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Tuesday
May122009

5 Things for Spring

I always feel guilty coming back here after so long without a recipe, but if you'd tasted the string of mediocre dishes to come out of my kitchen recently you'd probably say a prayer of thanks. I don't know if I should blame myself or the food, but in the last couple of weeks we've had bitter, water-logged eggplant, chicken with a texture like vulcanized rubber, and a chocolate cake that tasted more like peanuts than chocolate (and no, before you ask, there were no peanuts in it...). Luckily, I've had a pile of things mounting on my virtual desk that I've been meaning to tell you about - news, reviews, and that sort of stuff - so hopefully they'll tide you over until I find out where my recipe mojo escaped to, ambush it from behind, drag it home kicking and screaming and chain it to the stove.

1. Storyville Coffee

If you've been to Seattle, you know you don't have to look far for good coffee. In fact it may be the one thing here more ubiquitous than the rain. I'm not talking about Starbucks, either; throughout the Pacific Northwest small artisan coffee roasters like Vita, Zoka, Umbria and Stumptown have been upping the ante in recent years to the point where you can't take three steps without bumping into a cup of coffee that is not only fantastically good, but was probably fairly-traded and sustainably-grown too. With such excellent roasters being a dime a dozen around here, I wasn't particularly quick to jump on the email sent to me by Ryan Gamble, co-president of the Seattle-based Storyville coffee company, since I'd never heard of them and I wasn't really interested in reviewing what I thought would be just another good cup of coffee. Luckily he didn't give up, though, and invited me to meet him for breakfast at a local bakery on Bainbridge Island, where it turns out, the company has their roasting studio. Intrigued by the local connection, I agreed, and spent a fun and fascinating morning with Ryan and the Storyville team.

As it turns out, Storyville is not your average Seattle micro-roaster. For one thing, they don't even market themselves locally; their idea is that people throughout the US should have access to as great of coffee as we do in the Pacific Northwest, and so they've built their business model around quickly delivering ultra-fresh coffee by mail. Also, instead of offering a myriad of different geographic-origin and flavor options, they focus on one carefully crafted, expertly-roasted blend which they offer in caffeinated and decaf versions. (Admittedly I'm still a little dubious about the one-size-fits-all model, as tastes obviously vary; however I do think it's wise for a small company to focus on doing one thing perfectly than a lot of things imperfectly.) What really struck me about these guys, however, is their passion - not just for coffee, but for their humanitarian ideals, though it is being realized in some untraditional ways. Explaining how difficult it is for a small company like theirs to monitor the human and environmental conditions at the source of all their beans - and not wanting to make claims they cannot personally verify* - Ryan told me they've decided to put their conscience to work at the profit end. During the month of May, for example, Storyville is giving away 100% of their revenue - not just profits, but all money earned, up to $1,000,000 - to the International Justice Mission, a human-rights organization that seeks to end slavery and human trafficking around the world. And Ryan tells me they're committed to charitable giving for the long term, and that even after this huge campaign in May ends a large percentage of their profits will continue to go to organizations like the IMJ.

So that's all well and good, but what about the coffee? Well, I had the chance to taste it both in their studio and at home, and I have to say, it is very good. I don't think I'd go so far as to say it's the best cup of coffee I've ever had, and their blend will probably not be to everyone's taste, but to mine is very balanced, smooth and complex, particularly in the first three or four days after roasting. And crucially, they do make sure you get it very fresh, no matter how far - or how close - to their studio you live.

To read all about Storyville, their coffee and their 'Give It All Away in May' campaign, please visit their website.

* Update: I've posted an email I just received from Ryan in the comments, where he gives a little more info on the environmental and humanitarian standards their bean supplier adheres to.

