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 tamely...by 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 Flylady.net 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 bottle...you 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?) http://alacartegreen.blogspot.com/2012/08/if-you-give-mouse-cookie.html.  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.  http://alacartegreen.blogspot.com/2011/02/eat-your-greens-with-modern-twist.html 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 Swap.com.  If you haven't checked it out yet, I highly recommend it! http://market.swap.com/  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 swap.com, 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 swap.com books. 

Since the downstairs bookshelves were being reorganized, I figured we should continue with the second bookshelf....so 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 swap.com 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 http://alacartegreen.blogspot.com/2011/05/great-green-gifts-for-mothers-day.html  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 http://www.freecycle.org/ 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!


Source: http://www.freecycle.org

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Happy Arbor Day 2012!

Did you know that the last Friday in the month of April is National Arbor Day?  http://www.arborday.org/arborday/

 I love trees.  Since I was very little, I've loved looking at trees, drawing and writing poems about trees, climbing trees, planting trees, and enjoying how beautiful they are.  During the hot summer months, I used to lay at the end of my bed, staring out the window at the silhouette of trees.   They truly are a gift of nature, a gift of our planet.

So what is National Arbor Day all about?   According to the National Arbor Foundation, "Arbor Day is a nationally-celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care."  It was founded by J. Sterling Morton in 1872, and each state, as well as other countries around the world, celebrate in some way.  


Arbor Day Foundation's mission statement is, "we inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees".  According to the World Resource Institute, there are approximately 100,000 reasons to celebrate, or 100,000 known species of trees that exist throughout the world.  If you need a reason or two to celebrate trees besides them being aesthetically pleasing, here are my top 10 reasons to plant a tree:


1.  Trees remove CO2 from the air, reducing the impacts of greenhouse gases and climate change.

2.  Trees produce oxygen that is necessary for life on Earth, and are good for your overall health.

“One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.” —U.S. Department of Agriculture

“In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension.” —Dr. Roger S. Ulrich Texas A&M University


3.  Trees can add value to your home.

 “Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent.” —Management Information Services/ICMA

4.  Trees help cool your home and neighborhood.

5.  Trees break the wind, and reduce both  heating and cooling costs.


“The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.” —U.S. Department of Agriculture

“Landscaping can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 50 percent, by shading the windows and walls of a home.” —American Public Power Association


“If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in 5 years your energy bills should be 3% less. In 15 years the savings will be nearly 12%.” —Dr. E. Greg McPherson, Center for Urban Forest Research 

6. Trees improve water quality.  Trees help to filter water, improving water quality and groundwater recharge. 

7.  Trees reduce runoff, which also increases groundwater absorption, and allows for groundwater recharge, which in turn is a source of drinking water for many Americans. 

8.  Trees prevent erosion.  The roots of trees help to prevent soil erosion which can lead to the siltation of streams and wetlands, and loss of property.  

“The planting of trees means improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. This allows more recharging of the ground water supply. Wooded areas help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams.” —USDA Forest Service

9.  Trees provide food and shelter for wildlife and birds.

10.  Trees help to maintain biodiversity by providing shelter, food, and habitats for wildlife and birds.

You can become a member of the National Arbor Foundation for as little as $10, and they will send you 10 free 6-12" trees that will grow into beautiful mature trees as a thank you (you even get to choose from a list of trees).  I'm looking out the window now at my beautiful flowering tree that looks like it's decked out for the spring prom.  I received this tree as a gift from National Arbor Foundation many years ago, and it's grown into a stunning beauty that I'm still enjoying today, and hopefully will be for years.   http://www.arborday.org/members/index.cfm 

There is tons of great information on the Arbor Day Foundation website where you can learn about tree care and planting, tree identification, free landscaping ideas, join the tree forum, and much, much more.  It's worth checking out at http://www.arborday.org/ There is also an amazing glossary of tree terms http://www.arborday.org/trees/treeguide/glossary.cfm

I hope you'll decide to celebrate National Arbor Day in some way too, whether it is today, tomorrow or in the future because without trees our planet just wouldn't be the same :)  Happy Arbor Day 2012!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day 2012!


Happy Rainy Earth Day 2012!  Normally I would be sad that it’s raining on Earth Day, but this year our little piece of the Earth NEEDS the rain badly.  We have an 8 inch deficient here in Massachusetts, so I’m not complaining at all.  To celebrate Earth Day, rain or shine, maybe you’d like to consider one or more of these ideas "a la carte style" today, or in the future. 

