Friday, February 18, 2011

Recycled beauty

I was so excited to find a replacement for the glass pitcher that Tiger-Lily broke recently.  The original pitcher was a bridal shower gift, but at least it had a long life before it shattered. I found my new recycled glass beauty at Pier 1.  It's from Spain, and I love the tiny glass bubbles you can see in it.  Besides the fact that I got it for a steal, a love to buy recycled items when I can because if there is no market for them, there is less incentive for recycled products.   

Recycled glass dishes
I've got my eye on a few other recycled glass items from Pier 1 too.  Only problem is I don't want to get new dishes until I replace the dishwasher.  The baskets are rusted, and have stained the edges of my current plates.  I've applied the nasty coating to the rust areas, and that has helped some, but the dishwasher is getting up there in age.  However, I don't really want to replace it until it's all washed up, 'ya know?   The poor thing does get a workout in our house...but, I always run it full, and I am a master at fitting in "just one more thing".  Sorry for the dishwasher tangent!  Here is a picture of the recycled plates and bowls I'm considering. I think it's neat that they are imprinted with "Authentic 100% recycled glass" on them! 

recycled glass bottles

For more info on glass recycling and neat recycled glass items check out:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Quote of the Day

"In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decision on the next seven generations."

From the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Green Valentine's for your Sweet

Traditionally Valentine’s Day makes us think of reds, pinks, and white, and giving gifts to express amore.  And although card companies promote Valentine’s Day as a day of giving gifts, the gifts don’t have to be red, pink, and white, or expensive…instead they can be thoughtfully green.  How can Valentine’s gifts be green?  If you are in a quandary for a last minute gift, read on for a dozen ideas.  

  1. Instead of buying one of the ONE BILLION paper cards that appeal to the eyes, how about a Valentine that appeals to the stomach and won’t end up in the landfill?  Perhaps some homemade cookies or cupcakes would be appreciated in the your child’s classroom, or by your sweetheart?  You can add notes with icing to sweeten the “card” even more.  Sweethearts always appreciate something sweet.  
  2. Instead of a paper Valentine that in all likelihood will not be recycled as it should be, how about starting a tradition that continues for years?  Reuse one special card from year to year.  Each year, date and write a special message.  How sweet will it be to look back when you are both 90 and read them to each other?  That's a Green and Sentimental gift. 
  3. How about making a green recycled gift that kids will love making and giving?  Check out Family Fun’s idea to make cute recycled hearts out of crayon scraps!   
  4. What about flowers?  Many people associate flowers with Valentine’s Day, right?  And although I LOVE flowers, and think they bright up any space, I like them outside in the spring and summer even better because some of the flowers make me sneeze!  How about flowers that keep on giving and beautifying such as bulbs or a potted plant for a greener floral Valentine’s present.  Since I'm very lucky, and hubby is very romantic (and you hate to squelch that), I let him know that if he wants to buy me flowers, to buy them before or after Valentine’s Day and save some major green!  Speaking of green flowers, you can always indulge in organic flowers that are grown without the added chemicals used to grow traditional flowers.  Try
  5. What about chocolates?  Chocolates are synonymous with Valentine’s Day, and if you are a chocolate lover (I like chocolate any day, not just Valentine’s Day!), you might want to consider a greener chocolate alternative.  Try certified organic chocolate, or chocolate grown without chemicals, and without destroying the rain forests where cocoa beans are grown.  Additionally, chocolate that is Fair Trade certified ensures that the cocoa farmers are paid fair wages to provide us with the greenest sweet treat.                                                     
  6. If you think of jewels as a Valentine staple, think about green bling such as the beautiful recycled, functional artistic jewelry by Artsy Fartsy.  Not only is this jewelry unique, it is as green as jewelry can be - it’s made from recycled plastic, but it’s funky, whimsical, and functional all in one.
  7. Dim the lights…use less electricity, and set the romantic mood  with romantic candlelight.  BUT, you don’t want to pollute your indoor air with pollutants that are expelled by many candles.  Instead choose, soy or beeswax products to enjoy the glow of eco-friendly candlelight. 
  8. Speaking of candlelight, if you choose to go out to dinner, choose a green restaurant.  Check out Green Restaurant Association’s website, to find a certified green restaurant.
  9. Whether dining out, or dining in, try organic (grown without fertilizers or organic chemicals) and/or locally-produced wines.  See what you can find at and download their free mobile app while you’re there!
  10. How about making a delicious organic dinner, and eating in with organic wine, and beeswax candles, and organic chocolate for dessert?  Nothing says, “I love you like” taking the time to make a romantic home-cooked meal.
  11. So now that you are content from eating a delicious dinner, sipping some organic wine, and spending quality green time with your sweetheart, you may want to give him a gift?  However, buying for your man can be difficult for some, especially if you are in the market for a green gift for him.  Might I suggest a gift that you don’t have to buy, and you have on hand?  It’s the greenest, yet most intimate of all gifts. Yourself!  Slip into a sexy negligee, or don’t…maybe all you need is a nice red bow…dim the lights (saving electricity), light those soy candles, put on some sweet music…you get the picture ;)  If you need help spicing things up, head to the kitchen in nothing but your apron in search of a few groceries.  Read why cornstarch, tomatoes, avocados, chocolate, and buttermilk are 5 sexy ingredients you might want to introduce him to! 
  12. And if you are feeling super sexy, you might want to give him something to enjoy for a bit longer.  For more details, on this seductive green gift, read more at
 I hope you have a wonderful GREEN Valentine’s Day with the one you love!  

