Sunday, December 28, 2008

Out of the Fog

Not so much the fog, really, but the excitement and stress of a new job, the holiday season, new routines and other "stressors" that I've created for myself.

Today I am at home with a week of vacation stretching out before me (thanks to my new job in the public schools), which is a good thing because both of my bambinos are sick. "Robots" and "Ice Age": if I didn't know the dialogue to these movies by heart before, I certainly know it now.

In between this and that, I've been reading at a feverish pace to keep up with the voracious readers that are my students. I am currently reading "Frindle", a quick little book that appeals mainly to my third graders and I've just finished reading the first non-picture book read-aloud to my children "My Father's Dragon" - a book that held their interest chapter after chapter even with minimal illustrations.

As for the blog, while I have not outgrown Blogger, I think I've definitely outgrown my drab template. Any suggestions?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Project Flip and Flop

Today the kids and I tried a project that was slightly exasperating on the technical side: crayon "stained glass" windows. Pip lost interest quickly, while Sprout was a machine with the crayon sharpener, dumping her crayon shavings onto wax paper, and watching while I ironed another sheet on top. She created an adorable heart which she then affixed to the front window using her stash of stickers (aside: I always used to look down my nose at people whose car/bay/storm windows were covered in stickers. Didn't they have enough CONTROL to prevent this from happening? I'm that person now. Don't look down your nose at me and no, I don't have enough control).

My question is - does wax paper have a right side and a wrong side? Does it matter what sides you iron together? I tried ironing leaves and the paper would just not stick together. Also, the crayon oozed through (through!) the wax paper onto my ironing this so wrong?

Sleepless in the Middle

Yes, there is something about falling asleep in your wee one's bed only to get up at 2:30 in the morning, twiddling your thumbs. I would vacuum, but that's a bit too noisy. So, it's just me and the cat prowling around the house.

Mama (that's me) is in need of an upgrade...I think Mom 2.0 is in order. What are your eco-savvy, healthy pick-me-ups? And, as the weather gets colder, how do you avoid The Couch?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ten Things About Winter In Massachusetts That Make Virginians Go "Huh?"

A chill is in the air and at the risk of sounding like "When I was growing up..." I thought I'd put to paper (pixels?) ten things that people from Virginia just don't understand about Boston winters.

10) The weather report. Never have so many words been used to describe so many forms of precipitation.

9) Snow? So? The world does not stop because of a few inches. Or feet, for that matter. Even during the Blizzard of '78 we got crafty.

8) Function over Fashion for the morning commute.

7) Mice in the Oreos.

6) The oil man, hunched over as he pulled the hose up the driveway to the side of the house. The unsung heroes of winter.

5) Mittens drying on hot radiators.

4) Snow. I'm not talking wet slush. Or half-hearted flakes. I'm talking snow that actually sparkled and would blow like sugar.

3) If you were in primary or secondary school and you could see the flashing orange/yellow lights of the snowplow even through your eyelids on a cold, dark, snowy morning... you'd count your lucky stars, roll back over and go to sleep. And yes, the gamble that you took by not doing your homework has paid off once again.

2) Setting out the sticks. How else will the snow plow know where the street ends and your sidewalk begins? Minnesota knows what I'm talking about.

and the number one thing people in Virginia don't understand about winters in Boston:

1) Here in Virginia, school cancellations are done by county. More efficient, perhaps, but pretty boring. In Massachusetts (when I was growing up), snow days were announced alphabetically by TOWN and I would be riveted to the radio (WBZ, natch) listening for mine (which, to add to the suspense, started with a "W"). Dozens of towns: Holliston, Lincoln, Wakefield, Waltham, agonizing, but when it got to your town...heaven.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just Be...

Every once in a while I write a post about how I get into Keeping Up With The Joneses mode. With so many blogs featuring so many great ideas posted by so many Moms it's easy to feel like you're doing well, nothing. Last week it finally occurred to me (I'm a tad slow on the uptake) that whatever you do, you do. Your activities don't have to match the Jones' activities. Some families take road trips. You don't have to. Some Moms knit beautiful sweaters or create cozy quilts. You don't have to (that's what Etsy is for!). Some Moms maintain the sweetest blogs (with eh hem, regular updates). You don't have to. But last week, we had an fall picnic in our own backyard followed by Pip and Sprout making homemade Halloween decorations in front of a roaring fire. We did that. You don't have to. Life is not really a checklist. Sometimes it's just better to go with the flow.

We are reading a number of page-turners at our house. Green Husband cannot put down Devil in the White City which details "murder and mayhem" during the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. This book came highly recommended from Green Nana, Green Husband's MIL.

Green Husband so kindly and so thoughtfully picked up Donald Hall's Unpacking the Boxes. I am just now realizing that I have quite the large collection of works by Donald Hall and his wife, Jane Kenyon, including their wonderful interview on PBS with Bill Moyers.

For those of you in the mood for an extremely moving and beautiful book meant for the tween and teen set, Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons is one of my new all time favorites.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Achoo From Here

The Wanna-Greenies are a bunch of sickos. No really...we're sick. Nothing major, thank goodness, but just various strains of coughing, sneezing, running of the noses, and just plain grossness. And those are just the people. You should see the house.

I am beginning to think about Christmas (yes, I said it). Besides an Etsy-fest I am hoping to purchase a toy kitchen for Sprout. I have delayed this purchase for some time wondering if her interest in toy kitchens was a passing fad, but it seems to be a perennial favorite. I am looking to go natural and am considering Magic Cabin's mini-kitchen or Guidecraft's non-deluxe model...any thoughts?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Wednesday Wars and Other Musings

Today, in between the raindrops and my children building precarious bridges between pieces of furniture, I finished my new favorite book, "The Wednesday Wars" by Gary Schmidt. What a beautiful, lyrical work of fiction that certainly cannot be pigeon-holed as "children's literature".

Speaking of books, I braved the Book Festival with Sprout and Pip today. The rain kept up (so it didn't come down) but was replaced by some rather muggy weather for which we were completely overdressed. For my two the Festival was more of an exercise in waiting in long lines to have a picture taken with a PBS character that they were rather frightened of, so a better time was had by all in the cool, darkened dinosaur wing of the Natural History Museum.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Season, New Blog?

Hello my friends! The bloggy bug fell by the wayside as I adjusted to my new job and many changes - all good, fortunately, but changes nonetheless.

I'm excited to be back and excited to announce that Dayna from " speaking" has won herself a copy of "Hey Stinkbug!" and "Winter Trees". Uh, don't hold your breath, Dayna. It took me a month to announce the winner but I promise it won't take me a month to get these beautiful books to you.