  1. After the rain is the perfect time to weed by hand instead of using pesticides which linger in the soil, and can seep into the groundwater.  Not to mention pesticides end up on shoes, and can get tracked into homes and offices.  So skip the pesticides, grab a weeder instead, get your hands a little dirty, and get a dose of Mycobacterium vaccae, it's good for you!  http://alacartegreen.blogspot.com/2010/10/m-is-for-mycobacterium-vaccae.html   
  2. Plant a tree in honor of Earth Day.  Trees help clean the air by taking in carbon dioxide, and producing oxygen, provide shade, help prevent erosion, are aesthetically pleasing, and provide homes for birds and animals.  
  3. Consider Xeriscaping.  Xeri what? Xeriscaping is landscaping and gardening that takes water conservation into consideration, and minimizes the use of additional irrigation.  For example, many people want lush green lawns and spend a lot of time and money in the form of pesticides, fertilizers, and watering to accomplish their goal of the greenest lawn on the block.  Some xeriscapists take the less is more approach, reducing the amount of lawn in lieu of a patio, or by creating mulched garden beds with shrubs and drought tolerant plants, or planting sections of ground cover that require less water than lawns. 
  4. Commit to greener, clutter-free gifts this year.  Instead of more stuff, how about giving the gift of togetherness in the form of memberships to places such as nature preserves, museums, or aquariums?  This type of gift encourages people to spend time together, commune with nature, and won't end up being a repository for dust.
  5. Speaking of nature preserves, commit to green exercise!  Hike or walk in nature preserves.  Communing with nature and just being outside is good for the soul and heart.  http://alacartegreen.blogspot.com/2012/04/earth-and-heart-healthy-exercise.html
  6. Throw open the windows, let in the fresh air, and use ceiling fans to circulate cool air, especially in the evening and early morning, cutting down on cooling costs.  Be sure the switch is in the proper position, the fan should move forward, or counterclockwise so that you can feel the "wind chill" as the air pushes down.  Using ceiling fans can help reduce cooling costs by 40% or more.  
  7. Take leftovers for lunch.   I don't know why my kids don't like leftovers...but then again when I was a kid I hated them too!  As an adult, I love taking leftovers for lunch because it's fast and easy if you portion leftovers into lunchable containers after dinner.  In addition it helps use up leftovers that my family despises.  Taking leftovers for lunch means you will end up with a trashless lunch, which helps to reduce landfill waste by up to 67 pounds of waste per person, per year.  In addition, leftovers for lunch reduces landfill waste from leftovers that turn into science experiments!  
  8. Commit to remembering those reusable grocery bags.  Be honest, do you remember to use them every trip?  I'll be honest...it seems that half the time I forget to take the reusable grocery bags into the store with me.  I don't know why I forget either...as soon as I unload them, I take them back down to the car, so they are ready for reuse.  I have been getting better, and I really do prefer them over the plastic bags that slip and slide all over the car.  The reusable bags stand up nicely, have great handles, and hold more than the plastic bags, which means less trips up and down the stairs when unloading at home.  I'm going to work really hard at remembering them this year.  
  9. When you do forget to use your reusable grocery bags, be sure to either reuse the plastic bags, or recycle them.  We end up reusing the plastic bags for many things including as garbage can liners, and for cat litter disposal (I know, I know I should use eco-litter, but my cats doth protest and then pee where they shouldn't, and then I doth protest loudly).  When the bags are ripped an unusable, we recycle on the next trip to the grocery store (they get bagged up and put in the car so that I don't forget them.)
  10. Join an environmental group, follow an environmental blog, take an online environmental class,  or commit to being informed about eco-issues. 
In "a la carte fashion", choose what will work best for you, and what you can stick with for lasting change.  I hope you decide to give one or more of these ideas a try today, or in the future :)  Happy a la carte Earth Day 2012!

Souces: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xeriscaping
http://landscaping.about.com/cs/cheaplandscaping1/a/xeriscaping.htm
http://www.highcountrygardens.com/Perennials
http://www.ceilingfan.org/ceiling-fan-direction/

Monday, April 16, 2012

Breezy Benefits

Fresh laundry on the newly installed clothesline
Today was a beautiful, atypically warm, breezy April day that felt more like June as the temps climbed to the 90s.  It was the perfect day to hang out some laundry and let the sun and breeze dry the clothes naturally...

