Sunday, December 30, 2007

Auld Lang Syne!

If you have ever been lucky enough to write a letter to a favorite author and to receive a reply (Donald Hall replied to my letters every time; E.B. White did not) then you will understand what an absolute honor it is to have an author write to you first. I heard from Rebecca Kai Dotlich today, who, thanks to the wonders of Google Alerts, had seen her poem on my blog.

We emailed back and forth several times and it seems that this woman is as beautiful as her writings for children. Her new website is up and running and I encourage you to take a look. Her pages where she writes about growing up are filled with those wonderful memories that the writers and readers among us will certainly recognize: a world of books, words, teachers (encouraging ones and not so encouraging ones), and the thrill of having something of yours published for the very first time.

See you all in 2008!!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Shortest Day - Dearly Love Your Friends

The Shortest Day
By Susan Cooper
Christmas Revels, 1977

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen:
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them,
Echoing, behind us- listen!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends, and hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Green Lice. Twice As Nice?

Ah yes. Egg nog, stockings hung by the chimney with care, warm evenings by the fire, lice, a reading of Dickens' Christmas... Wait a second, wait a second. Say that fourth one again? Lice?

Fortunately, I am not writing from direct experience. Yet. The Wanna-Greenies have so far been spared those nasty nits, but I suppose it's only a matter of time before When Lice Strike, the movie, comes to a head near us.

Why, then, do I have lice on the brain? The Washington Post just had a recent article profiling a professional nit-picker, who, using simple equipment and oodles of time, removes those offending buggers by hand. Although the concept of a professional nit-picker is by no means new, it got me thinking about how the standard treatments for treating lice are not very green at all. The active ingredients are, after all, insecticides and although some hardcore greenies may find me to be a green abomination, what with my use of ziploc bags and plastic bottle liners, I think I might have to draw the line at malathion.

There are a host of suggested alternatives from hair dryers (it's the heat, baby, the heat) to olive oil to tons and tons and tons and tons of cream conditioner. What has been your experience with those lousey louses and were you driven to use the big guns when all else failed?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday - Green Holiday Card Bubble Craft


Even though it's *only* the 19th of December, my holiday cards are already looking a bit droopy hanging there on the armoire. As you consider what to do with all that cheery cardstock, post-holiday, think about making some colorful "bubbles" with your children. Depending on the card's size, trace a ramekin, saucer, or other small round dish on the card's design, cut it out, and then decorate (if it even needs additional sprucing) as you please.

When you're done, send those bad boys, with love, to Miss.Donna Quirke Hornick. Do I know her personally? No. But could she, and her room, use a little perking up right now? Yes. Works for me!

Bubble on!

{{More fabulous ideas over at Shannon's house}}

Friday, December 14, 2007

Gift of Green Reviews...Kelly Corrigan's The Middle Place



When MotherTalk offered up copy of The Middle Place, I jumped at the chance to receive an advance copy of this memoir by Kelly Corrigan.

I first saw Kelly Corrigan, on the Today show back in 2005. I'm not sure why I was home at the time, usually I was well on my way to work by the time Katie and Matt were on the air. I suspect I must have been home on maternity leave - the day Kelly's dad's bladder showed no "discernable signs of cancer" happens to be the same day Sprout was born. I saw Kelly with her dark, thick hair, just growing back, and her mom, Mary, and her dad, Big George, and listened to their words. Now you can read Kelly's words, beginning January 8th when the book is finally released. I highly recommend you do.

I had the strange experience of beginning The Middle Place, a chapter where Kelly is filling out those tedious medical forms with all the check boxes right before she goes in for her biopsy, just as I had finished filling out all those tedious forms with the check boxes as I waited to see the dentist. The contrast between our two "simultaneous" experiences was not lost on me. Sure, I suppose there was a possibility that my hygienist might find some sort of rare tooth-related neoplasm, but chances were slim. My day was all about getting the cleaning over with; a small side trip on an otherwise worry free day. I wouldn't be giving this appointment another thought. So I couldn't help but think of the differences between my experience in that benign (no pun intended) setting and her appointment that instead marked the beginning of a series of appointments that were more than just a tad routine.

When I finished reading her memoir, just a day later, I immediately felt that The Middle Place is one of those books that you'd love to re-gift (ask her mother about that one) just so you can spread the gospel of Kelly Corrigan to your friends as soon as possible, yet at the same time selfishly wanting to hold onto it for yourself, for no other reason than the comfort of knowing that it's sitting there on your bookshelf to pick up again at any time. There is something incredibly visual about The Middle Place. I could picture everything she described from her reverse in pike on the diving board to a singular evening she spends with friends and family when happiness trumps whatever the future might hold. So much of what she writes resonated with me even though I have not had many of her experiences, from siblings to cancer. But being a daughter, wife and mother seems to be the tie that binds - and even though this memoir is about cancer, it's not about cancer, if you know what I mean. It really is about so much more. To me it's more about, as Kelly writes, "that sliver of time when childhood and parenthood overlap", the frustration of your body being so in control of you that it forces you to miss you daughter's preschool orientation picnic, her examples of fear and pain, being an adult and then, with just a gesture or a word, becoming a child again.

This is a book that alternates between the past of her childhood and the past of her adult life. Parts are heartbreaking - a preview of life's future events flicker by as a preview to a play that we can only hope a parent won't miss. This is not a puritanical piece of work either. There is drinking, and swearing, and with out a doubt, I will never be able to look at pair of Guess jeans in the same way again. Thank you, Kelly, for that.

Left out of the book are photographs of Kelly's treatment experiences taken by her and by her husband, Edward Litchy, so supplement your reading of The Middle Place with these fine black and whites by going to Kelly's website, Circus of Cancer. Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your words and photographs with us and for sharing with us a little bit of what it's like to be a Corrigan, from Wooded Lane to California and back again.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Green Hindsight Is 20/20/Would, Coulda, Shoulda/Etc.

Since I began this journey towards greeness, I have learned so much from my readers and from my readees. In retrospect, there are a number of things I would have done differently had I known what I know now. Here are a few green/eco-friendly/natural wouldas:

1) I would have used cloth diapers. Not 100% of the time, but perhaps while I was on maternity leave or when were were just hanging around the house.

2) I definitely would not have used plastic bottle liners.

3) I still would have vaccinated my children, but I would have spaced them out a bit more (the vaccines, not my children).

4) I would have been less nervous about breastfeeding. What I feel is lacking most in terms of breastfeeding education is that breastfeeding is not a science. Some people need to breastfeed more, some less, some "ten minutes per breast and again every two hours", some good luck getting anything else done. It wasn't until my good friend Elisabeth told me that breastfeeding is more like "breastfeed for 40 minutes, have a slice of pie, start breastfeeding again", that I realized you pretty much do what it takes and forget all the advice books.

5) I would have worn my babies more rather than used the infant carseat/snap and go for every little thing.

What are some of your woulda/shoulda/couldas? And remember, don't beat yourself up over them. We do the best we can.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Zoot Suits (You)?

It's been five years since we've moved into our home and our upstairs (small peaked roof with dormer) has wall to wall carpeting. Here is what is lurking (and not so lurking) within the carpet: orange juice/apple juice, cat puke (cleaned of course...but really...is it *that* clean?), various child-related expulsions (cleaned of course...but really...oh, nevermind), probably dust mites and allergens, probably ground in boot dirt, probably sand from a Very. Unfortunate. Incident.