Saturday, February 12, 2011

S is for Snow Part II

I big thank you to my sister-in-law in New Hampshire for telling me about Snow Ice Cream.  Not being a native New Englander, I've never tried making it, but based on her recommendation, the next decent snow we get, we'll give it a try (not that I want any more snow this season, we've already had 74+ inches, and honestly I'm tired of digging out and don't want to have school up until July!)

I found a few variations on recipes, so based on what you have on hand, one of these will hopefully work for you!  Don't forget to pull out any toppings you might have on hand...caramel, strawberry syrup, sprinkles, chocolate, crushed up candy canes or other candy, mint GS cookies, Oreo get the picture!

Recipe #1 - 4 ingredients you probably have on hand

    * 1 gallon snow
    * 1 cup white sugar
    * 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    * 2 cups milk

When it starts to snow, place a large, clean bowl outside to collect the flakes. When full, stir in sugar and vanilla to taste, then stir in just enough milk for the desired consistency. Serve at once.


Recipe #2 from Paula Deen, and Food Network - 3 ingredients you may have on hand

    * 8 cups snow, or shaved ice
    * 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
    * 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place snow or shaved ice into a large bowl. Pour condensed milk over and add vanilla. Mix to combine. Serve immediately in bowls.  Source:

Recipe #3 - 3 ingredients,this one is good for chocolate lovers like me!

    * fresh snow, about 8 cups
    * 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
    * Hershey's chocolate syrup (or similar), about 1/4 - 1/2 cup


Take a big bowl and fill it with fresh snow, add and stir in sweetened condensed milk and some Hershey's chocolate syrup, to taste. Source:

If life sends you snow, go with it and make ice cream!  YUM!!!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Green Bling

Artsy Fartsy earrings ~ $15
Susi DuPuis, took the saying,  "One man's (or woman's) trash, is another man's (or woman's) treasure", and allowed her imagination to soar.  She is the brainchild behind the creative jewelry collection called "Artsy Fartsy, recycled plastic jewelry", and her creations are inventive, colorful, and fun!

Artsy Fartsy bracelets ~ $20
She makes fun, funky, eye-catching jewelry from common household plastic containers, and if you look closely enough you may even spot a logo or two.

Susi is enthusiastic about sharing her art with others, and teaches classes and does demonstrations to help others consider using plastic as an art medium.  She's been featured in several shows on the West Coast for SCRAP Art, Trash to Treasure, and Salvage Art Exhibitions.