...but there was one small problem...my clothesline had been taken down in the the wake of Hurricane Irene this past August for fear of tree damage (the tree it was attached to is dead) http://alacartegreen.blogspot.com/search/label/Hurricane.  But never fear, hubby to the rescue!

Besides being a warm April Day, we also had a holiday celebrating Patriot's Day in MA, and the Boston Marathon.  For those of you who live outside of MA, Patriot's Day is a state holiday commemorating the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord and the start of the Revolutionary War.  With hubby home for the holiday, he agreed to reinstall the clothesline in a new tree and after some effort, sweat, and thankfully no swears or injuries from tree climbing, the clothesline is back up!  It didn't take long for me to get the fresh load of laundry up on the line and take advantage of saving some energy.

For more information about the benefits of clotheslines and the energy savings, please check out:
http://alacartegreen.blogspot.com/2010/06/c-is-for-clothesline.html
and
http://alacartegreen.blogspot.com/2010/07/e-is-for-electricity-and-energy.html

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Creative genius

Forrest Mc Cluer's Computer Virus #1
Floppy (2009)
This is based on a hybrid of T4 Bacteriophge and Adenovirus
I'd like to invite you to experience the creative genius of  Forrest Mc Cluer, economist by day and sculptor by night.  Forrest's collection of sculptures is comprised of three-dimensional "manipulations of  'found' objects into certain geometric shapes or polyhedra."  The shapes that Forrest replicates are found in nature and have fascinated artists and scientists for centuries.  His website, http://www.30computers.com/gallery.htm documents his ongoing project to deconstruct 30 discarded personal computers and then create sculptures from all of their constituent parts.  By making these 3D shapes with found objects he aims to "mark our moment in time with materials that would otherwise be disposed of and lost forever."  A 3D alacartegreen dream!

Earrings made from hard drive spacers


I was introduced to Forrest by a friend of the family when hubby donated several hard drives to his cause.  Forrest's up-cycling and creative use of the integral parts of the computers that he is deconstructing, and his detailed use of the parts was intriguing to say the least!  It quickly became evident that his passion goes beyond constructing his sculptures; his meticulous research of microbiology and virology, and mastery of mathematics are clear in the polyhedron shapes and viruses that he sculpts  http://www.30computers.com/CV_Transformer.htm.   Forrest writes that:
"It was the self-assembly or self-replication characteristic of biological viruses that influenced University of Southern California doctoral candidate Fred Cohen. He is the person who coined the term "computer virus" to describe a computer program that can "affect other computer programs by modifying them in such a way as to include a (possibly evolved) copy of itself." [2], [3].
Forrest's insightful use of computer parts to construct sculptures of biological viruses, which   computer viruses mimic is pure genius.   

As you can imagine, I was thrilled that the unused hard drives were slated to be up-cycled in such an imaginative, innovative way while simultaneously helping to declutter.   Although there was no need to thank us for the donation of the hard drives, Forrest thoughtfully surprised me and the girls with funky earrings made from spacers from the computer hard drives, and a hysterical "digital pirate" ear loop for the boys.  I can't wait to see the newest sculpture he creates with the hard drives!  If you'd like to see some of Forrest's sculptures up close, check out his work at the upcoming Artomatic Show in Washington, DC on May 18th http://www.artomatic.org/ .

Monday, April 9, 2012

Earth and Heart Healthy Exercise

Walking is not only good for your heart and overall health, but it's an exercise that can be considered "Earth Healthy" by virtue of the fact that it is an exercise that has a low impact on the Earth.  Let's think about it...there's no need to drive to the gym, so there's no carbon impact...you can simply walk out your front door!  The equipment that you need, your left and right leg, a bottle of water to stay hydrated (of course you should opt for a previously purchased reusable water bottle ), and a pair of sneakers which you probably already have, also have a low impact on the Earth.  Because you need very little equipment, it is easy to fit in a walk during a quick break at work, at the beach, in the mountains, in the city, in the park, on vacation, in the morning, in the afternoon, or in the evening...you get the idea, you can walk anytime, almost anywhere! 

Young or old, lace up and put one foot in front of the other!  Walking for a minimum of 30 minutes, or fitting in 2 - 15 minute sessions with a goal of approximately 150 minutes/week will reap many health benefits such as:
  • improving circulation
  • combating depression
  • bolstering the immune system
  • helping to prevent osteoporosis
  • helping to prevent and control diabetes
  • helping to control weight 
  • helping lower blood pressure
I choose to walk with my friend Beth, and we help motivate each other to get moving even when we don't feel like it.  Another huge benefit of walking with Beth is that we talk and vent, which makes the miles fly by.  Our walking sessions often double as therapy sessions as we both chat about the kids, their activities, work, husbands, goals, friends, family, household happenings, dreams, hopes, etc.  I've actually learned some things about myself by chatting aloud to Beth, and listening to her welcome advice.  An additional benefit is seeing the "sites" in our community; checking out the changes in the neighborhoods where we walk, exploring new areas, and admiring the gardens that we pass along the way.

