Sunday, September 30, 2012

Yoga and Peppermint Tea for the Flu

EcoYogini resurfaces from a week of the flu....

I was supposed to post on Friday... and after a full night of coughing with zero sleep, day 7 of the flu, a full week of working, sending off my best friend to New Zealand for a year of backpacking BY HERSELF, and recovering from an encounter with bedbugs, I was barely able to function. 

For someone who works with preschool aged children (who still haven't learned to cough in their sleeve and for the most part eat their boogies) I rarely get that sick. Something about the change of seasons tends to do it for me every time.

Flu remedies have been covered quite a bit here by the lovely ladies of the Booth, so I won't recap what's already a fabulous resource. What I will share are two areas that have saved myself during my moments of sick time: yoga and peppermint tea.

1. Peppermint Tea
It would appear that having a sinus cold means that you will swallow copious amounts of... sinus fluid. I don't know about you, but after over a week of that my sensitive stomach feels like I swallowed jackhammers and decides to revolt (yay IBS). In case this is also your situation I'll share the miracle that has been the only help (other than advil): peppermint tea. No seriously, I used to chug pepto by the bottle full, no little cap measure thingy for me, with no results. One mug of organic loose leaf peppermint tea and it's like magic. Since I typically spare no cold and sinus medications while I'm sick since I'm a big baby, it's nice to have one treatment that is medication free... that actually works. 

My favourite peppermint tea? David's Tea "Organic Peppermint Amour". Delicious!

2. Yoga
Rest and sleep are essential, but I always find that yoga, of varying degrees of "sweat" will help either clear out or move along the flu- kinda like it's a weather system.... (hey, I'm a Maritimer, we live by the weather). 
A few tips:
  1. Choose the intensity of practice that matches your cold-level. If you're just coming down, try something that'll make you move. It'll either clear your head or move the cold more quickly through it's process. Both are good news (even though option 2 might seem like a pain, the more quickly the cold is over, the better). If you're kinda in the middle, choose a low-key movement flow with lots of resting postures.
  2. If you have a fever, *don't* practice physical asana (yoga). Rest, sleep, drinks LOTS of water.
  3. If you're congested, downward dog will NOT feel nice. Actually, all forward folds might be uncomfortable. Stick to heart and chest opening postures like upward dog/cobra or seated and standing postures where you don't lean forward. Or have LOTS of tissue at hand.
  4. Stay at home. I know it's crazy, but you don't need a studio to practice yoga, and making it to class that week really isn't a life/death. The other students and teacher don't need to be exposed to your germs (with all that breathing and sniffling). Stay home :)
  5. Resources for a home practice: Yoga Journal has fantastic sequences all made up, including this Yoga for a Cold sequence. Yogaglo is an online unlimited yoga class with real classes and teachers. You can do a free 2 week trial, but it's totally worth the 18$ a month. I heart Yogaglo.
  6. Don't push your body too hard. It's fighting an illness and needs the resources to recover- yoga asana (the physical) should be a means to help supplement that, not completely beat the cold out of your system (no matter how tempting that may sound). Find balance. If you're sweating, it's probably too much. Take a breath, have a seat and meditate quietly for a few minutes.
I hope the cold/flu change of seasons has passed you by, but if it hasn't: Rest and Recover :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The plastic bag and your day

From the laundry basket of the Homegrown Mama

Earlier this year, I had resolved to quell my use of  plastic bags and get better about my reusable bags. Today, I'm sharing this great infographic in case you need a little more info on how one of those innocuous plastic grocery bags can be saved from becoming the national flower of South Africa.

If you're looking to learn more about plastics, enter the giveaway from Pug in the Kitchen and Natural Parents Network for Beth Terry's book  Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too!!

Click image to see a larger version
Life Cycle of a Plastic Bag
Life Cycle of a Plastic Bag via
Reusable Bags - Factory Direct Promos

Monday, September 24, 2012

How essential oils changed our days

I'd always been one of those people who just sucked things up. Because I'm on routine medications, I've always been reluctant to add more meds to my day, unless I'm just desperate. Mild headache? Wait it out. Nagging cough? Just drink more water. Nevermind that I got comments about how my cough had lagged on for a year.