Artsy Fartsy necklaces featuring "stacked" disk beads $30-$90
Susi says, "I believe that what I am doing is merely scratching the surface of ideas for using recycled plastic containers.  What is most meaningful to me as an that my jewelry represents art and recycling with a functional element.  The plastic is recycled into a whole new functional life as's not recycled art just for art's sake."  I'm so impressed that Susi had the vision to take containers that many toss in the trash (yikes, why don't they toss them in the plastic recycle bins instead!?!), and creates such fun, funky, functional jewelry.  That's why I think Artsy Fartsy, recycled plastic jewelry is such a gem!
The earrings, bracelets, brooches, and gorgeous necklaces, are one of a kind pieces of functional art made by dissecting household containers, hand cutting the shapes, and fashioning them into jewelry.  Besides being beautiful, and unique, Susi says that the "green bling" is often a conversation starter and sends a loud and clearly beautiful message about the importance of recycling and reusing resources.   

Artsy Fartsy brooches ~ $20
I hope you'll stop by her website and browse her beautiful items, and next time you are looking for a unique green gift, consider purchasing one of her items.  I'm eye-ing a bracelet and necklace myself! ;) 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Eat Your Greens" with a modern twist ;)

Moms are always trying to get their kids to eat their leafy greens, as well as other green veggies like green beans, broccoli, etc.  I love the crunch of a nice, leafy green salad, it's just delish, especially if you mix in a variety of lettuce.  In the spring/summer we grow our own lettuce, and most years it does very well.  This year I'd like to try to mix in some new varieties like Red leaf and Mesclun greens.  During the colder months, I'm partial to mixing Romaine, Ice Berg, and Arugula for a yummy colorful salad.  Of course I don't need to tell you that greens are good for us and provide roughage.

But what about the packaging of lettuces?  You probably put your lettuce into a thin plastic produce bag, and I hope you recycle it?  It is definitely recyclable, I checked the other day and the produce bag was Type 2, so just add it to the wad of grocery bags that you are hopefully depositing in the bin at the grocery store.  The plastic grocery bags are high-density polyethylene film (HDPE, Type 2), or  low density or linear-low density polyethylene film (LDPE/LLDPE, Type 4), and can be recycled at your local supermarket and other locations.  The bins are usually available right near the entrance/exits. 

What about that green velcro gizmo that is wrapped around the leaf lettuces?  In the past, lettuce was wrapped with large twisty-ties, but I prefer the green velcro gizmo because to me, they are greener in more ways than one.  I've come up with a few great re-uses for those green gems!   Let me know if you have any more ideas to add to the list!
  1. My first use for them was to help wrap an icepack around injured children's body part.  Place the icepack on, and use the green velcro gizmo to help hold it in place. In this case I don't cut the velcro, but use it as is from the lettuce.
  2. Use number two is a green "cord keeper".  Instead of buying those velcro cord keepers, use one that might have ended up in a landfill instead.  The only problem was when kids took the cords out, the green "cord keeper" often lost it's cord.  In this case, I cut the velcro to size I need.
  3. Use number three, new and improved, green "cord keeper".  I made an adjustment to the velcro so that it threads through itself, and does not come off the cord and get lost.  It's really easy, after you cut it to the size you need, fold one end over on itself, then cut a tiny slit in the green velcro (you are cutting through two layers), then you wrap it around the cord, and feed the green velcro through the slit, pull until it's snug on the cord.  Coil up your cord, wrap the velcro around and fasten it!
  4. Use number four, brings us full circle...back to the garden, where I use it to tie plants such as tomatoes to the tomato cages, and cukes, pole beans, etc. to their cages/poles.  I also use the velcro plant ties to train vines such as clematis to grow along the chicken-wire fence of my garden, and to tie heavier plants such as sunflowers to a fence.  Gardeners will immediately get the picture ;)
Jumbled mess of cords
Nice and neat with "green" velcro keeper, recycled from lettuce packaging :)


Friday, February 4, 2011

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs?

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs?  Or is it snowballs?  But I digress on the recent weather around here...

In today's dinner-cast, I don't expect that we'll have any problems with meatballs, they'll be yummy, and then the plates will go in the dishwasher.  However, we should expect to see clouds...cloudy glassware, silverware, and plastics, that is.