Green Husband has given me the go ahead and I am calling in the big guns for a thorough cleaning. I want to use Zoots a kinder, gentler carpet cleaning company. I hope they clean in my area - have any of you Zooted?

Also, did you ever wonder what would happen if your child could post a message to a Pre-Schooler listserve? I am sure my children's postings would look something like this.

***

Getting in the Spirit Update: Holiday cards have arrived. Lights are on tree. Green Grams present has been mailed. Legs have been broken off Tinker Bell ornament ("She was stuck in the lock.").

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Attention Green-Mart Shoppers!

I have stayed away from making holiday gift suggestions simply because there are so many of you serving up adorable ideas, but I just want to bring your attention to two possible options for, you know, the gal who has everything (but does she have a beehive) and the fair trade lover in your life.

Green Nana reminded me about Heifer International. And no, it isn't just about heifers anymore! The milk from one goat or the honey from one beehive can make a huge financial difference to a family that is choosing between sending a child to school or having them earn much needed money for the household. You can even surprise a mama with a llama! And don't worry - you won't have to concern yourself with shipping and handling charges for the water buffalo. It's all included.

If you're lucky enough to be in Bar Harbor, Maine right now, trip on over to a new shop on Firefly Lane and browse Fair Trade Winds' selection of fair trade goods. Not going to be Down East any time soon? Order from the dozens of products on their website; free shipping on orders of $50 or more through December 31st! I purchased several items and received them promptly by mail in boxes that had obviously been recycled. Fair trade and green to boot!

Happy shopping!

***

Update: Stayed tuned for "The Mac Goes Back" post. Yes, that's right. To the store. So disappointed my MacBook friends.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Behind

Do you ever feel that you're so far Behind that you don't even know where to begin? I've missed you all, and your blogs and photographs and projects are inspiring me to get into the holiday spirit. For some reason I'm just not there yet.

Way back in November, Miss. SusieJ tagged me, so let me get back into the swing of things with a Seven Random Things About Me meme. I sure would like her cookie dough recipe though. As I mentioned, I am Behind.

So here goes...

1) I once won an essay contest sponsored by Kiplinger's Magazine and spend my $1,000 prize at The Inn. We still ended up owing $264 at checkout. For one night and one dinner.

2) One of my favorite smells is of calamine lotion.

3) I did not learn to drive until I was 30 years old.

4) Jenny Rough was the first person to leave a comment on my blog. Well, Anonymous was really. Thank you Jenny, and Anonymous...whoever you are.

5) I am busily planning our first family vacation. Guess where we are headed? Graceland, Dollywood, Grand Ole Opry. Yes. It's true.

6) I am a librarian. I am a habitually late returner of books. My overdue fines for 2007 were well over $100. Somebody please help me.

7) I am trying not to mind that I am so Behind. Sprout and Pip don't have a clue that their Mom should have the cookie dough done, the Christmas tree decorated, the holiday cards addressed, the crafts made, the week's worth of dinners in the freezer, the laundry done, and Everything Perfect. They just want to go outside and make angels in today's new snowfall. Let It Go, Let It Go, Let It Go!!

I tag all of you who are also Behind. Take a few moments to share seven random things about yourself - hey, those other things can wait...they have so far!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Green Horn

Pttt, pttt, is this thing on? In the St. Nick of time I bit the bullet and bought my MacBook. It's so...cute! And quiet. I was not aware that my poor HP was a major source of noise pollution. Heck, I could even take my MacBook into bed with me!! NO! (Maybe). Kidding. (Not.) Yes. (No.) And with my external hard drive humming away backing up every .37 seconds I am feeling oh so superior. That is if it weren't for the fact that I am still not out of the woods with my old(er) PC. In fact, it's sitting here glaring at me as I type this, so I'm sure smoke will start billowing out of its hard drive at any moment.

[Oh dagnabbit! Note to self...control c followed by control v on a Mac equals the letter v. Must. learn. about. command. keys.]

So I'm glad to be back - the next week or so has me catching up on your comments, my favorite blogs, a SusieJ meme and DC Metro Moms posts. As for Gift of Green, let's start where we left off, shall we? And that would be with Crunchy Chicken's Freeze Yer Buns challenge.

First, let me say that I am always cold, I hate to be cold, and I will curl up on the couch like a cat creating an oasis of warmth from which I will not move. My co-workers tales of her heated *mattress pad* makes me want to cry tears of joy (and envy). I sometimes hop in bed with all my clothes on because...heck, it's COLD! Do I live in Massachusetts? Maine? The Yukon? No. Virginia. Doesn't Virginia just conjure up images of frosty window panes and 6 foot snow drifts? Negatory. I admit that since my upbringing in Massachusetts I have become a weather wimp.

So let's just say I was shocked, nay, horrified, by the average day and night temps in which these fellow Freeze Your Buns off participants were managing to...exist.

But enough of my blathering. Let's do the numbers (Cue "Stormy Weather"):

[Hold please...checking automatic thermostat for night temp in the Gift of Green household]

OH MY JEEZ 72 degrees! I'm so ashamed!

But for some reason that's only on weekday nights. Saturday and Sunday nights I've set the thermostat for 62 degrees starting at 10:00 p.m. (with 70 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.) - as well as during the weekdays. Looks like my thermostat might need some fine tuning...but maybe not tonight.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Greening Your Thermostat

I am not getting any [more] sympathy from Green Husband about my home computer (now dead as a doorknob (where did that expression come from anyway? Dead as a doorknob? Or is it doornail? But I digress) since I'd been belly-aching about it for eons and had done nothing about it and so this is just a means to gain *your* sympathy, dear reader, and to tell you that after this Tuesday posts should be back up and running.

So here I am typing at work, albeit on a break, but at work nonetheless, which I think is highly prohibited, so I'll make it short because shortly I will need to pay off a new computer and having a job makes that slightly easier.

So, to keep a long story short (too late) here is a great tidbit I want to share, and to give props where props are do, I must say that I was directed to Crunchy Chicken's site from Geggie's site (thank you, Geggie) and even though I'm a bit late in starting the Freeze Yer Buns challenge, there is still plenty o' time to jump on the bandwagon.

More deets on our strategy in one of those Post-Tuesday posts I alluded too...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Green Chit Chat

Just a few updates from hither and yon.

Our region has just recently emerged from a series of MRSA outbreaks. Here's an interesting piece from Salon on MRSA and the foods we "produce" and eat called "Is the way we raise our food giving us MRSA?"

MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Some opportunities for green educational grants from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA estimates that 70 awards will be given and will be for approximately $20,000 a piece "...to support environmental education projects that promote environmental stewardship and help develop aware and responsible students, teachers, and citizens. This grant program provides financial support to seed innovative projects that design, demonstrate, or disseminate environmental education practices, methods, or techniques ..." Deadline is December 20th.

And...we are experiencing technical difficulties with the home computer...please stay tuned. We appreciate your patience and hope to return to our regularly scheduled blog posts as soon as possible.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Oh You Lucky Green North Carolinians...

Green Boss recently forwarded a little tidbit to me and I guess you could say I'm a slightly green with envy.

Who has been to this fabulous place and was it everything you had ever dreamed, and more?