2. Fog Linen Work

I fell in madly in love with Japanese designer Yumiko Sekine's rustic, simple designs in Lithuanian linen the first time I ran across them on Design Within Reach; her beautifully textured tablecloths, napkins and towels are like works of art in cloth. Unfortunately DWR only carries a small selection of her range, as I found out when I started browsing Fog Linen's Japanese site. Fortunately, Yumiko makes it easy for anyone to order her linen no matter where in the world you are - you just send email her a list of the products you want (which does take some sleuthing if you don't speak Japanese, but not much) and she ships them to you (very affordably) by Japanese airmail. I bought a selection of kitchen towels in shades of blue, brown and flax that are so gorgeous I don't know if I'll ever be able to bring myself to use them. But that's beside the point, right?

To order direct from Fog Linen, browse their catalogue and follow the linked instructions. Although it isn't mentioned, Yumiko also accepts Paypal.

Photo from foglinenwork.com.

3. Reusable shopping bags

Okay, here's where I need some help from you. I've been eyeing those reusable shopping bags that fold up into inconspicuous packages and store in your purse or car, and finally come to the realization that I need a few. As much as I bristle at the idea that you need to buy plastic bags to save plastic bags, I've realized that all the good intentions in the world will never compel me to remember to carry the reusable bags I already own. The problem is that there are so many different ones on the market now, and my head is spinning trying to decide which brand to go with. Between Envirosax, Chico, Baggu, RuMe, Acme, Flip and Tumble and Use it Again Sam there seems to be a whole universe of reusable shopping bags, each with their own fervent fan club. What makes it harder is that I'm not entirely sure what I need. Do I want a gusseted, square or flat shape? Do I want one handle or two? Do I want whimsical patterns on the fabric or will solid colors suit me just fine? Will I find stuffing, folding or rolling into a tube the least hassle after every use, and which design will take up the least room in my purse? And then there's the most important question: will I actually use them?

In other words, any experiences, opinions or advice will be gratefully received.

4. Fat

Have you ever bought a new cookbook and upon opening it realized that this is the one thing that was missing from your life and you didn't even know it? Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit (particularly since I haven't actually made anything from it yet...), but this book is a revelation, and if you haven't got your hands on a copy yet, do so now. Fascinating, intelligent and deliciously naughty, Fat celebrates animal fat in all its edible incarnations. Arguing that it's high time to move past our deeply-entrenched (and, it turns out, faulty) assumption that animal fat is unhealthy, Jennifer McLagan offers a selection of recipes so tempting they'll banish the fat-o-phobe in you forever. I mean, there's a whole third of the book devoted to butter for crying out loud, with recipes for things like brown butter ice cream, salted butter tart and my future death-bed request, the Kouign Amann from Chez Michel in Paris. Be still my beating heart!
p.s. The James Beard Foundation liked it too - it just won their book of the year award.

5. Abruzzo Earthquake Relief

I'm sure you heard of the terrible earthquake that hit Abruzzo last month, virtually destroying the city of L'Aquila. I was devastated to learn that the beautiful, majestic city I visited barely a year ago is in ruins, and many of the wonderful people I met there have likely lost homes, jobs and loved ones. From my friends elsewhere in Abruzzo I've heard that the earthquake has impacted the entire region, even the areas that didn't suffer physical damage. They tell me the tourism industry has been particularly hard-hit, as thousands of people who were planning trips this summer have cancelled. On top of the recession, you can imagine what a devastating impact this is having on the local economy. I know funds are tight for everyone, but if you can, please consider donating to the Red Cross relief effort in L'Aquila. Or consider planning a trip to Abruzzo, one of the most beautiful and least-known regions of Italy. I can think of few more enjoyable ways to help people in need.

Oh, okay, since you've made it this far I'll give you a bonus sixth item: A few weeks ago I was thrilled to be included along with forty-nine other fabulous sites in the London Times' rundown of their favorite food blogs. As you may know, they're working their way through the list, posting a Q&A with each blogger, and last week was my turn to be interviewed. Check it out here!

