Friday, February 18, 2011

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me

A funny quote from Paul Pondstone, a frequent guest on NPR's, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" quiz show:

“Remember when you were considered an environmentalist when you didn’t throw junk out the car window? I sure do miss that simpler, happier time.” 

Ah, Mexico

Every once in a while I come across a small favorite thing that I have hung onto over the years, in the hopes that I find a new place for it.  A girlfriend and I went to Mexico for a sandy escape many years ago -- and I mean something like 15* years ago -- and I bought this little framed water color from an artist in our hotel lobby.   I recently found a home for it in my kitchen, and whenever I look at it, it makes me happy. 

Don't you love little one-of-a-kind items, especially when you know who made them?

*  UPDATE:  My travel friend tells me we went in 1996 or 1997.  Um, okay, so longer ago than 15 years.  I know:  I am not good with time.

Spring Peeking Out

One of my perennials was undaunted by snow and ice and is peeking out of the winter mulch.  Oh, happy day!

I hope to put down the cornmeal pre-emergent for weeds on my lawn this weekend -- my neighbor loaned me her spreader -- and I also hope to get out Grandpa's Weeder and pull the weeds out of my lawn while they are easy to see.  It's nice that they green up earlier than the lawn so you can yank them out.  I could easily spend hours weeding... it's good therapy.

Here's the link to Grandpa's Weeder -- it's a great tool that I got from a gardening friend.  Several of my neighbors borrow it throughout the year -- it's fab.

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The Rug!

Here's the new rug:

I have mixed feelings about it, but have decided to keep it. 

To assauge myself, I'll make some minor changes to the room; I'm going to stencil some dark brown (leaves?) on that tall skinny white lamp in the corner to try to draw the brown up and into the corner. 

I'll swap out some pillow covers with ones that have more chocolate brown in them. 

And I still plan to swap out that round table.  I've been wanting to switch it, because I feel like it's a little too large, but now the color is wrong too.  I could paint this one -- but gosh, I just spent several hours refinishing it and I can re-purpose it for outdoors -- so I don't want to apply paint. 

And then I think moving the rug to be further under the couch will be good too.  It's a little bit too far out into the room. 

Despite my hang ups about rugs (that's a whole other post... already the hair product post got WAY too long) it does feel really nice under my feet.  What do you think?


If you know me, you're aware -- possibly painfully aware -- of my journey of going green.  I'd puttered on the path for years, but when I turned 40 I put both feet firmly on the edge and took a big leap.  I feel as though I have come a long ways -- I have made a lot of changes that I feel good about.  I know that I cannot change the world, but I can change my little postage stamp square of it, and I can live by example. 

Many of the choices I make require very little effort on my part:  Not eating meat?  Super easy.  I think it's mean.  Recycling?  Why wouldn't you?  It's so easy today. 

In some areas, I may be green only 80% of the time: 

Organic foods and produce, for example.  Overall I buy organic, and I try to only eat/buy foods whose ingredients I can spell and identify.  I carry the "Dirty Dozen/Clean 15" ( in my wallet and you'll see me take it out for reference in the grocery store. Sometimes, though, I fall off the wagon.  Look closely and you'll probably find a box of the old favorite Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in my pantry.  Sure, the macaroni is whole wheat, but that little foil packet...

I do eat fish and eggs.  Admittedly I cannot think about either one very much or I can't do it.  And I do always buy free range, cage free, hormone free eggs.  Sometimes the carton even proclaims that the chickens are happy.  Are they?  Who knows.  It's a lot of printing on that small egg carton surface, but I want it all to be on there.  Fish, I try hard to only buy/eat wild caught, but you know, sometimes when I'm eating out and I really want fish, I purposely do not ask the waiter if it is wild caught, because farm raised fish gives me the heebie jeebies.  And over all I do believe that eating them is mean.  I know, I know, it's the cycle of life -- whatever.