And then I was introduced to using essential oils. I'd always been open to them for stress relief, but I finally decided to experiment with them for my kids' allergies too. I figured it would be worth the cost if it could end their suffering, since over the counter drugs just weren't making a dent.

Little did I know how our lives would change.

My son, who's been struggling with pain (some days a 10 on the pain scale) after getting his dental spacer in, would be going through a bottle of ibuprofen a week with not much relief. Now, when he complains, I put some lavender oil and frankincense along his jawline, and often that provides relief enough for him to move on with his day. The lavender oil was a Godsend for pain as well, as he coped with stitches from a fall.

At work, I've spent too much time at the PC, and have been dealing with stressors and headaches. Normally, I would have just suffered through it; now I just put a little peppermint oil on my temples, and it helps.

My cough my coworker complained of? Bothering no one these days. Strangely enough, my nagging dry cough is gone after daily use of lemon oil that I'd just casually added to my Diet Coke for taste.

At home, oils come into play as well. I use relaxation blends on my son's scalp when he's out of sorts, which thankfully have worked. I've tried digestive blends for when tummy troubles hit. I have a blend for bugs too, which I help credit with the fact that the kids didn't get the high fever that was traveling around pre-K a few weeks back.

At bedtime, the oils are a blessing. While I don't own a diffuser, we use them with our kids topically. My son begs each night for a mini foot massage - peppermint oil on his left foot and lemon oil on his right, without fail. My daughter, dragging with a cold, is eased with her humidifier that has a bit of lavender and wild orange oils in it.

The best part? Not only am I finding solutions for my family, they're happier with the choice. As my daughter told me at bedtime, "Mommy, this is so much easier than taking medicine."

Have you used essential oils or aromatherapy? What has worked in your life?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thursday with Truffula

In which Truffula takes you along on her day.  She had trouble deciding on which day to choose, and opted simply for the day before her post.  Besides, isn't the alliteration between "Thursday" and "Truffula" lovely? :-)

5:37 a.m.
My alarm goes off. It's timed to give me a minute of wake-up before the traffic and weather report at 5:38. Summer has taken its long days with it, and it is now dark at this time. There's a chill in the morning, making my warm, cozy covers even more tempting to stay beneath.

I pad downstairs, with a half hour to get ready. The key to making that work is prepping my food and clothing the night before, but I don't always take my own advice. I take my breakfast (a variation on this shake recipe), and lunch (dinner leftovers with some delicious liver pate) out of the refrigerator, and put them into my bag.

6:12 a.m.
I head up the street to my bus stop.  The stop is towards the end of the route, so the bus's scheduled arrival time is just a suggestion.  I don't want to count on it being late, so I push myself up the hill at a good clip.  Of course, today, the bus is late.

The streetlights on this stretch of road have been out for weeks.  As I wait in the darkness, I wonder when they will be repaired.  Every moment they are out saves on electricity.  It also means that much less light pollution.  Still, I feel vulnerable, alone at the stop at this early hour, and even more so without the light.

6:46 a.m.
Usually, I meet my brother, who is headed in the same direction and who drives me for the last leg of my commute. I look forward to our visits. We chat about this and that, he quizzes me about his sports trivia and then marvels at my ignorance of most things sporty, and before we know it, we have arrived.

Today, he's not driving in, so I wait for my third bus of the morning. It's standing-room-only. Again.  It's great that there are so many riders on this route. However, it would be nice if it were well-used, but not to the point of having no seats available.  I maneuver to get a handhold, and then attempt to practice my best one-handed rush-hour newspaper folding and reading technique.

7:07 a.m.
I would have gotten to my office a few minutes sooner, but I like to get off a stop early for a slightly longer morning stroll.  I get some water and prepare my morning beverage of apple cider vinegar with honey.   The sun has risen, and will stream right in my window for the next hour.