The Scrap Exchange
Celebrating 16 years of Creative Reuse
548 Foster Street, Durham, NC 27701
phone 919-688-6960 fax 919-688-2792

I remember going the Boston Children's Museum which has a similar set up; it was every little sculpture artist's dream. Incidentally, the Boston Children's Museum is now going for its LEED certification by incorporating the following elements into its new addition:

• Green roofs on the new addition
• Storm water reclamation to reduce run-off into Fort Point Channel
• New infrastructure and fixtures to increase building efficiency
• Recycled, local, and low-emitting building materials

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WFMW - Green Search Terms for Amazon



Amazon can be a great resource for book buying, not only because of the discounts, but also because you can often find a copy of a book used, for a fraction of the original cost. Of course, there is shipping involved, so if you are sending a book to someone as a gift, or not able to find the book at your local library or at your small, independent bookstore, you may want to try Amazon instead.

Amazon, like any database, can be a bit tricky to search. Here are some subject headings (there are so many others) that might help you narrow down your search for green-related children's books (don't forget to combine the term(s) below with the subject heading "Children" if you really want to limit your search to books for and about kids):

Natural Foods
Recycling
Nature
Environment
Environmental Protection
Nature Craft
Peace
Yoga
Outdoor Games

{{Lots of other tips over at Shannon's house!}}

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bloggy Giveaway Winners!

We have a winner(s)!! Congratulations to Ames from yay pie! and hooray for bananas for scoring a copy of Autumn and to Smiling Mama for getting her bloggy paws on a copy of Winter. Oh, you lucky ladies - I envy you! Oh wait, I already have these books! Yay! Thanks for entering everyone and I hope to have another bloggy giveaway very soon.

I managed to burn the midnight oil last night and thanks again to Kellie's excellent tutorial, I finished up Sprout's tulle ballet skirt.
I was very happy with it, if I don't say so myself, and Sprout wanted to wear it to daycare which I took to be the ultimate in compliments.

Deb from I'm Organic emailed me to let me know about her site and to mention that she has some giveaways (one a week) for those of you who sign up for their newsletter. Lots of cute stuff, Deb, and there's even an organiblog! Thanks for sharing!

For all you non-vegetarians out there...what are you doing about your Thanksgiving turkey? Organic or Butterball?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tulle Ballet Skirts, Advent Calendars and a Few Bits of Green

Thank you so, so much, dear readers, for all of your recent comments.

I would like to thank those of you who replied in response to my quest for tulle ballet skirt tutorials and for home made advent calender ideas. Here are some of the lovely links - in case you missed them in the comment section - for you to visit and enjoy.

Kellie from La Vida Dulce made an absolutely adorable skirt in such yummy colors. Here are her pictures and she promises to have her tutorial up soon. Thank you, Kellie!

Gretchen from Lifenut also posted pictures of a tulle NO SEW ballet skirt she made from a tutorial. She writes, "When I hear or read the words “no sew” my eyes grow bright and my heart swells with hope." I hear ya, Gretchen. Lovely skirt.

Joanie at Nini Makes has a pretty advent calendar with directions published in that wacky UK-centric magazine Green Parent (Green Parent, you may send me free copies to review at any time, please and thank you) but has graciously offered to email the template to anyone on this side of the pond who asks. Aww, thanks Joanie. I'll take one!

And how very nice of Mommy from Heart of a Mommy to comment on Wednesday and I mention her comment because she recently posted about winning a subscription to Family Fun which gets me to my green info. of the day which is...(good NIGHT, get to it all ready!) the December 2007 issue of Family Fun has a piece on 10 ways to have a happy green holiday. Most of the ideas have to do with recycling boxes, bags and cards from holidays past. Not a bad idea, eh?

Oh, and these is still plenty of time to get your comment down for my bloggy book giveaway. Too shy to comment (Jackie?)? Aw, come on. Just a monosyllabic "er." or "epp." will do.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wednesday Me For Works



First of all, thanks to all you for suggesting ways to corral my Playmobil toys and to iron my organics at the last Backwards WFMW!

Now, a plea to both loyal readers and guests...two of you once posted about making tulle skirts for kids from scratch and non-food advent calendars (actually, update: I've since found one I had in mind from Nini Makes). Can you please refresh my ailing memory and alert me if you were indeed the one (or two or three or four of you...anyone!) that addressed these topics?

More questions to be answered over at Shannon's place!

Don't forget my bloggy book giveaway...still plenty of time to enter!

With bloggy love,

Amy

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Eco-Friendly Crafts

Do you believe that sometimes the stars just align? Look at this post over at Sew, Mama, Sew. It includes links to two eco-friendly products: a rag rug tutorial from Vintage Chica (you crochet it from scraps of fabric!) and then this clever draft dodger dog (or snake) tutorial from Crafty Crafty. Helps ya keep yer cold air out and your warm air in - very smart.

Did you remember I'm having a bloggy book giveaway until this Sunday?

And oh gosh, the November 2007 issue of Working Mother is green, it's green, it's green...as green as a fresh green bean (did you know that every episode of The Backyardigans focuses on a different style of music?).

And one more thing...I had forgotten about another Massachusetts word that gets a "Huh?" in Virginia: rotary. You know...that thing were you have to merge to cars that are already in the rotary? Anyone?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bloggy Giveaway - from...MOI.

Last Thursday night Sprout, Pip and I sat down before bed and re-read Autumn illustrated by the lovely Leslie Evans. I must share this book with the world. Therefore, please comment on this post by midnight Eastern time on Sunday, November, 11th and I will randomly select one winner to receive this fine book. A second winner will receive Winter, also illustrated by the owner and operator of Sea Dog Press. Yes, I will ship internationally so enter away. And remember, blogger does not automatically alert me to your email address or web address, so please make sure you leave some notion of how I can get in touch with you should you be the lucky winner.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Green Musings

'Ello luvs.

Lots of chit chat to share with you this evening.

First, as I mentioned, lots of linking to green giveaways to ensue...My Two Boys is featuring a lovely tool set from Natural Pod and an adorable doll from HappyGreenBee.

Perusing through the Post this morning...back to back items of interest. One piece about bloggers and 10 tips to see and be seen in the blogosphere, and another about green, green, and more green by Michelle Thomas. Setchi is a new boutique on Wisconsin Avenue in the Georgetown section of D.C. According to its owner, Jessica del Pilar, all of the store's items "lay claim to at least one of four green concepts. Every item is made of organic fabrics or reclaimed materials, or it is produced locally or according to fair-trade standards." Worth a look-see even if if the Again Clutch is entirely beyond my budget.

Speaking of fabulous things but within budget, I must make a shameless plug for Because I'm Me...'s Etsy shop, now almost fully stocked. I purchased one of her quilts some time ago now - the fabrics are just luscious.

Non-sequitor - Big Binder has drawn my attention to a clever little program in Michigan...Paper Gator Recycling...as a fundraiser. So long Sally Foster!

While I have decided that I am no longer entirely uncrafty, I sure am not crafty enough to make one of these fabulous eco-friendly lunch bags. See 'em and swoon over at Sew, Mama, Sew.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Green Giveways Central

Because my average daily readership is about, um, forty, I have not exactly received oodles of offers to share as bloggy giveaways (Barefoot Books being one fabulous exception)...but why should you, my loyal readers, suffer?

