Saturday, May 31, 2008

BPA in the news

There have been all kinds of stories in the news the past few months about BPA (bisphenol A) in plastics that hold food and beverages. This chemical has been linked to reproductive and developmental problems in lab animals.

There haven't been any studies on the effect on humans, though, until this one that is taking place at Harvard right now. It'll be interesting to know the results.

In the meantime, it's probably best to avoid BPA products anyway. These products can be identified by looking on the bottom for the recycle symbol with a 7 in it, or the letters "PC" on the bottom.

So what do you use for your leftovers and your water bottle? In my household, we drink from Sigg bottles (a little expensive, but a good investment and they come in cool designs! I love mine!) and I pack my leftovers and take them for lunch in good old glass Pyrex bowls.

One of the big concerns is the BPA that is in almost all baby bottles. My sister uses Born Free bottles that are BPA free. So while a lot of things do contain BPA, there are alternatives.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Pleasant Surprise

I added a counter to my blog and was flabbergasted at the number of visitors! Honestly, I thought my sister and 1 or 2 others were the only ones that read this! What a nice surprise :)

I hope you enjoy the blog...please leave me a comment...even if it's just "hi!" And thanks for reading!

Easy Activism

We don't all have the time to join a march or protest...but here's an easy way to make your voice heard.

For the past year or so, I have received "Action Alerts" from the Sierra Club. These emails let me click one button and an email is sent to my local representative. It's easy, and it brings to my attention issues I didn't even know about.

Topics range from protecting polar bears to West Virigina's wildlife to preventing the logging of Great Sequoias and clean energy options.

Check out the Sierra Club's Action Center and see how you can easily make your position known to your elected officials.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Long, Hot Shower

Who doesn't love long, hot showers? I sure do, but in the spirit of saving money and being a little more earth friendly, I decided it's going to be one of the things I work on.

Now, I have no idea what the average person's shower length is. I know I could easily stand in a hot shower for 20-30 minutes. That's a lot of heated water.

The first thing I did was to get a low-flow showerhead, which saved a lot of water. Still has a nice water pressure and was an easy transition.

Next, it was cutting down my time. I started keeping track of how long I was in the shower. Yikes! It was long. I really only need to wash, shampoo and shave and then hop out. So I've come up with 5 minutes as my shower time.

I have a little timer on the sink and set it for 5 minutes. Most times I do what I have to and am out before it rings, and some days...I don't quite make it out on time.

The point is not really to deny myself a nice long shower. It's to save money and water and to know that when I really DO need a long, hot shower, I won't feel bad about it.

It's a little (and easy) thing to do to save yourself some money and water.

Monday, May 26, 2008

How Green Are You?

The National Geographic has a "Greendex Calculator" that will give you an idea of how "green" you are. Check it out...I'm off to take it now :)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My good friend, Bon Ami

In my search for earth friendly, nontoxic cleaners, I've tried a bunch. Pretty much all of them I have liked and they've been effective (except for the Seventh Generation toilet bowl cleaner- not so much).

I've even made some home-made cleaners that work pretty well, too, but I especially needed something like Comet for tub and shower scrubbing.

I found Mrs. Meyer's Surface Scrub (in Lemon Verbena scent) and loved it! ranges from $4-$5 for an 11 ounce can. Yikes.
Green is great, but it's even better when it's cheap. I did a little research and found good old Bon Ami! My mom used to use it on our glass cooktop stove when we were kids. It has non-toxic ingredients, works well and is about a buck a can. Jackpot!

Lesson learned: sometimes there are good oldies out there that were "environmental" way back when.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Recycling crocs!

Just got some great information from Renee over at Enviromom! Crocs can be recycled! Yay!

My son has a pair bought by his grandparents and LOVES them. I cringed because I felt the bright red crocs would be sitting in a landfill 40,000 years from now. But there's a great group that recycles crocs. Check it out over at Enviromom.

Cheap and Green Fun!

I don't need to tell you about the recent rising prices of just about everything. With summer approaching, I've seen plenty of summer activities, but most involve a hefty payment. So I thought I'd do a little research into activities nearby (read: less gas usage) that were inexpensive or free.
I started with a google search for "harford county activities" (insert your county or town). Wow! Jackpot! I was surprised at how many things came up, and, BONUS, they were cheap/free and GREEN! Here are some of the things I found, happening in the next week or two:

Family Campfires at Eden Mill Nature Center (presentations by guest speakers and smores!)

Otter Point Creek/Estuary Center offers a FREE "Meet a Critter" and "Buggin' Out" for parents with kids, and tons of other things for a small fee ($4-$10)

The Liriodendron Historical House has a gallery exhibit on a nature artist: "Forever the Land: The Art and Writing of Kate & Russell Lord" On Sundays- FREE.

And later this summer is the Harford County Farm Fair, which we went to last year and it was a blast! It's cheaper than the movies ($7 adults, $3 kids), and where else can you see pig races?

So do a search for your county or town. You may be surprised what fun things are offered nearby.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Healthier Mascara

A few posts back, I talked about healthier makeup and how some makeup contains ingredients that aren't so great...ingredients in some of the paints my students use (that I tell them to wash hands immediately after touching). Ewww....

So I have been on a quest to find healthier and more-earth friendly makeup. I don't wear a lot of makeup, but I do use lipstick, eyeliner, shadow and mascara. I found reasonably priced makeup except for mascara, and I liked the way it looked and felt. Except I had no luck with mascara.