I change shoes and meet a small group of colleagues for a walk.  We set a stopwatch to time our pace, and set off with a brisk tempo. As we work on our outsides, our insides flourish, too.  Our conversation topics (when we're not recovering from a strenuous interval or a hill!) range all over the place as we share things which have nothing to do with budgets, programs, or projects.  Today's weather is perfect for our outing.

4:32 p.m.
My bus pulls into its bay, and I see that I've missed my connection by 2 minutes.  My backpack is heavy today, so I was looking forward to getting that connecting bus.  The next one won't come for another 20 minutes.  In that time, I could have walked home.  I adjust my pack, and engage the waist strap to help balance the load.  And why not?  The weather is still wonderful.  I walk on whichever sidewalk gives me more rays of the warm, late afternoon sun.

4:53 p.m.
Our neighbor is outside with his cute-as-a-button grandson.  I walk over to say hello, and to marvel over how Mr. Cuteness has grown.  We have the best conversation we've had in 11 years of living next door to each other.  Babies are very effective conversation starters.

5:10 p.m.
I have a little over an hour before the TruffulaBoyz and I need to pile into the car for their sports class.  While Mr. Truffula works on dinner prep, I grind up eggshells in the blender which I've dedicated to that task.  I take the powdered shells out to the compost pile and garden.  While I'm out there, I see the tulsi which I want to harvest before it is even more past its prime.  I pull out the plants, and am happy to rediscover the anise hyssop which I thought had died.

Back in the kitchen, I pull off the tulsi leaves, inspect them for dirt and mystery flecks, put them into a jar, and add Everclear to start a tincture.  I check on the beet kvass I started yesterday, and get a new batch of water kefir going.

9:10 p.m.
We're back from the class, and the Boyz are in bed.  I still hear chatting from their general direction, but ignore it for the time being.  I remember that the lima beans I soaked and cooked earlier in the week are still waiting for me in the refrigerator.  I take them out and whiz them into a Lima Bean Hummus.  I use only one clove of garlic, but it turns out to be super-strong.  Oops!

I make myself a cup of tulsi tea, using a few fresh leaves I'd set aside earlier. Mmm...!  I settle into my email inbox, and my online projects for the evening.

11:41 p.m.
I've crossed a few things off of my list, but it is still quite long.  It's tempting to keep going, as I have on so many nights.  I think of Annette's post on using this season for slaying dragons and shedding habits that aren't working for you any more.  Instead of making another cup of tea, I log out and turn off the light in the kitchen. I check on the Boyz as I pass their room.  They are fast asleep; one is horizontally across the bed.  My alarm is set for 5:37.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A day in MY life...

a suburban greenmom punts and recycles a post (hey, recycling is what we do, right?)...

Okay, the day has gotten away from instead of writing a new "day in the life" post, I'm afraid I'm going to link to the one I wrote a couple of years days right about now are too dull to write about, I'm afraid, anyway. (Later in the month I'll do a day in the life of a grad student, but school doesn't start till next week, so...)

A Day in the Life of a Suburban Greenmom

(warning: put on your thigh-high boots for this one!)

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Day in the Life of the Climate Crusader

What does the Climate Crusader do all day? Read on for the gripping recount.

Like most weekdays, on this one I wake up at about 7:30am. I shower, and try to keep it short, because I'm green like that. I get the kids up, and dressed. I make breakfast, which is cereal if I'm feeling lazy, scrambled local eggs and fried potatoes courtesy my CSA if I have a little more time to play with. I pack two litterless school lunches, and load up my daughter's stainless steel water bottle. I help my kids feed the cat. I kiss my son good-bye, and he heads off to daycare with my husband.

If all goes well, it is now about 8:40am. My daughter and I pack her backpack, and we head out on the walk to school. One of the best parts of attending the local public school is that we can walk there. I prefer it when the weather is good, but we make the trek on foot rain or shine. I drop her off at the school door, and head back home to work.