Happy Fall, everyone. My favorite season. Look for a few simple changes here and there.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X - A MotherTalk Review

The "reluctant reader" is a term we've been reading and hearing about a lot lately, usually referring to boys who just can't seem to get hooked on reading. Part of the solution is providing reluctant readers with books they actually want to read, rather than books we think they should be reading. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X is James Patterson's (and his co-author Michael Ledwidge) contribution to this concept of adolescent literature (although the jacket cover reads "James Patterson has written this story for readers from ten to a hundred and ten.").

When I first received a complementary copy of this book from MotherTalk, I was a little bit surprised at the cover of the book - red and black tones with an image of a solar eclipse on the front - it seemed more fitting for adult Clancy fans than for tween and teen boys. I can tell you that even as a brand spankin' new library media specialist, I know that kids do judge a book by its cover and I'm not so sure how much this one would appeal to them.

Moving from the exterior to the interior, we find the protagonist Daniel X, orphaned as a toddler, dedicated to avenging the death of his parents by taking on a number of gruesome aliens. My gut reaction to this book is that it seemed more of an outline than a finished product. It seemed sparse in places and I really did not feel attached to Daniel or particularly inspired by his mission. The nods to popular culture (PlayStation3s and Gladiator) are cute, but will become dated rather quickly. This book was a very quick read for me;I did appreciate the short chapters (often just two pages or so) and I think this will appeal to readers who get a little boost from completing smaller chunks of text rather than a feeling of slogging through long chapters.

I couldn't help but think that books such as Harry Potter and the soaring popularity of graphic novels such as American Born Chinese have shown us that reluctant readers are also drawn to complex tales with well developed characters, but I suppose even adults enjoy the occasional light fare and not all books for teens and tweens need to result in a bout of soul-searching. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X may accomplish exactly what James Patterson intended and inspire readers to read other books with similar but more richly fleshed out themes such as Sabriel or Feed.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Congratulations Clothesline Challengers!

You did it!

You were non-dryer dryers for some, all, or none (that's okay) for May, June, and July.

Some of you started at intermediate and quickly climbed to advanced.

Some of you, like me, may have had illusions of grandeur and fell from advanced to...well...lower. Tornados not withstanding.

Kelli is enjoying her peg bag courtesy of Joanie at Nini Makes.

Blue Speckled Eggs kept a very impressive running tally of her loads as did Dayna.

Green and Thrifty Mama
did not make the 50% as she had hoped, but she did use her clothesline more than she had been. Congratulations!

Some lovely pictures were posted here, here (hee, hee) and here.

A few found the cure for those crunchy towels.

Did I miss a recent clothesline-related post of yours? Let me know and I will be sure to share them in my next post...

As a thanks and congratulations to you, I have a giveaway: Leslie Evans has just released her sequel to Leaf Jumpers and I can tell you that it's a beauty. Winter Trees is also authored by Carole Gerber and her talent for explaining the complexity and individuality of each tree in rhyme is really amazing. Nothing is forced and, did I mention, the illustrations are Evans-As-Usual beautiful?

All challengers are automatically entered as I promised, but if you would like to up the ante, comment on this post, after visiting Leslie's site...tell me which children's book of hers you would also like, and, if you're the lucky winner you will also receive that book along with Winter Trees. Please comment by midnight U.S. Eastern time Wednesday, August 6th. And yes, I will ship internationally. Please remember - Blogger does not automatically tell me what email address you are writing from, so please, if your post does not reveal who you are, leave some notion of how I can contact you.

***Update: Please let me clarify as my instructions seem now rather murky. If you are listed on the sidebar you do not need to comment to enter. You only need to comment if you desire a second book from Sea Dog Press. If you are not listed on the sidebar, you may enter by commenting on this post - if you please, tell me how you are saving energy in your home - you may also put yourself in the running for a second bok by, again, visiting Sea Dog Press and letting me know which children's book is your favorite. Signed, -The Management***

Congratulations! You should be very proud of yourselves!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Yes, dear readers, I am still here - just enjoying the past week and a half of frantically getting up to speed at my new place of employment. I promise to post more later, but my latest job-related read was Because of Winn-Dixie which I read last night in just a couple of hours. If you saw the movie and did not care for it (I haven't seen the movie, so I don't know how true it is to the book), please read this gem of a book by Kate DiCamillo. It's wonderful.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Green Housekeeping

First of all, I know I said that I have given up crafting forever, but why oh why oh why can't I have enough talent to make these? The patterns are just mocking me with their cuteness. Maybe in my next life.

Second I have some catching up to do in the blogging buttons category - in both the receiving and the giving. Amanda from Yay! Pie! has presented me with a blogging button which I am happy to accept and to pass along as well. The "I Love You This Much" Award goes to three bloggy friends who always make my day (I am leaving out my favorites who Amanda already decorated - spreading the wealth):

I also received a second button from Look, Mom, Look, one of the very first of my bloggy friends. I am passing this award along to three bloggers who regularly take time to stop by and comment.

The rules of this award are: SHARE THE LOVE!!! Share this award with all those blogs out there that you love. All the people who make you smile. All those that make you laugh. All those that make your day. All those that leave uplifting comments on your blog. **All I ask, is that you include a link to this post with the award and ask your recipient to do the same**

Friday, July 18, 2008

Alphabet Summer

Slouching Mom posted her summer acrostic over at Grasshopper New Media Parents. I love acrostics, so I thought I would try my hand at creating my own based on her own "Summer with Kids" - I thought it would be fun to do mine first before reading hers to see how much our summers are similar! (If you really like acrostics, I encourage you to check out Leslie Evans' great book of summer acrostics, beautifully illustrated.) Here goes:

Acting out plays
Beach and Bay
Catching fireflies
Eating popsicles
Filling sand buckets
Hot dogs
Ice cream trucks
Juice boxes
Kiddie pools
Late bedtimes
Meeting up with the cousins
Popping bubbles
Quiet moments
Reading books about summer
Sweaty faces
Too humid!
Up and at 'Em!
Visiting grandparents
Water wings
Xtra large sunflowers
Zero worries

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Enviromom's Tricks of the (clothesline) Trade

Renee over at Enviromom has an awesome post up today, demonstrating her clothesline technique (it involves bungee cords) and giving us a live look at her clothesline in action as it was featured (along with her adorable family) on Portland-area television.

Thanks, Renee!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ah HA!

I've found you! You're already at BlogHer, aren't you?! Give my regards to San Fran and stop here for me, would you?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back Home

Greetings, Greenies!

We are back from our very first family vacation to the beach! A good time was had by all and our California Baby sunscreen was put to the test (verdict: you need to be vigilant with the baby version and hyper-reapply especially after swimming). Count this as another Summer Adventure Challenge!

You all are doing so well (read: better than I am) on your Clothesline Challenges and I have received several personal emails letting me know what a difference this Challenge has made both in utility bills and eco-friendly thinking.

Nicol writes: "I want to thank you for inspiring me to clothesline. I am also at advanced now and clothesline 99% of our laundry. My gas bill was cut by 42% in just one month. So I thank you for your challenge! :)

Kelli writes: "
Hiya Amy, I think I'm ready to bump up from "novice" to "intermediate" on your clothesline challenge!"

Amanda chattered: "So far clothesline-ing has been groovy! While it's rather rainy around here, every once in a while I get a nice sunny day so I try to wait for those to do my laundry :) and hopefully it also lands on a weekend and I can do multiple loads."

Welcome to the Circus joined late, and I neglected to add her to my sidebar in a timely fashion, and she joins us at Intermediate! Welcome, Kathleen!

Hope you all are well. I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Good bye, Andrea

One of the other things that happened on my birthday was the passing of Andrea. I donate to very few charities but one I contribute to year after year is hospice. Both my cousin, who also died of inflammatory breast cancer, and my great aunt benefited from their care, as did Andrea.

Take care, Andrea. Peace be with you.

Monday, July 7, 2008

You've got to fight...for your right...

to clooooooothesline!

This morning's NPR diversion highlighted Wei Wang's struggle to take on those anti-clothesline HOA, KWIM?

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Well, my friends, today I turn 38. So here are 38 green and not-so-green gratitudes from the past year:

:: our clotheslines, up or down
:: our worm bins, created by Green Husband, and multiplying every day
:: our chopped wood. There are benefits to limb-tearing tornados
:: our children who don't mind dirt, bugs or any mix of the two
:: Green Husband who keeps me on the green and narrow
:: our strawberry patch expanded and enlarged for next summer
:: our blueberry bush that seems to be thriving with blooms and with berries
:: Green Nana and Green Gramps who always keep me posted on the latest green news from the NYTimes
:: my new job where I'll be surrounded by two of my favorite things: books and children
:: our rain barrel, again constructed by Green Husband, for catching all that run off
:: our compost "cadillac" - our three section composter built with directions from an out of print edition of "Crockett's Victory Garden"
:: the boxes and boxes and boxes of "stuff" that I handed off to the local thrift shop
:: reusable canvas bags
:: the "high end" consignment shop near me that allows for thrifted clothing that is cute enough for work
:: the jewel toned bedspread that I found while "decluttering" - a prized possession from a trip to India
:: kiddie pools
:: our first family vacation to the beach
:: my thriving fig tree
:: old bloggers and new bloggers
:: giving up all attempts at crafting
:: Etsy
:: my new preppy look
:: a neighborhood fourth of july parade with free hot dogs and watermelon
:: my sister-in-laws: I am the luckiest in-law in the world
:: old friends (Elisabeth and Sue); new friends (Suz); and catching up friends (Allison and Angelle)
:: looking at recipes, patterns, and material
:: change
:: Johnny Cash
:: bittersweet sundays
:: dreaming of living other places
:: our own home halfway between city and country
:: japanese food
:: coffee
:: reading children's books as a job requirement
:: sea dog press
:: the sunday ny times
:: new york magazine
:: 38 years

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

New from Seadog Press - The Latest in Green Totes

Any of my regular readers are probably tired of hearing me go on and on and on ad nauseum about one of my favorite illustrators, Leslie Evans. Yeeees, she's semi-related to me and yeeees, she sends me gorgeous cards at Christmas time and even on Thanksgiving, but I think you will agree, after taking a look at her work and reading some of my reviews, that she is truly a wonderful artist.

Recently she sent me one of her latest creations and me being of the bring-my-cloth bag-where-ever-I-go type, was thrilled to receive it.

You too can order your very own Be Green, Man shopping bag directly from Leslie and when you do, tell 'er Amy sent ya.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Green Photos a Go Go

Clothesline before with peg bag from Nini Makes (no peg bags were harmed during the duration of the tornado)

Close up of said peg bag (Kelli at GohnCrazy - No, you are not GohnCrazy, you have not received your peg bag yet. Tomorrow...I promise. Carrie can vouch for me...I do mail things. I do.)

Post tornaaado.

Here as promised, many moons ago, is a photo of my dear departed clothesline shortly after the tornado. Happy Friday everyone!


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Stop Me Before I Throw Out Something Important

It really was this post on Nini Makes that got me thinking. Those words..."They only collect things they love and keep only things that are special."

So I have been on a clutter, nay, stuff purge today and I am worried. I have already made a trip to the local thrift shop to drop off three boxes. I no longer worry about trash? keep? recycle?, now my mantra is "Does this have meaning to me?".

The house is worse looking than when I began, but things always get worse before they get better...right?

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Longest Day

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Clothesline Challege: The Novices Speak

I must be honest when I tell you that I have not had a working clothesline since last Monday. Someone is clearly irked as we had yet another round of high winds, driving rains, and power outages. More limbs came down at Chez WannaGreenie knocking out my clothesline yet again.

So while we rumble out of the wreakage, what's going on at Chez Vous? Let's hear from the Novices, shall we? This means you Carrie, the Browns, kkmamakai, and Yay Pie. How goez it?

On a personal note, I am pleased as punch to finally be able to announce that I will be beginning a new job of sorts as an elementary school librarian in the fall. What are some of your favorite books from your days as a K-5er?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

This is reality

Inflammatory breast cancer took the life of my cousin almost six years ago.

Please stop by PunkRockMommy and ToddlerPlanet today.

It is difficult to absorb, but it is reality.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

To Make a Long Story Short (too late)...

Green Nana got us a subscription to the Sunday New York Times as a gift (and yes, it's more eco-friendly to read online, but not nearly as texturous, as my friends SHH would say) and this past Sunday a story on the front page of the style section pretty much jumped off the page at me.

A piece about fashionable Siggs? No. Swanky tree forts? Nah. The latest in organic cottons? Nope.

A story about New York/New Canaan resident Melissa C. Morris, who, according to the Times article is just so darn nice. And...wait for it, wait for it...she has a blog. 'Nuf said. I was all over it and yes, she does seem totally fun.

As I read through the "back issues", I found this post, which combines my love of windows into other people's worlds with a bit of green to boot.

See, this is a green-related post after all!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

To my own father, to all those who are fathers to children here and not here, to all those who wish to be fathers, and to those who wished they could have known their fathers, I offer this passage from Whitman's Leaves of Grass that Meg first called to my attention. Happy Father's Day, Dad, and thank you.

There was a child went forth every day;
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became;
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morning-glories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird,
And the Third-month lambs, and the sow’s pink-faint litter, and the mare’s foal, and the cow’s calf,
And the noisy brood of the barn-yard, or by the mire of the pond-side,
And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there—and the beautiful curious liquid,
And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads—all became part of him.

The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part of him;
Winter-grain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow corn, and the esculent roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees cover’d with blossoms, and the fruit afterward, and wood-berries, and the commonest weeds by the road;
And the old drunkard staggering home from the out-house of the tavern, whence he had lately risen,
And the school-mistress that pass’d on her way to the school,
And the friendly boys that pass’d—and the quarrelsome boys,
And the tidy and fresh-cheek’d girls—and the barefoot boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country, wherever he went.

His own parents,
He that had father’d him, and she that had conceiv’d him in her womb, and birth’d him,
They gave this child more of themselves than that;
They gave him afterward every day—they became part of him.

The mother at home, quietly placing the dishes on the supper-table;
The mother with mild words—clean her cap and gown, a wholesome odor falling off her person and clothes as she walks by;
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, anger’d, unjust;
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture—the yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsay’d—the sense of what is real—the thought if, after all, it should prove unreal,
The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time—the curious whether and how,
Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all flashes and specks?
Men and women crowding fast in the streets—if they are not flashes and specks, what are they?
The streets themselves, and the fa├žades of houses, and goods in the windows,
Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank’d wharves—the huge crossing at the ferries,
The village on the highland, seen from afar at sunset—the river between,
Shadows, aureola and mist, the light falling on roofs and gables of white or brown, three miles off,
The schooner near by, sleepily dropping down the tide—the little boat slack-tow’d astern,
The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, slapping,
The strata of color’d clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint, away solitary by itself—the spread of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon’s edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt marsh and shore mud;
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dream a Little Meme of Me

Mary Beth over at Saltandchocolate shared a cute little meme going around.

Here are the rules (stolen right from Mary Beth's blog):

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker.

The Questions:

1. What is your first name? Amy. Of course Amy Winehouse popped up. I have her album Back to Black and I sure do like her. I hope she makes it through this rough patch.

2. What is your favorite food? Lobster. And not so much the lobster, but the ritual of the lobster, the warmed butter, the eating with family and friends at a fun restaurant, and leftovers in a roll of course (if there are leftovers).

3. What high school did you go to? Watertown High School. This isn't an image of my Watertown High School, but I love it nonetheless.

4. What is your favorite color? Green, of course!

5. Who is your celebrity crush? Hugh Laurie. My favorite line of his from House: "I know you're in there. I can hear you caring."

6. Favorite drink? Mojito. Love it with fresh mint from the garden. Anything with rum and sugar cannot be bad.

7. What you want to be when you grow up? An A#1 Mom. I'm still trying.

8. Favorite dessert? Cannolis! And look, this image is named for my very favorite line from "The Godfather": "Leave the gun. Take the cannolis."

9. Dream vacation? London. I think it would be a perfect place for Green Husband and I to take the kiddies. Lots to do, so much history which I love, and easy to navigate. While we were in the UK we would visit Joanie (don't worry Joanie, we'll call first).

10. What do you love most in life? Our freedom. We take it for granted but we exercise it every day in love and in life.

11. One Word to describe you. "Funny".

12. Your flickr name. I don't have a Flickr name, but here is green gift instead.

1. Amy Winehouse_3850, 2. Fresh Lobster, 3. 1913 watertown high school, 4. Nant Ffrancon and Glyder Fawr, Wales, 5. Hugh Laurie, 6. Sunday confessional..., 7. Momma's lap, 8. Leave the gun..., 9. central london from the sky, 10. Fourth on Lake Austin, 11. Prenent un Bany. Taking a Bath., 12. Eggling in the Windowsill

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Little Too Much Green Redux

So I knew it was supposed to be hot this weekend, but *that* hot?

Green Husband, Pip, Sprout and I headed out with my SIL and her family for our first overnight camping trip with four children under five. Did I mention that it was supposed be hot? Arriving in Southern Maryland in the fog, we thought, "Now how hot can this be?" It was hot. Did I mention that?

After several hours of constant hydration and inching around the campsite, we gave up and headed for the beach, which, luckily, was only several minutes away. My children have never been to the beach. Let me just say...there was crying when we had to leave the beach. Always a good sign. My SIL and I tried to figure out what was wrong with the beach - meaning, there was no traffic on the way there, there was plenty of parking, the beach was filled with pleasant people all enjoying the Bay, there was an ice cream shop a street over from the boardwalk, and the town seemed adorable. Why? Why no one at this beach? Let's just keep this beach a little secret between you and me, eh?

Heading back to the hell, er, delight, that was our campsite we sweated around until about 7:00 when we were treated to such a spectacular show of cloud to cloud lightening that we decided to enjoy the rest of the show from inside the safety of our trucks. I have never struck a camp so quickly. I say, better the camp than me. We rode home through one of the worst lightening storms I have ever been in, complete with downed tree across the highway.

Today we are drying clothes on the line and using those "points" to run our air conditioning.

Corinne, count this trip as summer adventure and challenge! :)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Little Too Much Green

Brief update: Thankfully my family and my home are safe and sound after yesterday's tornado activity. Clothesline...not so much. Pictures forthcoming.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

We Have a Winner!

I blazed new territory and used the integer generator at who should it pick to win the wonderful peg bag handmade by Joan over at Nini Makes?

Kelli at Gohn Crazy! Visit Kelli's lovely post about her efforts to line dry.

Congratulations, Kelli! Please contact me with your mailing address and I will ship the peg bag off to you. As Carrie can tell you, I have some sort of aversion to the post office, but I will get both things off in the post this Thursday.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I've Been Meme'd

Mary Beth over at SaltandChocolate has tagged me for a quirky meme. No, really, it's a meme where I tell you six quirky things about myself. Actually, they are supposed to be six unspectacular quirks - as opposed to all my spectacular quirks - so here goes:
  • I cannot do anything in my kitchen, including make coffee, until the dishes are done and the sink is clean. Sometimes I go without coffee.
  • I am a Johnny and June Carter Cash fan. This is why Sprout and Pip can both sing the words to "Jackson".
  • I Heart New York Magazine.
  • According to my husband, I parent and converse in rooms where the people I am conversing to or parenting are not.
  • I quite frequently lose checks. Unfortunately, they are incoming checks - not outgoing ones.
  • I am an only child. 'Nuf said.
There are six Wanna Greenies (or not) who must get their quirks on (their blogs). Consider yourself tagged: Jennifer at Big Binder, Ames at Yay! Pie!, Dayna at Speaking, Susie at SusieJ, and Crystal at My Longest Year.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge 2008 Bloggy Giveaway!

Okay, first of all...apologies for the delay. We are painting Sprout's room (using EcoSpec which I highly recommend) - therefore no Internet access. Don't ask.

Second, my clothesline collapsed. COLLAPSED, dear friends, collapsed. It was the retractable clothesline that we have in our backyard, and thankfully Green Husband was able to fix it and he set up a second clothesline while he was at it. This weekend we are doing beautifully about about 90%, but I will admit that last week, during the rains, I probably only made it about 30%. So much wet little room. Did you check out Amalia's comments? She drys 100% of her clothes on a line from April through October. Fear of a major house fire is one motivating factor.

By now you're saying to yourself...get on with it, woman! Okay. The details on Gift of Green's first Clothesline Challenge 2008 giveaway. If you haven't already guessed, the prize is a beautiful peg bag handmade by the wonderful woman behind Nini Makes. Joanie sent two of these darling oil cloth peg bags: one that I could selfishly keep for myself (and I have used it ever day since its receipt) and the other to give away. Wasn't that absolutely lovely of her? Joanie also sent me an issue of The Green Parent which is such a wonderful magazine straight out of the UK (where Joanie lives). You should see some of the amazing little trinkets, fun shops, and wonderful websites this magazine features. My wish list increased exponentially after reading it (so much for anti-consumerism). This issue also featured a wonderful article, written by Joanie herself, on creating magnetic number and letter boards - adorable! Thank you, Joanie!

To enter this giveaway, you must join the challenge by indicating your line level in the comments. You will be added to the sidebar, and for those of you who are already listed on the sidebar, you are already entered. You need not comment again (unless you want to comment on how adorable the peg bag is...). Please leave your comment by midnight (Eastern U.S. time), Sunday, June 1st. And don't worry - I cannot guarantee that I will get your name onto the sidebar the same day you comment, but I know when you've left a comment and I will be sure you are added by the deadline. One winner will be picked randomly from those who have joined the challenge. And yes...I will ship internationally.

Pictures of my peg bag are forthcoming. We are painting so therefore no ability to upload pictures. Don't ask.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The First (So I Suppose There Will Be Others) Clothesline Challenge Giveaway!!

OMG! The first Clothesline Challenge giveaway.

I have the item in my hot little hands and I cannot wait to send this adorable prize jetting off to some lucky winner.

Need a hint? Try here and here.

And stay tuned for the entry deadline (although if you've already signed up for the Challenge with your Line Level, you're already entered) and the big reveal.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Hope Still Lives

"And may it be said of us, both in dark passages and in bright days, in the words of Tennyson that my brothers quoted and loved, and that have special meaning for me now:

I am a part of all that I have met
To [Tho] much is taken, much abides
That which we are, we are --
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end.

For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

~ Senator Ted Kennedy, 1980

Best wishes, Senator, from a former Bay Stater

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Anon! Five Green Outings With Kids in Northern Virginia

Anon, anon, hey nonny, nonny.

It has been a while since I've done a top ten (or in this case, top five) list and Anonymous suggested a nice topic in the comments section of my last post: green kid-friendly excursions for those of us in Northern Virginia. So let's take a break from the clothesline chit-chat and talk about...

Five Green Kid-Friendly Excursions in Northern Virginia

1) When you say lock, I think key. When you say high, I think low. When your say goodbye, I say...oh, nevermind. But when you say green, I think outdoors. If you are truly in the North of Virginia (I'm thinking you...Arlingtonians) than you must check out these Arlington Walkabouts. This one is even wheelchair-accessible and includes stops for food to give those little ones a boost. So get walking before the weather gets to muggy to do so.

2) Last year I wrote about the spray parks in Arlington and I waxed poetic about how eco-friendly they are because they recirculate the water they use. Now I'm not so certain about that. Is it cheating if I list our two favorite spots with a "to be continued" caveat? And let me also warn you..."One of these parks doesn't have a restroom...tell me...can you guess which one? Before my song is done."

3) The Claude Moore Colonial Farm should be paying me a commission based on the number of folks I've sent their way. I wrote about it way back when I was still blogging for DC Metro Moms, and it remains one of our most favorite summer destinations. Think you're having problems with the clothesline challenge? Try a washing machine challenge...or toilet challenge...or central heating challenge for that matter.

4) Rosebud! Rosebud! Er...wait! I meant Greenspring!, Greenspring! Doris Frances Gurney wrote "The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth, One is nearer God's heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth." The same could be said for nearer a child's heart and Greenspring will give you ample opportunity to let them run free over the great lawn, the wooded paths and the children's garden (currently being renovated but picnic-friendly nonetheless).

5) Okay...I'm cheating again here because I've never done this before but it just looks so frickin' fun! Letterboxing! In Virginia! Learn it, live it, love it (I'm guessing)...but also kind of be safe and if some of these instructions are a bit dated there may be a tad bit of disappointment involved. Nonetheless nothing can be better than finding treasures hidden among the roots and shoots.

What's your favorite NOVA eco-friendly activity with kids?

On a side note, I must be getting old because quotes like these are starting to make me tear up... "The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow, For children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow. So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep. I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

That Hum You're Hearing

is the sound of the dryer going. Yes, the rains have come - have been around for several days now - and although it's great for our vegetable garden it's not so great for the Clothesline Challenge. After a week of 100% line dried clothing, today we are 50%. Half in the dryer and half hung from every available skirt hanger and shower curtain rod available.

I am so excited that so many of you have already signed up - I do have some fun giveaways coming up and those of you who are listed along with your Line Level are automatically entered!

If you are in need of some inspiration, or at least some good reading, about clotheslines, here are a few links for your enjoyment:

If your are one of those who live in an area where clothelines are banned, you'll enjoy Amy Quinton's NPR piece from 2007.

An inspiring ode to the clothesline from Green Bean Dreams.

And for those of you who live where smog and pollen dampen your enthusiasm for outdoor clotheslines, zoinks!, look at these fun alternatives on TreeHugger. Hey, I could probably use at least one of those systems now that April showers have turned into May...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bloggy Button Code

My gosh, you have all forced me to become a coding genius (NOT!)... Link away!

Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge

[a href=""][img src="" alt="Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge"][/a]

(Replace these [ ] with these < > to make the button appear.)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge 2008 Bloggy Button!

Thanks to my local friend Sue, who designed the button, and my bloggy friend Dayna, who resized the button, Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge is now off and running with a real, honest to goodness button for your blog!

This past weekend was the perfect weather for line drying here in Plant Hardiness Zone Seven. Although my poor, dear husband who was only trying to help: he comes bounding downstairs only to have me snap, "Is that the dryer? Did you just turn on the dryer?" I think I may need to relax a little. Anyway - so far 100% CRP-dry: a combination of outdoor line, some children's clothing on hanger hung from the shower curtain rod, and a few odds and ends draped over this and that has kept us honest so far. We shall see...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Kashi's Thin Crust Pizza - T'um's Up!

{Today I washed one load of laundry and line dried one load of laundry = 100% line dried laundry today! (But the rains are coming!) It's never too late to join Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge 2008!}

I have always been a fan of Kashi products and was eating them way before, by some miracle, Kashi contacted me about taste-testing their new thin crust pizza. While it's not so new anymore (sorry, Kashi) I wanted to let you all know that this family gave Kashi Thin Crust pizzas the T'um's Up Award! :)

Kashi sent to me, free of charge (full disclosure here), their three thin crust pizzas to try. The mushroom trio and spinach and the roasted vegetable were quite yummy and did not suffer from that thin crust "snap" that makes you feel like you've just bit into a stale tortilla. I must be frank when I write that these pizzas (meaning the toppings) were a bit too "different" for my pre-schoolers. They are pepperoni lovers on "original" crust kind of kids - but the adults gobbled them up. One odd thing about the very fresh tasting vegetable toppings - they seemed to be distributed a bit unevenly - some slices had no toppings while other had mucho. Perhaps their topping distributing machine was on the fritz or perhaps the veggies shifted in transport? Who knows - they were easily redistributed once the pizzas were cooked, but that's one little area that might need a bit of tweeking.

Overall, a T'um's Up for Kashi's thin crust pizza!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge 2008!

Oh my bloggy friends, it is SO good to be back.

***Update - The Bloggy Button is here!! Steal away!***

While I am still busy finishing up my young adult literature class and still working away on a new writing project, that crunch time feeling is less so, and so my bloggy break has come to an end!

Well, for all those of you who have been waiting on(clothes)pins and needles, today I am announcing the start of Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge 2008!! One of my oldest and dearest friends, Sue, has designed an adorable bloggy button for your site - as soon as I can figure out how to bleepin' resize it I will add it to my sidebar for you to steal.

The Clothesline Challenge will run for three months: May, June and July. And your attention please! Your clothesline need not be a traditional line hung between posts in your backyard! You may use your shower curtain rod, your banister, your apartment balcony.

There are three Line Levels: Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced. Chose your Line Level based on what you think you can accomplish over the next three months.

Novice: Using a clothesline (or clothesline-related product) gives you the chills. You have bad memories of a towel burn you got from a crunchy sun-dried towel. You'll give it a try, pledging to dry 10% of your wet laundry (1 item out of ten per load or one load per ten loads) on a clothesline or CRP.

Intermediate: You've been itching to formalize your clothesline (or CRP) and here's your chance. You want to rig up a better system, whatever that may be, and see how much you can save on your energy bills by cutting out the dryer. You pledge to dry 50% (5 out of ten items per load or 5 loads out of ten loads) for the duration on a clotheslines or CRP.

Advanced: Crunchy towels don't scare you! In fact, bring them on! Crunch builds character! In fact, you are running out of space to hang all of your fine and not-so-fine washables. You pledge to dry 90% (9 out of ten items per load or 9 loads out of 10 loads) for the duration on a clothesline or CRP.

To sign up for the challenge, leave a comment stating your Line Level and the type(s) of clothesline(s) you have (just out of pure curiosity on my part). I will post a list of participants on my sidebar linking to your blog (or just your first name and state - whatever you prefer).

Caveats? Can't think of any at the moment. There will be some fun clothesline-related giveaways and lots of links to help you on your non-dryer journey. Stay tuned for more posts related to Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge 2008!!

Thanks for visiting! It's so nice to hear from you again!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bit o' Bloggy Break

Due to the final stretch of my class, a writing project, and the usual demands of Springtime, I will be taking a temporary blogging break until May 1st.

Coming attactions:

JOIN! Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge 2008!

LEARN! How I am fairing as a Compacting Mama (hint: Coffee is my weakness)

ENTER! For a chance to win a copy of the Holistic Moms Network new cookbook!

READ! How I taste-tested yummy pizzas sent to me by a company I love: Kashi! (It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it!)

WATCH! As I post actual pictures of myself wearing entirely thrifted outfits!

COMMENT! from now until then on how you are and what you're doing! I want to know!

Until May 1st!

~ Amy

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

That Bicycle I've Been Promising You...

Thanks to a head's up from Green Gramps, Transplanting Me, Anglophile Football Fanatic, and Blessed with 4 no longer have to worry about that bicycle *only* built for four.

As Green Gramps 'ku'd:

To save on gas, Green
Schwinn is not your best bike bet.
Conference moves me

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Road Map to Holland - A Mother Talk Review

Whether you have a child with Down syndrome or not, read this book...

If you have ever battled the instinct to flee - to run from your family and from the mess you think you have created, read this book...

If you have ever been stunned into silence and vowed next time you will know exactly the right way to respond, read this book...

If you need to be soothed by descriptions of the natural world, read this book...

If you have ever needed to forgive yourself, read this book...

We have all had experiences that are worthy of writing about and we do on on blogs, in our own private journals, maybe a short story later stuffed in a filing cabinet, a poem, a 5-7-5 haiku. Jennifer Graf Groneberg's new book "Road Map to Holland" is one of those rare books where the writer has both a story to tell and the talent for telling it.

Way back in September of 2007 I blogged about the lack of children with Down syndrome in the popular media and highlighted a story written by Groneberg in BabyTalk magazine. In Road Map to Holland: How I Found My Way Through My Son's First Two Years With Down Syndrome Groneberg deftly weaves the story of her family (older brother Carter and his younger twin brothers Avery and Bennett, her husband Tom) into a book that also educates; subtlety letting the reader know what Down Syndrome is all about, translating the alphabet soup of medical acronyms, and touching on the books, websites, and guides that serve as her own personal road map.

Her descriptions of the NICU, the struggles to breastfeed, the trips to and from the hospital, never feeling settled there or at home all rang true to me - Pip only spent 9 days there, but many of Groneberg's feelings mirrored my own. Some of the most moving parts of the book are her descriptions of moments of release: letting go, acceptance in increments, life going on.

Finally, helpful chapter notes, a list of resources and a glossary add to this love letter to her own family. I recommend this book for public libraries, hospital libraries, and consumer health libraries, wherever they may be located. This book would also make an excellent choice for a health care professionals' or medical students' book group.

Learn more at the National Down Syndrome Congress or the National Down Syndrome Society.

This review brought to you in partnership with MotherTalk.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Haiku Friday: Gas is $3.54 a Gallon

Dear Schwinn: Please send me
a bicycle built for four.
Gas prices are up.

Congratulations to Carrie of It Matters to This One! She is the winner of Spring: An Alphabet Acrostic by Sea Dog Press owner and operator Leslie Evans!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Today's the (Gulp) Day for Compacting!

Intergalactic Rose and I are taking the two month plunge together: we have both decided to join Mamas on the Compact for two months of not buying anything new. So here pledge for the next two months:

Beginning April 1st, 2008, I pledge not to buy anything new. The purpose of this pledge is to save money, to learn to be satisfied with the possessions I already own (and to take care of things I do own so that they last longer), and to distinguish between what I "Want" and what I "Need".

Strategies for avoiding the "Wanna-haves" include not browsing on shopping websites, flipping quickly through the pages of my magazines that extoll the next best green thing to buy, rewarding myself with several trips to the thrift shops, and reviewing my bank account balance!