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Reader Comments (36)

I can't vouch for any bags besides Chico. I got two of them via jetblue during earth week last year. They gave them out to each passenger with goodies inside them. And here is why I like them:

1. It folds in such a small package it doesn't take up any room in my purse!
2. The bag it folds into is attached to the bag itself so you'll never lose it! Unless you lose the whole thing. I have another reusable bag that fold but the little baggie it goes into is not attached and I already lost one.
3. I know Chico has a bag that is made out of used plastic bottles, so they are not made with virgin plastic material, which I think will solve a little of dilemma of buying plastic to save plastic.
4. It is a good size and it's strong. They fit quite a bit of stuff in there. Granted I shop for three people and we only go once every month or so to the grocery store, but if I do have to go for that few extra ingredients for that special dish, I never have to worry. I usually can fit 1/2 gallon of milk with other things still fit in only one bag. My trader joes trip usually only require two bags, which is really surprising because I buy a lot of stuff from that store!

Sorry for the long comment. I hope that gives you a little bit of insight on Chico bags.

May 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjennsquared

I've bought a bag from Envirosax, and it does nicely in replacing those plastic grocery bags. The one I have is roomy and folds up to a small little bundle, with a fabric flap to keep it rolled up. I liked all the bright colors and designs, but I think they have solid colored bags as well.

May 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkelsey

I use cloth bags that I have had tucked away with my other bags. I leave it near my purse and fold it up, tuck it into my purse then leave the house. Whatever you decide to use/buy, the main thing is that you make a point to use them :)

May 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkat

As a mother of three, I just buy a lot of bags and put them every where, in all the cars, by the door, I still seem to forget. So I buy new ones at the store. I think a mix of cloth and sturdy plastic seem to work best.

May 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

I have a few Envirosax that I use for light grocery/etc shopping, and sometimes just for carrying my junk around. I also have a couple of really study, roomy square-bottomed bags that I brought back from France with me, and I would recommend getting at least one square-bottomed bag.

I would also recommend going for lots of smaller bags instead of a few large ones, especially if you don't tend to bag your own groceries. The Envirosax are great for this since they are around the same size as most store bags. My experience is that if you give the store clerk 4 large bags, they will try to cram everything into one or two extremely heavy bags, and you don't want to get stuck with that.

May 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

As far as the shape of the bag goes, that depends on if you're male or female (no, really! It does! Bear with me, I'll explain...).

If you're male, chances are your hips are narrower than, or at least not wider than, your shoulders. If you're female, chances are your hips are at least as wide as, or wider than, your shoulders. This difference is important when you think about how you generally carry shopping bags -- i.e., swinging down by your hips somewhere. If you're male (or female but unfeasibly narrow-hipped) then a bag held down by your hips probably won't hit them no matter what shape the bag is. But if you're female (or male with child-bearing hips!), then you need a bag that can be comfortably held down by your hips without it constantly banging into you as you walk.

If you think of the top opening of a bag as being a rectangle, then the wider-hipped among us need a bag that has the handles on the long sides of the rectangle (i.e., not the way that your usual supermarket cheapo bags come -- they usually have the handles on the short sides). This will allow you to hold the bag in the most comfortable hand hold (with your palm facing your leg, rather than turned out to the front or to the back) and have the longest, flattest side of the bag towards your leg, thus minimising bumpage.

And there you have my .2. Can you tell this is a pet peeve?

May 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCassie

Congrats on the inclusion on the list! Your interview is great and I would have to agree with the wood-fire pizza as a last supper meal, delish!

Hi! I've been reading your blog for a few months but this is my first comment. =)

As far as the bags go -- honestly, the only brand in the list that I've heard of is RuMe (but what I've heard has been all positive). The grocery store nearest my apartment sells generic rectangular green cloth (well, maybe not cloth, but some sort of reinforced material) shopping bags for 99-cents. I bought two at the beginning of last year and absolutely love them -- they easily hold six plastic bags' worth of groceries each. I even bought one for my sister. I keep them on a hook in the kitchen so when I'm making a shopping list I see them and remember to grab one. Barring those, I bought a giant brown canvas "beach" bag on spring break in March and use that whenever I just need a few things, since it too is reinforced and easy on my shoulders.