It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood
The walk to school

I'm a writer, and my workplace is my family room. While there are a number of downsides, one of the big upsides is that I have literally no commute. I don't have to spend time in traffic, and I'm reducing my carbon footprint in the process. It's the green justification for having no real separation between my work life and my home life.

I do my best to keep my nose to the grindstone, other than a short break for lunch when I catch an episode of The Daily Show. Before I know it, it's 2:45 and it's time to head out to pick up my daughter from school. Once again I walk back up the hill to her school, and once she's out of class we head to the playground where she plays with her friends for about half an hour. That's part of my new campaign to make sure my kids and I have more outside time. I think it's important for a number of reasons - it's good for us, it helps us to connect with nature, and it gets me away from the computer screen.

On the school playground

Once we're back home again, I make a snack for my daughter and let her watch a little bit of "big kid" TV while I squeeze out a little more work. As you can see, I am not a perfect parent - I do use the electronic babysitter. At about 4:45pm it's time to load up and make the drive to daycare. Yes, it's true, I do drive. Once my son is back home I let the kids watch another half hour of TV while I get dinner started. Right now dinner is typically some local veggies and meat, along with potatoes, rice or gluten-free pasta.

After dinner I water the garden, clean the kitchen, and work with my husband to get the kids to bed. Then I do some more work, because I'm a work at home mom, before I watch a TV show and head to bed. I usually turn the lights out too late, because I'm enjoying the quiet time. I know I'll regret it in the morning, but when it's dark and I have some time to myself to relax, it's hard to pass it up.

What sorts of green choices do you make in your own daily life? And if you're a work at home parent, how do you juggle the balance?

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Day in the Life- Kittens and Speech Therapy!

A Day in the Life... of EcoYogini :)

Typically my days start between 4:30 and 5am... when Atreyu, our cognitively impaired, clinically anxious (vet recommended anti-psychotics, I kid you not), cat wants to have some cuddles. Usually he just walks over us until I roll over on my left side and he can cuddle right up. If I don't pet him tiredly to his satisfaction he'll either start walking again or put a paw on my face. It's lovely.

Atreyu as a cute 8 week old kitten... he was a terror!

He now looks like this- still cute with a squishy face... just quite a bit larger...

My alarm goes off at 6:03am... just because I want a few extra minutes of sleep. Andrew (husband) thinks I am crazy.

I get ready, feed the cats, make coffee in our French press, all quietly so I won't wake up Andrew, make my lunch, download the latest French cbc podcast and out the door I go to walk to the Ferry. It takes about 20minutes to walk to the Ferry, and most of it is along the waterfront, so it's a beautiful walk that is usually pretty darn quiet between 7:20 and 7:45am.

By 8am I am at my office at work, sleepily opening up my computer (it's a laptop since I have to travel around the province for work), checking emails and listening to phone messages. I'm at work between 8am and 4:15pm full time.

I'm a Speech-Language Pathologist, SLP (or speech therapist, same deal), and I work with bilingual French-English or monolingual French preschool aged children between the ages of 0 and school entry (5-6yrs). I adore my job, and I especially love when I have Acadian French clients, since that is my first dialect or language.

My days are mostly filled with seeing little preschoolers, accompanied by their caregivers, for a variety of reasons. I assess and, with the parents, treat all areas of communication from social communication (eye contact, topic maintenance, turn taking), expressive language (grammar, vocabulary, syntax), receptive language (comprehension of verbal directions and concepts), voice (raspy or rattly voice), fluency (stuttering) and articulation (sounds). Feeding and swallowing also fit in there.

A lot of it is us playing fun games to target certain goals, while I train the parents to be 'mini speech therapists' and follow through at home. Sometimes we run around the office with our paper steering wheels going "vroom vroom! Beep beep!" pretending to drive and park our cars (great for working on spatial concepts such as in front-en avant, behind- en arrière, beside- à côté). All of my sessions are either fully in French, or at the very minimum have some French goals.

Since I'm also the Francophone Consultant for the province, I get to travel everywhere and do presentations for communities as well as help out other anglophone SLPs in our different clinics. Next week, for example, I'm travelling to the southern tip of the province to provide two Acadian community presentations and some consultation at our clinic... and see my parents while I'm there.