Walking helps to keep us healthier in mind, body, and spirit and I'm happy to be reaping these benefits while chatting with my friend and treading lightly on the Earth :)  


Sources:  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/walking/HQ01612
http://www.walkinginfo.org/why/benefits_health.cfm 
http://www.walk-magazine.com/

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Egg-cellent!

It's almost time for the Easter Bunny to come hopping down the bunny trail, and this year maybe you'll have an egg-cellent environmentally friendly surprise filled with sweets in your basket! Instead of plastic eggs from China, consider buying the "first 100% renewable Easter Eggs" made in the USA by eco eggs™.  Eco eggs offers their renewable multi-colored Easter egg alternative from non-toxic corn starch instead of petroleum-based plastics.  The eggs are also compostable, and do not generate emissions and create landfill waste, yet they are durable enough to be stored for years and used again and again.  And if you need grass filler for your Easter baskets, eco eggs™  also offers eco grass that is compostable and made from non-toxic corn starch, or can be stored and reused for years.  And just think, if one or two eggs get left behind after the egg hunt it won't be a problem!  The plant-based eco-eggs will slowly and harmlessly decompose.  For more Earth-friendly Easter tips be sure to check out http://alacartegreen.blogspot.com/2011/04/happy-easter-2011.html 

Here's to an eco-Easter filled with fun and hoppiness :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mooney Falls Return Trip

Downstream of Mooney Falls

Although getting to Mooney Falls was a 2.5 mile adventure, it was worth the harrowing climb down, and we had an enjoyable, leisurely stop at the 190' falls (http://alacartegreen.blogspot.com/Grand Canyon Havasupai Mooney Falls2012.html.)  We took lots of pictures, had a snack break, ventured downstream to explore, and the girls had some adventures with some frisky squirrels that they named "squirrel brothers".   We discussed continuing downstream another 3 miles further to Beaver Falls, but some of the troops were not willing to do the additional trek to less traveled areas :)  Once we had cooled off, and taken our fill of pictures, it was time to pack up our beach towels, dry off our feet, sprinkle on some foot powder, put the hiking boots back on, clip our water shoes onto our backpacks, and retrace our steps back up the cliff front to head to two more falls. 


Before ascending, check to make sure that there are no hikers descending.  Hikers cannot pass along

this section as there is only room for one person, so it is necessary to take turns descending and ascending.  After checking to be sure we could go up without meeting any other hikers, we climbed back up an aluminum ladder and then a series of wooden ladders.  It's important to be cautious on this section, being careful not to slip since the ladder surfaces and footholds get wet from the mist from the falls. After climbing the ladders, there is a very steep section along rough rock, and chains that are anchored to cliff walls with rebar and eye hooks, are key to making it up the rockface.  Without this chain and rebar for handholds and footholds it would almost impossible to ascend safely unless you are part monkey.  The trail continues and as on the way down, you must pass through two narrow, steep tunnels on your way up.   Once we made it back to the "descend at your own risk sign", we continued hiking back towards the Village of Supai, past the campgrounds, and continued to our next stop, Havasu Falls (Havasu Falls is approximately .75 miles upstream of Mooney Falls).  (July 14, 2011)

Although we weren't able to make a video of our ascent because we didn't have  any extra hands for the camera, and holding on tight and paying attention to our kids was a priority, check out this amazing YouTube video that another courageous soul made.  I'm still impressed with my kids for making this climb, they were beyond brave for 11, 13, 14.5, and 15.5 year olds!   If you are afraid of heights, this video may give that queasy feeling in your stomach that you hate, but I love this video.  It brings me back, and helps me recapture this incredible climb, and makes me want to go back and do it again!   Thank you to Crazyfinx for sharing it on YouTube, it's absolutely breathtaking!

Other links to check:http://alacartegreen.blogspot.com/2011/08/july-was-blur.html
and  http://alacartegreen.blogspot.com/2011/09/grand-canyon-adventures-continued.html
http://alacartegreen.blogspot.com/Havasupai Mooney Falls2012.html