Here are my exceptions (with forbiddens noted) for the months of April and May:

Food (coffee shop coffees, restaurants, buying lunch at work, and "energy bars" are strictly forbidden)
Medicine & Doctor's Visits
Feminine Hygiene Products (I am really, really sorry all of you Diva Cup fans)
April birthday gift for Great Grams
Anniversary Present for Green Husband (must not be a "thing" however - can be something like admission to the butterfly exhibit - if I were to do that.)
New shoes for the children (I'm sorry - unless they are used snow boots or dress shoes, I don't do "used" shoes. They mold to the wearer's feet over time and basically become customized. I predict that both of my children will jump a shoe size over the next two months!)

I think that is it! Gulp! Let the Compact begin!

{This pledge is cross-posted over at Mamas on the Compact}

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Pip!

Four years ago tonight I was lying in a hospital bed, in and out of a magnesium sulfate fog, trying to prevent you from being born five weeks too soon.

Tonight I was lying in your bed, telling you that there are no monsters, rubbing your back, and snuggling up to you as you drifted off to sleep.

Tomorrow, four years ago, you decided waiting was not meant for you and there you were, all four pounds 13 ounces.

Tomorrow you will be four years old.

Happy Birthday, Pip. I can't imagine life without you.



Thursday, March 27, 2008

What Do You Allow Your Kids to Waste?

We shut off lights to make sure we don't waste electricity, we don't let the water run while we brush our teeth, and we start driving our car immediately so that we don't waste gas by letting it "warm up".

But do I "allow" some waste in our house. When it comes to the kids, you bet I do.

Here are some wasteful practices in the Wanna-Greenie household:

If my son wants to do a "project" that involves him using an entire roll of Scotch tape, I let him. He's not just pulling all off the roll for fun; in his mind he is creating something and goshdarnit, you should see some of the stuff he has taped together.

My kids enjoy water play - this means that on occasion I will fill up the kitchen sink to the brim. Sometimes twice.

I really don't consider any uneaten food "waste" per se. We compost most everything we (don't) eat. In addition, if my son "wastes" an orange during his attempts to make fresh-squeezed orange juice or if my daughter likes shelling beans instead of eating them, so be it.

How do you "allow" your children to waste resources?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Healthy Child Healthy World - A MotherTalk Review

There may be many mothers now who are too young to remember Meryl Streep's sincere and earnest campaign against Alar in the late 1980's. Her forward to Christopher Gavigan's book "Healthy Child Healthy World" is a fitting introduction to this new book that inspires us to create a safer, cleaner, and sustainable environment for children.

HCHW is divided into ten chapters, each focusing on a different strategies for making areas of your household and community less toxic. I loved that this book had a "handbook" feel to it. Read a chapter here or there, skip to the "burning questions", or read an "expert opinion" (the celebrity "testimonials", other than Meryl Streep's foreword, seemed too contrived for me) focusing on the areas that are most important to you at whatever stage you're at. Eventually you will refer to all of it - it's too important not too.

I would love to see a "Pocket Guide" companion to this book, one that would slip easily into your diaper bag or purse. Also, while Healthy Child Healthy World is rather child-focused, my non-Mom co-worker found the book both fascinating (She copied the "Under Sink Makeover") and discouraging ("WHAT?! No microwave popcorn!?"). More importantly it got us talking about the things we were doing, and wanted to do, exchanging ideas and experiences.

Here are my personal "top ten doable steps" that I intend to take after reading Healthy Child Healthy World.
  1. Use low or no-VOC paints for our next paint job
  2. Give seed-in-paper cards as party favors!
  3. Use phthalate-free polish on my toes (and my daughter's!) this summer
  4. I'm sticking to DEET (West Nile Virus is rampant in my area and I'm not fooling around with that) but I will stick to levels under 10% as the book suggests and still go for the other recommended anti-mosquito tricks.
  5. Purchase chunk light tuna, not albacore (smaller fish => less time to accumulate mercury)
  6. Switch to all natural, non-toxic cleaners (repeat after me: baking soda, soap, vinegar - baking soda, soap, vinegar - baking soda...)
  7. You can bet I'm trying "Volcano in the Drain" with the kids next time I have to de-gunk my disposal!
  8. Photocopy the Environmental Working Group's list of the Dirty Dozen for my wallet
  9. Buy safe sunscreen for my children this summer
  10. Find a way to help people who are just too poor and just too focused on making it day-to-day to worry about these things. Let's worry for them and help make changes so that all their options are, by default, healthy options.
For more information please visit the Healthy Child Healthy World website.

This book review brought to you by MotherTalk

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Green Updates on the Fly

Love the efforts of Work From Home Moms (WFHMs) who have lovely items displayed in their home grown (with love) shops. Jillian emailed me to let me know about hers at Paxbaby.

Her Bad Mother asks "Are Eco-Moms the new soccer moms - and does it matter?" on Blogher.

Woman's Day suggests 10 green ways to lose weight.

Green Bean extolls the power of line drying!

My bloggy friend Joan from across the pond writes:

When it's wet or snowy here in Europe, most people use an indoor clothes airer. This is what we use at the moment and a clothesline when it's warmer out.

We used to have one of these
ceiling airers (usually called "dolly maids") and these are my favourite. Most are large enough to hold a large load of laundry.

Looks like several people are already good to go for Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge 2008!

Report from New Zealand: Bloggy Friend Mary reports from a recent trip to New Zealand that it is a very eco-friendly country. "The cars are smaller, every toilet has a low flush option, every electrical outlet has its own on/off switch so that you can turn off the flow when you're not using the applicance....Oh, and you can't find foods containing high fructose corn syrup if your life depended on it; it just doesn't exist there in foods." As Mary says, Woot!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Green Musings

Jinkies, we have a lot of catching up to do!

It just seems that with the coming of spring the opportunities for getting into the green of things are endless!

April 1st is right around the corner and that means I will be turning over a new leaf (for two months, anyway). I will be joining Mamas on the Compact where I pledge to eliminate the purchase of new items. Gulp. Anyone care to join me?

Have you heard the buzzzzzzzzz about "The Great Sunflower Project" out of San Francisco State University? My good friend Lakshmi alerted me to this site where participants can help researchers achieve their goal of increasing our understanding of where bees are doing poorly and how the pollination of our garden and wild plants are being affected.

Say project leaders: "We're hoping you will join us by planting sunflowers in your garden. Community, demonstration, and school gardens are invited to participate. We'll send you some free native sunflower (Helianthus annuus) seed and twice a month, we'd like you to time how long it takes for 5 bees to visit one flower on that sunflower. This information will give us an index of pollination that we can compare across the United States."

Win some gardening goodies from the National Gardening Association when you enter their When You Garden You Grow giveaway.

I have two great bloggy book give-aways coming up! Stay tuned for a chance to win a copy of the Holistic Moms Network's cookbook "Growing Healthy Families" and, just in time for Spring (or a little late), Leslie Evan's beautifully illustrated Spring acrostic book.