(our magnetic chore chart. The letters are days of the weeks, the images on the left are the chores- dishes, sweeping, bathroom, cooking, laundry, misc-includes compost)

After work I take the Ferry and walk home, usually getting home around 5pm. Once home, I'll wait for Andrew to get home before I start supper: we always cook together. Usually I spend that time cleaning and doing chores. My husband is great, but for some reason he just doesn't SEE the stuff that needs to get done, and since we both work full time there was no way I was also doing a full time job once I got home. So- we made a chores chart, since he is extremely motivation by external rewards and visuals. Three weeks in and it totally works!

After supper (hopefully eaten by 6:30pm, at the latest 7:30pm), Andrew and I either watch a tv show together or we each spend some computer time, or I guilt him into doing a chore on the chart. I usually also have plans- for example tonight I went to a yoga class that kicked my butt and was physically out between 6:40pm-9pm. We feed the cats twice more (their food gets digitally weight four times a day since our other cat is a little... voluptuous...) in the evening.

By 10pm we are both in bed sleeping.... The End :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesdays at the Homegrown Mama's

From the laundry basket of the Homegrown Mama

600 - The alarm is going off and I hit snooze. I need those seven minutes to collect myself and decide how much of to-do list is going to be possible today. I know that I have an entire hour before Sylvi wakes for the day and I'd better get rolling if I want a shower. We installed a low-flow shower head last year and while it's nice and all, it's taken some time to get used to. I've learned that running a load of wash while someone is in the shower is just plain rude now that the shower head is different, so I hurry to the bathroom since it's a non-negotiable that diapers need washed today.

830 - Everyone is up and dressed and breakfasted. My husband takes the kids outside with him while I grab the diapers from the wash and then meet them in the backyard. Hubs leaves for work, the kids play and I get the laundry hung before we leave for the Nature Center.

900 - I am so excited to take my kiddos to the Mom and Me class at the Nature Center. I was a Biology major in college and some of my favorite classes were the labs we spent outside collecting specimens and exploring. My kids are 3 and 1, they are not yet at my level of excitement, although they do enjoy the nature walks I do with them on our own... I quickly note that none of the other parents are bursting at the seams and tone my enthusiasm down. The instructor announces that we are going to be searching for members of the species Orthoptera! Our backyard is over run with crickets, but I've yet to capture a katydid or grasshopper for the kids to inspect, so I drag them to the front of the hike line and begin peppering our instructor with questions.

1000 - We leave our class empty handed. It was fairly cool and wet, so no one caught anything of note, although a friend of mine managed to spy a glorious specimen of a Praying Mantis. We head to the library for a little while. I've recently abandoned the main branch of our county library in favor of a smaller one close to my home. The children's department is laid out in such a friendly way that the kids can sit and color or build while I find books for our week of preschool lessons and I can still see them. When we go to check out, I realize that my bag is not nearly large enough for the books we chose while visiting, let alone the ones I had reserved. Once again, we leave with a large reusable tote filled with books, the diaper bag stuffed and each child carrying a book or two. I have no self-control when it comes to books

1215 - By the time we ended our library visit and drove to the health foods store to pick up some homeopathics for my husband who is struggling with a cold, discover there's construction on the way to his office and make it back home, the kids and I are exhausted. I make a quick lunch of fruit, cheese, and pb&j sandwiches (homemade bread and blackberry jam) and let them eat outside while I check the diapers. The shells are all dry, but the liners aren't so I leave them alone... it was a little bit cloudy this morning so I was pushing it.

1245 - Naptime for Sylvi; she was falling asleep in her lunch today! Liam gets to pick an episode of Mighty Machines while I clean up from lunch, check email and read a few blogs. The house is quiet and the dogs are sleeping at my feet.

130 - I sit down with Liam to do our preschool. We've been learning about community helpers and today we are working on garbage collectors! We read a few books and do a craft to go along with I Stink! and talk about the different between recycling and throwing away. This reminds me I need to call our garbage company and ask what exactly they do with my recycling. I just finished reading Plastic Free and now I feel like I need to know.

