Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Birthday, Pip!

I cannot, just cannot, believe that you are the big 5.

Learn a bit more about the very moving and very simple way that Montessori celebrates a child's birthday here. We are so fortunate to have joined in a similar celebration today.

I leave you with a poem that I have quoted before; one that has sustained our family many times before.

I'm dancing.
I'm leaping.
I'm skipping about.
I gallop.
I grin.
I giggle.
I shout.
I'm Earth's many colors.
I'm morning and night.
I'm honey on toast.
I'm funny.
I'm bright.
I'm swinging.
I'm singing.
I wiggle.
I run.
I'm a piece of the sky
in a circle of sun

--Rebecca Kai Dotlich from Lemonade Sun: And Other Summer Poems

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Get Ready! GOG Clothesline Challenge 2009!

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.

~The Great Gatsby

**Update! Get Your GOG 2009 Clothesline Challenge Bloggy Button Here! Thank you, NiniMakes!***

The 2009 Gift of Green Clothesline Challenge began May 1st!!

The Clothesline Challenge will run for four months this year: May, June, July and August. Of course, 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, or a clotheshorse, of course, of course.

There are four Line Levels this year: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Super Star. Choose your Line Level based on what you think you can accomplish over the next four 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.

And this year...Super Star Level: As IF! You don't even OWN a dryer! You dry 100% of your laundry, and you do it almost year round. De Clothes Line Chaaaa-lenge Es Fur Baaaabeees. (Use Terminator voice while reading previous sentence).

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 I promise to mail them out ON TIME; I am post officially-challenged) and lots of links to help you on your non-dryer journey.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tofu Tuesday - Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

Brought to you by...
Kaci@Ellyphant & Kelli@Gohn Crazy

Boy, I am reeeeeeally stretching it to be part of Tofu Tuesday.

But wait, seriously, can't I still get some TT love even though we purchased dinner from Subway?

I ordered an all veggie sub filled with lettuce, cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, mustard and that lovely oil they've got goin' on over there. And I must tell you, there is something about the veggie sub on that slightly stale but nonetheless wheat bun that is immensely satisfying and filling. With summer veggies percolating in my garden, I'll have to remember the true value of a veggie sub value meal.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Garden 2009 Begins

Our garden is newly roto-tilled, the clothesline is up, the adorable peg bag courtesy of Nini Makes from last year's Clothesline Challenge looks like Easter candy hanging from the line, the seeds are in (radish, carrots, lima beans, peas and lettuce), and our two beds of strawberries promise red, juicy berries in the not so distant future.

And someone needs more appropriate footwear for the garden.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The First Garden

No, I'm not talking about the Garden of Eden, I'm talking about the First Lady breaking ground for the First Garden! Yippppeeeeeee!!

I am also in the middle of Esperanza Rising and it is a beautiful book indeed. I just completed Bride to Terabithia, a book that is so deceiving in its simplicity - it is one of those books that makes you think, "Hey, I could have written that.", but really you couldn't have. Does anyone know what I mean?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tofu Tuesday - Back to Basics with Bulgur

Tofu Tuesdays
Brought to you by...
Kaci@Ellyphant & Kelli@Gohn Crazy

Tonight's meal wasn't Totally Tofu, I must confess, but we did dabble in a new grain that, much to my surprise, was a real winner. Readers, meet Bulgur. Bulgur, meet readers.

I was a little nervous about this mystical Bulgur in a box; I was afraid it was going to taste chewy or dry or eck, like kasha . But armed with a recipe from this month's Martha, Green Husband cooked it up with some organic carrots and it was quite the delish dish.

Bulgur. It's what's for dinner.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Going Green for Lent

Yesterday's Washington Post had a great article on going green for Lent! After doing a quick Google search, I found a lot of other pieces on this topic too, including one in my former hometown newspaper, The Boston Globe. I mean, look at that clothesline! Ain't it grand!