And finally, I am super excited to say that as my good friend Sue toils over my blog button, I am gearing up to give you details on "Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge 2008"!! The challenge will begin May 1st and I hope you'll sign on for the summer! More details coming up soon!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Getting a Visual - Chris Jordan's "Running the Numbers" Series

Green Gramps emailed me this morning with a website alert! Seattle-based artist and photographer Chris Jordan offers a glimpse of his most recent work, "Running the Numbers":

"This series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 410,000 paper cups used every fifteen minutes. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. The underlying desire is to emphasize the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming." ~Chris Jordan

Using common goods to depict staggering numbers Jordan, even in the details he has chosen of his immense works, represents everything from the number of children without health insurance to the number of plastic bags used in the United States every five seconds.

If you are living in Oberlin, check out Jordan's exhibit up close and personal at the Allen Memorial Art Museum and file a report from the field, would ya?


And then there's this little article in the L.A. Times from March 14th: "Popular 'green' products test positive for toxicant".

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ten Green Reasons to Love L.A.

For some reason, about this time of year, when winter is grating on my nerves just a leeeeee-tle bit, I think back to the year and a half I lived in Los Angeles and my heart just about sings (run on sentence). Why, you ask? Here are ten lovely green things I remember about L.A.:

1) The beautiful purple-blue flowers of the Jacaranda trees growing on the UCLA campus.

2) Santa Monica pier with the ferris wheel revolving like a full moon on a starry night.

3) The Gamble House, where form meets function and the sleeping porches for, well, sleeping in the night air.

4) Walking to work (yes, it's possible) and passing ripe avocados just lying on the ground for the taking.

5) The Huntington Botanical Gardens: combine with The Gamble House and make a day of it.

6) The view from Mulholland Drive.

7) Walking Santa Monica and Third Street Promenade in the early evening.

8) Manhattan Beach.

9) Walking to work and passing lemons just lying on the ground for the taking.

10) Receiving the weather report from my dad in Boston, "Flurries after dark", and knowing that L.A. will sure be a nice memory in the final chilly days of March.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Nature Hour of Power

Okay you greenies. Hold on to your beanies.

I'm a bit late in joining, but The Heart of Harmony is having a fabulous Green Hour weekly challenge based on the National Wildlife Federation and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection's campaign slogans. Head over to Ann Kroeker's blog for a quick overview to get you up to speed, then grab a bunch of great bloggy buttons...

Green Hour - Discover the Wonder of Nature

You will also need "The Handbook of Nature-Study" by Anna Botsford Comstock.

The Green Hour Challenge is actually on Week 4: "It's Coming Into Focus", but I'm hoping that it won't be too confusing to jump right in. What a fabulous resource The Heart of Harmony has created for us just in time for Spring!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Summer Garden 2008, Redux

Three things today...

First of all...was it just me or was Google down today? Don't *ever* do that to me again, Google. You're scaring me.

Second, I have the Accidental Guest Blogger today: Green Nana. Today's post is "ripped from the headlines", er, I mean, her email. Take it away, Green Nana (who, by the way, lives in plant hardiness zone 5a, I believe)! [Warning - see the kind of coded messages from her I have to decipher on a daily basis?!]

re: blog....i also got the planting season bug....but jumped the gun
up here in cold ma. did buy lettuce seeds, but the "seed starting soil" bags are not yet at home depot or lex. gardens! i did take some
cutting to see what was wrong with my bushes......needs fertilizer was
the answer! trying to find coast of me." organic soil bags i will not buy
"scotts" here is a seedling tip......use the paper egg cartons to start seedlings and then you can just plant the whole thing when the plants get big enough because the
cardboard will just disintegrate into the soil:) hugs, mom

Thanks, Green Nana: the "original" Gift of Green!

And finally, as Green Nana reminded me, it is almost time...get ready...for Clothesline 2008! Woohooo! I am thinking of some type of clothesline challenge this summer for my bloggy friends - which brings me to this: is there anyone out there who will design a Clothesline 2008 bloggy button for me? I have nothing to offer in return except credit and a link back atcha.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Summer Garden 2008!

If you are a gardener, in any shape or form, and listened to the Kojo Nnamdi show yesterday on WAMU, you are already in a panic. MARCH IS CRITICAL!! (Yes, I'm yelling). I'd never heard of Adrian Higgins but just the way he said "de rigour" when describing fig tree prep got me all in a tizzy. Higgins also talked about a new book by Jeff Gillman that separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to organic gardening. It is on my "to-read" list. Holly Shimizu of the U.S. Botanic Gardens brought some wonderful things for listeners to smell - wish I could found out what they were without purchasing a transcript. They were all lovely plants with names I can't remember as I was too busy making a right hand turn from the far left hand lane.


Carrie has posted an update on SaltandChocolate.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


We don't pray at bedtime in our house, but last night as I tucked Sprout into bed he said, "I love my mommy. I love my daddy. I love [aka Pip]. I love [daycare provider] L. I love Bella [cat one]. I love Cinderalla [cat two]. I love my family. I love my bed. I love my house. I love my pillows." If that is not a prayer of thanks and gratitude, I don't know what is.

Lately I had been consumed by the Wanna-Haves, not the Wanna-Greenies. I think part of it comes from living in such an affluent area and having [seemingly] affluent friends. They've never made me feel inferior, of course! That's not what I mean. But in subtle ways I know that we are living slightly below their income level! I also had been suffering from a bad case of the dreaded Grass is Always Greener syndrome. I work part-time; I want to work more part-time. I live in this city; I want to live in that city. I want to get a new job; I want to be a SAHM. I painted the living room Beeswax; I want to paint it Celery. And on and on and on. I am, however, pleased to announce that I have never wished for different children or for a different husband. ;)

I speak about the Wanna-Haves and the GIAG in the past tense because lately these thoughts have almost entirely disappeared. Don't get me wrong - I still oogle over the Ikea catalog and the thought of complete and total SAHM-dom, health insurance be damned, does flicker across my brain, but I have spent a peaceful weekend, if not one marked by sadness, enjoying what I have been given.

Here are a few links that have inspired me this past week.

Sara Janssen's photo sets that show you don't have to have a lot of space, things, or money to make a beautiful home.

A beautiful traditional Swedish song, Uti Vaar Hage that I first learned about by reading Heart's Delight by Per Nilsson.

As always, my favorite poem "Locking Yourself Out, Then Trying to Get Back In" by Raymond Carver.

And finally, Mary Beth at Salt and Chocolate, who is suffering along with her son, who inspires me by being such a wonderful mother. Mary Beth, even in these hard times, as my mother says, "Treat yourself good". And to her friend Carrie, who will no doubt provide any ounce of solace that a person can offer at a time like this.

Games You Don't Want to Know About

Things you don't want to hear early one Sunday morning.

Sprout: "Mom! Come here! Come see this game I'm playing!"

Me: "Sure! I'm coming! What's it called?"

Sprout: "Throw the bean."

Really he was being inaccurate. It's Throw the BeanS. Plural.