200 - Sylvi has been asleep for about an hour so Liam goes to his room for his quiet time. He chooses the basket with wooden trucks and asks to bring his logging truck and horse trailer in as well. We removed the carpet from the bedrooms, so those wooden trucks aren't exactly quiet, but he acts out whole storylines with them, so I encourage him to pick that basket more than the others. I use this time to return a phone call and work on a post for my blog and for Natural Parents Network.

300 - The phone call took far more of my time than I had anticipated, so I wasn't as productive as I had hoped. Oh well. Both kids are running around the house, racing trucks and I am serving as a bridge for them to run under. They run a few laps and then Sylvi trips and falls and needs boo-boos kissed and snuggles. When one child is down due to a wound (no matter how severe) the other also finds something that needs kissed, so I wind up with them piled on top of me. We play for a bit and Sylvi brings over books for me to read, which then ends in a brawl over my lap space. I have two knees, but apparently, this is not sufficient.  Ever.

410 - I change clothes, load the kids in my stroller and hand out snacks. School hasn't been in session all that long, so as I run through the parking lot of the school across the street from me, we see a lot of newly licensed students leaving from the area. Liam asks if we can go to the playground, but it's pretty busy, so we continue on our route. I run a little over a mile and a half and am disappointed with my time. My new stroller is very heavy, and even though it glides like butter, it's a challenge to push up the minor hills on my route. Liam talks to me about all the kids we saw in the parking lot and I promise a trip to the playground tomorrow since we will be over there watching my youngest brother in a soccer scrimmage anyway.

520 - The brown rice boils all over the stove because I walked away to referee a fight between the kids. Our backyard is fenced in and I can leave my back door open so I can see them while they play out in the sandbox and I fix supper. Today's drama: Sylvi took the orange shovel and according to Liam, she should only have the blue one. Once the crisis is settled, I resume our supper prep. I found a recipe for Poor Man Stroganoff and am excited to try the dehydrated tomatoes I plan to use in place of tomato paste. So far, it smells good!

545 - My husband is home from work, the rice is done and we decide to eat outside. Once my kids have been in the sandbox, there is no convincing them that they need to come in the house. We talk them into sitting at the picnic table and they eat as quickly as possible so they can get back to playing. This gives me a chance to talk with my husband about our days.

615 - I clean up from supper and the kids get "Daddy Time". Currently, they play a hybrid of football and soccer.  Sylvi runs around clinging to the football, yelling "hike" at the top of her lungs and Liam kicks the soccer ball to the goal while Matt runs between them. I watch from the kitchen window and laugh.

700(ish) - Sylvi face plants in the grass while holding a dandelion puff. Her nose is running so the grass and dandelion bits stick to her face. She is not pleased. This seems like a good segway into bath time, huh? Bath time is a lengthy process in our house. Not so much because it's a challenge, but we put the water in the tub and let the kids play until they are ready to get out. Since we only have two children, we are still able to "divide and conquer" and each get one child ready for bed. We then head to the living room to play and read bedtime stories before tucking them in.

835 - Liam is tucked in and promised that we will not turn off his lamp, so it won't be dark in his room. Sylvi has been asleep for at least 15 minutes. This is an excellent sign for my night. I settle on the couch to watch some Saved by the Bell on Netflix. Half way through the episode, I realize that I never bothered to bring the diapers in from the line, so I run outside to do so. On my way back through the kitchen, I fill and program the coffee pot for the morning and turn the dishwasher on. I watch three episodes, chat with my husband and  discuss weekend plans. He is designing a header for a blog I'm managing, so we talk designs and ideas.

1030 - I totally mean to go to bed, but I make the foolish decision to check Pinterest one more time for a breakfast recipe.

1130 - I check on the kids as I head to bed. Tomorrow will be here before I know it and I'm certain it will be just as busy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day in the Life of Retro Housewife

This month some of us here at the Green Phone Booth have decided to share a little peek into our lives. I'm excited about this because I'm pretty nosey and love to learn how other people live.