In 16 states, including MA.......the new "greener" non-phosphate dishwasher detergents have resulted in cloudy, milky looking glassware.  Why is this happening you might wonder?  In the states adopting The Household Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law, July 2010, the law stipulates restrictions on the amount of phosphates allowed in dish detergents, as well lawn fertilizers.  As a result, dish detergent manufactures have reworked their formulas to drastically reduce phosphates added to make your glasses and dishes sparkly.  

But, how does phosphate impact habitats in lakes, rivers, and other freshwater systems?  Phosphates cause the over-growth of algae, and this leads to oxygen-starved areas, and without oxygen in the water, fish, frogs, and other aquatic animals can not survive.

Why do the glasses and other things coming out of a clean dishwasher look cloudy or milky anyway?   The problem begins if you have "hard" water, which is caused by  high levels of minerals dissolved in your water, specifically calcium and magnesium. According to Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., "Soap is less effective in hard water because its reacts to form the calcium or magnesium salt of the organic acid of the soap. These salts are insoluble and form grayish soap scum, but no cleansing lather." In other words, unattractive, cloudy, milky glassware.
So how can you tell if hard water is the issue, or if your glassware is suffering from etching, which is varying degrees of scratching or pitting of the glass surface?  Try soaking a cloudy glass in vinegar for 5 minutes, and if the milky deposits diminish, then hard water is your problem.  I just did this experiment, and sure enough, the glass is clearer in just 5 minutes (don't worry I'll reuse the vinegar to clean something else, I mean the glass wasn't "dirty", it just had some hard water buildup on it)

The dilemma...
Is the aquatic habitat of frogs and fish more important than sparkly dishes?  Or do sparkly dishes trump wildlife?  Can we be environmentally friendly and have sparkly dishes?

Since I'm elbow deep in soap suds washing these cloudy, milky glasses, I figured it's time to get the dish on sparkly solutions, because I definitely prefer letting the dishwasher do the dirty work.

I learned about a product called Lemi Shine, by Envirocon Technologies, Inc.  It's an additive for dishwashers touted to bring back the shine and sparkle to your dishes and glassware.  I checked out many reviews of their product as well as their website, which states that Lemi Shine is "Made with real fruit acids, natural citrus oils, and fragrance. Phosphate free."  Hmm, seems like this is one possible solution to the cloudy glassware...

So I wondered how Lemi Shine works?  Does it add back in some other nasty chemical?  I decided to get a little wetter, I mean better information on the "fruit acids" ingredient.  Ah ha!  A timely show on cable about staging your home for sales gave me a clue to work with!  They used a packet of lemonade mix to clean the dishwasher, because a sparkly dishwasher makes buyers smile.   And then a lightbulb went off (don't worry not a CFL, just brain energy was expended)!  In the past, I'd cleaned the inside of my dishwasher with Tang when it got a yucky film on the tub.

I checked the labels of these two, and the common ingredient?  Citric acid!   Although Lemi Shine doesn't list citric acid specifically, I'd be willing to bet that the secret ingredient, aka "fruit acid" is in fact citric acid.    Delving deeper into the kitchen, I learned that citric acid was originally extracted from lemons, limes, grapefruits...CITRUS fruits (citric...citrus).  Now citric acid is produced commercially by a fermentation process; the mold Aspergillus niger ferments a carbohydrate to make citric acid.  Get out your magnifying glass, put on your lab coat, or your apron and check the labels on your foods.  You'll be surprised when you read the fine print and see how citric acid is a common additive to prevent foods from browning, add tang to drinks and sweets, to preserve, and stabilize foods. 

Who knew how handy chemistry would be?  I mean I like sparkly things just as much as the next girl...(diamonds are a girl's best friend...but again I digress).  Seriously,  I do like my glassware to be sparkly clean, but not at the expense of the aquatic critters.  Now, thanks to science, and chemistry, I think I've found a compromise!  Add some citric acid in the form of lemonade mix, Tang, or Lemi Shine, to the main wash section, and your regular dishwasher detergent to the pre-wash, and smile with me when your glassware is shiny once again :)