My point(s): Make sure that at least one bag has a flat, reinforced bottom -- you'll need it for things like milk and eggs. Definitely get two handles -- it distributes the weight and will be easier on your arms/shoulders. Don't worry about the brand or the design -- as long as they're reusable, they'll be better than plastic. Good luck!

May 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn

I say go with the reusable bags you already possess. If you don't use the ones you already have, what makes you think buying more will make you use them? Mine are ugly, squarish, store-brand ones inherited from my land-lady, but it's just become a routine to keep them in my trunk and grab them whenever I go grocery shopping. I guess the one exception is if all you have in the way of re-usable bags is a huge blue Ikea tote. That was me in my previous town, and it was very difficult to carry all the groceries in that thing, though I did try! It made me "forget" it at home a bit more often, though. :)

May 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSylvia

Hi,

I use Baggu, and I love them. They are incredibly strong and durable. Plus, I love that they are a nice color. They are also machine washable. I got mine at Borders.

I had an employee at Trader Joes give me the BEST idea for remembering bags. He suggested writing "grocery bags" at the top of my list and ever since then, I have had no problem. About half my co-workers fell in love with Baggus and we use them almost daily.

I have filled mine with cans of tomatoes and bottles of seltzer and it has never ripped.

May 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCelia

I like the kind that fold up really small and fit in my purse. You never know when you might need them out walking or something or at a friend's house (I am always exchanging tons of things with my friends, so little sacks come in handy). Think about using them at the library for instance. You need good strong ones that can carry loads of books and don't get dirty easily. I carry 2 or 3 roomy strong cheap foldups at all times. Color can also play - get cool colors or designs you like and you will take them out more often. I have them in colors that match my purse and colors that compliment my raincoat. Have you also considered a frozen goods sack to keep in the trunk of your car?

May 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLucy

I got some great bags at Saintsbury & Whole Foods in England. They are jute, have padded handles, a waterproof lining inside and come it two sizes. Small which fits inside bicycle carrier baskets on either side of the back wheel - or large - which can hold my food processor when I'm on a cooking job.

I looked high and low for them here in the US - no dice. I love them - because the square bottom and rather stiff material allow them to hold their shape when I'm trying to load them. Plus - when I go to pick up my CSA share, I can wipe out the wet/dirt-stuff from the roots out of the bottom without hassle. They don't fold up into something smaller, but I just keep them in my backseat - and when I make my grocery list - I lay it back there. That way when I get to the store - I have to get the bags to get to the list.

(sorry this is so long) ... so - call a friend in the UK is my suggestion. Best 1 quid/each I ever spent.

May 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMittany

I bought two baggus about a year ago. I use them most days and am very happy with them. I do all of my shopping without a car so - along with a back pack - I use them to carry a lot of stuff. They are probably about 50% larger than a standard plastic shopping bad and much much stronger. I really like that the handles are long enough that I can also slip them over my shoulder if I want to. One of my housemates recently used one like a back pack - slipped over both shoulders! I also love that they wrap into a small package and fit into my handbag so that I can pick something up on my way home. Great colors - purple and turquoise. I throw them in the wash if they get anything on them.

May 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTanya

Hi, I love my little Chico bag...it folds into a little pouch and I just keep it in my purse for small purchases, plus it was pretty cheap. My only complaint is that it is really wrinkly when you take it out...but maybe a bag with a print on it wouldn't be so noticeable.

Then I have 4-5 bags square-bottomed bags for grocery shopping, which work great. I agree with Vanessa though, the grocery-baggers tend to overfill those, so I'm always keeping an eye on them...

Have fun shopping!

