Saturday, June 30, 2007

I Heart Green HP

Today, as I was printing copious amounts of pages out for my online class (who said computers would replace paper and yes, I am using paper from work that I scrounged out of the recycling bin - we are a workforce of one-side of the page printing), realized I was getting low on toner. I opened up my new boxes of HP tri-color and black cartridges, and LO!, look what came with them. Teeny, adorable envelopes (pre-paid postage, might I add) that let you send back your used cartridges to HP for recycling. They couldn't have made it easier. Thanks, HP!

Declaration of Conflict of Interest: None

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it." So says the protagonist of Norman Maclean's novella of the same name.

I'm finding that this is true of green-blogging as well. As I have mentioned before, I am attempting to get certified as a school librarian and what is the hypothetical scenario for which we must find appropriate resources? Global warming.

My dishwasher dies after a long illness and just as I get the estimate for a replacement, The Toronto Chick gets rid of her dishwasher entirely.

It as a relief to find out that I wasn't the only one with an aversion to Kale. Luckily Nature Moms had a quick-fix, smoothie style.

I open up the latest Whole Life Times, and there, once again, are articles by Jenny Rough. I'm beginning to think "Does this chick write for this magazine or something?" :)

Do you see where this is taking you?

Eventually all things merge into one.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Green Meals that Make Themselves

First, a confession. I hate to cook. I'm not good at it, I hate prepping foods, I can't tell if chicken is done, I can never coordinate the protein, starch and vegetable. My husband, fortunately, is an excellent cook, which, unfortunately for him, means he is the cook by default. Not MY fault, of course. DEfault.

Have you ever been to a Farmer's Market (Really, there is a connection - I am bad at transitioning paragraphs)? I went last Saturday to one that can't be more than a mile away and is open year-round. We were having guests from out of town and I needed something besides chip and dip.

Have you ever stood dumbly in front of all. that. produce. at the grocery store (Really, there is a connection - I am bad at trans...)? Trying to figure out what the heck you are going to make with all. that. produce for guests that are coming for the weekend?

The Farmer's Market is a beautiful thing. You get what is available. So I picked up blueberries, raspberries, peaches, freshly made goat cheese, peppers, onions, Roma tomatoes (I will confess that there was a collective awwwwing by Farmer's Market attendees when my daughter Sprout had a full on temper tantrum because her brother had a Roma tomato and she was not getting one fast enough. I mean, is she an advertisement for the goodness of Roma tomatoes or what?), and a bouquet of basil.

Blueberries and raspberries were eaten on the way home like candy. Goat cheese was spread on crackers with a bit of tomato on top and a tear of basil leaf. Peppers and onions were skewered and sent to the grill. Roma tomatoes were eaten like apples. Peaches were packed for lunches and a few slices topped ice cream. I barely thought about it and it barely felt like cooking. Because frankly, I hate to cook.

See, I told you there was a connection.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ode to Clotheslines

One of my neighbors who had been using a clothesline a lot longer than I have forwarded me this ode of sorts to clotheslines that seems to be circling the Internet. But...washing the clothesline?! Yikes!


A clothesline was a news forecast
To neighbors passing by.
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link
For neighbors always knew
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.

For then you'd see the fancy sheets
And towels upon the line;
You'd see the company table clothes
With intricate design.

The line announced a baby's birth
To folks who lived inside
As brand new infant clothes were hung
So carefully with pride.

The ages of the children could
So readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed
You'd know how much they'd grown.

It also told when illness struck,
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.

It said, "Gone on vacation now"
When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged
With not an inch to spare.

New folks in town were scorned upon
If wash was dingy gray,
As neighbors raised their brows,
And looked disgustedly away.

But clotheslines now are of the past
For dryers make work less.
Now what goes on inside a home
Is anybody's guess.

I really miss that way of life.
It was a friendly sign
When neighbors knew each other best
By what hung on the line!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dishwashers - The Anti-Green?

