Sunday, September 29, 2013


The urban dictionary defines a Maxxinista as a person who shops at the discount designer department store TJ Maxx, and one who finds unique and original designer items at discount prices.

Well, I am proud to say I'm a Eco-Maxxinista ;)  Recently I was delighted to find more glassware from the same company that made the recycled pitcher I'd found awhile back  When I spied the familiar packaging and pretty green hued tumblers at my local TJMaxx/Homegoods, my inner Eco-Maxxinista grinned from ear to ear, and I had to buy them.  I'm attempting to claim them as" Mom only" glassware, but unfortunately the family seems to like them as much as I do.  They are a pale green glass, a nice hefty weight, and my favorite part is the imprint, "Authentic 100% Recycled Glass."

The only drawback to being an Eco-Maxxinista is that typically TJMaxx/Homegoods only has 1 or 2 items, and sadly this was the case with these beautiful glasses.  At least the 1 package that I found contains 4 tumblers.  Of course I needed to know more about the company, and searched the internet with the few clues I could find on the plain, minimalist, eco-friendly corrugated cardboard packaging  ("made in Spain", "San Miguel," 2 recycled symbols, and "Authentic 100% Recycled Glass.").   I was able to find The Recycled Glassware Company, and found the tumblers too  But you can't beat the Maxxinista prices, so I'll be sure to peek around in the glassware section next time I'm in need of some eco-retail therapy ;)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dirt cheap

photo courtesy of
I know, it's been awhile, but did you really think you'd heard the last from me?  Come on, you know I love to dish the dirt!  Here's a riddle for you...

What do eggs shells, coffee grounds, cucumber skins, banana peels, apple cores, nut shells, and grass clippings have in common?

Well they make great organic "green" additions to the compost pile. Greens are rich in nitrogen, and are usually wet or moist.  Eliminating organic items from our trash and landfills, then turning them into "black gold" or gorgeous rich soil is a sustainable, dirt cheap way improve soil quality and feed your plants and/or lawn. 

Besides the free "greens" that often originate from the kitchen or yard clippings, you will need to layer in "browns" or carbon sources that provide energy, prevent compaction, and increase airflow.  Since browns are dryer, they help absorb moisture and decrease odors, which helps eliminate critters from visiting the compost pile.  So where do you get browns?  I'm willing to bet you have lots of "browns" that can also be saved from the trash.   Do you have a paper shredder?  If so, you can add the shredded paper to your compost.  How about newspapers, wood ash from your fire pit, dryer lint, or sawdust?  And everyone has toilet paper tubes or cardboard egg cartons that can be ripped up and added to the compost.  And most notably at this time of year, the beautiful leaves that drift to the ground need to be raked, make a wonderful addition to your compost pile.  It always makes me shake my head when I see black plastic trash bags full of leave out at the curb.  Don't they have any space to compost?  Do they not know how?  Could they take the leaves to their DPW?  The leaves should be decomposing naturally, replenishing the soil somewhere, not taking up space in a landfill encased in plastic bags.  Browns are an important part of the composting process because they slow the composting process and feed good bacteria.

Some people favor compost bins that can be purchased for big bucks, but it's not necessary to buy a
bin.  Growing up, I remember taking the compost out to the very simply constructed "bins" made from galvanized wire fencing that was fashioned into a circle and supported by green fencing posts.  Or how about constructing a "bin" out of found or free materials such as 4-5 pallets.  Simply nail or screw them together creating a square enclosure, with or without a bottom.  There are also plenty of plans on the internet.  Or if you aren't the handy sort, you can compost  "in place" if you desire.  In the past, we've had a section within our garden that was left fallow, and we composted directly in that area.  A side perk of that method was that the following summer we had a cantaloupe plant grow, and we enjoyed the melons late in the summer!    

Although taking the compost out has never been one of the favorite chores in the household, we continue to compost even during the winter months.  Deep within the compost bin, millions of micro-and macro- organisms such as good bacteria and worms are hard at work breaking down the greens and browns.  Along with the greens and browns that you supply, air and moisture are also necessary.  In our yard, the bin stays warm and steam resulting from decomposition can often be seen in the colder months.  Even if we can get the pitchfork into the bin to cover over the latest offerings, we can place shredded paper on top, or allow it to freeze until the weather warms.  The soil that has resulted over the years is wonderful rich, organic soil that we use in our vegetable and flower gardens.  