May 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

Just received this from Ryan at Storyville:

Melissa,

Thanks for the post. Much appreciated. Since we last spoke, especially in
anticipation of this campaign, we've worked hard to ensure that our farmers
are taken care of and that our beans are organically farmed. You and I
connected before we had gotten to the other side of really tough questions
we were asking, but we never circled back around on this topic. I wish we
had.

We built our blend on cup quality and buy beans that are in the top 2%
of coffee available. We are constantly cupping green varietals,
including Fair Trade and organics. So far, we have yet to find a
certified coffee that beats the quality of our current blend and is
consistent from lot to lot.

Because of this upper 2% top-grade artisanal coffee, we pay a premium
price over current certified coffee premiums. We use one of the most
respected coffee importers in the world, who only buys from quality
farms he has visited personally, who are treating their workers and
land fairly, sustainably and with care. A farm cannot produce beans in
the upper 2% without adhering to these standards.

Cheers,
Ryan

May 12, 2009 | Registered Commentermelissa

Hi Melissa, and thanks for your words and your support for Abruzzo.
My husband's family is from L'Aquila, and the situation is quite depressing in all the area surrounding L'Aquila.
People from Abruzzo are usually tough, mountain people. Still they need to be given things, not only food and temporary accomodations, but especially hope, hope for the future.
I'd like to join your plea for people to consider going exploring Abruzzo, for it is true that is one of the least known regions of Italy, but because of this, it is also one of the best places to find hidden gems.
Thanks everybody, take care.

May 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

I'm a huge fan of Reisenthel bags, and always have their Mini Maxi shopper in my handbag. It also comes in it's own little bag, that has a handy key-fob type clip on it, to ensure you don't lose it in the depths of your handbag. It's super sturdy, the textiles are beautiful, and the Mini Maxi in particular has nice short handles, which keep it from dragging in the front wheel of my bike when it's hanging from my handlebars. What more could a girl want?!

http://www.reisenthel.com/

May 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMari

I completely love the Flip & Tumble and I've given them to dozens of friends who love them, too! I like the fact that it rolls up into a little ball and I always keep it in my purse. Plus, you can carry it on your shoulder which means you keep your hands free to carry other stuff!

I can definitely second the Reisenthel suggestion - I picked one up at an airport in France, and it's been really handy. (And rather stylish.)

I love the idea of the flip and tumble, but I can't justify the shipping to the UK.

One point - make sure whatever you use is washable. I've got lots of canvas bags, and they're fine for some things, but groceries always spill, leak or are just a bit damp, and not everything survives a wash.

May 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

Hi Melissa, I love my Baggu (purchased in Charleston!) and carry it everywhere with me. Like Tanya, I love that the handles are designed such that I can slip them over my shoulder. The bags are sturdy, and they come in such lovely colours.

When I first saw Fat, I think I gabbed about it so much that Aun promptly bought it for me that same afternoon :)

May 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterS

I can vouch for Stumptown and Intelligentsia in the US for good tasting "direct trade" coffee. I hope that Storyville will consider shipping outside the US and I really I'm touched by their gesture for May 2009.

May 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLameen

I have baggus that I bought for groceries, and one envirosax that I keep in my purse for when I have work to bring home from the office. I've lost the little pouches that the baggus come with, so all of them are stuffed into one of the bags - not exactly compact or easy to throw into a purse, but my boyfriend and I do grab them on the way to the grocery store.

That said, I'll probably be buying more envirosax bags (or some other kind - I hadn't heard of some of the ones you listed and will probably be clicking on the links). I find it easier to roll up the envirosax bag and snap it closed with the strip that's attached to the bottom of the bags, which means it can stay in my bag rather than sitting in the closet near the door. Also, the baggus have handles like plastic bags in grocery stores, so no matter how you carry them (over the shoulder or in your hand), they're banging into your hip or your leg. The envirosax have handles like a tote bag, so I can carry them over my shoulder or in my hand without getting jabbed by the box of cereal in the bag. The flat bottom of the baggu doesn't really keep it any steadier than any other bag - it's all in how you pack the contents. I also like to check dimensions of the bags - envirosax hold more than baggus, and I think I looked at flip & tumble and they'd be too long for me (5'2") to carry in my hand without dragging. Hope this is helpful, at least for the 2 brands I'm familiar with!

May 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErin

I will be trying Storyville coffee this month. Sounds wonderful! I am familar with IJM (International Justice Mission) and can tell you it's worth buying the beans! There are more slaves today then at any other time in history. To buy some coffee and support IJM with what they're doing, well it's good to the last drop!

May 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

I use furoshiki for couple of years and I love it. It is extremely versatile. The link below is in Russian, but pictures are self-explaining

http://community.livejournal.com/flylady_ru/991649.html

BTW, IKEA's blue bag is very convenient for grocery shopping.

May 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNata M

So, hum. I have been using resable sacks for years, and I have no idea what brand they are, I just end up with them as give aways from the stores, etc. etc. I have about 10. I also had never thought about what they are made from, but they have to be better than the ones that are disposable? I hope mine are mostly recycled!
I don't like the ones that fold up in my purse because I purposely keep a small purse. I like the big ones, with two handles and all sizes and varieties.

What I do is stuff all the bags into my biggest bag. I keep them my trunk. The second I unpack my grocerices, I throw them all by the back door and back into my car. I have found that they are so much better than plastic or paper. They are stronger, protect your food better, are easier to carry etc. Two of my favorites? I have one that is insulated a bit and padded, ths is good for frozen stuff, milk, yogurt etc. or even for concerts in the park for the summer. And the only one I have ever bought is one to hold wine in six separted compartments I use it also for sparkiling water, etc.
Even some of the retail stores are starting to use them, I have one from the Columbia outlet store and Lululemon the yoga store sends you home with them too.
Also, if you go on vacation, check out the ones at local grocery stores for part of your collection-not a bad souviner. I have one from FL (the insulated one, which a friend that lives there gave me while visiting, one from Hawaii, etc.) They also make great bags to throw random things for kids in while on day trips. take towels and stuff to the beah on vacation etc.
Sure, I forget them, but it is getting easier, as my local whole foods has big signs by the doors. Good luck, you will love the change and you will find what works for you. For me, it is just like my food-I like variety!

May 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

I can only vouch for the Envirosax bags--I bought the graphic series and all 5 fit into a pocketbook-sized snap-closure bag. The graphic series seemed to me the most gender-neutral pattern at the time (a little less than 2 years ago), which would increase the likelihood my husband would use them too. We keep the bags on a door handle near the door and so far, we've been good at using them if we do our groceries on Saturday--if we go on a weeknight to pick up a few things we're more likely to forget, but that's why I have an extra one stashed in my purse. I like them, but like all of my purses, I find the handles a little long (I'm very short).

I've been enjoying a bottle of your lime cordial for a week now! Thanks for the recipe!

May 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMatilda

I love your blog. After a time of reading about 10 blogs regularly, it's only yours now that is bookmarked and yours that I check every few weeks. Thanks for what you do.

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

I keep one of those Riesenthel bags in my purse, but for the big weekly grocery trips we keep a bunch of those grocery store reusable bags in the trunk. As I wear these out, I plan on sewing replacements myself instead of buying new, using one of the commercially-made bags for a pattern. If you knit or crochet, there are a bunch of patterns on the Web for net bags. If you don't, then maybe you could barter some baked goods for some bags...

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJuti

Wow - seems we all have lots to say about our reusable bags! I most heartily agree with jennsquared about the benefits of chico's bags having the pouch attached. I've found envirosax's fold/roll/snap routine to be more effort than stuffing into a pouch. I love Cassie's explanation about the importance of handle placement and bag shape - she is not alone in her hip-bumping annoyances. I believe chico has bags with handles both ways.

All in all, the most important tip that has already been said, use them if you have them! The closest I come to remembering requires having a little pouch in my purse or attached to my wallet (seriously, I snap my wallet around the toggle tie of the chico bag in order to remember). Good luck!!

May 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterE Leb

p.s. Thanks for introducing Storyville. I'm going to check them out and hopefully order some coffee before the end of May!

May 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterE Leb

Hi guys, really helpful stuff - thank you! You've given me a lot to think about in my quest to find the perfect bag. And yes, I know that the best thing would be to use the bags I already own, but what I didn't mention is they are those big blue monstrosities from Ikea. For years, actually they were our main shopping bags, since in Edinburgh we did a large once-a-week shopping trip and almost always remembered to bring them along. Now, though, we stop for small amounts every couple of days, often on our way to or from something else, so we never have them with us. I'm so sick of the paper or plastic question, though (and of feeling guilty no matter which I choose!), so I definitely need to invest in something more portable. And more attractive. :)

Ciao Monica! My heart goes out to your husband. I hope he didn't lose any family in the earthquake. The devastation in L'Aquila is just beyond comprehension... :( But for visitors, it's probably better now than ever before - they'll have the whole place to themselves. I really hope some will take advantage of it, and discover what a fabulous place Abruzzo is.

Renee - That's so nice to read, thank you!

Juti - Hey, what a cool idea. Baked goods for bags? Sign me up!

May 23, 2009 | Registered Commentermelissa

I've tried a few different portable reusable bags, and in my experience... they're all great! I have quite a few reusables that aren't portable and I do use those on occasion.... but the ones I use most are whichever ones fit in my purse or laptop bag. In the heat of the moment (i.e., at the checkout counter, stopping the checker from using a new bag, rummaging for the reusable one) the design in shape and color of the bag really makes no difference. I will say that my preference is for ones with two handles and fairly flat bottoms because they seem to be able to accommodate the most things without feeling like they're going to break.

I was on my bike the other day and only have a rack, not a basket/pannier for it. When I had to make a shopping stop, I used my two-handled bag and slipped the handles over my shoulders so I could cycle home with it backpack-style. It worked marvelously.

The one I use most has a separate pouch with a velcro strap to close it. The bag itself folds or rolls into it. I honestly can't imagine the packaging style would make much difference to me -- these bags are dead useful in any form, and an absolute necessity in my purse.

May 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEva

What a great bunch of suggestions, especially the one about putting the bags at the top of every shopping list. The key thing, I think is creating an actual habit. Being an essentially flighty sort, I've nurtured several of these nearly physical reflex behaviours to save myself from being locked out of my apartment, or arriving at work without my lunch, and so on.

I had a terrible time remembering my collection of baggu bags, until I began keeping them in a cloth bag, hung on a doorknob just under the chalkboard where I keep my running shopping list. Before leaving to shop, I grab the bag, toss in the paper list and the little zipbag with my debit card, housekey and Costco card. I do this every time, and take nothing else- so I would feel naked leaving without the whole setup.

It's a bit pathetic, but the absentminded need extra help! I love my baggus because they can squish very tiny, and they are shaped like the bags from the supermarket, so they fit on the little posts the cashiers use, making it easier for them. I also keep a baggu in any purse I carry, which is handy not only for spontaneous food buys, but for anything else large-ish that might suddenly wish to be carried.They are much easier to use and remember than the odd collection of bags I used years ago.

May 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlindy

We reuse our shopping bags as a garbage bag too. It helps prevent the smell in trash can a bit.

Thank you very much for sharing.

-Green

www.ahacook.com

May 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGreen

here seems to be a whole universe of reusable shopping bags, each with their own fervent fan club...

every think that all the marketing and production that goes into making these bags - and 'tote-ing' them as 'green'...

is actually less counter productive than people just reusing the simplest bags, that they - shockingly - might already own?...

June 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn in Amsterdam

Yes, like green said, It´s very important to reuse the plastic bags. We have to care of the environment and plastic is one the worst things for it. It will take a lot of time but we have to start creating this conscious in everyone.

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterArgentina Travel

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