The only thing I could find was the nvey eco line which looked great...but mascara for $25 was out of my budget. Finally I found Honeybee Gardens mascara...for $8! Just got it in the mail. I'll have to try it tomorrow and let you know how it is.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Zero-VOC paint

People who know me know I love to change the colors of my walls. Most of the walls in my house have been at least 2 colors...and I've only been in this house 4 years. Chalk it up to me being an art teacher and loving lots of color.

I need to paint my bathroom. It's a very small bathroom and I probably could get by with a quart of paint. So, knowing that low or zero- VOC (volitle organic compound) paints are much healthier to use, I went on a search for the cheapest, greenest paint.

I checked Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams and Duron. All three offered low or zero VOC paints, but only in gallon sizes. Depending on the finish, they all ranged from about $30-$38 per gallon. Not so cheap.

But then, doing a little more surfing, I found Olympic Premium paint was zero-VOC and available at Lowe's. I called Lowe's and found out that not only does a gallon cost about $20, but there is also a current offer for a $5 rebate! Woo-hoo...half the price of the others. And another bonus...comes in quart sizes for $8.98.

I'll let you know how the paint works!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Quick blog entry for today...

I am an art teacher and Spring means time for the Spring Art Show. Lots of climbing up and down the ladder, measuring artwork to be eye level, making name labels...about 80 pieces to hang, 50 some ceramic pieces to display!

Add to that the usual end of school year mayhem, AP Art History exam review, new babies in our family and, oh yeah...all the other stuff I do as a mom and wife everyday and ...eek! It's been busy.

So in lieu of an official entry, I have a link to someone else's blog that I read and really liked at Remodeling This Life. Check it out- it's a really good read!

Monday, May 12, 2008

All kinds of good things!

Hope Mother's Day was great for you all! I've been away from posting for a few days, but for good reason. But first...

I made the rhubarb! It was surprisingly easy: cut rhubarb, put in a stainless tell pot with sugar and water. Voila! My grandmother would make this for me. I guess I knew it was technically a vegetable but it was so darn good.

While I was cooking it, I leaned over to smell it and I swear I was in my grandmother's kitchen with her spooning it into a little clear pyrex bowl for me. Smels really do bring back memories.

And it was DELICIOUS! I may have sweetened it too much, but I was really pleased with the result. Organic rhubarb officially rocks.

Oh, and why I haven't posted for a few days?
Oh...I became an aunt!!!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Today's farmer's market

Here's my purchases from this morning's market. It was raining and I was a little worried that either no farmers would be there or that no one would be there to support the farmers. Wrong on both counts, I'm glad to say.
It was rainy but there were all kinds of good things there. We bought bok choy, spring onions, asparagus and...RHUBARB!!!
My grandmother used to make me rhubarb for dessert when I was a kid. Not anything fancy, just rhubarb and sugar. Never did a vegetable dessert taste so good!
I wanted to look for rhubarb since reading that it was an early spring vegetable in "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" (see below). So my afternoon mission is to cook my first batch of rhubarb. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Eat locally!

If you've been reading my posts, you know I love going to my local farmer's market. Another way we support local agriculture is by going to Broom's Bloom Dairy. Just down the road from us is this dairy that makes their own ice cream, cheeses and other dairy products. They also have a little cafe that serves quiches and sandwiches and soup.

So far we've only sampled the ice cream...and it was good. I am picky about my black raspberry ice cream and I have to say theirs may be the best I've tasted.

I've been more interested in eating locally since I started reading a few books: "Plenty" and "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", both about trying to eat locally to support farmers and reduce pollution created in the transport of food.
I started reading "Plenty", a couple in Canada who try to eat food from a 100 mile radius of their home. The writing style just didn't catch my interest...only read about the first chapter and a half. Not that it was a bad book, just not for me.

Now I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" and I like it a lot so far. She's the author who wrote "The Poisonwood Bible", so I knew I liked her writing style and she and her family started to run a farm in Virginia.
I think this was a little more accessible to me because it was a family as opposed to a couple and they were in an area closer to my home than Canada. Not too far into this book, but I'll let you know how I like it when I finish.

In the meantime, check out your own options for eating locally!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Economic Stimulus Check and more..

Today we received a leeter in the mail saying our economic stimulus check would be direct deposited on/around May 2nd. And lo and behold, when I checked our account online, it was there!

And no, we are not spending it or buying into a gift card deal ...this goes straight into our savings/emergency fund. My take on this "found money" is that we should save it until something worthwhile/needed comes along for us to spend it on instead of rushing out and spending it on luxuries.

I think the way the economy has been going has really made me motivated to save. Who knows what will happen in the future? I know that my couponing used to save me lots of I filled up my gas tank half way and the bill was more than my coupon savings. So it seems that the couponing that used to help me come out ahead is now just barely helping me break even.

Wow, and even with coupons (tripled this week at Superfresh!), prices have gone up SO MUCH at the grocery store! The gogurt yogurt my son loves has gone up more than a dollar in the past year...but I see this as incentive to find cheaper and healthier alternatives.

So, I think I'll just tuck away that money for now :)

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Well I got my first certifiably CRAZY comment with all the trimmings: offensive language, intolerant attitudes towards others and well, just plain crazy ranting..not even sure what they were trying to express!

Anyway, comments are now moderated, so it may take a little while for yours to show up.
Thanks for reading!