Thursday, June 26, 2008

Oh, the mounds of trash

We just had the littlest man's birthday last weekend. We had a great time at one of those indoor bounce places. I made the cupcakes and went with very minimal decorations and took home the plastic to recycle. That was about as green as we could do this year. Next year I'll try to go further, but you know, baby steps.

We only bought the man one gift, a wood and metal pot and pan set. Thank god! Because he got tons from everyone else, which is nice, but now we have to figure out where to put it all, and I already cleaned out his toy bins before the party – not enough, though.

And I want to say – Little Tykes you need to cut it with the packaging overload!! He received a turtle carrier with a bunch of 'modeling dough' - very cute by the way, but definitely not recyclable. It quite literally had a third of my kitchen table covered in plastic (not recyclable) and cardboard – all this for stuff that cannot break! I should have taken a picture. Each of the little dough mounds was in its own plastic bag INSIDE its own little canister!! Totally unnecessary, and none of this (except the cardboard) was recyclable!! UGH!!!

Tuesday Night TV, My Favorite

So, yes, I do try very hard to be at home watching TV Tuesday nights at 8pm. Come on, I don't have a TiVo and I'm lovin' me some Sundance channel The Green. I would also love to be able to see Discovery's Planet Green channel (sweet website by the way), but alas DirecTV doesn't have that one on our plan and I'm not going to pay more for just one channel.

Anyway, The Green is three hours of great greenness. They have several shows and usually an interesting documentary, as well. My favorite by far is the show It's Not Easy Being Green. It's a reality show about this family in England who moved out to the country and is trying to live completely green and off-grid. They do some really interesting things, for example they built themselves a waterwheel to create electricity for the house. As Shinerman says though, they are able to do most of the things they do because of they're location; they have a stream AND a natural spring on their land. This week, they hooked up a wind turbine to run the battery for a pump that is taking water from the spring and supplying the house with water. I'm green with envy.

Of course it's a ton of work and they have a bunch of people who come and help, including two family friends who moved in with them to join the fun. They have two pretty cute kids in college – a guy (who is literally half-naked for the majority of the show) and a girl – for those who might be interested in something of that nature. See related image below. This next week they are supposed to be killing the pigs they've been raising. Mmmm, bacon…

Speaking of interesting Green viewing items, the Angelika is showing The Unforeseen this week. It is about the real estate development of Barton Springs in Austin. The director was on KERA's THINK Wednesday morning. I hope to be able to see the film, it sounded like something that should open up some people's eyes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pick your own fruit!

Since my decision to go ahead and make some jam and freeze and/or can some fruit, I've found a great resource for farms you can visit to have a day of picking fun. While many of the early summer crops are already done, there are some late ripening blackberries and of course peaches. It'll have to wait for us until July, though. We're going camping this weekend HOT!!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Canning Commitment

I grew up eating my Nanny's plum jams (the absolute best thing to ever touch your tongue) and apple butters, but of course I never asked her how to do it or, unfortunately, make her peach cobbler. She literally had an entire closet full of things she had put up from the garden. The apples, peaches and plums came from the orchard she had – all this on two acres! I've thought about canning some things or even freezing them, but always been a bit intimidated. It looks like a lot of instructions and equipment to work with. But I've been inspired. Heather from Enviromom has been telling tales about her strawberry freezer jam, and apparently you don't even have to cook the freezer jam. YEA!! So now all I need is some extra fruit and time – neither of which I have right now. The littlest man is turning 3 this week and I've been busy trying to get his party together. But that's another post for another time.

Hmm, maybe a Saturday morning family fun outing is in our future? Yes, yes there is – I'm committing to it – I promise to let you know how it goes! Now I'd better stop writing about this – my mouth is watering!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Why does the government...

...make it so hard to eat?

I saw this post on Enviroblog about food irradiation. It talks about how the government is in progress of relaxing the labeling rules on food treated with radiation. Food treated with radiation you ask? Sure, like you taking a billion x-rays at once or perhaps walking through an open nuclear reactor - you know, like a Sunday stroll. Right now this food must be labeled with the icon below and/or "Treated with Radiation" or "Treated by Irradiation" . They are lobbying to change the label to just 'pasturized' or simply nothing at all.

A while back I heard on NPR about how mangoes from India were about to be coming into the US. Well, apparently the thing holding those mangoes back originally were fruit flies and other nasty pests. The US is planning on taking care of those pests with a little irradiation. They are also pushing the process to take care of e. coli and salmonella issues, instead of getting companies to practice good hygiene.

I've read some defense of the actions, including that the FDA studied and approved the process. Really? Because they've been so trustworthy lately.

If you choose to take some action ( I recommend doing so) click here to send a message to the FDA. Remember, they won't know you care unless you say something!

Picky Eaters beware!

Let me start with full disclosure. I was a picky eater when I was a kid and on into my twenties. I didn't start eating different things until I went on Weight Watchers and even now I'm still finding new things to eat in my food co-op share. I ate beets for the first time really last night - pretty yummy! BUT, the littlest man does not have my issues with food. He'll try anything, he doesn't always like it, but he will try it. Unlike this article, I don't credit this with my great tasting breast milk or (obviously) living in an exotic land. I credit it to the fact that we don't make him special meals and we don't have tons of junk food in the house on which to fill up. Our philosophy is that you don't have to eat whatever is on your plate, but that's all you get - there is no snacking later. So sometimes early on, he would go hungry. But he would definitely eat what was on his plate at the next meal.

What does this have to do with being green?

When you think of the things that some folks put on kids plates in an effort to get them to eat, you think of all sorts of fake foods. Boxed pasta with powdered cheese and 'chicken' nuggets? There is nothing green about those two things.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How does your house get clean?

I'm finally catching up on work and personal email after my trip to Mexico (no I didn't buy carbon offsets - I know I suck) and visited BabyCenter - it went green! Just kidding, it was just a couple of posts. But, I saw in the comments of this blog post that people are just in LOVE with bleach. I have memories growing up of a sink full of a bleach/water mixture 'cleaning' our white enamel sink. I hated having to put my hand down in that to pull the stopper - it hurt! - and I did occasionally ask my dad to do it for me. I've never liked the smell of bleach; so I've never used it in my house as a general cleaner, just in the laundry. I did, however, use a plethora of chemicals to clean our three bedroom two bath home. Scrubbing bubbles, toilet cleaner, formula ### - you name it. But several years ago - the dot com bust actually - we went through some not so fun times and one of the things I did was make my own cleaning products. So I've really been using vinegar for a while, but I have recently discovered baking soda. I now use it when I clean the bathroom; the tub, toilet and sink, and the kitchen as well. My friends joke about how we should have a soap-making party (they joke, not so much me) and I recently read about a group doing Green Cleaning parties. It's like a Tupperware or Avon party - only not earth-killing. But I'm not sure if I could justify the cost of paying for that when I could just do it myself, we'll see.

Anyway, so how do YOU clean your house? Any ideas on a decent do-it-yourself dishwasher detergent?