Our dishwasher is dead. Long live the Dishwasher! So, as I wait for the repairman, I am hand washing all the dishes that I had stuffed haphazardly into the dishwasher, pre-death. Serves me right - dishwasher Karma you might say.

So, this is how I did my dishes. I turned on a bit of water, got a good dishsoap going, turned off the water, soaped up all my dishes, turned on the water, rinsed them, put them in the drying rack. Granted, this is not my favorite way of passing the time post-dinner, but I did manage to get a bit of Zen going on - and I was surprised at how short a time it took me to wash an entire dishwasher full of dishes.

So (are you stil with me?)...are dishwashers the anti-green or are they better at conserving water than yours truly? If I have to do battle against the dishwasher like John Henry the Steel Driving Man, so be it. But before I do that - what do you think?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Links We Like: Going Green One Link at a Time

Time for a little bit of catching up.

No, SusieJ, I have not yet touched the Meme, but Memes take a lot of thought and when the heat index hits 100 I like nothing better than to just oogle over other people's fabulous green spaces. BTW, let me know when you're heading up there next summer so I can put in for vacation. ;)

I am one lucky gal (although I'd like to think that I won the SusieJ contest with a smidgen of skill - HA!) when it comes to the Blog Swag - look at the fabulous graphic on the newest tote bag coming my way! Thanks, Green LA Girl!

An article in the Post on children and the outdoors has rekindled my interest in Last Child in the Woods which has been on my "Books I'd Like to Be Reading" for far too long.

And from the "I'm entirely too overcommitted" I am taking an online class in an attempt to become certified as a teacher-librarian - it seems that Green just falls in my lap at every turn! Look at these great Green tools for kids! One is a website about cocoa, Fairtrade and chocolate - plus it's British so I'm snookered. Or knackered? Smitten? That's not necessarily a British word..smitten... The other is Oxfam's Cool Planet;this webiste is very UK-centric (Not That There's Anything Wrong With That) but just fine for us Statesiders. And hey, you never know when you might need a Green resource in Welsh.

Oh, and in case you think I'm taking myself entirely too seriously, New York magazine highlights the latest and greatest in Green products. Don't you love the Green Girl who needs her Diet Coke? Hey wait! They're making fun of me!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: The Kingsolver Family's Magical Year

Barbara Kingsolver and I have a love/hate relationship. I read The Poisonwood Bible cover to cover, yet threw down Prodigal Summer in disgust. So when I put a hold on Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, when it was still "In Process" at the public library, I really didn't know what to expect. Kingsolver writes that someone once said every story begins with "I set out on a journey" or "A stranger came to town". I think this book begins with a little bit of both!

AVM is Wonderful. In the original sense of the word. Written by Barbara Kingsolver with intriguing sidebars inserted here and there by her husband Steven Hopp and daughter Camille Kingsolver, this book is a humorful, beautiful and thought-provoking look at the business of eating locally (like, from your own backyard).

There have been many reviews detailing the premise of this work of non-fiction, so let me just point out some parts of the book that were most meaningful to me.

The book begins kind of a la Michael Moore, as I like to describe it. This didn't turn me off as much as, I'm sorry to say, I found my eyes glazing over one or two times. As background and context for their year, this section is essential but it was really the narrative of their actual journal I found to be most magical.

This book truly made me want to try my hand at growing asparagus with Kingsolver's fascinating description of this plant that is only for the patient. It also made me want to explore the use of heirloom seeds - even the seeds are beautiful, nevermind what they produce.

Kingsolver's calm description of her rather complicated concept of the Vegetannual. A wonderful glimpse as to when fruits and vegetables are truly in season and why.

One of the most beautiful passages was related to preparations for her 50th birthday party where locally grown was taken to a new art:

I stood for a minute clutching my carrots, looking out over our pasture to Walker Mountain on the horizon. The view from our garden is spectacular. I thought about about people I knew who right at that moment might be plucking chickens, picking strawberries, and lettuce, just for us. I felt grateful to the people involved, and the animals also.
Better in context, of course.