I kept notes yesterday on what I did all day. I of course didn't write every little detail down but you should get a good idea of what my day is like, of course everyday is a bit different.

I woke up around 8 a.m. but dozed until around 9 a.m. because I hadn't slept well. After I got up I oil pulled, brushed my teeth, and got ready for the day. After all of that, I sorted the laundry, striped the sheets off of the bed, and put a load in the washer.

After doing a few productive things, I made a cup HUGE mug of tea. While doing that I put up a few dishes and then drank my tea while reading emails and Facebook. I spent far to long replying to emails and working playing on Facebook.

I finally got off my butt to make some lunch. I eat lunch pretty early because my husband has to eat early at work and wants dinner early. For lunch I had a tuna sandwich, grapes, and iced tea. While eating I watched the Daily Show on Hulu.

After lunch I try to be really productive. Lately I've been setting a timer and I clean and do chores for 30 minutes and then work on the computer or do something fun for 5 minutes. Seems to keep me on track.

During the afternoon I did three more loads of laundry, put baking soda and vinegar in a drain to clear it out, did my daily quick clean in the bathroom, cleaned the tooth brushes, picked up around the house, unloaded the dishwasher, lightly dusted the house (we live near a cement plant so the house is always dusty), sprayed sofas, the bed, and such with homemade fabric refreshing spray, started some pizza dough rising for dinner, put clean sheets on the bed, sprayed the garage with peppermint spray which keeps mice and bugs away, and refilled my diffusers and started them.

My husband got home around 5 p.m. Shortly after he got home I made pizza sauce, got the toppings for the pizza ready, and got the pizza dough on to cookie sheets to rise a second time. After I cooked the pizza and the rest of dinner, we ate and watched Monday Night Football. During the game I folded some laundry and worked on my laptop.

The only picture I took all day, oops.

By about the second half of the second game, my husband went to bed. I then did another load of laundry, a load of dishes, got his clothes ready for the next day, made his lunch, got ready for bed, wrote a blog post, started another blog post, edited some pictures, played on the internet for a little bit to unwind and finally got in bed at 1:50 a.m.

So what does your day look like? I would love to hear about it!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Green Flooring: an oxymoron?