Welcome to Green Bloggy Giveaway Roundup, a new service (that needs a catchier name - sounds like a weedkiller) that alerts you to the latest in green bloggy giveaways. Links to bloggers giving you an opportunity to win some green swag will be featured as links on the left...links will be removed when the giveaway is over. I figure it's a chance to try your luck at winning a new product or two that you otherwise can't afford (or can't even locate in your neck of the woods) and a great way to discover some new bloggers "leaning towards green" (which is why I will refrain from linking to specific product sites that are sponsoring contests).

Have a great Thursday and remember to compost all that leftover Halloween candy...AS IF!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wednesday Greenings

I hope all of you had a spooktacular Halloween. I picked up poor Sprout from daycare with a fever, so she spent most of the evening relaxing on the couch and on me (is it wrong to kind of enjoy a bit of their mild illness simply because it means they will snuggle up to you for more than a half second; reminds me of their newborn days. Selfish, I know, but sometimes you just want to freeze them).

Then, just in time for Halloween, I received a sweet treat from The Not Quite Crunchy Parent - a blog that I enjoy reading immensely, particularly when it comes to providing posts and strategies for avoiding ye olde television and encouraging more creative play, and for her suggestion for kicking the Ziploc habit. Thank you, TNQCP!

In the paying it forward tradition, I would like to award this bloggy button to Nini Makes, a new blog that I am enjoying and one that is consistently full of sweet treats (and being based in the UK it's probably yummy scones or something with a lot of luscious cream).



Moving right along, you may have seen a comment from barrym (of the West Ireland barryms) asking what I meant by saying I live in planting zone 7. Well, barrym caught me in a bit of an error...it's not planting zone 7; it's plant hardiness zone 7, so I hope that clears things up for you, barrym. Just kidding. Here in the States and Canada (and I imagine in other places?) we use zones to describe temperature extremes in different areas of the country. Interestingly enough, I believe we are now technically as warm as plant hardiness zone 8. Scary, ain't it?

And finally for today, Pickel over at My Two Boys is having a non-toxic toy giveaway bonanza all through the month of November! The scavenger hunt element is over, but the giveaways have just begun! I'm curious...aren't you?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My First Crochet Craft



I first picked up a crochet hook in 2004 when on bedrest with Pip, now three years and one Sprout later, I've finished my first crochet craft.

It was the Anarchy Irony Hat from Stitch N' Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker and thankfully it fits Green Husband to a T.

Now I'm itching to start my next beginner's project. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday - One Word



Etsy.

{{Visit wordier WFMW suggestions over at Shannon's House}}

***

Update: Per Thia's request, I am posting a disclaimer: Warning, perusing a database of adorable handmade things made by very crafty people can put a serious dent in your productivity, not to mention your wallet. You've been warned.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Green Suggestions for Greener Babies

Both Green Boss and Green Pharmacist alerted me to an article in this weekend's Washington Post by Mary Ellen Slayter, Greening Up Baby.

Slayter covers six topics: food, travel, toys and soothers, diapers, clothes and the nursery. Since the Post did not think to do it, here are actual, real live active links to the products and people Slayter mentions in her article for those beginning wanna-greenies who want to delve a little deeper.

First up is Trish Riley's book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Living" - granted I don't like being called an idiot, I will no doubt trip on down to my local library to check out a copy.

Then there's Soleil Moon Frye's Eco Baby store in Larchmont Village (LA, not Westchester). Evidently no online store yet. Maybe GreenLAGirl will check it out for us, if she hasn't already.

Under Food, Mary Ellen mentions Safeway's O Organic formula, Similac Organic formula, Wal-Mart's Parent's Choice formula. And yes, she mentions the breast, bien sur.

Next up, travel. I never did the sling thing but I kind wish I had. Mentioned in the Post are Attachment Parenting International, The Moby Wrap, and All Natural Mommies in Vienna, Virginia. Who knew about this last one! I'll have to take a field trip! For oogling at mei tais, my favorite blog is Montessori by Hand. Ah... adorable!

Toys and Soothers is near and dear to my heart, mentioning thrift and consignment stores and our family favorite...yard sales!! Wooop!

If I had to do it all over again (and I won't, thank you very much), I would have integrated some cloth diapers into my diapering rituals. Mentioned in the Slayter article are Seventh Generation chlorine-free disposables (although the author mentioned bleach-free - are they one and the same...as in chlorine bleach?), as well as Fuzzi Bunz, Bum Genius, and Kissaluvs.

I'm a sucker for hand-me-downs, so I have bought almost nothing of the clothing variety for my children. They look pretty swanky to me. Mentioned as organic options are duds from Hanna Andersson (caught a typo there unless there is another Hanna Anderson that I'm not aware of) and Speesees (never heard of that one...will wonders never cease!?).

And finally...the nursery. I can't tell you how much money we didn't spend on our poor children in the nursery department. We didn't have a changing table!! What kind of parents are we?! Love the Ikea line (I'm linking to the British Ikea, I love them so) and now even Babies R Us is selling an organic crib mattress made by Serta, which I totally would have gotten. Yucky plastic-y out-gassing be gone! Any other options out there?

Phew, my linky thumb is getting a twitch. All in all, a nice primer for parents; on the front page of the business section, interestingly enough. Good luck with the greening!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I'm a Sucker for Deceptively Delicious

Hiding things from your dog's medication in kibble to apples in pancakes is a concept older than time, but Jessica Seinfeld has hit the jackpot with her new book Deceptively Delicious, and yes, I am a sucker because she is Jerry Seinfeld's wife. There. I said it.

SusieJ managed to score a copy for review, and now the book is selling like hotcakes (with pureed spinach) and nary a copy is to be found according to an article in Friday's Wall Street Journal called "How another Seinfeld scored her own big hit". I even missed her on Oprah. The New York Times also a recent story on Jessica's book which unlike the WSJ article can be read here - the jist is just about the same.

If you can't get your hands on JS's book, here are some other recommendations (some I own, some are pure wishlist) including the books, like The Sneaky Chef (p.s. visit the author's blog), mentioned in the Journal and NYT articles.











And then there's a whole other debate going on at What's Cooking. Maybe if we involved our children from seed to harvest in the growing process, we wouldn't need to be deceptive at all.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Stalking Saturday aka Traipsing Tuesday

This is really the Traipsing Tuesday post, but today is Saturday and I needed some alliteration.

It's been quite some time since I've done a little scouring of the Internet for unsuspecting bloggers are are doing a little green without even thinking about it. It's kind of like the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes of blogging - I kind of show up on your internet doorstep with a bunch of organic flowers and a huge check made out of recycled cardboard. Only there's no check - there isn't even a cute button. So here, as Big Binder once suggested is the third "leaning toward greening" awards:

Nini Makes hosted a very nice carnival, which I missed, called Make It From Scratch, and there were a number of very green activities going on over there. For Joan's incredible summary go here, but here are a few green highlights.

GreenStyleMom is thinking ahead. REALLY thinking ahead...to Christmas...but look at these adorable holiday cards she made that are now available on CafePress.

Then, if you're a budding crocheter like me...and a Wanna-Grennie, you'll love My Recycled Bags. I mean, look at this handbag made from recycled bread bags...my only question is...is it bigger than a bread box? HAHAHAHAAHAHHA, oh Lordy, I crack myself up. Cindy even provides directions. What a gal.