As the saying goes, you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die, so why not give composting a try?  Eliminate huge amounts of organics and paper products from your trash, enhance your soil quality and enjoy the benefits of free, new soil, and just think's dirt cheap!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

If You Give a Moose a Muffin

I think I'd get along really well with author Laura Numeroff because it's as if she knows me and is writing her books about my pick-up and organizational forays around our house. 

Just as If You Give a Moose a Muffin is the sequel to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff, over the weekend I felt like I was living the sequel to my "Mouse" day.  Luckily I didn't feel as big as a moose, but the day sort of progressed a bit like Mooses' If You Give a Moose a Muffin book.

It began pretty swishing and swiping 2 of the toilets without chemicals, but with a little leftover liquid soap (I call it swishing and swiping in honor of Flylady of who recommends to swish and swipe daily).  Bathroom number 2 got the bonus round because I also swished and swiped the sink, faucets, and counters.  Now I wish I could brag that I swish and swipe daily, but even every few days makes a huge difference.  Flylady has also made me a believer of  "soap is soap", so why use cleaning chemicals daily when you don't need to?  Using leftover soap is a great way to reduce harsh chemical use, and also use up leftover soap you don't like or use up the end of the know the one that no one wants to bother with?  Just add some water to get it all out and use it up.

After the swish and swipe, I ended up in the laundry room with the hand towels from the bathroom (you can never switch those out enough), and while I was in the laundry room, I spied some laundry to go up to Rhody's room.  Which I delivered, and decided to put away since the last batch was on his desk.  While I was putting away the clothes I noticed 3 pictures that needed hanging, soooo that lead me back to the laundry room to fetch a hammer and some hooks.  Back to the bedroom, tap tap tap, 3 pictures up and off the desk and table.  I surveyed my work and decided they looked nice.  Back to the laundry room to put away the hammer and hooks, and drop off the bag of dirty laundry from Rhody's room.  Moved laundry from washer to dryer, and put in the new load of dirty boy clothes.

While I was in the laundry room I spied my sewing machine, which reminded me that I needed to sew on some Boy Scout patches, mend a blanket, try to take in some pants, and fix a book cover.  I relocated the machine, the thread and the items to work on to the dining room table so that I could spread out.  I have NO idea how I distracted myself from the sewing, but I think I made a conscious decision to sew in the evening when it's cooler because the blanket to repair was unappealing in the heat.  At any rate, somehow, some way I ended up watching a few interesting minutes of TV with Rhody who had on the Science/Discovery channel about how things are made.  And while I was watching TV I noticed one of the kid's laptops was not put away neatly.  So I investigated why that might be and discovered that there wasn't really room where the laptop was supposed to be.  Soooo, I took a moment to survey the TV cabinet, and decided that the barely accessible, rarely used CDs (everyone has moved to digital music) could be moved to the newly cleaned out bookcase where they'd be much more visible and possibly more used (remember the episode of  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie the other day?)  With the relocation of the CDs completed, there was plenty of room for the laptop where it was supposed to be.  I digressed a bit more and labeled the power supplies, and attached velcro devices to the cords to keep them wrapped neatly instead of the wild tangle of cords that seems to develop when I'm not looking. Special bonus:  with things nice and neat in the TV cabinet, some photo albums fit in just beautifully!

While arranging the photo albums I discovered 2 more books that were in need of a new home...which of course lead me to my computer, and then to  If you haven't checked it out yet, I highly recommend it!  It's a great way to get rid of what you want, and get something you do need or want in return...and the best part is that each party keeps something unused, unwanted, and unloved out of the landfill.

A previous episode of me reorganizing and deleting resulted in a large pile of 2 blankets, comforters, and a quilt.  Somehow I managed to make it to the playroom today, and bagged those up for a friend who will get them to her church, thereby helping me to de-clutter, and get the items to some folks in need.  The blanket de-cluttering was long overdue since the armoire they'd been housed in was SO jammed packed with sheets, pillows, and blankets for sleepovers that after a night of snacks, giggling, and sleep-not, the tired crew never seemed to be able to put things away neatly the following morning.  Now there is no excuse for sleepheads ;)

Is anyone hungry for a muffin?  Maybe I should head to the kitchen and see if we have something muffin-ish to eat...but wait, what was I supposed to be doing next?  I think hubby is beginning to think that I suffer from cleaning ADD, which is entirely possible, but as long as I'm productively decluttering, donating, and cleaning as I go does it really matter?  Stay tuned...I'm sure there will be a sequel to my If You Give a Moose a Muffin episode of green decluttering. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Have you ever read the book  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff?  It's one of my favorite kid books because I can relate to it so much! Read on to see why...