Saint Mark Presbyterian Church
in Maryland has a nice .pdf document with suggestions for an lent 40-day Carbon Fast!

And there's even this at the Evangelical Ecologist (whose slug line is "The World Isn't Ours to Mess Up" - Psalm 24:1). His blogroll is just chock full of links to like-minded blogs of all faiths.

All of this meandering let me to the website and blog of The Regeneration Project, "a religious response to global warming", a response which includes over 4000 congregations in 28 states. Is your congregation one of the 4000? What activities are happening in your neck of the woods?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cutting Back Green Spaces - Another Casualty

If you are an Arlingtonian (VA), or even a Virginian (after this Washington Post article) then you have no doubt read about the proposed closure of Gulf Branch Nature Center.

Fortunately we have a dedicated group of citizens that is using the power of 2.0 to call attention to organize against cuts like these.

My family and I have never been to GBNC, but sure enough we have spent many, many happy and delightful days at the Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean, Virginia. It was one of my top picks for green outings for kids in Northern Virginia. It's a perfect place to go to celebrate the return of spring (it re-opens April 1st from its winter break) or even in the fall, as I wrote way back when for DC Metro Moms. Did I mention that at $35 for an entire year this place is one of the Last Best Bargains?

Do you see where this is leading...?

Yes, yesterday we received the CMCF newsletter informing its members that they are losing a grant of $31,500. The write:

"We have just received a letter from Fairfax County that we are not included in this year's contributory funding. For more than 10 years CMCF has received $31,5000 each year to help pay for our educational program staff and materials...We have no idea how we can replace these funds as every other part of the Farm's funding has been affected by these grim economic times...if you have any great fundraising ideas, contact aeberly@1771.org"

You might want to show your support of CMCF by coming to their Dairy Day on Saturday, April 18th from 1-4 p.m. Have you ever wondered what curds and whey look like? Do you know how to wash butter? Help the farm wife make soft cheese and churn butter.

It seems like a long road ahead if CMCF is going to support itself on admission fees alone, but every little bit helps, wouldn't you say?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Green Groceries...

Dear bloggers, tweeters and readers...

I need your help. One of my Mini Wanna-Greenies is having a terrible problem with, well, let's just get the 4-1-1 on the Number 2, constipation. This poor little tyke has been having a terrible time and although my sweet is now under doctor's care, we have been instructed to eliminate so many things that my cutie-on-duty loves: whole milk, yogurt, rice, applesauce...you get the idea.

So, while the doctor's drugs do the dramatics, what tasty snacks, high(er) in fiber, would you recommend? I am just fresh out of creative ideas - in fact, I get pooped just thinking about it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Barefoot Books, Tofu Tuesdays, & Clothesline Clubs

I love a little alliteration.

Happy hello to Horse Medicine, winner of this weekend's bloggy book giveaway. HM, please contact me with your address and I will ship The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales out to you pronto! Thank you all for taking the time to comment. I have more bloggy book giveaways coming up, so stay tuned!

Talking Tofu, Kelli over at Gohn Crazy and Kaci of Ellyphant are teaming up to bring you Tofu Tuesday, a little opportunity to eat a little lower on the food chain. It officially starts on March 17th when you will be able to link to your Tofu Tuesday tip using Mr. Linky. And is the TT badge adorable or what?!:

Tofu Tuesdays
Brought to you by...
Kaci@Ellyphant & Kelli@Gohn Crazy

Oh, and speaking of (what, I don't know), you can bet your bottom dollar that Gift of Green will be hosting the second annual Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge. It will begin June 1, and although that sounds a long way off, it's never too early to start perusing those clothesline catalogs! Will you join us this year and exercise your right to dry!?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spring Reveal

Pip, my older, turns five this month. Five years ago we brought all four pounds, seven ounces of him home from the hospital. As the melting snow has slowly revealed the crocuses and daffodils, time has slowly revealed what Pip is able to do this Spring that he was never able to do before.

:: We went to the park yesterday and for the first time he was high up in the air on the big boy swing. How did he get there? He pumped, of course. Sniff.

:: He asked me if his Spiderman mask was washed yet, and when I told him that it just needed a few minutes in the dryer...he went upstairs and transferred the darned thing to the dryer. I only knew because he couldn't figure out how to start it. He still needs me. Barely.

:: The tree in the backyard...you know, the one where Pip needs a leg up to get to the lowest branch? No more.

:: We always called him Felix Unger and today confirmed it. He drew labels for each of his toy bins and taped them to the exterior: Transformers, Playmobils, Art Supplies. So organized.

And for some reason memories of this just bubbled up in my thoughts today. If you've read "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", you must give this one a try.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Psalm 30:5

{And don't forget to try your luck at yesterday's giveaway!}

Just in time for summer: Barefoot (Books)

I have reviewed some of the unique offerings from Barefoot Books before, but my, has it been that long?

The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales, by Dawn Casey and Anne Wilson, features illustrations created from collaged papers with brilliant acrylic backgrounds in earthy browns, vibrant chartreuse, and sky blues. The book retells seven folktales from around the globe: from the American Southwest to Bali. Accompanying each tale is background information on the country of origin and an activity to try (some are more involved than others - one requires living willow rods, while another just requires cornhusks, string and scissors). Read "The Sun Mother", a Dream story from the indigenous peoples of Australia, and then try your hand at creating a song-line drawing in the style of the Aboriginal people.

Along with A Forest of Stories, this book celebrates the essence of oral tradition as culture after culture handed stories down around the fire or under a dome of sky. A sources and acknowledgements page encourages further reading.

I would be happy to share this book, sent to me by Barefoot Books, with one lucky winner selected randomly. Simply leave a comment on this post by midnight, U.S. East Coast time, Monday, March 9th, 2009. And yes, I will ship internationally.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Mary Beth over at Salt and Chocolate wrote a little ode to her now defunct stove top espresso maker - which reminded me of my own stove top percolator I received for Christmas from Green Husband (run on sentence).

Not only does my coffee seem to stay hotter longer (than when I used my drip coffee maker), but I just realized that it's a little bit greener than my drip: no need for coffee filters! Which is very helpful at 5 in the morning when you realize you've run out. Now running out of milk is another story.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Garden Themes and Summer Dreams

Well, dear friends, thank you so much for all of your fabulous suggestions on what to plant in my little garden patch. Since I so nicely "volunteered" my fellow "volunteers", I decided I had better come up with a theme and quick. So here it is: A Garden of Gourds (Catchy. Not so much).

I got my inspiration from several places, linking both literacy and art. Know any other children's books that feature gourds as a story element? And by the way...now that I've chosen my garden theme...um...HELP!!! Anyone adept at growing gourds?

While we are on the subject of seeds, I wanted to share a project that I almost overlooked. SusieJ has a smart little badge that reminds us of the importance of sharing any bumper crops that might come our way (I know anything "bumper" other than snow is hard to imagine at this time of year!). And she is even offering a little contest to win your own very cool packet of Burpee's Money Garden seeds (I mean, aren't the graphics on the seed package adorable!). And while I'm over at Burpee...I mean, how fun is this!?

And by the way...remember my little post about "Garbage Can Gardening"? Voila! :) These are my peppers seeds, rescued straight from the trash can:

Monday, March 2, 2009

Will Try Harder

The family has been home since Tuesday, DTI (Due To Illness) and the house is rather a mess. I have not been the stellar mom that I strive to be, frantically trying to Catch Up, much to Sprout and Pip's chagrin. I may have been giving a second chance, as Major [downgraded: semi-Major] snowstorm has hit our region (hey, it is March 1st after all), and school is canceled for my wee ones. If I have off too, I Will Try Harder. I was reminded of this poem, Song for a Fifth Child from Ladies Home Journal, 1958:

Song for a Fifth Child.

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But 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.