And finally, Welcome to my Brain has instructions for whole wheat bread. I have perused many a recipe for making my own bread, but yes, I am scared. Maybe I'll try this - I've just about had it trying to find a fairly mainstream bread without high fructose corn syrup.

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's Not Too Late to Go Hallogreen!

Seems like there are quite a few sites that focus on a green Halloween.

Siel, of GreenLAGirl fame, now writes a column for the Los Angeles Times and recently posted 7 Steps to a Greenish Ghoulish Halloween.

In a similarly ghoulish vein, The Sierra Club's blog The Green Life, offers nine more tips (although the Fair Trade Trick or Treat Action Kit seems to be a common thread).

National Geographic's The Green Guide gets into the DIY business when they suggest Halloween costumes done the old-fashioned way...you maaaake them.

Rounding out the bunch is the Seattle based Green Halloween, with tips for parents, kids, and schools and ideas for "thinking outside the candy box." Okay, let's not go too overboard...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Green Joke redux...

Come on. The number of people, according to the google searches that are directing people to my site, searching for green jokes seems to be increasing exponentially. Doesn't anyone out there know a single green joke? I'll start:

How many Wanna Greenies does it take to change a CFL?

Write answer here: _________________________________

And just as an aside...it always astonishes me what posts interest you, my dear readers, and, conversely, the ones that you couldn't give a hoot about. For example, my field trip to the House of Sweden. Loved it, blogged it, posted pictures of it. Sound of crickets chirping. Meanwhile, I post a little tidbit about Whole Foods importing apples from New Zealand...you're all over it!

What's your take...do you find that when you post outside of your "niche" you get less interest from your regular readers?

And before I go silent for the rest of the day...here is a Super Fun, as my SIL would say, site chock full of ideas for those looking to eek out as much as they can from, say, empty tissue boxes. Plus it's a British site, so just the use of the words cheque book and crisp packets has me sold from the start.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The House of Sweden, Continued...

Today was the day I have been eagerly anticipating ever since receiving my invitation to a luncheon at the Swedish Embassy. No, I don't get out much.

I covered the main highlights over at DC Metro Moms, but for you hard core Gift of Greeners, I thought I'd augment (my post) with a few tidbits that may be of interest to my...er...demographic (?).

First, can I share with you some pictures of this beautiful space? I mean, do the Swedes have it right or what? Plenty of natural light, blonde woods, practical materials...and the Children First! exhibit! Adorable! Oh, and yes, I asked. The Embassy does provide childcare.

The Children First! exhibit. The computerized climbing wall and simple wooden toys.




Exterior Views





Interiors, including the Ikea-furnished apartment, the dishwasher (yes, it's an EnergyStar. I checked. I'm a nerd like that), the break room chairs made from recycled materials, and the incredible bench that's a lamp, no, it's a bench, no it's a lamp...








There were several instances that got my pencil a-waggin'. The first was during Lisa Thoren, daughter of Bjorn Jakobson, was speaking about the classic and quintessential BabyBjorn product: the bib. She mentioned that although the bib is extremely popular in Sweden, there is a definite "cultural issue" in terms of marketing a plastic bib to parents in the United States. What's your opinion...is the only good plastic a non-existent plastic? And are we, as Americans sweating the small stuff whereas other countries might be much more eco-friendly when it comes to the big picture (use of public transportation/foot-power, for example) and are laughing at our preoccupation with fabric bibs? Are we freakin' out about plastic ware, yet jumping in our SUVs to buy organics?

Another aspect of the BabyBjorn products that Lisa mentioned was the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, a standard (product class I) which all BabyBjorn carriers meet. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 "is the world's leading label for textiles screened for harmful substances." In Product class I, "all baby articles are subject to the strictest criteria on account of the sensitivity of babies' skin. Any finishes containing formaldehyde are prohibited. The requirement of saliva-resistance means that dyes and prints should not bleed or stain when babies suck on them." I had not heard of this standard prior to today's presentation...had you?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day 2007 - A Recycled Post

I thought for Blog Action Day 2007 that it would be appropriate for me to recycle a post. A few months ago, Green Boss forwarded this email to me. I've jazzed it up a bit by making the links live, but Co-op America deserves the credit for all the hefty background checking it took to compile this list.

So here it is...

21 Things You Didn't Know You Could Recycle!

1. Appliances: Goodwill accepts working appliances or you can contact the Steel Recycling Institute to recycle them.

2. Batteries: Rechargeables and single-use: Battery Solutions.

3. Cardboard boxes: Contact local nonprofits and women's shelters to see if they can use them. Or, offer them up at your local Freecycle.org listserv or on Craigslist.org. If your workplace collects at least 100 boxes or more each month, UsedCardboardBoxes.com accepts them for resale.

4. CDs/DVDs/Game Disks: Send scratched music or computer CDs, DVDs, and PlayStation or Nintendo video game disks to AuralTech for refinishing, and they'll work like new.

5. Clothes: Wearable clothes can go to your local Goodwill outlet or shelter. Donate wearable women's business clothing to Dress for Success, which gives them to low-income women as they search for jobs. Offer unwearable clothes and towels to local animal boarding and shelter facilities, which often use them as pet bedding. Consider holding a clothes swap at your office, school, faith congregation or community center. Swap clothes with friends and colleagues, save money on a new fall wardrobe and back-to-school clothes – then donate the rest.

6. Compact fluorescent bulbs: Take them to your local IKEA store for recycling.

7. Compostable bio-plastics: You probably won't be able to compost these in your home compost bin or pile. Find a municipal composter to take them.

8. Computers and electronics: Find the most responsible recyclers,locally and nationally.

9. Exercise videos: Swap them with others at www.videofitness.com.

10. Eyeglasses: Your local Lion's Club or eye care chain may collect these. Lenses are reground and given to people in need.

11. Foam Packing peanuts: Your local pack-and-ship store will likely accept these for reuse. Or, call the Plastic Loose Fill Producers Council to find a drop-off site: 800/828-2214. For places to drop off foam blocks for recycling, contact the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers.

12. Ink/toner cartridges: Recycleplace.com pays $1/each.

13. Miscellaneous: Get your unwanted items into the hands of people who can use them. Offer them up on your local Freecycle.org or Craigslist.org listserv, or try giving them away at Throwplace.com or giving or selling them at iReuse.com. iReuse.com will also help you find a recycler, if possible, when your items have reached the end of their useful lifecycle.

14. Oil: Find Used Motor Oil Hotlines for each state.

15. Phones: Donate cell phones: Collective Good will refurbish your phone and sell it to someone in a developing country. Call to Protect reprograms cell phones to dial 911 and gives them to domestic violence victims. Recycle single-line phones at Reclamere.

16. Sports equipment: Resell or trade it at your local Play It Again Sports outlet.

17. “Technotrash”: Easily recycle all of your CDs, jewel cases, DVDs, audio and video tapes, cell phones, pagers, rechargeable and single-use batteries, PDAs, and ink/toner cartridges with GreenDisk's Technotrash program. For $30, GreenDisk will send you a cardboard box in which you can ship them up to 70 pounds of any of the above. Your fee covers the box as well as shipping and recycling fees.

18. Tennis shoes: Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe program turns old shoes into playground and athletic flooring. One World Running will send still-wearable shoes to athletes in need in Africa, Latin America, and Haiti.

19. Toothbrushes and razors: Buy a recycled plastic toothbrush or razor from Recycline, and the company will take it back to be recycled again into plastic lumber. Recycline products are made from used Stonyfield Farms' yogurt cups. [Ed. Note: Well I'll be darned!]

20. Tyvek envelopes: Quantities less than 25: Send to Shirley Cimburke, Tyvek Recycling Specialist, 5401 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Spot 197, Room 231, Richmond, VA 23234. Quantities larger than 25, call 866/33-TYVEK.

21. Stuff you just can't recycle: When practical, send such items back to the manufacturer and tell them they need to manufacture products that close the waste loop responsibly.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Top Ten Green Tips for Hunkering Down

The leaves are indeed scattering as mentioned in Donald Hall's poem "The Hunkering" and the temperature here in Northern Virginia has taken a definite dip.

How are you going green in preparation for the nippy air? Here are my suggestions: ten green tips for hunkering down.

10) Use a rake instead of a leaf blower. Never mind the benefit of quiet Sunday morning unpunctuated by the roar of the blower, the smell of the gas: think about the gazillion calories (okay, 240) you can burn while raking up those rogue leaves.

9) Check cracks. No, not those cracks and get your mind out of the gutter. The cracks, for example, that allow you to see light through the CENTER of your front door. You can unplug your cellphone charger and change your lightbulbs all you want, but if freezing air is creeping in under, or through, for that matter, your doors, those other change ain't gonna do squat. So check cracks, or as Energy Star calls it: engage in some home sealing.

8) Sew up one of these bad boys. Abso-fricken-dorable. Send me your pics, you crafty mamas who I salute, envy and bow to...I'll link to or post them.

7) Now, while the weather is still decent, take those comforters out of storage, hang them over your clothesline and beat them silly. Let the fresh sunshine and crisp air liven those duvets up and then, come evening, hunker down underneath and breathe.

6) Gather ye recipes. Frequent your farmer's market. Even if yours isn't open year round, you may still have another good month to go before they close until spring. Squash, tubers, and the like are all abundant this season. Chop them up and slip them into some soup. And while you're at it, make some grilled organic cheese sandwiches to go along with it. Yum.

5) Get thee to the Library. My bloggy friends (like here and here) have been going ga-ga with fall-related book recommendations. And this just in...Winter Trees will soon be going to press. In the meantime, stick with Autumn. Nothing like hunkering down with a good book and a cup of that aforementioned soup.

4) No, I do not work for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. I wish I did though. I might get as much Pumpkin Spice coffee as I can drink. Attention Green Mountain Coffee Roasters...will blog for coffee. Indulge in some pumpkin-y coffee goodness and know that it is fair trade to book.

3) Knit, purl, or single crochet. I hate to jinx myself, but I am almost finished with my first crochet project EVER. There. I probably will now never finish the adorable hat for Green Husband. Go nuts at the wool store. I have just given you permission.

2) Walk, walk, walk, even in winter. Continue to get those 10,000 steps in during the day by taking advantage of crisp, not pea soup, weather. Take the stairs at work, park a little further away from the entrance of the shopping mall, or take a stroll around the neighborhood as the evening light fades. Hunker down but remember...you are not hibernating.

and the number one green tip for hunkering down:

1) Rumor has it that hospitals tend to see sharp increases in the number of births nine months after a crippling snow storm. Some call it an urban myth...I call it better safe than sorry. ; )

Green Blues

As you may have guessed, my computer is seriously on the fritz. I am in the process of raising the $1200 necessary to purchase a new MacBook (please don't tell my current HP). Once my new white wonder is up and running, I hope to post with the vim and verve my readers have come to expect. In the meantime, access is both spotty and tempermental.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lean, Mean, and Totally Green

I'm back!! I just spent a lovely three days in the company of some very entertaining librarians. In the process, I spent two nights in a hotel, which I don't think I've done since...oh...1978. It was a Marriott and yes, they did allow you the option of leaving your towels on the floor/bed (read: replace with fluffy new clean ones) or hanging the towels back up (read: I am fine with using my damp not so fluffy towel again tomorrow). I did hang my towels back up and housekeeping did refold them...so at least I felt like they were fluffy, new and clean.

As is evidenced by the cute little hanger on my bathroom door, The Marriott does incorporate some of the ideas suggested by of Green Hotels for becoming a more environmentally conscious facility. And while I did not stay at this hotel, it is clear that Marriott is looking towards a greener future. No, I do not work for Marriott, and no, I am not getting any Marriott reward points in exchange for this post. :)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

DC Green Festival - Too Much of a Good Thing?

Today the Wanna Greenies headed over to the Green Festival downtown at the new convention center. We drove. We considered Metro, but we were sure that although the ride to the festival would have been all wonder and interesting and light, the ride home from the festival would have been all overtired children and cranky parents and a painfully long transfer on a Sunday Metro schedule. So we drove. So much for reducing our carbon footprint.

First, I was amazed, just amazed at the "new and improved" Chinatown. It had been at least five or six years since I'd been to the area around the gate, and it was almost unrecognizable. Personally, I thought the designers (whoever they are) did a nice job with scale and keeping the street scape interesting, but yes, gone is the neighborhood feel.

We entered the Convention Center and the first thing that hit me was the smell. Yes, my nose is uber-sensitive but I know it was not my imagination because my son asked, "Mommy, what that I smelling? Smells like popcorn." I only wish. To me it smelled like off-gassing but I think I was being just a tad bit eco-sensitive seeing as we were there to get our eco-on.

Now let me just caveat before I get to the bottom line...yes, I was there with two children who wanted to be on the go; no, we did not attend a single session; no, we did not go there with a specific goal or purpose in mind (although Green Husband did want to find out more about solar energy options for our upcoming renovation), but oddly enough the Green Festival left me feeling...nothing. Not really inspired, not really armed with information (although brochures and leaflets abounded), not even really glad we went. There was a lot of stuff to buy, the children's area was slightly lackluster, and it just seemed entirely overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time.

I dunno. Mindful Momma seemed to have a great time at a similar event in her area. Anyone else attend? What did you think and, more importantly, what suggestions might you have for people who would like to get the most out of the conference next year?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Green Apples Redux

As promised, here is the reply I received from Whole Foods regarding my yes, you have no local apples query. Identifying information has been removed to protect the innocent...ME!

***

When I visited Whole Foods this weekend, every apple was from California or New Zealand. Why, when local apples are so plentiful up and down the East Coast this time of year (organic and conventional), is Whole Foods importing apples from so far away? Thanks!

***

Hi Amy,

Thank you very much for your valuable suggestions. And You are right most of our apples are from California

Whole Foods Market is and has been committed to supporting local producers by buying their fruits and vegetables that meet our high quality standards, particularly those who farm organically. In the mid- Atlantic area we are working with local growers from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland and looking forward to work with more farmers. To this end Whole Foods Market has a budget of ten million dollars for loan to be used to support local farmers who need money.

Most of our tomatoes, mushrooms and leaf vegetables and peppers are from local farmers. We have local gala apple and our Tote apples are from West Virginia.

We are continuing to look and source more local farmers to sell at our store, including apple growers.

We are working to have the local farmers market in our ***** store to be able to bring as more product as possible; and local farmers who are interested in introducing their products can send e-mail to our Buyers at local.vendors@wholefoods.com or drop us a line to our store.

***

Discuss.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Wednesday Me For Works!


Finally it's backwards Works for Me Wednesday over at Shannon's house!

I have two questions for you, loyal readers, if you don't mind...

How do you keep track of all the billions and billions of PlayMobil pieces

and...

For children's organic cotton clothing how do you minimize the need to iron them (the clothes...not the children)?

And oooo, I received a reply from Whole Foods about their local (not!) apples. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Green Tips for Hunkering Down

This morning Green Husband called me from his truck to let me know that a poem by my favorite writer, Donald Hall, was being featured on The Writer's Almanac. Garrison Keillor read The Hunkering, which I would reprint here but for copyright (I am a librarian after all). Notice it's a single sentence.

I am working on 10 Green Tips for Hunkering Down, but I need your help:

Does anyone have any eco-savvy hints for refreshing down comforters and other winter accoutrements that have been hiding out in closets and trunks?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Gift of Green Goes Pink

Somewhere during my blogging travels, I came across this site, which is encouraging blogs to go pink, in whatever way they can, for the month of October. This is, of course, in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's a little hard to read, but hey, pink and green is one of my favorite color combinations (guess I'm reliving the preppy craze of the 80's - does anyone remember Bermuda bags?) to boot!

It has been six years now since my dear cousin died of inflammatory breast cancer. She was and is a mom to two beautiful, self-confident, self sufficient daughters, wife to a wise-cracking jokah, and the best "older sister you never had". I miss her.

If you haven't already, go visit the fabulous WhyMommy and check out her post on inflammatory breast cancer. I think I can speak for her when I write that IBC was not exactly part of her life plan, but she's doing okay and, hey, she digs comments. Click on over and say hello!

While we're on the subject, I'd like to share a little pet peeve of mine...companies that use the month of October to shamelessly promote their pink products. Hold on, let me explain. I don't see a problem with encouraging people to purchase goods in order to support a cause. The problem I have is the amount of money that actually goes to the cause. I just cannot get on board when a company offers to donate 5% or 10% of the proceeds to something as vague as "breast cancer research." Now, I'm not talking about small businesses, of course. I'm all for financial solvency too!

Are their any eco-friendly "pink" items you feel are worthy of your support this month? OrganicBouquet is selling breastcancer.org pink passion roses, for example, with 5% of the retail price to breastcancer.org. (Nevermind that the flowers are being flown hither and yon.)

What's your opinion? Do you think that every little bit helps?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Green Apples

This morning the Wanna-Greenies took an early morning trip to Whole Foods (Pip: "Get up, Mommy." Me: "But I need my beauty sleep." Pip: "You're already beautiful, Mommy." Me: "Ooooooh, thank you, Pip!" Pip: "Now get up." Ooooookay.).

As we swung through the produce department, I happened to notice the selection of apples. Every type of apple was from California and New Zealand. California and New Zealand? Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it apple season, especially in our neck of the woods? Local apples were practically rolling off the tables at our Farmer's Market. Conventional apples, which Whole Foods carries, were hanging heavy from the branches up in Boston. Could it be that the only apples suitable for sale at Whole Foods were from a minimum of 3,000 miles away? I'm all for organic, but what about local?

{Now, I think I've determined that first three posters who need freezer paper. Miss Kitty, Mom Go Green and Fabricio...if you need/want freezer paper, please contact me with your mailing address.}

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Farmer's Markets Redux

I really love the word redux. Redux, redux, redux.

Anyway, I digress.

Ever since reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and ever since Green Husband, Sprout, Pip and I have been attending our local farmer's market on a semi-weekly basis, I have seriously become in tune with what is in season and what is not.

It's actually turned me into a little bit of an in season/out of season snob, but I'll come back to that.

If you buy your produce at a farmer's market, you really cannot help but become acutely aware of a particular fruit or vegetable's growing season. Say, "Nah, I'll wait 'til next week to pick up blueberries for freezing."? Sorry, Charlie. Next week they'll be gone, done, outta here. Or you can be like me and say, "This is the week I'm making that peach cobbler!" Uh, hate to break it to you but we've moved on to pears. It's pear season, baby!

This week, in my neck of the woods, we're just starting the apples, the zucchini is in high gear, and the smaller pumpkins for soups and baking have finally made their appearance.

What are you "up to" in your region?

So this all makes for an interesting experience when I go to the canteen at work and they are serving...asparagus. Now, I love asparagus, don't get me wrong. But it is September and there the asparagus lies. So I loudly proclaim while standing online, "Asparagus? Where the heck do you get asparagus this time of year?" It is astonishing to think that most people in that line don't realize that it is not asparagus season in the Commonwealth, or even the District, or even The Garden State, or the Bay State or the Live Free or Die state!

For me, for now, I'll stick to our farmer's market...and see what next week's season brings.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Farmer's Markets and Larger Markets

shhh. it's computer-free friday. you never saw me here. let's just say i wrote this post last night and am simply posting it now. yeah, that's the ticket...

Yesterday, for the first time in, oh, ever, I had lunch with my sister-in-law. No kids, no husbands...just me and my SIL. As she would say, "How fun is that!?" We met near her place of work, and because our lunching establishment was steps from a major mall, after we air-kissed goodbye, I, shall we say, hit it.

Since I've been married, I've probably only been to a shopping mall a handful of times (as opposed to the other mall which we hit quite frequently). This compared to my young, care-free, budget-busting bachelorette days when I would probably Metro there twice a week after work.

As I walked off my lunch and stopped in the many, many, many shops, I could not help noticing that my new status as a Wanna Greenie has changed my mall-going experience.

The noise
- From the music in the stores to the people talking on their cellphones, I never realized just how noisy a shopping mall can be. It was quite overwhelming at first and then, of course, it becomes second nature to read a magazine at the bookstore while listening to Burning Ring of Fire (which happens to be one of my favorite songs, but that's not the point!).

The lights and lack there of - In addition to the aural bombardment was the visual bombardment of lights and spinning things and window displays. Don't get me wrong. There are times when I absolutely LOVE visual and aural bombardment - walking in Manhattan is one of my all time favorite activities. Fifth Avenue feels energizing to me - the mall does not. Maybe it's because I don't have New Yorker about to run up my heels if I don't pick up the pace, but perhaps it's because of the lack of natural light and a purely artificial environment.

and

The cr@p, my gosh, the cr@p - I could not help but critique the quality of the goods sold at the mall. Of course, there are some very high quality, and even eco-friendly goods, but the majority of "stuff" was pure junk, especially the clothing. I can't tell you how many times I put back a shirt or piece of "jewelery" thinking...I could get something better for a third of the price at the thrift store or something even more beautiful than this handmade on Etsy. I would never have considered these options before becoming a Wanna Greenie.

How has becoming a Wanna Greenie changed your shopping mall perspective...if you still go them?

Oh, and while I was there I just happened to stumble upon the Apple store, and yes, I will be getting a MacBook - thanks for all your recommendations. I am a little nervous about making the leap from PC to Apple, but I think I can deal. Can anyone tell me how much memory their MacBook has and if that is sufficient for their blogging/surfing needs? Also, can you tell me what type of external hard drive you have for backing up all those adorable baby pictures you've stashed away on your C: drive?

Have a great Friday, everyone. And remember. You never saw me here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

We've Been Leaded Update - The Mattel Matter

You may remember my post in which I waxed poetic (not!) about Sprout and Pip's lead Dora and Diego figurines.