a suburban greenmom dives into home improvement...
That’s the beginning of our new bamboo floor.
Since stepping into the World of Green Anxiety, it seems like every time I do or buy anything, I freak out and fret at great length about whether what I’m doing is even remotely sustainably justifiable. (Remember my angst about a new computer? Which culminated in not even buying one?  Family camping trip? Nook? Angst, angst and more angst.)
When we bought our house 4 years ago, we immediately knew we wanted to rip out the cheap icky neutral carpet and put real floors down. We also knew we wanted to not just go out and buy the cheapest long-lasting option without regard to how it was produced and who made it. So finally, when we decided to suck it up and start the damn project, we (of course) did some research.
As usual, it seems like there’s no real green option for buying anything. You have to give up something somewhere. And some of the greenest options are so prohibitively expensive that they are just plain out of reach if we want our kids to have school shoes. In the end we went with bamboo, because even though there are varying levels of “green” in its manner of production, it is at the very least a renewable resource—it takes only 4-7 years to completely regrow a crop of the stuff from the ground up. And while there is apparently an emerging problem with growers in China chopping down old growth forest to plant new bamboo, and a whole “monoculture” issue developing over there, we went with a single company with its own source area, who rotates the crop around over a 7 year period and harvests every year, so they themselves are not buying willy-nilly from various random bamboo fields. Chinese labor and tariff issues mean that it would be much more expensive for them to ship the bamboo to the U.S. and make the flooring here, so they do make the flooring in China, which didn’t thrill me. (Is it hypocritical, though, that it makes me feel a lot better about the whole “made in China” thing to know that one of the company owners is himself Chinese—He lives here and started this American company but himself is the go-between from one nation to the other, not some random U.S. group outsourcing to the cheapest possible place?)
Below is a list of the links I’ve found about greener flooring materials, some aspects of which surprised me. For one thing, it had never occurred to me that plain old linoleum (not linoleum-looking-vinyl, which is awful) is one of the greenest possible choices.  Reclaimed wood is, of course, one of the best options, but is pretty expensive. Cork is another popular material, but it's pretty soft. (Although a friend of mine who had cork flooring put into her basement says it's also nice and warm--something I never considered.) And bamboo can be anywhere on the spectrum depending on how they process the raw grasses into hard flooring material, whether they use formaldehyde or not, and so forth. (I didn’t run across the formaldehyde question until after we’d paid for half the floor, so I never asked it, and honestly now I don’t really want to know.) How hard it is relative to wood seems to depend on how the flooring is produced and how dark it is, which is interesting: the darker color is drawn out by “cooking” it longer, but it also softens the fibers. So the lighter the grain, the harder the bamboo, apparently.
So here’s my linky list:
Treehugger muses about whether bamboo is or isn’t green, 5 years after their first article on the topic. I’m relieved that they are as bewildered by it all as I am.
Planet Green has a whole “green flooring guide” that covers a bunch of different flooring types—this is a great resource!
TLC has an interesting slideshow on flooring materials from an air quality perspective…an aspect of the process I might not have considered otherwise.
This one isn’t as much useful as plain old cool—using recycled wine corks to make a floor. Even I don’t drink that much wine! Or how about using actual pennies instead of tiles? It involves some fairly fume-y glue to seal the floor, but talk about an awesome repurpose!
I naturally perused a whole bunch of different sites, but these (and the ones they link to) were the ones I found most useful…anyone else undergone this process have any other wisdom to add?
Now we need to paint…Oh Lord, here we go again…
--Jenn the Greenmom

Monday, September 3, 2012

Four Small Changes to Make in Your Daily Life

Inspired by this month's theme - "A Day in the Life" - the Climate Crusader shares three things she does in her daily life to make a difference.

The environmental problems we face are very, very big. When you consider them, it's easy to feel discouraged. How can one person address such massive issues?

The good news is that you don't have to have all the answers. By making small changes, and sticking with them, you can make an impact. Those little things that you do in your daily life add up quickly, because you repeat them over and over again. Today I'm sharing five things I do in my own daily life to make a difference.

Reusable bag overload

Four Small Changes to Make in Your Daily Life

  1. Carry reusable bags everywhere. I carry reusable bags in my purse wherever I go. I have Envirosax, ChicoBag and some knock-offs, and they all fold up really small so they're not cumbersome at all. Now I never have to take a plastic bag when I buy something. The average American uses 300-700 plastic bags each year, so this little change packs a big punch.
  2. Drink tap water. The Eco-novice made a great case for drinking water. It's free or incredibly cheap, it doesn't come with any packaging and it's good for you. If you carry a reusable water bottle with you when you go out you can easily refill it as needed. In airports I empty mine out before I go through security and refill it on the other side, and I'm never without a drink when I need it.
  3. Increase the temperature on your thermostat in the summer, and decrease it in the winter. Big changes in temperature are hard to take - but even a one degree change for eight hours each day can reduce your heating bill by one percent. If you can, consider installing a programmable thermostat, so that you can automatically reduce your heating and cooling during the hours when no one is home.
  4. Eat less meat. Meat production is a major contributing factor in climate change - in fact, livestock produce as much as 18% of the planet's greenhouse gases. Meat production also uses far more water than growing plants. I'm not a vegetarian, but I have taken steps to reduce my meat consumption. Even one veggie meal every day can make a big difference, and you may even get the chance to try some new recipes while you're at it.
Each change that you make carries a benefit for the planet. And the changes that you make in your daily life carry extra weight, because over the course of a month or year they really add up. So don't feel that you need to have all the answers right away - start small, by changing one little thing in your daily routine. The planet will thank you.

What environmental changes have you made in your daily life? I'd love some more suggestions!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin