Month: February 2019

Baby Names I Love, But Won’t Be Using

I love reading baby name idea lists. Even before I was pregnant, and now that I am not pregnant, there is something about the hunt for the perfect name that is very exciting and frustrating and adventurous for me. Finding a name is exactly the creative, practical, high-stakes kind of challenge that totally peaks my interest. And the fact that there are practically limitless options means that every list can contain new ideas, and maybe even the ideal.

FYI, I am not pregnant. This is not an announcement. But maybe you are pregnant/adopting a puppy/raising a sassy succulent and are looked for the *perfect* title for your new addition (Congratulations on the new houseplant, by the way).

Or, you are like me and just love looking at these lists. So here, I will magnanimously share a few names from my favorites list.

Here is how I define my taste in baby names: classic, old-fashioned, not trendy, meaningful, and longer (generally three-plus syllables). 

My one and only child is named Theodore Antonio.

(For the record, these have been veto-ed by my husband, so barring a shift in magnetic north, we won’t be using these.)



Means “heard of God/asked of God.” Ranked #21 in the United States, 2017.

This is a very strong name, without bringing to mind a former emperor or viking chief. I love the story in the Bible of Samuel’s birth. I almost got my husband to approve this name because of Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain a.k.a. his favorite). But he is not a fan or the nickname “Sam,” and this name is a little high on the trending charts for my taste. But it is still a kicking name and I totally see why it is high on the favorites list.


Means “God has healed.” Ranked #519 in the United States, 2017.

Obviously, this heralds back to my pre-Massimo days when my plan was to have four boys and name them after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Shockingly, he did not approve of this plan. But this name is still beautiful, artistic, and mysterious. I love the cute nickname “Raph.”


Means “youthful.” Not ranked in the United States, 2017.

I used to have Jude on my list, but then some awesome friends stole it for their son and now it’s dead to me (lol, just kidding, shout out to John and Meyesa for the best two kids on the planet with the cutest names!). I found Jules as a similar version, but less common. You will probably like this name if you also like Julian. Also, I hoped to win over my husband by reminding him of how must he loves Jules Verne, but he did not go for it.


Means “a steep cliff.” Not ranked in the United States, 2017.

So the meaning on this is not as deep, but, this name is on my list because it was C. S. Lewis’s first name and his writing has made a significant impact on my life. I also think these names are perfectly old-fashioned and not common at all. I love that it can be more laid-back and casual (“Cliff”), or high-class (Clive”), and I value versatility a lot.


Means “follower of Christ.” Ranked #52 in the United States, 2017.

I have a cousin named Christian and I have always loved it. Just *saying* this name is a beautiful experience, and many sounds are preserved in the cute nickname “Chris.” I like Christopher as well, but Christian is more meaningful for me, as it symbolizes my faith and what I want my family to stand for. Massimo, on the other hand, hates names that are also things (like colors, flowers, objects, places, etc.), so this is a no-go for him. You can see how limited I am….



Means “poem” or “song.” Ranked #405 in the United States, 2017.

Who else saw Spy Kids back in their formative years and instantly knew Carmen was the most boss lady name there could be? And you were right. This name even has that Spanish flare I am apparently really in to, which makes it sound even more boss, and I think it is fiercely strong, while also being stunningly feminine.


Means “marvelous.” Ranked #344 in the United States, 2017.

When I was in college choir, we sang this breathtaking song about the rose of Mary being chosen to carry the Son of God. The song included repeated long, swooping Latin phrases in which we all sang: “Res miranda,” which means “marvelous thing,” and I thought how beautiful “Miranda” sounded rising from the choir. This word was claimed as a name by Shakespeare.


Means “home ruler.” Ranked #480 in the United States, 2017.

This is technically a nickname for “Harriet,” but I like the nickname more than the full name, and nick names can be names (*cough* tell Massimo that) We came up with this name when we saw True Grit. Massimo and I had so much admiration for Mattie Ross, we started trying to find names that would remind us of her. Mattie, Hattie, and Addy were all in the running. I still love Hattie the best.


Means “curly-haired.” Ranked #327 in the United States, 2017.

I love this name: it is a little tough, and reminds me of a girl from the country with true grit, who doesn’t mess around with foolish dilly-dally. I also think it is just beautiful, and I simply love everything this name makes me think of, including a girl named Cassidy from my church where I grew up, who is pretty much a boss lady herself (shout out!).


Mean “youth” (not ranked in the U.S., 2017), “young” (#244 in the U.S., 2017), and “God is gracious” (#282 in the U.S., 2017).

A moment on this progression: I love all these names, and technically Junia and June are versions of the same name, while Jane is a female version of “John,” but it all started with Junia. Junia was the name of a female apostle in the early church (see Romans 16:7), whose female-ness was so offensive to early church leaders, they added an “s” at the end of her name in the Bible to make her a boy. (Check out The Junia Project for more information.) Being a co-laborer and apostle in the early church is just about as admirable as a woman can be, so I fell in love with the name.

Notwithstanding, “Junia” is a little more unusual than my husband would usually go for, so I thought of anglicizing it slightly, to June.

But of course, you remember the thing Massimo has about names that are also things….

So, I thought of shifting it one more time, this time adding a nod to Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, to Jane.

And of course, Jane, John, Jonathan, and Theodore all have the same meaning and the same base Hebrew name. So basically, if I named a daughter Jane, I would be giving her the same name as my son. But I love all these names.

How to Save the World and Save Money at the Same Time

When we talk about “going green,” I tend to get a little squeamish, as I associate the policies and movement as inevitably taking my “green” dollar bills far, far away. It can cost a lot of money to invest in waste reduction and clean energy production.

But I also know it is important.

So far, we have only found one inhabitable planet in the known universe, and it’s the one we are clouding with dirty gasses and filling with garbage. In 2013, the average American produced 4.4 pounds of waste per day, and recycled or composted 1.51 pounds of this waste.In general, 52% of the waste we don’t recycle or compost ends up in a landfill! A landfill.

With the fate of our home planet at stake, but also with a tight (and tightening) household budget, what is a girl to do? Can I help reduce my environmental impact while also saving money? Yes, I can! And you can, too! 

With the five suggestions below, you can not only help save the planet, but you can also save money, save time, and simplify your life!

Below are five small, creative things we have done in our household to try to reduce our waste production, improve our health, and attempt to reduce overall pollution caused by the things we need and use in our daily lives. If you feel like being a frugal superhero in 2019 – then read on to find new, unique changes you can make to help save the environment and save money at the same time.

1. Stop buying paper towels.

It wasn’t until we moved into our own home, when we actually had to haul our own trash to the transfer station, that we realized how much waste we produced. We were only three people! And one of those people only pooped! Why did we have so much garbage?

We stopped buying paper plates, plastic silverware, paper napkins, and paper towels. Now, there are three times when we think we miss paper towels (and even then, just a little bit): 1. when we fry foods, 2. when we have company over, and 3. for some woodworking/craft projects. We can and do purchase the occasional roll for these specific purposes, but as a daily practice, we don’t use them. It saves us significant time and money, because we don’t have to constantly re-stock our paper goods!

What do we use instead? We use cloth napkins at the dinner table. For most spills and drying tasks, we love these $0.79 IKEA dish towels. They are 100% cotton and do a great job. We wash them a million times, and they do get stained eventually, but for the price, we really don’t care.

We also use these reusable cleaning cloths from Dollar Tree to clean up more filthy messes. $1.00 for a 12 pack, and you can use them for about 6 months. How can you beat that?

2.  Recycle and compost everything you can.

These made a huge difference in our waste reduction. Any inexpensive garbage bin can serve as your recycling container. Post a simple reminder list of what can and cannot be recycled nearby, and keep it available – right next to your kitchen garbage can, preferably. This is key: if it is easy to access and visible, you are more likely to use it.

[Psst, he have moved our recycling to just inside the garage door because our toddler likes to take the bottles and cans from it. We have to work a little harder to remember to recycle, but it is not too bad.]

Composting is new to us, but has helped us start to make nutritious, rich soil for our garden. We made a big composting container out of recycled wood pallets in the backyard, and keep a counter-top container to collect every day scraps. Again, it is key to keep your small compost container accessible: it should be in plain sight at all times. We use this super-affordable bucket with a handle and lid from IKEA to hold our food scrapes until we can bring them outside to the yard. While you are preparing a meal, bring it over to your work area so you can put food scraps straight in. Compost tea, coffee, egg shells and cartons, newspaper, and fruit and vegetable scraps. Don’t compost meat or dairy products. When you bring your small container outside, dump it in the big bin and layer on top grass cuttings or leaves from the yard. Easy easy!!

In the spring, you can use your compost to fertilize your garden and grow beautiful flowers, vegetables, and herbs. This will save you money and improve your health during the entire growing season!

3. Cancel your subscription services.

I am not just talking about magazines, although you should definitely get rid of those as well to reduce paper consumption. I would also take a look at beauty subscription boxes and meal kit delivery services. These products contain a ton of extra packaging, which look nice when you open the package, but are really nothing more than plastic waste!

Also, those tiny bottles of shampoos and sample-sized soaps contain a high ratio of plastic packaging when compared to the amount of product they contain. And delivered meal kits generally have all their ingredients individually wrapped, and then wrapped again n groups for each recipe, and then again to stay cold during shipping.

Plus, the price-per-volume makes them far more expensive than buying products yourself in normal or large value-sized containers.

Finally, beauty and personal care subscription boxes are often designed to get you to try new products. If you don’t like the product, what do you do? Hopefully you can find a friend who wants it, but it can end up being tossed or sitting in the back of your cabinet until it is eventually tossed.

These subscriptions are a pass for us because they cost way too much in both up-front cash and long-term environmental impact.

4. Replace your household cleaners with DIY products.

In our first apartment, we used the regular old cleaning products, the ones we had always seen: sprays, gels, powders, wipes, etc. There were a million of them, and when I knelt down to clean our small apartment bathroom, they would make me dizzy! Read the bottles and they all caution to use the product in a well-ventilated area and to wear gloves, avoid contact with skin, etc. We decided the traditional cleaning products were too dangerous to ourselves, and could be even worse for the waste (and later drinking) water in our world.

We switched to DIY household cleaning products, and not only has it saved us a ton of money, but it is healthier for our family, as well. I don’t have to worry about skin and breathing issues if I do not rinse thoroughly, accidentally ingesting products, or my toddler getting into our cleaners (we still keep them locked up and inaccesible, but it’s less worrisome).

Plus, it helps protect the environment by reducing pollution in our waterways, reducing the plastic the goes into making the bottles for the dozen cleaning products we would have, and reducing air pollution by eliminating the transportation of gallons and gallons of water.

Most people already know how bad it is for the environment to buy bottled water – not only because it depletes natural springs, but also because of the emissions produced in bottling and shipping that water all around the world, when we have it available straight from our faucet! Many products in your house list water as one of the first ingredients. It is just another form of bottled water! So we cut those out as well.

What do we use instead? You can make every cleaning product under the sun with just a few ingredients, spray bottles from the dollar store, and water from your tap. We generally use some combination of bleach, white vinegar, and castile soap for all our surface cleaning and disinfecting. We spend less than $15.00 per year on all our household cleaning products! And they are effective, better for the environment, and don’t give me a headache!

5. Simplify your beauty routine.

5Just like cleaning products, many personal hygiene and beauty products contain water as the first ingredient. Don’t buy water!

Instead of body wash, use bar soap. Instead of bottled shampoo, use naked bar shampoo. Ditch fully-disposable razors in favor of a reusable handle. Instead of tossing your entire toothbrush, use an electric handle and disposable heads (or bamboo toothbrushes). I don’t use waterproof makeup so all my makeup can be removed with some water and a reusable cleaning cloth (I cut up a microfiber cloth into 2 inch-by-2 inch squares).

Wives, reduce the overall number of products you purchase (and cut down on the pink tax you are paying) by sharing products with your husband. We use unscented lotions and shaving cream, because many times the only difference between the men’s and women’s version is the scent. Plus, since the men’s unscented version is generally cheaper and/or comes in larger packages, we are reducing packaging and cost by buying a bigger container.

What about you? Have you found inexpensive or money-saving ways to help reduce your negative environmental impact?