Thursday, April 29, 2010
Oh sweet heaven
The honeysuckle is in bloom
I opened my front door this morning and swooned
A weak-in-the-knees, loss-of-all-brain-function (although that's becoming more common for me here in the third trimester), stop-and-smell-the-sweet-scent-of-Spring kind of swoon
The reverie lasted just until the first sneeze. Then I recommenced with sweeping great plumes of yellow pollen off the porch and sealed myself back into the house.
At least until my Claritan kicks in...
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I don't do change well. A age 5 I told my Mom I wanted to go to college at my Elementary School. So three years ago when I decided that I needed and wanted to be more Green, I knew that to be successful at all I needed to do it in teeny weeny tiny wimpy steps.
I would love to tell you that all of these changes were made altruistically for the sake of our planet, but the truth is, while environmentally conscious, I am also very, very cheap. I mean frugal. Ok, cheap. So it's just a bonus that a lot of these steps were budget decisions that just happened to be Earth-friendly, too.
If you'd like to make some changes for a greener home, here are some ideas that weren't too hard for our change-resistant family to implement and while not drastic, help me feel like we're doing our part. Look for the $ signs where greener = cheaper.
[ease:1 Hello! less laundry!]
- wash laundry in high efficiency washer and dryer [$ in the long run]
[ease:5 ok, so I know I promised small, easy steps and this is a major appliance purchase, but we needed them anyway. I promise.]
- use a Brita pitcher and Nalgene bottles instead of water bottles [$]
[ease:1 yes, you have to refill the pitcher and rinse the bottles, but not having to lug the cases of water bottles home. ever. again. makes it all worthwhile]
- use only real plates instead of paper plates and travel mugs instead of paper coffee cups [$]
[ease:3 more dish usage=more dish washage]
- buy larger containers of food instead of single serving packs to reduce waste [$]
[ease:2 it takes longer to fill a travel container for picnics and purse snacks and creates more dirty dishes, but dude. Our garbage was cut by 1/3]
- make pitchers of favorite drinks instead of single serving bottles to reduce waste [$]
[ease:2 you have to wash the pitcher, but you don't have to lug the bottles home]
- bring your own reusable grocery bags to the store
[ease: 2 only because it took me two months to remember to bring them into the store. The hidden bonus here is if your bags have long handles, sturdy bottoms and ample room, you can carry them over your shoulders and make fewer trips in from the car]
- wrap all gifts in simple, reusable paper bags to reduce waste [$]
[ease:1 with a stash of simple paper bags with handles and pretty tissue paper, we can have birthday presents wrapped in 1/6th the time, 1/5th the cost and 1/4th the swearing usually involved when I try to gift wrap. score!]
- plant a garden to reduce emissions from shipping produce and control the quality of your food [$]
[ease:3 the initial set up takes some time and money, but once your bed is in, especially if it is a raised bed and will never require tilling, then all you have to do is bring home veggie plants from the nursery every Spring and keep them watered. Plus, it's super sneaky way to teach kiddos about where their food comes from and inspire adventurous and healthy eaters, all while the kiddos just think they're playing in the dirt]
[ease:2-3 you've got to put your leaves in a bag anyway for pick up, might as well dump them in a compost bin instead. In Spring, mix in your first two mowings-worth of lawn clippings to get that green/brown balance thingy going. Even if you never touch it again, you'll end up with beautiful compost. If you turn or stir it once a while, you'll have beautiful, rich, free compost in time for Spring planting]
- leave your grass clippings on your lawn [$]
[ease:1 they will keep the soil cool and reduce the need for watering, add enough nutrients to your soil that you can skip one season's worth of fertilization ($!), keep all those bags out of the landfill and cut your mowing time in half. This is a no-brainer]
[ease:1.5 you've got to throw it in a bin anyway, the extra second to look at the bottom of the mayo jar to see if it can be recycled hardly counts. And ease goes down to 1 if your municipality provides one of these beauties:
Do we do everything we could be doing? Nope. Composting our food scraps and cloth diapering were too icky for our delicate sensibilities. We couldn't work a tankless water heater into our budget even with the tax credit and my desperation for more pantry space in the kitchen. We're not off the grid or living off the land. But we do what we can and as a result, feel like more responsible residents of this beautiful place:
Friday, April 16, 2010
photo by Brad
I've always been more of a daisy girl than a rose girl, but some time after Christmas I got it in my head that we needed a climbing rose to grace the fence we see whenever we're cooking or eating, despite the thick-enough-to-make-your-mama-a-wonky-ash-tray clay soil out in that planting bed. Lo and behold, my sweet husband has humored yet another crazy scheme! For my birthday in January, I got a voucher for my very first rose - A Don Juan climbing rose - and a coupon for an afternoon of physical labor. Score!
In honor of Don Juan's first bloom, I give you this little rose planting tutorial, via the wise council (or excellent salesmanship) of our favorite nursery, North Haven Gardens.
1) Walk into the nursery, try not to look completely helpless and gullible and ask them what you need. Buy it. Gather it in one place.
- expanded shale
- "rose mix" soil amendment
- organic rose food
3) Add a teaspoon of Super-Thrive to a bucket of water, and then soak your rose with that solution for 15 minutes
4) If your belly looks like this:
let your partner in crime (a regular old husband will do in a pinch) dig a hole twice as wide and 1.5 times as deep as the rose's current pot. Put the extracted soil in a bin.
5) Do a happy dance if you see any of these:
6) Mix equal parts of extracted soil, expanded shale, and "rose mix." Add 1 cup rose food. If you become discouraged just looking at the ornery clumps of vegetation-and-hope-suppressing clay soil, pull out the ugliest clumps for your toddler to play with.
7) Put some of your lovely new soil mix in the hole to bring the base of the rose up level with the top of the hole.
9) Thank your partner in crime.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
My newest favorite thing: The Molger stool from Ikea
And thanks to the Molger, our newest favorite past time: "washing dishes."
Once the kitchen chair the Bean had been using to "help" in the kitchen, ahem, collapsed, we decided we needed a better option and the new stool is perfect. It's even designed to repel water, and to prove it, I give you my all-time favorite thing: tiny toes.
Long live cheap, well made tools that make possible good clean fun.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
I love routine.
Routine gives place and purpose to my creative impulses.
Routine balances and soothes my chaotic mind.
Routine gives my toddler a sense of security and self assurance when she knows what to expect from her days and her parents.
Routine at its best ensures the boring stuff gets done efficiently so there is more time for the fun stuff. Routine at its worst forgets that the most important moments in childhood and life happen in the in-between moments and marches right through Serendipity and Spontaneity on it's busy way to Order and Check-List-Completion.
Children intrinsically know this, and since I have (oxymoronically) structured lots of free play into our days, the Bean is the Master of under-table-toe-gazing and sunny-spot-lounging. But while the Bean is doing the important work of childhood, I can usually be found glued to my routine of dust-bunny-wrangling and food acquisition and preparation.
To keep my routine from getting in the way of living, I try to obey three "stop lights" when they come up in my day:
- Mommy, wanna read a book?
- Mommy, wanna go outside?
- Mommy, wanna make sumpin'?
If nothing is about to ignite on the stove, we don't have an obligation in the next 17 seconds and/or we're not in a moving vehicle, I try to stop whatever really important thing it is that I'm doing and just say yes.
So while "getting something done" trumps "just being" more often than I like, here is proof that every now and then, I am capable of coming to a full and complete stop.
Our morning of "making"