

From the moment you enter, the scents are overwhelming. At Pike Place Nuts, they roast all of their own nuts, with a bunch of different flavors.  Delicious!

A pickle like no other

Britt’s pickles were out of this world amazing.  She makes a variety of pickles, as well as kimchi and shots of pickle juice – while perhaps it sounds weird, it tasted refreshing and fabulous.  I bought a gorgeous sour pickle, and was such a happy camper. She naturally ferments all her pickles, rather than rushing it with extreme heat and pasteurization, which allows the healthy bacteria and amazing flavor to remain. She even sells “Picklators”, which are sets to make your own pickles at home – a fun gift for the preserving newbie!

Pike Place Fish Co

But of course, the most famous stall at Pike Place Markets is the “Flying fish guys”, also known as Pike Place Fish Co. They’re most famous for yelling and throwing fish around, but in my opinion, they should be famous for their total commitment to transparency and 100% sustainable farming. 

sustainable fish

Not to mention, their fabulous signage. 


Of course, to finish our morning, I had to buy a bag of locally grown cherries. The salesman was so thoughtful – he even provided a pit bag, for my eating pleasure! Talk about fast food.  

Until later!