Sunday, August 31, 2008

Holy Compost, Batman!

If I had money THIS is what I would buy. A composter that you just plug in? You can compost kitty litter???!!!! No more yuck in the backyard?! I am sold – why have I not heard of this before? Apparently it was on Oprah's Earth Day special - but seeing as I work for a living I didn't see the show.

It doesn't really get much better than this. A machine that you put your waste into and out comes nice yummy compost without the nasty things you get in the backyard compost bin (ours at least). The only killer is the price, but if you buy one of the neat tumbler things it's $200 bucks right there. Just another hundred and you got the base model of the NatureMill. The Pet-Friendly version is $399, but I think it's worth it. We have just one cat and I hate putting all that litter in the trash - it easily doubles our weight from the regular trash bag. And bonus - if you have two friends that want one too (any model) you can get a discount if you let them know you're together. (see website for more details)

I think I know what is going on my Christmas list. Oh, Santa…

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I've been using vinegar as a general purpose cleaner for a while and have even tried making my own dishwashing detergent. Not so successful with that last one. The stuff doesn't seem to want to rinse off of my dishes.

But, I can claim success with making my own laundry detergent! Woohoo! I've had the ingredients for a while, but was pretty intimidated and worried that it wouldn't work – although that shouldn't have made me not do it; the worst that could really happen is that I'd have to rinse the washer out a few times and rewash the clothes.

Anyway, I stumbled upon this site, where she (I'm assuming) had 10 different recipes for laundry detergent. I've seen several, but the powdered ones all call for using Fels Naptha laundry soap. If you look at the ingredients it's essentially oil in bar form, it's made up of mostly petroleum products – not what I would call 'green'. So, I bought Dr. Bronner's Castile soap and then proceeded to not make the detergent. However, on this site, it gave the recipe for powdered detergent calling for Fels Naptha, but THEN said you could try whatever soap you wanted! The heavens parted.

So yesterday I made some laundry detergent, my recipe is below. It didn't take very long at all, about 20 mins, including time to take these pictures. I spent the most time grating the soap using my micro planer, but if you have a decent food processor you could use that. I then mixed up the rest of the ingredients and - tada - Laundry Detergent.

My Laundry Detergent recipe:

1 bar pure castile soap, finely grated
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
½ cup powdered oxygen bleach – chlorine-free
20-30 drops lemon essential oil

I'll let you know how it goes...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Saw the Unforseen

I posted about this documentary a couple of times and now I've finally seen it. We watched it earlier this month on the Sundance channel. It was interesting. It is about the real estate development of Barton Springs in Austin. But, it doesn't focus on only the development's environmental effects, but also the way changing views and laws effect people and their livelihoods. Don't get me wrong - in the end it's the environmentalists who are the heroes and are shown to be correct. They have video of someone swimming underwater in the 70's (I'm assuming by the bathing suit style) and then current underwater video and the difference in water clarity is striking. I do have one complaint - they go back in forth in time quite a bit and are not clear at all about what is happening when. All in all - I recommend seeing this one.If you can find it again. I'm sure it'll be on Netflix soon if not already.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our Garden

We finally got our garden planted for the late summer plantings (I say we, but it was really just Shinerman). We planted pole beans, lettuce, carrots, chives, cilantro, okra, broccoli, broccoli raab, and beets. I bought certified organic seed packets at Central Market.

I tried to talk Shinerman into planting the lettuce just a few seeds at a time so we could have successive harvesting, but he doesn't think that they'll grow very well at all. So we'll see, we might have a plethora of lettuce to share with friends and neighbors.

I think that's a big part of having a garden, sharing your bounty. I think the very nature of gardening and harvesting really requires you to share. Because you don't want all that okra or lettuce to go to waste, right? Sorry about the little tangent - I'm taking hydrocodone after getting my wisdom teeth reomoved and I'm feeling a little out of it.

Anyway, we already have some okra and pole bean sprouts! woohoo! Unfortunatly, the only way I know of cooking okra is to fry it. I'll have to do some research...

Hear are some pics of our garden.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rogue Basil

Back several months ago I bought one basil plant in a pot. It grew and Shinerman split it in two and planted in new pots. Now every once in a while I'll see rogue basil plants in the yard. There is no rhyme or reason behind their locations.

I've seen them in the middle of the yard close to nothing...hiding under the deck...

and there is now a giant one in the middle of an ant bed.
Also, when we went on vacation last month we did not get anyone to water the plants. Of course, when we got back the basil was dead - or was it? NOPE! It's back, growing right on top of the 'dead' branches. I'm telling ya - if you want to grow herbs do not hesitate! Get 'em in the ground or a pot and you won't be disappointed. We also have two 5 yr old rosemary plants that have survived our neglect and a 3 year old jumping on them. I highly recommend adding rosemary to your herb garden.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Unforeseen

If you weren't able to make it to the Angelika for this showing - I didn't either - you can see it tonight on the Sundance channel. Right after It's Not Easy Being Green. See the trailer here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

bring out the good paper plates, honey

Everytime I see one of these commercials, I get really ticked. It pretty much says "Let's trash the earth so I don't have to do the dishes" I don't really understand why you can't read your kid a story at bedtime AND do the dishes. And honestly, as old as some of these kids are in the commercials, they should be helping with the dishes anyway. The littlest man helps as much as he's able. But really - if you run out of time to get the dishes done before you're too dead tired (been there many a time), it's OK to have dishes in the sink. There is no Dish-Gestapo who will break through your windows to berate you for not having a sparkling efffin' kitchen!!

And their whole line about preventing diease through a paper cup...I'm 30-some odd-years old and have NEVER used a cup to rinse after brushing my teeth. And I'm pretty healthy, too.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do have paper plates. I have some leftover from my non-green days that we pretty much only use when we camp. We also have more enviromentally friendly plates I bought for a camping/bbq. I got them at Wal-Mart. I don't remember how much they cost, but they couldn't have been to expensive.

On another note, sorry I've been AWOL for so long! No excuse, just life. I plan to do better in the future!