One thing I will note, is that the Kingsolver's certainly have a lot of "appliances". They have a food dehydrator, chest freezer, bread machine, pasta maker, and food processor. Not that I'm knocking these wonders of the modern world...I'm just sayin'.

So many other anecdotes about the year that were interesting and funny and moving, yes, moving were related to poultry. The passages about Ms. Kingsolver's daughter Lilly and her thriving egg business are highlights of the book. And who knew that turkeys rarely ever have sex in this country any more! The Kingsolvers are quick to point out that they are by no means goodie-two-shoes. They have a stack of Mac-n-Cheese (Kraft or Annie's?) and they would never, ever, ever consider going a year without coffee.

And perhaps the most underrated contribution to this book: the simple line illustrations by Richard Houser. He's not even mentioned on the cover! They are little gems.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a wonderful book full of surprises (Try the wonderful surprise at the end of "Slow Food Nations") like the growing season itself.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Green Nursing

Birds do it, bees do it, even nurses do it! Go green that is!

In the April 2007 issue of the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) journal there is an article entitled, "Reduce - Recycle - Reuse: Guidelines for Promoting Perioperative Waste Management". The perioperative period refers to any period surrounding a surgical procedure including the pre-operative and post-operative period.

This article, written by Gary Laustsen, APRN, states: "The perioperative environment generates large amounts of waste, which negatively affects local and global ecosystems...To manage this waste, health care facility leaders must focus on identifying correctable issues, work with relevant stakeholders to promote solutions, and adopt systematic procedural changes."

He reminds us that, "Large health care facilities, such as hospitals, historically used incinerators to dispose of medical waste" and cites such pollutants as dioxin and mercury as some of the chemicals released into the air due to such methods of disposal. He cites two organizations that are looking for ways "to reduce the negative effect of health care practices on the environment": Health Care Without Harm and Hospitals for a Healthy Environment.

Due to the nature of health care, many products are single-use only to protect patients from cross contamination. However, some correctable areas can apply to the "business" end of nursing: photocopying and printing and the packaging used for medical supplies. Hospitals never close (theoretically) and so they are big consumers of energy as well.

Laustsen goes on to present a case vignette where a "red bag" (a bag used for hazardous medical waste - similar to the "sharps" container you see in your healthcare providers office, but on a larger scale) is analyzed for the inclusion of non-biohazardous waste. He states, "The results of this investigation demonstrated that there was significant inappropriate disposal of OR wastes into the biohazardous waste receptacle." me... he recognizes that greening is a "small steps" process and goes on to cite specific suggestion for recycling, reducing and reusing in the perioperative setting.

Thank you, Gary Laustsen, for an intriguing and informative article on a topic that many non-health care professionals knew nothing about - including me! Great job!

Tomorrow - my review on Barbara Kingsolver's fabulous new book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle".

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Green Grants a Go-Go [For Kids!]

I always loved when Paul Maclean in A River Runs Through It quips the headline "Cool Cal Communes with the Croppies!" So I'm working on my headline alliteration. I can't seem to come up with a "G" word for kids...

But I digress.

Several green-related grant opportunities have been making the rounds.

The first is "The Healthy Sprouts Award" sponsored by the National Gardening Association and Gardener's Supply as part of their mission to recognize health-focused youth gardens.

"To be eligible for the 2007 Healthy Sprouts Awards, your school or organization must plan to garden in 2008 with at least 15 children between the ages of 3 and 18. The selection of winners is based on the demonstrated relationship between the garden program and nutrition and hunger issues in the United States."

Applications are due by October 15th and awards will be granted in January of 2008.

The second green grant is sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology, of all things: "The American Academy of Dermatology’s (Academy) Shade Structure Program are grant awards ($8,000 each) for the purchase of permanent shade structures designed to provide shade and ultraviolet (UV) ray protection for outdoor areas. The Academy also provides a permanent sign to be displayed near the shade structure promoting the importance of sun safety. The Academy receives support for this program from Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Company.

The deadline for grant applications is Wednesday, March 5, 2008.

The Shade Structure Program is open to non-profit organizations or educational institutions that serve children and teenagers, ages 18 and younger.

Who may have it made in the shade!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Green BlogHers?

I think I walk the line between mommy-blogger and green-blogger -- and sometimes I feel that I'm not very good at either of them! Oh...the pearls and pitfalls I could learn at the 2007 BlogHer conference in Chicago!

Are any of you mommies, green or wannagreenies, out there going? I know green LA girl is...she's even a speaker!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Top Ten Signs that You Have a Ways to Go in the Going Green Department


...And the number one sign that you have a ways to go in the Going Green department:

You have conversations with your children that go like this...

Me: "And tomorrow we're going to go to a FARM!"

Pip (3 yo): "A farm?"

Me: "Yes, a farm!"

Pip: "We see cows there?"

Me: "Yes, cows at the farm!"

Sprout (2 yo): "Cows?"

Me: "Yes, cows and horses."

Pip: "Horses too?"

Me: "Yes, and horses."

Sprout: "Horsies?"

Me: "Yup, we'll see horsies at the farm!"

Pip: "Dill be chickens there?"

Me: "Yes! Lots of chickens!"

Sprout: "'N chickin' nuggets?"


Me: "Well, yes, in a way I suppose we will see chicken nuggets.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The [Green] Week in Review

Someone once said (and I can't remember who and as a librarian that really bugs the c**p out of me) "Trying to breathe in DC in the summertime is like sucking whale blubber through a straw". Well, the blubber has arrived. You never like to see this on your local news station's website (in all caps, no less):












So as I sit in my air-conditioned bliss, I decided to look back over the week and see how well I took my own advice.

Use one less napkin: I did consciously take one napkin when required and did not suffer for it nary a bit. You just keep folding that bad boy over again until you find a clean spot.

Take the soda can home: Not only did I take the soda can home, but I took my BANANA PEELS home (yes, I was yelling). I mean, is that dedication or what?

Don't drain the kiddie pool: Not much opportunity to *fill* the kiddie pool during the work week, but we'll see how the weekend goes.

Unplug the cellphone charger: I'd say we remembered to do this 50% of the time.

Hang one load of wet laundry out to dry: I did exactly that and no more. Kind of difficult during the work week. For those who need a wee bit more inspiration, see Mom Go Green's post and kick ass graphic.

Displace a liter with a liter: Okay, well first of all I think it is a TWO liter bottle and second of all from the neglecting my marriage department, when I told my husband about this *brilliant* idea of mine, he was like, "Uh, honey, I did that about six months ago." Note to self: get your freakin' nose out of the computer and back into your real life.

Follow the feds up the stairs: Okay, now here was an interesting phenomenon. I always took the stairs, up or down, *when I remembered*. I mean, I am so programmed to take the elevator that I would find myself waiting for the elevator or actually in the elevator before thinking, "Wait a second, I was supposed to take the stairs." Also, any of you have this situation: at work the stairwells are no where near the elevators? Waz up with that?

Drive the speed limit, save gas: Uh, that would be a no.

Get back to nature: Negatory.

Plant one seed: The only seed I planted this week was in the heads of my loyal readers? Maybe?

If you have accomplished all 10 of the above and you want a little extra credit, get out that vacuum cleaner. What kind of animal do you have under *your* fridge?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Born in the CSA - Our First Box of Organics

Remember way back when, when summer was just a hazy glimmer on the horizon and I announced to my negative 3 blogmates (things have gotten better since then - thank you, loyal readers) that I had joined a CSA? Well, I am proud to announce: It's A Vegetable! Many of them in fact.

This afternoon around 2:30 my intrepid share sharer Cafe de Dulce and I went to pick up our box o' stuff. That's Cafe demonstrating the proper form for oogling over boxes of fresh produce from Even' Star Organics.

We managed to take home in our organic haul:

Seven sugar snap peas (er, scratch that - two eaten in car on way home)
Baby heirloom lettuce
Four mini-turnips
A nice herb blend.

This evening I simmered the kale with some olive oil and garlic and topped it off with some balsamic vinegar. The kids wouldn't touch the stuff, but hey...more for me.

Oh, and note to self: use of hair clip on back of head...not so nice.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

10 Green Things You Can Do This Week

It's not easy being green. Case and point: it was a rainy, chilly day here in planting zone 7 so I purchased french fries and hamburgers for the kids. And we're not talkin' about the locally grown stuff.

Greening is a bit like dieting. Sometimes you have the Mallomar, but that doesn't mean you won't be back on track the next day. So in my quest to get back on track, here are 10 little things you and I can do to stay green this week. Happy Monday!

1) Use One Less Napkin. Whether you're at home or visiting the canteen, using one less paper napkin (or one napkin) won't seem like a lot, but imagine if we all used just one less napkin? Or heck. Follow my children's example: don't use any. You're going to wash their shirts any way, right?

2) Take The Soda Can Home. Before I was a wannagreenie, I would without a second thought toss my soda can into the trashcan at work. They didn't recycle and take my can home with me!? Now I do. Baby steps.

3) Don't Drain the Kiddie Pool. Hot child, summer in the city. Or something like that. Anywho. All this weekend the kiddies were in the plastic pool and after they were done, we'd take the watering can and dip it in - reusing the water for our plants. And I'm sure there wasn't an pee in that pool. Positive.

4) Unplug the Cellphone Charger. If you're not ready for the powerstrip power trip, just start with your cellphone charger. Unplug it when it's not in use (and don't plug your cellphone into the charger and not plug in the charger so that the next morning your cellphone is still...uncharged. Not. Sure. Who. That. Happened. To.). Green Hubby found out that a charger plugged in and not being used might as well be a charger charging.

5) Hang One Load of Wet Laundry Out to Dry. Go ahead. I dare you. Neighbors be damned. If you don't like the crunch, don't start with towels.

6) Displace a Liter with a Liter. Okay, here's something fun. Go drink a liter bottle of soda. Go ahead. I'll wait. Done? Okay, now fill it with water and put it in your toilet tank. You are now saving a liter of water with every flush. And there will be a lot of them if you've just drank a liter bottle of soda.

7) Follow the Feds...Up the Stairs. In many federal buildings there is a sign posted at every elevator: Two Flights Down, One Flight Up. Meaning...if you are going two flights down or one flight up, don't use the elevator: walk.

8) Drive the Speed Limit, Save Gas. If you drive slower, wouldn't it seem that it would take you longer to get to your destination and thus force you to use just as much gas as if you drove like a bat outta heck? Not so fast.

9) Get Back to Nature. Go online or check the newspaper for summer programming sponsored by local departments of parks and recreation. August 5th is the Night Walk. We are so there.

10) Plant One Seed. Buy a package of sunflower seeds. While you are standing at the bus stop, sitting on the soccer sidelines, or passing that poor barren planter in front of the supermarket, stick your finger down into the dirt. Insert seed. Cover up loosely. Pray for rain. Visit your sunflower later.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Recycled Fun - Toys Redux

Buzz Lightyear and his friend Woody: Combined Retail Value - $44.00

Dora and her Backpack companion: Retail Value - $16.99

Four Groovy Girls of various ethnicities: Combined Retail Value - $48.00

D.W. without her brother: Estimated Retail Value - $9.99

Knowing that you bought them all for $12 at a community yardsale: Priceless