Following a recent teenage get together at our house, I was putting away some serving trays and bowls in the dining room buffet, but the drawers were cramped.  Soooo, I took the opportunity to clean out the drawer to make things fit neatly; the things that we rarely use, or never use, went into a donation box, which of course is much greener than the dumpster.  I repeated the process for the remainder of the drawers....which meant recycling some mostly spent birthday and scented candles into firestarters.  Which lead me to the laundry room to my lint collection basket, and recycled cardboard egg cartons, which I stopped to fill with the lint and candle pieces.  Wah-la, firestarters!

While I was in the laundry room, I spied a bunch of cook books that I had placed on top of the dryer...I had moved these cookbooks from cabinet above the microwave because there were too many crammed into the hard to reach cabinet.  The kids could never fit the cookbooks back in the cabinet because they can't reach, and because there were too.  Soo, to resolve that problem, I culled through the cookbooks so they'd fit neatly in the cabinet, and added a few to the growing donation pile.  I was wracking my brain to figure out a new location for some of hubby's specialty cookbooks.

As I was trying to figure out a good home for the overflow cookbooks, it dawned on me that there were a few of hubby's cookbooks on another nearby bookshelf.  So, in typical If You Give a Mouse a Cookie fashion, I went to the bookcase to see if the overflow cook books would fit.  Well, you may have guessed that this lead me to sort through the dusty, kid's books that have been taking up space on the bookshelf (my kids have outgrown the books).  Many of the kid books are books I cherish and want to keep for future grandchildren.  So, during the course of the day I went through the books with each of the kids to see if there were any they also considered keepers.  This process resulted in 3 piles of books: books to share with our cousins; the keepers that needed to be moved to a new location; and a pile of books to swap.  If you haven't heard of, you should check it out.  It's a site to swap books, housewares, and much more with others who want to keep things out of the landfill, but receive something useful in return.

So the kids' books were cleared out, and the overflow cookbooks now filled that space...but you guessed it...this little Mouse now had to find a home for the kid's books that we wanted to keep, which lead me upstairs to a bookshelf with a collection of kid books, including the Little House on the Prairie series, a bunch of picture books, and classics.  Sooo, to fit this batch of keepers, I had to delete an equal amount of books that were already shelved there.  Which lead me to add to the 2 remaining piles;  books for cousins, and books. 

Since the downstairs bookshelves were being reorganized, I figured we should continue with the second we cleaned out the collection of movies, deleted some, and vacuumed the shelves.  Some of the movies went to the donate pile, some of the movies went to the pile, and the rest were neatly replaced in the shelves. 

But wait, there’s more!  My Mouse experience wasn't over just yet.  I headed back to the laundry room.  There were still some bowls and things to fit back into the laundry room pantry…which was a mess.  I stood staring at it for a minute, and a light bulb went off that I might be able to consolidate all baking pans, pie plates, cake pans, specialty shape cake pans, etc. under one of the large cabinets in the laundry room.  It took me awhile to figure out what to keep, and how to best organize the odd shaped pans such as bundt pan, snowflake and heart shaped pans, special muffin tins, etc.  As I took items from the pantry, and stacked them neatly in the cabinet, I realized that there was still another weird shaped pan...and then I found another half sheet cake pan.  I culled a bunch of cookie cutters that we no longer use and added them to the pile for our cousins, creating space for the pans.  Removing the baking pans from the pantry created space for the food processor, potato slicer, the Pampered Chef mandolin slicer, crock pot, large bowls, etc all on one shelf in the pantry.  Eventually I turned my attention to the very top shelf of the pantry, and as I reorganized it, I kept thinking that I needed to make things easily accessible because since the top shelf is tough to reach, and I didn't want things falling down on us.  Sooo, I took the opportunity to toss some more things into the donate pile. 

Cleaning out the pantry lead me to my computer to email my Mom with a few questions about a few of the items I was removing from the pantry.  Did she want them?  If not, they could be swap items, or donate items.  The day continued in this fashion, but in the end I felt like I accomplished a lot by decluttering several cabinets and drawers, removing and donating boxes and bags full of items we don't need and/or use while simultaneously keeping all those useful things out of the landfill. 

So in the event that you have one of those clean-out days that doesn't turn out the way you planned, and it evolves into a If You Give a Mouse a Cookie kinda day, do your best to keep it green!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Does anyone remember the funny Staples commercial?  It makes me smirk every time, and now  at Christmas when I hear the original tune, I think of the commercial ;)

Well, the "most wonderful time of year" when the kids head back to school and hit the books, is just a few days away.  So why not send them back with a few eco-friendly school supplies?  One of my favorite green pens is the Pilot Bottle 2 Pen or B2P.  It's the "world's first pen made from recycled bottles", writes nice and smooth, and the kids can brag that they are using a pen made from 89% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.   

It's hard to believe but my youngest is about to begin his last year of elementary school.  A few things almost all elementary school teachers ask children to bring are crayons, colored pencils, and markers to school.  For years my top pick has been Crayola.  Not only do I like Crayola's products, but I'm thrilled with their green initiatives.  Crayola is committed to using renewable energy, reducing waste, and "helping protect the environment, so children have a cleaner, greener planet".   Crayola's initiative to harness the power of the sun, and build a 30,000 panel solar farm on 20-acres of it's land is impressive.  According to Crayola, the panels produce enough power to make 1 billion Crayola crayons and 500 million markers a year.  Not only are their markers made with solar power, but they are manufactured with re-ground plastic scrap from marker production.  Although the entire marker is not recyclable, the #5 plastic caps can be recycled, and if the tip and reservoir are removed, the marker barrels can also be recycled.  Finally, Crayola's colored pencils are never made from endangered or rainforest wood, but are made from reforested wood; for every tree used, another of the same kind is planted. 

When it comes to paper, there are many eco-friendly options as well.  Staples sells Eco-friendly composition books and wirebound notebooks made with 80% sugarcane waste and printed with "eco-conscious vegetable-and-water based inks."  Other options, available at Target are the trendy and cute Greenroom products made with soy inks and recycled paper; recycled paper notebooks, recycled 3-ring binders, tree-free notebooks made from banana paper, recycled file folders, and recycled journals.

Even pencils, a staple for the school-bound, are now more eco-friendly.  For precision pencils, there are Pentel EnerGize-X Mechanical pencils made of 84% recycled plastic and making them more eco-friendly is the fact that they are refillable.  For traditional pencils think "green"...not only are the Paper Mate Earth Write pencils green on the outside, but they are also green on the inside and made with 100% recycled wood.

So send them back with some guilt free eco-friendly products and as they board the bus and you wave good-bye, go ahead and smirk as "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" commercial plays in your head.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Great Green Gifts for Mother's Day 2012

Make Mom's day with some eco-friendly gifts from the heart.  Non-clutter child friendly ideas include chores without a grimace, breakfast in bed, or spending time with Mom doing an activity that she loves.  For example, at my house it's an annual tradition to plant the veggie garden with the kids' help.  Besides these gifts from the heart, what other kinds of eco-friendly gifts would mom appreciate?  Here are a dozen ideas that may elicit a smile from your eco-chic Mom:

How does her garden grow?   Consider the following for the Earth-loving, gardener: 

And speaking of relaxing…doesn’t Mom deserve a little bit of R&R?  Here are a few ideas to help her achieve some peace and relaxation, eco-style:   
If Soirees are more her style…help Mom be the hostess with the most-est eco-friendly style:

For additional green gift ideas for mom, click on  Any of these gifts, whether they be eco-friendly from the heart gifts, or something eco-conscious you purchase, are sure to put a smile on Mom's face.   Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Freecycle to the Rescue

Today, two older, large, color CRT (cathode ray tube) computer monitors were rescued from the dusty basement and attic by a Freecycler.  I posted the monitors on my local Freecycle board, and got a quick response, and they were picked up within 24 hours.  Earlier in the week a Freecycler posted that she was in need of a printer, and it just so happened that we've had a printer sitting around taking up space as well.  There was nothing wrong with the printer/fax/copier, it just wasn't able to handle the capacity of our busy scholars, so I jotted her a note, and she came by the same day to pick it up.  I'm psyched to free up the space and reduce clutter, find new "homes" for the unused equipment, and glad someone else will put them to use. 

If you haven't heard of Freecycle, you should check it out at and search for your local Freecycle group.  The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,035 groups with 8,917,299 members around the world.  Freecycling links up people that have unwanted things to give away at no cost, with people who need or want things.  I have Freecycled countless items, and it makes me feel good to share with others and reduce the environmental impact of our waste by keeping it out of  landfills and/or incinerators.  It's also a good way for those on a budget to pick up items for free, reducing their expenses.  Ultimately, Freecycling also results in decreased demands on new manufacturing processes, which results in energy savings and resource conservation.  Freecycling is a win-win in my book!