And then some things are still a flat out struggle for me:  Like eating cheese.  I don't like how we get it -- the same reason that I quit eating yogurt last year (I accidentally hard part of a radio interview about the cows) but I'll just say, I love cheese.  It's creamy and good and makes everything it's paired with tastes divine.  It doesn't like me.  I don't like how we get it.  And yet?  About once every two or three weeks I still knowingly eat it.  But I pay for it with feeling gross, physically and mentally.  I'm getting more disciplined about it, but it's a battle for me.

Cleaning products?  I am 98% organic and chemical free, but every now and then that jug of bleach creeps out from the back of my cabinet.  Just a drop or two... I know it's bad, and I do honestly feel bad when I use it.  But sometimes a little bit of bleach is just what the task calls for.  What can I say?

So all of this blathering on brings me to my hair cut and color yesterday.  Hello chemicals!  I know.  And I pretty much have my stylist trained to not put product in my hair.  But last time I got my hair cut he was too fast and I was in that post-scalp massage haze, and he applied a dollop of a hair smoothing tonic.  Doh!

And sure, I liked it what it did.  Blissfully they were out of stock, so even if I had wanted some, I couldn't buy any.  Last night?  I actually asked him to put it on.  I wanted to try it one more time, to see if it really was a fab as I had recalled.  I liked it.  It didn't make a huge difference, but it did make some, but you know, you can't ever recreate at home what the stylist does in the salon.  Products or not. 

But I bought some anyway.  I was weak.  I bought into the idea of products... Then this morning came, and I showered and combed out my wet hair, and picked up the tonic.  Read the label.  Somehow I had been able to tell myself that most of the products my little local salon sells are natural.  And really, I didn't want to find out differently by actually looking closely.  But when push came to shove this morning, I read the label, and -- three types of parabens.  THREE.  I just can't do it.  And then at work I looked the product up on EWG's cosmetic list -- it's an 8 out of 10 on the hazards list -- that's categorized as a high hazard.  Here's the link:

And the amusing part?  I already have an organic de-frizzer that I use in my cabinet.  It's by Giovanni's and it's a 3 on the EWG hazard scale:   But the idea of something new suckered me in.  New must be better, right?  More must be better right?  Ack!  No!   The pretty little red tube is in my car -- to be returned on the way home today.  My house will remain paraben free... and my hair a little bit more less than perfect.  I'll blame that on "convertible hair."

Parabens, bad.
No parabens, good.

My Fabulous Spring Garden Plan

You'll recall that last night was garden planning night on my front porch.  A neighbor, some champagne, some big porch floor pillows, a slew of garden seed catalogs and my garden journal.  Ahhh, Spring.

Some of those things happened:

A neighbor - check
Floor pillows - check
Champagne - check
Fantastic weather - check
A pile of garden catalogs - check

Here's what also happened:

7 additional neighbors
A new job offer announcement (not me)
A second bottle of champagne
Support and validation
Lap dogs
Pronouncements of what a great street we live on
Story telling

It was a lovely evening.  No gardens were planned, but nobody cared.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Promote Global Worming

I ordered my Worm Farm today -- (thank you Peggy for the Christmas gift card!)

Here is a photo of one very similar to the one I ordered from Happy D Ranch:

I couldn't grab a photo of the actual one, because Happy D has their photos copyrighted.  But you get the idea. 

Here's is what will be included in my shipment:

• The NEW 4 Tray Worm Factory® 360 System in Black, Terra Cotta or Green (I got terra cotta)
• 2 lbs. of Hungry Redworms sent by US PRIORITY MAIL (It's well known that I always arrive hungry to my destinations...)

• "Exploring Profits In Worm Farming" Booklet (Yes, I'll be the neighbor selling black gold.  Guard your children -- you know they will be fascinated with the worms to begin with.)

• "The Worm Composting Cycle" (I can only presume -- hope -- that this means a brochure...)

• "Easy-Start" bedding material

• "Quick Start-up Guidelines"

• "How Worms THRIVE" fact sheet (Soon you can ask me anything you want to know)

"Why Worms CRAWL" fact sheet (You can even ask me about crawling -- Note:  I don't think this applies to humans)

• The "Common Compost Creatures" guide (Creatures?  er....)

• A "Promote Global Worming" bumper sticker (Which will likely be applied directly on the worm farm, since my car is sticker free)

• FREE Accessory Kit with thermometer, rake and scraper (Included free!  Limited time only!)

To quote more information from Happy D Ranch:

How It Works:

The Worm Factory's® stacking tray design automatically separates food scraps from finished compost. Simply fill the bottom tray with red wiggler worms, bedding and food scraps. As the worms finish digesting the food scraps, they will migrate upward into the tray above, leaving rich castings behind.

As waste is broken down, moisture filters through the system, taking nutrient-rich particles with it. This makes it possible to harvest organic liquid fertilizer right from the spigot.

In full operation, the Worm Factory® houses 10,000 to 12,000 worms. Each Worm Factory® comes with full instructions and everything you need to get started. The Worm Factory® is made in the U.S.A., constructed from high quality recycled plastic, with a limited 5 year warranty on materials and workmanship. It is very simple to assemble and is recommended for outdoor use.

Composting with worms allows you to turn kitchen scraps, paper waste and cardboard into nutrient-rich soil for your plants. The Worm Factory® 360 composting system makes the entire process quick and easy.

With a thermo siphon air flow design, the Worm Factory® 360 increases the composting speed. Now you can produce compost much faster than traditional composting methods. Master Gardeners agree, worm castings are one of the richest forms of fertilizer that you can use.

The Worm Factory® 360 can be used indoors or outdoors allowing year round production. Now composting is no longer limited to backyards. The Worm Factory® 360 is odorless making it great for apartments, kitchens, garages, porches and more.

Will I be the first of your friends to have a worm farm?  (I won't lie, I want to be your greenest friend...)  A very dear friend of mine in Minnesota has one, and she has inspired me to get one.  She is on year 4 with hers, and is utilizing all of her trays now.  (You start with just one, I think.)
Here is the Happy D Ranch website -- tons of great information!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Ahhh.  We are back in the 70's where we belong.  I am always surprised at how much happier I am when the temperatures are moderate.  I have more energy, and I am over all happier person.  As I told a friend yesterday, "I am ALIVE!  I am out from under my afghan, and out of the fetal position..."  I've dog walked every morning this week before work - yay me!

My livingroom rug finally arrived!  I need to snap a photo to post.  Of course, its arrival is generating other changes.  Shocking, really.  Yeah, I know, not really.

Every day I think, "maybe today I'll hear about my steps..." I know they are so close!  I am nervous about installation; first actually getting the 2 structures down the driveway and around the corner, and then the lining up of the steel legs with the foundations and the kitchen floor height.  Makes me want to hide in the carport and just wait until it's done.  I can't look!  But I can't not look!  I can already see it...

My gardening neighbor and I getting together for a couple of hours on my porch Thursday evening with garden catalogs and a glass of wine.  Ah, Spring garden dreaming.  Dream big or go home!  Oh, I am home.   Hmmm.  I have a pile of garden catalogs that I've received in the mail and I haven't cracked open the covers on any of them!  So fun.  We may also get her birdfeeder hung outside her kitchen window.  She's seen what a birdwatching geek I've become with my livingroom feeder, and wants to do some of her own.  It will be a little tricky -- like my kitchen window, hers is really high.  So filling it will be tricky.

And I still haven't shot my 4 minute video for the HGTV'd contest.  Have you heard about it?  HGTV is traveling around the country like Ed McMahon, knocking on doors and saying, "You've been HGTV'd!"  Honestly, if that actually happened to me, I would probably pass out from glee.  I plan to submit [text hidden to keep my spectacular idea all to myself... LOL]  I was going to submit my kitchen, but I looked at other submissions, and there were over 4000 kitchens!  I guess everyone wants their kitchen done... Cha-ching!  I have a kitchen -- I don't totally love it but it functions -- I want [yes, well, this is more hidden text].