After carefully packaging up three sets of Dora and Diego-related items, I shipped them back to Mattel headquarters (no, I did not drive there and demand that they look through the toys themselves). According to the paperwork, if all the items were determined to be lead-affected, I would receive a rebate check for over thirty dollars.

Yesterday, I received a check in the mail from Mattel. For six dollars. On the one hand I was relieved. That meant that Mattel did not think my stash of NickJr. treats were all bad. But on the other hand I was a bit peeved. Mattel had my stash of NickJr. treats and I had six dollars. But, I shrugged my shoulders and let bygones be bygones. I was trying to wean myself from the plastic anyway.

Today, when I returned home from work, there was a box waiting for me, return address: Mattel. Inside? All my Diego and Dora paraphenalia that Mattel had evidently deemed safe for consumption. I'm not trying to defend Mattel, but heck, the look on the faces of Sprout and Pip when they saw their Diego Field Journal and Diego Artic Rescue was priceless. I thought it was pretty decent of Mattel to ship the items back. I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Housekeeping

Before I go any further, I have several housekeeping issues that I must address. No, not my housekeeping! Housekeeping in general (what is the origin of that phrase and why is it always used at conferences when they want to start by telling you where the bathrooms are or when the breaks will be?).

Maybe it's because some of my readers are from places where there isn't a lot of hunting, but I have received several emails telling me that freezer paper is probably as rare as gilding in their particular neck of the woods. So...as a public service, the first three people who let me know via comments that they cannot find freezer paper will receive a box of Reynolds Freezer Paper courtesy of moi. (Hey Reynolds...here's your opportunity to shine. Email me.) If I've already offered to send you some, no need to comment. Now SusieJ and Because I'm Me already know I'm a bit...er...post office-ally challenged, so plan for those Christmas freezer paper projects! Just kidding. I'll send them out this weekend, so please comment by midnight EST, Friday, September 28th.

Moving on. My computer is dying. I have a Compaq nx9010 and I can barely hear you guys because the fan is so. loud. The fan is on all. the. time. That can't be good. My laptop has served me well for over five years now and considering I won it in a raffle (read: free but for the price of a ticket), I have been uber-happy with it, especially the huge (by today's standards) keyboard. It served me well during two bouts of bedrest and has helped me kick off my very lucrative blogging career (oh, gosh, I'm so funny).

But, I now get more mysterious error messages than ever whenever I boot up and speaking of booting, it really can take between 7 to 10 minutes from the time I hit the "on" button to the time I can actually start typing. I don't want to jinx you Baby, but Compaq nx9010, I just want to give you the rest that you deserve. (But not before I download all the baby pictures I've been foolishly saving to my hard drive). So, (do you see where this is leading?)...what laptop do you use? Would you recommend it? Should I make the leap to Mac? And...I don't suppose there's anything Green about a computer, is there? Bamboo space bar? Perhaps to go truly green I should just take my laptop in for some TLC?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Back To Green...Back To Reality

I have certainly gotten a bit off-topic what with my freezer paper tutorial and my philosophising about all things Massachusetts. It's not from lack of material. There are so many green things going on that it's just a matter of deciding where to begin...

As I alluded to briefly in a previous post, the Washington Post's Color of Money columnist Michelle Singletary holds an annual Penny Pincher of the Year contest in which readers are invited to submit their best ideas for frugal living. This year, Michelle was looking for Green penny pinchers and green penny pinchers she did receive.

Third place winner was Amy Haden of Scottsville, Virginia who manages to bring home over 50 pounds a week of discarded coffee grounds, banana peels and other compost-fit contributions from her place of work. Both her chickens and her garden benefits.

The second place winner was Shirley Orth, an nurse from Del Mar, California, who decided that the one time use of an emesis basin for holding IV supplies was a complete waste "disposing over 500 of these per month". Their solution came from the IV tubing packaging itself: it included a small tray which they now reuse in place of those pink, plastic basins. A while back I posted on this very topic and so did my blogging friend over at Mom Go Green.

The grand prize winner was Tom Sponheim of Seattle Washington, who evidently visits coffee shop restrooms. A lot. But he is merely to adjust the water level in the toilet tanks! Tom estimates that during one particularly productive rounding, his "three or four hours of work would result in a savings of about 500,000 liters a year of water."

Freezer Paper Tutorial - HallowGreen

Happy Sunday, everyone.

Today's freezer paper tutorial is going to have a live-blogging element to it...meaning...it's football season and Green Husband's team is playing today. Need I say more. Hopefully the tutorial will be complete by 4:00 p.m. EST (read: post naptime). In the meantime, I'll be posting in dribs and drabs.

Also, please note. I am not a crafty person. I cannot take a good photograph to save my life. Please be kind. :)

Supplies...darn cat.





This morning we happened to do sponge prints of pumpkins, so I've decided that that will be my stencil. Here's my pumpkin that I will cut out and trace onto freezer paper. You can trace something directly onto the freezer paper - I would have used the sponge pumpkin, but it's already covered in paint! LOL!



Now don't forget to save any little scraps that you cut out (in my case the pumpkin's eyes, nose and mouth). Those are used to mask the paint. Also, my picture is symmetrical so it doesn't really matter which side of the freezer paper I trace my image. If you are concerned about what part of your image appears on the right or left side of your finished product, don't forget that the shiny side of the paper needs to go face down on your fabric.



My image is now ready to be ironed onto my son's t-shirt. Because these aren't exactly keepsakes for me, I've used an orange t-shirt that I know isn't going to make it another summer season. Placing the shiny side of the freezer paper down, carefully iron on all your elements down using low heat/no steam. You can just put a towel under the t-shirt if you're worried about the heat. I'm not so worried.



Ironing tips: You don't really need to "iron" per say. Just press the iron down flat on the paper for a few seconds until the freezer paper fuses. Remember: where ever you have paper there will be no paint.

Now, here is the important part which I learned the hard way last time. Go slide something between the two sides of your fabric if your fabric has a front and a back (like my t-shirt). I'm using this Sunday's Post magazine. It's the home addition and I really can't afford anything in there anyway. If you don't do this, the paint may seep through the fabric, causing the front and the back to stick together while drying. Hence, the hole in the back of my son's shirt last time when I tried to separate the two.

Pick up your brush and apply a very thin layer of paint to your image. You can work from some paint you squirt out right onto your fabric. You do not need to glob it on, but you want to make sure you get right up to the edge of the freezer paper, so don't be shy...paint right over the paper.




I can already tell that I've used a bit too much paint (it's acting uber-saturated) and that one of my "floating" pieces was not ironed down well enough so I'll probably have some paint seepage under there. Que sera, sera, eh?




Now. Lay flat and put somewhere where the paint can get nice and dry. And, note to self, do not leave it where the cat can sit on it again. My paint brand says to wait 24-hours. Bummer. The one I used before said 4.

So tomorrow, or whenever, simply and carefully peel off the freezer paper. You can use a pin or a paper clip to gently get under the paper instead of marring the image with your fingernail.

Follow your fabric paint's directions, but it's best to wait at least 72 hours before you wash it...kind of like those perms of yesteryear.

The kids are stirring... I hope you enjoyed this tutorial; thanks for waiting. I can't wait to see what creative things you come up with - I could sure use some inspiration in that department!

Go 'Skins!