Thursday, May 28, 2009

Party Planning, the green way

The littlest man's birthday is coming up. I've been thinking about what we would do for several months now. So many factors have to be considered:
  • Theme
  • Venue
  • Cost
  • Greenness
And of course it must all make my son happy, sigh...

The man finally decided on a pirate (yea! no Thomas!) theme. I toyed with having it at a local park; it would have been free, but it would have been on a first come basis. So that was an issue and the man went to a party at a gym place and got really excited about a dragon inflatable - and that pretty much sealed the deal.

I found some wicked cute invites on at AnneMadeArt. I bought a .pdf that I can print off, and I already have some postcard paper from his first birthday I can use. The .pdf includes thank you's and a coloring page. The coloring page will work great in the goody bag, especially since I'm including some of these CUTE eco-friendly crayons. One thing I really don't like about kids parties is the plastic baggie full of more plastic and candy, so I'm going to really try to avoid that trap this year. I'm making eye patches, too! I found a pattern online and bought some black felt and elastic at the store. I'll have to get started on that soon if I plan to get them all made in time! Not sure what I'll put all this in...

So decorations and tableware...Obviously we'll use cloth tablecloths, that's a pretty easy choice. But I think we'll do paper napkins. I just think it'll be more hassle than it's worth to do cloth napkins, plus that's an easy way to work in the theme.

My biggest issue right now is what plates to use. I really wanted to buy some Preserve durables, but I'm not sure if this year is the best time to spend the money. Not only would we use them at this party of course, but also anytime we need extra plates for parties. So, I'm going back and forth on this one. They would come in handy often, but perhaps more than we need to spend this month. I'll let you know what I decide :)

The littlest man hasn't decided what kind of cake or cupcakes he wants, but I already know what I'll be using to color them. India Tree has a set of primary colors you can mix to create a bunch of other colors. Since we don't buy much processed food that's not organic, we don't worry about artificial colors in our food. But take a look at your food labels, you'll be surprised at what's been colored. I bought some pickles the other day, and besides that the first ingredient was High Fructose Corn Syrup, they also included artificial coloring. I'm not sure why...

So I'm tired, it's late and I've got laundry to fold...I'm sure I'll be updating ya'll on the green party plans soon!

If you have any ideas, just let me know!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Clothesline Challenge 2009 Update

Just wanted to pop in and let you know we are a go for line drying! Shinerman fixed the clothesline by adding some braces to each post. We've already done quite a few loads. It's a good thing, we were running out of clothes! I stopped by Gift of Green's blog and there are a bunch of folks signed up for the Clothesline Challenge. You should sign up, c'mon, you know you want to - no pressure :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

And the sun shines...

The last couple of days have been gorgeous! Unfortunately, the clothesline is out of commission again. Shinerman had it fixed for a couple of loads of laundry before the rain knocked it out. We're hoping the ground will dry up enough to really fix it later this week, 2x4 braces may be in our future.

For a few months now I've been doing a knitting night with my much more crafty friends. I decided that I wanted to learn to knit and what better way to do that than with good friends and wine (or beer)? So far I've made two dishclothes, one mishap that was supposed to be a
fingerless glove, and an ACTUAL fingerless
glove. I wore it for the first time today.
Yes, it was 80 some-odd degrees outside, but inside my office it was a wintry 65 degrees. My cube neighbor was jealous of my one glove.

We also had a napkin party. My really nice friend let me use her sewing machine to make three new napkins. I'm still using the winter ones and am looking forward to a change of pace; the ones I made are really cute and spring-y. We stopped using paper towels the winter of 2007 (wow, I can't believe it's been that long!!). At first we just used dish towels at the dinner table, and that worked fine. Then I remembered that I had a bunch of napkins in the buffet and that was more socially acceptable. I must say this green choice was much easier than I thought it would be. There isn't a noticeable increase in the laundry amount. I clean any really nasty messes with old rags and either rinse them out or, if it's beyond bad, just throw it out.

You make anything lately? Do tell...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Clothesline Challenge 2009

The new clothesline challenge for this summer has begun!

We began drying our clothes outside last spring; read about the ghetto-fabness and then the sweet clothesline that followed. We've cut our electric bill by about 2o% and we no longer have to run the clothes over and over in the dryer to get them dry - so annoying.

But, with all this rain the last few weeks - the clothesline is out of commission. Not because of the rain itself, but the ground is so soaked that one of the poles started leaning like the Tower of Pisa. Shinerman pulled it out and said there was a big 'ol puddle under it. Now we have to wait until it stops raining and the ground dries to fix it. In the meantime, I think we're going to work the shower curtain and hanger action. But I did put some clothes in the dryer tonight...sigh, the eco-guilt cometh :)

But YOU should take the plunge. Gift of Green has several levels for your choosing. We are trying for Super Star, but that was before the clothesline crisis.

Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner

Tonight the littlest man asked for pancakes for dinner. I did this randomly last week and the look on his face was priceless. He was so excited. So when he asked for it tonight, I figured I can get dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow out of the way. I essentially use the buttermilk pancake recipe out of the Joy of Cooking. I love this book, I got it for the first Christmas after Shinerman and I were married from my mother-in-law. I use it so much that I rarely put it away.

I usually put vanilla extract in there, but we had some orange sections I needed to get rid of, so I decided to use those instead. It turned out well, just a hint of orange in the after taste. I think that next time I would add in some orange zest and see how that goes. When I have blueberries I add those in at the stove. If you sprinkle them on after you pour the batter in the pan, you avoid any crushing or juiciness in the batter - plus you get to decide how many you want!

The littlest man helped, of course. He's gotten much better at measuring, he doesn't fling the measuring cup up out of the canister as if it's empty, thus spilling {insert ingredient here} all over the counter. He's also able to name the ingredients, including the baking powder and baking soda.

You can use regular milk for this recipe, but I highly recommend trying the buttermilk. If you use regular milk, skip the baking soda.

Orange Pancakes
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tbl sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 tbl butter, melted
2 large eggs
3-4 tbl fresh squeezed orange juice

Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients together. To make sure the butter doesn't seize when you mix it in with the cold milk, mix in a little bit of milk in with the melted butter. This will make sure they are closer to the same temperature. Pour wet ingredients into dry, whisking until just combined - as Alton Brown says, lumps are ok!

I heat a comal (a small flat round griddle) on med-low heat sprayed with a bit of olive oil, then use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour the batter onto the pan. Cook until the top of the pancake has a few popped bubbles and then flip to cook the other side.

These are so yummy that I only have a few left over each time, the littlest man has been known to gobble down 4-5 in one sitting. I always want to have enough left over so that I can freeze some for breakfast, but usually it's only a couple left to freeze. You have a couple of options to freeze any leftover pancakes. I usually stack them, separated with wax paper and put them in a bag in the freezer. Or you can put them on a cookie sheet in your freezer, then when they are frozen just put them in a bag. You won't have any sticking together with either of these methods. I guess using wax paper creates more waste, though...