Friday, November 26, 2010

November 26th is Buy Nothing Day

"For hundreds of years we have believed that increased material wealth makes us happier, and we have shaped our world accordingly. We have built big box stores along highways that can only be reached by car. We have built larger and larger vehicles that isolate us from others and emit dangerous levels of carbon. We work 40 hours a week – or more – to maintain this lifestyle. Why do we believe that making a lot of money makes us happy? “We didn’t evolve with iPods and fancy cars,” explains Christopher Barrington-Leigh, an economist at the University of British Columbia. “How could we possibly have a preset level of satisfaction that relates material things to how happy we are?”

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Facial

Here is a recipe for a soothing and earth friendly facial mask. All the ingredients are staples from your pantry. Cheap and easy to make!

Oatmeal Mask

1 tablespoon oatmeal
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1 teaspoon honey

Mix together the yogurt and oatmeal. Warm the honey by running the honey bottle under hot tap water. Pour the honey into the oatmeal mixture and stir. Sit back in a comfy chair or lie down and apply the mask. Keep it on your face for 10 minutes and then rinse off with water. If you have sensitive skin you can grind the oatmeal in a blender.




Friday, November 12, 2010

Green Toys & Games


Do you have children to buy toys for this holiday season? Buy green and earth friendly toys and games this year.

Hazelnut Kids- Natural, earth-friendly, wooden and organic cotton toys for babies and children.

Planet Happy Kids- Mission is to promote imaginative and intelligent play while setting a higher standard for children's products.

Dandelion- Earth friendly, family owned company that sells back to basics and eco-conscious baby products.

Eco Time Toys- Quality made, eco-friendly toys and gifts.

The Playstore- Natural, wooden and organic toys for creative and imaginative play.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

JR Watkins September Monthly Special


Here is a link to J.R. Watkins September Monthly Specials. Shopping is quick & easy on my website. Place your order and it will be shipped directly to your house. Quick & easy!

It's also the time of year to introduce our holiday products. Here is a link to the 2010 J.R. Watkins Seasonal Favorites. You can find products like Pumpkin Butter that are only available this time of year.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Say Good Bye to Fruit Flies


We've all experience those annoying little fruit flies roaming through our house. They enjoy trying to fly up your nose, into your mouth and just out of reach so you can't kill them. Getting rid of these pests is remarkable easy. By removing their food source, doing some cleaning and laying out some fruit fly traps, your home can become fruit fly free.

Prevention and Clean-up

Fruit flies love ripe veggies, sweets and ripe/overripe fruit. The fermentation of the fruit is what attracts them. If you are finding fruit flies in your house that means they have a food source and are laying eggs. In order to remove the fruit flies you need to locate their food source and remove it.

-Wash kitchen surfaces and counters daily with hot soap and water.
-Wipe up spills immediately.
-Wash your dishes or put them in the dishwasher immediately after eating.
-Keep the area beneath countertop and heavy appliances clean.
-Dirty residue inside drains & sinks attract fruit flies. If you suspect that is where they are camping out keep those drains clean by pouring boiling water down them daily.
-Don't throw away those fruit rinds, pits and peels in garbage cans located in the home. Dispose of them in an outdoor garbage or compost.
-Don't leave beverage cans, glasses or containers laying around the house. Rinse them out immediately when they are empty and put them in the recycling in the garage or shed. Fruit flies are attracted to beer, wine, soda, fruit juice and sweet liquors.
-Don't store crushed aluminum cans in your basement or attached garage.
-Make sure your kitchen garbage can has a lid that fits tightly.
-During the warm summer months remove your kitchen garbage each day.
-Keep food that is wrapped in plastic stored in the refrigerator.
-Keep your pantry clean. Check for spills, leaks or bags that aren't properly sealed.
-Check your onions and potatoes often to make sure they aren't rotten.

It will appear you have rid your home of fruit flies and then you'll discover another batch flying around a few days later. This is because eggs hatch every 7-10 days. You need to keep repeating the process of cleaning, removing food sources and laying traps until all the eggs have been hatched.

Fruit Fly Traps

Coca-Cola Trap

Put 1-2 inches of Coca Cola Classic in an empty pop bottle. With a hammer and nail, make a small hole in the cap and then screw back on the bottle. Place the bottle in the room where fruit flies seem to be concentrated. They will crawl into the bottle but won't be able to escape.

Cider Vinegar Trap

1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp. dishwashing liquid

Into a jar pour all the ingredients and set out in area where you are seeing fruit flies. The odor will attract the fruit flies and they will be covered with the soap and drown.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Used Clothes


To continue with my earlier declutter blog, I thought I’d post a few places where you can get rid of your excess clothes. With so many people being out of work, school starting soon it’s a good idea to find ways to help others or to make yourself some much needed cash.

These are places located in Wisconsin. If you are looking for places in your area go to Google and do a search for used clothes, recycle clothes or clothes for the needy etc.

re-threads -They currently have two locations in Milwaukee & Madison on State Street. This is not a consignment shop. They buy your clothes ranging from modern to vintage.

New To You Kids- Located in at two locations in the Milwaukee area since 1994. They have been helping families save money by offering high quality and gently used clothes for kids. They also pay by cash or check for quality children’s merchandise you no longer need.

Community Clothes Closet - Located in Oshkosh since 1980 and is run by a volunteer staff. They collect and distribute clothing, blankets, towels, sheets and household items to people in need. They accept from the community gently used clothes for men, women and children. They also accept shoes, purses, costume jewelry, stuffed animals and books (no encyclopedias). They provide FREE clothing to financially challenged individuals and families.

Plato’s Closet - Has 4 locations in Wisconsin: Appleton, Greenfield and 2 in Madison. Bring in gently used name brand clothing and accessories and they will offer to buy your used clothes. Offer is based on style, condition, brand and store’s current stock levels.

Dress for Success - Located at the YWCA of Racine’s Empowering Women Center (by appointment only). This program promotes economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire for job interviews. Each client receives 1 suit when she has a job interview and can return for a second suit or separates when she finds work.

Naked Lady Party - Eat, drink and swap clothes with friends. Women get together to trade clothes they no longer need or like. Now there are two versions of NLP. East Coast is where you throw all the clothes in the middle of the room and have at it. West Coast version involves the removal of clothing, hence the term Naked Lady Party.

PAVE (People Against a Violent Environment) - Started in 1978, PAVE is located in Beaver Dam and provides services for victims of domestic violence. They accept clothes donations for women, men and children. Victims of domestic violence usually escape their abusers leaving all their belongings behind. During tough economic times domestic abuse usually sky rockets.

Declutter your life


Right now we are in the middle of a decluttering at our house. We plan on moving in 2-5 years and I have decided that a lot of crap isn’t coming with us. I started in the kitchen yesterday by cleaning out three junk drawers and will continue until every room (including garage & basement) have been throughly searched.

I think clutter is a huge problem in our country. How often do you drive around and see cars parked in the driveway because the garage is storage space? My neighbors across the street have been living there for 8 years and they still haven’t finished unpacking. Their cars sit outside through rain, snow, sleet and hail because their garage is filled with boxes. If you haven’t touched those boxes or used the items contained in them in 8 years obviously you can live without them. Would you like to use your garage or basement for their intended purpose again? Is your attic overflowing with clutter? Does your house and life need to be decluttered? Here are some great tips.

1. Throw away clutter every day. While you are waiting for dinner to finish cooking, waiting for the cable man to show up or bored out of your mind. These are all fantastic times to declutter a room or closet.

2. Don’t bring clutter into the house in the first place. Before you buy another pair of shoes think.....do I really need another pair?

3. When you are making a pot of tea, clean up your kitchen. A lot of stuff you can clean and throw away in the few minutes it takes to boil a kettle of water.

4. Rule with clothing. If you have clothes you haven’t worn in 6 months....get rid of it. Have a rummage sale, give it to a friend or donate it to a charity. We women also tend to hang onto clothes thinking well, I’ll lose a few pounds and it will fit me again. No...that is just an excuse....get rid of it!

5. Make storage space smaller. If you have less room for storage you have less room for clutter.

6. Get rid of paper. Some people really love holding onto their paperwork. Certain items only need to be kept for 7 years and others maybe a month. Look through your file cabinet and shred paperwork you no longer need. The shredded paper also makes great mulch.

7. Recycle. While you are working on decluttering your life please remember to recycle.

What tips do you have on how to declutter?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

J.R. Watkins August Monthly Specials

Here is a link to J.R. Watkins August Monthly Specials. Shopping is quick & easy on my website. Place your order and it will be shipped directly to your house. Quick & easy!

-August’s featured product....Black Pepper

Pepper was once more valuable than gold; such was its importance to the world. It is used in virtually every cuisine on the planet, and is the only spice worthy of its own shaker along with salt at the table--don't fill yours with anything but the best. At Watkins, we buy top-quality Malabar and Lampong peppercorns, then granulate them through our exclusive process, which preserves their high essential oil content.

Available in 2, 6 and 12 ounce tins.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chai tea


Homemade chai tea is easy to make and tastes fabulous. It can be drank hot or cold and made with dairy, soy or almond milk.

Ingredients:

1 cinnamon stick
6 whole green cardamon pods
6 whole cloves
1 (1-inch) piece ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
4 whole black peppercorns
3 cups water
1 tablespoon loose black tea (unflavored)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 cup low-fat milk (dairy, soy or almond)

Directions:

Place cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, ginger, peppercorns and water into a small pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to let steep for 10 minutes.

Return pot to the heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add tea, cover and set aside to let steep for 3-5 minutes. Strain through a fine mes sieve, discarding solids and then return liquid to the pot. Stir in sugar, milk and heat over low heat for 1 minute. Pour into cups and serve.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wisconsin Pottery

I'd like to share one of my favorite places to shop. I started collecting pottery a few years ago and I'm lucky enough to have a great store 2 blocks from my home. Wisconsin Pottery is run by Joel Huntley and he specializes in redware pottery. Joel is inspired by 17th, 18th and 19th century folk pottery that was produced in America and Europe. All of his redware is hand-formed and decorated by Joel in his studio in Columbus Wisconsin.








Thursday, July 22, 2010

Homemade Hair Products


By making your own hair care products you can cut down your chemical exposure and save money. I use clear Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera gel as styling gel. It works great!

Styling Gel

Ingredients:

water
plain gelatin (like Knox)

Directions:

Heat 2 1/2 cups of water. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of gelatin into the water and stir. Allow the gel to cool and it may be used when it reaches room temperature. Store it in the fridge until you need to use it. The gel can be warmed up before use. Keeps 1 week in the fridge.

Hairspray

Ingredients:

sugar
purified water
vodka (preservative)
essential oil (optional for smell)

Directions:

Dissolve the sugar in hot water, stirring thoroughly to dissolve. Remove from heat and add vodka. Cool and then add your choice of essential oil.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Homemade Parrot Fruit Popsicles


Treat your feathered friend to a yummy popsicle during on a hot July afternoon.

Birdie Popsicles

Ingredients:

Your birds favorite organic fresh fruit
Nuts (optional)

Directions:

Slice up the fruit and puree in the blender until smooth. Add the nuts and pour into ice cube trays. Freeze until solid and then can be store in a freezer container or plastic bag. Some birds prefer these to be slightly thawed to the consistency of lemon ice and some enjoy them frozen.

Non-Toxic Carpet Cleaning

You don’t have to buy harsh chemicals at the store to clean your carpet. Always test these on a small inconspicuous area of your carpet before using on larger more noticeable areas.

Carpet Cleaner

Ingredients:

White Vinegar
Baking Soda
Water

Directions:

Mix the baking soda & white vinegar to form a paste. Use an old toothbrush to work the paste into a stain on carpet. Allow the paste to dry then vacuum the remaining baking soda and the stain should be gone. Some stains will need to be treated more then once.

Solution for Steam Cleaners

Ingredients:

White Vinegar
Warm Water

Directions:

Fill the steam cleaner with equal parts warm water and white vinegar and then clean your carpet according to the instruction manual.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Homemade Frozen Fruit Bars


Great way to use up leftover fruit salad and you’ll also save money by not buying pre-made frozen fruit bars. If you use organic fruit you can cut down your families pesticide consumption too.

Frozen Fruit Bars

2 cups fruit (pineapple, strawberries, oranges, watermelon etc)
1 tsp. sugar (optional)
1 tsp. lemon juice

Puree the fruit in a blender and add a teaspoon or two of water if needed. Add lemon juice, sugar and blend. Pour into bar molds or small paper cups and insert sticks. Freeze bars until they are solid.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Homemade Doggy Birthday Cake

Fun birthday cake you can make for your best friend.

Doggy Birthday Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups water
2 ripe bananas
1/8 tsp vanilla
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup carob chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8-inch round cake pan. In a mixing bowl combine water, bananas, vanilla, egg and honey followed by whole wheat flour and baking powder. Mix well. Pour mixture into the greased cake pan and sprinkle carob chips on top. Bake for 60-75 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Carob Frosting

Ingredients:

12 ounces softened nonfat cream cheese
3 tsp. carob powder
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine ingredients and blend thoroughly. Spread on cooled cake.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Homemade Earth-friendly Car Cleaning Recipes

Washing your vehicle with eco-friendly products will help prevent pollutants from entering local waterways.

What you’ll need:

-2 large plastic buckets
-2-3 cellulose sponges and several microfiber towels
-pure castile soap
-spray bottle containing 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar
-newspapers
-old hair brush or scrub brush
-spray bottle containing mixture of 1 tsp. jojoba oil & 1/4 cup white vinegar (interior polish)
-all purpose car wax (if needed)
-washing soda & salt
-hand-held vacuum or Shop-Vac

Clean the outside

Wash your vehicle on days when it is cooler or in the shade so it doesn’t dry quickly leaving spots. Rinse the car to remove debris and dirt. You don’t want to scrub your car with dirt on it because it will scratch the paint.

Prepare 2 buckets:
1-hot soapy water using a couple squirts of pure castile soap + sponge/microfiber towel
2-clean rinse water + sponge/microfiber towel

Wash and rinse the vehicle in small sections and change the water out as needed. Dry quickly with a soft clean rag. Apply wax if needed.

Cleaning the interior:
-Vacuum out the inside using your hand-held vacuum or Shop-Vac. To remove odors place an open box of baking soda under the seats when you are done vacuuming.

-To remove tough spots on mats, remove them from the vehicle, lay them on the sidewalk or driveway and saturate with a mixture of 1 cup washing soda, water and salt to form a paste. Scrub the mats with plenty of water, old hair brush or scrub brush. Rinse clean and let them completely dry before returning to vehicle.

-Use a 50/50 mixture of water & vinegar to clean plastic, wood, chrome, vinyl and leather interior. Spray onto a microfiber cloth and wipe gently in a circular motion. Avoid waxed surfaces because the vinegar will begin to strip any wax previously applied....use hot water instead to clean.

-Shake well the bottle containing the mixture of vinegar & jojoba oil. Spray on a microfiber towel and gently apply in long strokes which will help condition the vinyl, leather and wood interior. Buff to a shine with a clean rag. Test on inconspicuous spot first.

Cleaning headlights, windows, mirrors and wheels:

-Prepare a 50/50 solution of washing soda and salt using enough water so it has the consistency of frosting. Rub on rims and tires and let sit for 10 minutes. Then scrubbing and rinse off. This helps to remove rust and grease. Use a separate towel or sponge for this job because you don’t want the grime on painted surfaces.

-50/50 water & vinegar solution will make chrome shine. Vinegar can tarnish some aluminum alloy so avoid using if you are unsure.

-Windows and mirrors should be cleaned last with a spray bottle containing full strength white vinegar and newspaper. Spray can be let to sit on spots where there is dirt or greasy fingerprints.

-Fill windshield washer fluid reservoir tank with a 50/50 mixture of water & vinegar this will clean the windshield and prevent frost.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Get to know Sweet! Cake Design

I have a new business advertising on my blog and I’d like to introduce you.


Wedding Dessert Table
Mousse cups, mini cupcakes, regular cupcakes, brownie wedding cakes, mini 3 tier cakes, 14-10-6 cake with pictures & monogram, cake bites and candy.


Something Sweet! awaits you at Sweet! Cake Design of Columbus, Wisconsin. Mandy is a graduate of the San Diego Culinary Institute and she designs unique, artistic and delicious cakes, cupcakes and speciality items to fit any occasion. Sweet! cakes are specifically designed for each customer’s need and are baked fresh to order. The cakes are made with real butter, fresh fruit, pure vanilla extract, the finest espresso, chocolate and real dairy cream. These are just some of the fine ingredients used in Sweet! cakes. Mandy believes in eating with your eyes first, so every Sweet! cake, cupcake and speciality item are not only delicious, but beautiful! Right now her business is growing so she doesn’t have regular hours of operation. All the cakes are custom orders and there are currently no cakes ready to be sold at the store.


My Birthday Cake

I ordered a cake from Sweet! Cake Design for my birthday this year. Mandy was easy to talk to and took the time to understand what I was looking for in a design. My husband went to pick up my cake yesterday and it was gorgeous! It was the coolest birthday cake I’ve ever had. I told Mandy to surprise me with the design after giving her a few options of things that I love and she picked India and elephants. My parents were also over to help me celebrate my birthday and they loved the cake too. It was hard to slice into because we didn’t want to ruin the beautiful cake, so my husband had the difficult job of slicing up pieces for us to eat. Our first taste was heaven....it was the most delicious cake any of us had ever eaten. The cake is moist, flavorful and the buttercream frosting wasn’t sickly sweet. The overall sweetness of the cake was balanced and didn’t leave you with a sugar rush sick feeling. I would highly recommend Sweet! Cake Design for any of your cake needs because it’s now our cake destination. We just need to find more reasons to have cake.

Chocolate Chip Cookie flavored cake

Learn more about Sweet! Cake Design:



Friday, June 25, 2010

Shade Grown Coffee


Would you like to enjoy your morning coffee and protect songbirds? Did you know that wildlife habitat is replaced by coffee plantations and that songbird populations across South & North America are declining?

In the past all coffee was grown in the shade because it was naturally intolerant of direct sunlight. Coffee plants needed the rainforest canopy to provide them with sun-filtered light. When the leaves fall from these trees they gave the plants beneficial nutrients and mulched the soil to retain moisture. The shade trees also provided habitat for songbirds. This was a sustainable method of growing coffee that didn’t require chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.

A new hybrid coffee plant was introduced in 1972 which could produce higher yields, smaller beans which were easier to harvest and could be grown in direct sunlight. The consequences of the introduction of this new hybrid is that 60% of the 6 million acres of coffee lands have been stripped of shade trees. These new hybrids are also dependent on large doses of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Water runoff, soil depletion and erosion caused many producers to clear large tracts of rainforest so they could have new soil to grow coffee.

The loss of all these shade trees has caused an estimated 20% decline in migratory bird populations in the last 10 years because of habitat loss. This loss can be felt as far as 1500 miles away from the coffee plantations.

Sales of eco-friendly organically grown shade coffee only represents $30 million or 1% of the market here in the United States.

What are the benefits for buying shade grown coffee?

-Provides bird habitat and greater biodiversity--150 species of birds have been identified on shade grown coffee farms.

-Healthier--Along with tobacco, coffee is sprayed with more chemicals than any other product consumed by humans.

-Taste--Coffee beans mature at a slower rate in the shade which causes natural sugars to increase which enhances the flavor of the coffee.

-Promotes Healthy Environment--Coffee that is grown in the shade requires little or no chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. The trees filter carbon dioxide from out atmosphere and aids in soil moisture retention which helps cut down erosion.

-Helps Sustain Rainforests--Rainforests are being destroyed to provide fresh ground to grow coffee plants.

How to buy shade grown coffee:

Look for the wording “shade grown” on the coffee package. The country of origin can also be an indicator as to whether the coffee is shade grown. Coffees which are produced in El Salvador, Peru, Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, southern Mexico, Sumatra, Timor, New Guinea and Ethiopia are primarily shade grown. Coffees from Brazil, Costa Rica and Columbia are usually sun coffees but there are a few shade grown farms in these areas.

Look for certification seals on the coffee which indicates it has been inspected and grown as shade coffee. Rainforest Alliance & Bird Friendly (see pictures) ensures you that the coffee has been produced in a diverse forest-like environment. The Bird Friendly certification also requires the coffee has to be organic.

Shade grown coffee is more expensive....$8-12 per pound, but they are far less costly to our environment.

Another benefit of shade grown coffee is they are usually fair-trade products. Fair trade is a social movement and market based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries obtain better trading conditions and promote sustainability. It advocates the payment of a higher price to producers along with social and environmental standards.

Where to buy shade grown coffee:

These coffees can be purchased online and more stores (Whole Foods, Target) are selling them too.

Audubon Premium Shade Grown Coffee: This coffee is bought directly from farmers at above market prices on long-term contracts. They also spend money on nutrition, health and educational programs. They also build medical clinics and schools in the communities where their partner farmers live. If you join their coffee club they will plant a native tree on their organic coffee farm.

Starbucks Organic Shade Grown Mexico: The only shade grown coffee I could find in Starbucks huge line of coffees...I find that disappointing.

Cafe Mam 100% Organic & Fair Trade Coffee: This coffee is grown by fair trade cooperatives of native Mayan farmers living in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico and Guatemala.

Birds & Beans- 5% of sales are donated to leading bird conservations groups.

Caribou Coffee-Currently 80% of their coffee is Rainforest Alliance Certified. By the end of 2011 all of their coffee will be 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified.

Peace Coffee-They have a green headquarters in Minneapolis, MN. They pride themselves on evolving how they do business while staying true to their passion for good coffee and thriving local communities everywhere they do business. I have bought this coffee for my friend Gwen and she loves it.

Equal Exchange: Fairly Traded Coffee, Tea & Chocolate: They partner with co-operatives of farmers who provide high quality organic teas, coffee, chocolates from all over the world and the United States. I have tried their chocolate bars and they are excellent!




J.R. Watkins July Monthly Specials


Here is a link to J.R. Watkins July Monthly Specials. Shopping is quick & easy on my website. Place your order and it will be shipped directly to your house. Quick & easy!

-July’s featured product...NEW Aloe Vera Moisturizing Sunscreen-

Naturally protect your family from UV, A, B & C rays. This unique formula contains all-natural titanium dioxide to provide your skin protection from harmful damage and premature aging. Natural, plant-based ingredients provide smooth and even coverage in this non-irritating formula that is 95% natural.

-Chemical sunscreen & PABA free
-SPF 30
-Eco-friendly formula & packaging


Thursday, June 24, 2010

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.


'If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.' ~Edward O. Wilson

It is now day 65 of the Gulf oil spill and you can’t help but feel deep despair. We are all asking the same questions.....When will it end? How can we clean up this huge mess? How can I help? What can I do??

"To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed." ~Theodore Roosevelt, seventh annual message, 3 December 1907

I started this blog less then two weeks ago because I wanted to do something. I was sitting home watching AC360 as the disaster continued to unfold in the Gulf, my heart breaking as I watch the innocent animals come to shore covered in oil. What can I do??

"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ~Aldo Leopold

My family started down the road to becoming green 4 years ago for several reasons. I have always been an animal rights activist, environmentalist and I wanted to take it a step further. I also wanted to be healthier. I have allergies that seem to be worsening each year and our parrot Morgan also suffers from allergies. His nares (nose) would swell up and he’d have sneezing fits after I did a load of laundry or cleaned the house. I did a lot of reading, research and came to the conclusion that I needed to make changes to rid our house of toxic chemicals. We started off by switching all of our cleaning & beauty products. Finding eco-friendly cleaning products at first was a chore because the only store I could find in my area that sold them was Whole Foods in Madison. As the green message has spread over the years more stores are caring eco-friendly products which makes it easier for consumers
to make ‘green’ choices. The only hurdle keeping people from making the eco-friendly decision is cost. On average a bottle of green laundry detergent is $2-5.00 more expensive then Tide, Era or Arm & Hammer. Why is that you wonder? Traditional laundry detergents contain petroleum-based chemicals. The oil industry is heavily subsidized which means products which contain oil like Tide Laundry Detergent can be sold cheaply. You must be wondering once again what can I do??

"And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried:"Look at this Godawful mess.”
~Art Buchwald, 1970

There are a few groups on Facebook calling for the boycott of BP gas stations but boycotting these businesses won’t change our oil addiction. You aren’t hurting BP you are hurting a small business owner who’s under contract. What can I do??

"The insufferable arrogance of human beings to think that Nature was made solely for their benefit, as if it was conceivable that the sun had been set afire merely to ripen men's apples and head their cabbages." ~Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac, États et empires de la lune, 1656

First you need to be honest with yourself and admit that we are all responsible for the BP oil spill. Our insatiable desire for oil is the reason why millions of gallons of oil has been spilling into the Gulf of Mexico for the past 65 days. Each time we decide to drive 5 blocks instead of walking or biking means BP gets richer and our Mother the Earth is getting sicker. We need to give up conveniences for a chance to stop the rapid climate change. We need to stop the relentless march of the 6th mass extinction which is occurring while you read this blog. We need to prevent future oil spills and leave a planet that is habitable for our children, grandchildren and future generations.

What can I do?

Make your own cleaning/beauty products--If you can’t afford to buy green products you can make your own beauty and cleaning products. They are super cheap and a great way to cut your oil consumption.

Drive less---We Americans burn 20 million barrels of oil a day. When you can use public transit, carpool, walk, bike or telecommute.

Meatless Monday---Raising one cow on a factory farm uses 35 gallons of oil. Cutting down your meat consumption just one day a week is equivalent to driving 1,000 miles less a year. Buy local, grass-fed & organic meat.

Eat Local---The average dinner travels 1,500 miles to get to your table. Chose to eat locally, support local farmers, eat seasonal fruits/vegetables.....eat food that is fresh all while cutting down on your oil consumption.

Go Organic--Yes I know that organic food is more expensive but consider the costs of eating non-organic. Conventional foods are coated in a slew of toxic oil-derived pesticides. Pesticides have recently been linked to ADHD in children. By choosing to eat organic you are helping to keep our environment cleaner, protecting the health of farmers/farm laborers and the health of your family....along with cutting down your oil consumption.

Say no to plastic and STOP littering--8% of the world’s total oil use goes into plastic production and all that plastic will be around long after we are dead......they take anywhere from 1,000 to 1 million years to degrade. The result of our love of plastic has resulted in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In 2009 photographer Chris Jordan visited Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean and took photographs of dead albatross chicks. Why did these chicks die? Their parents fed them plastic debris which they had mistaken for being food. The result---each year hundreds of thousands albatross babies each year are choked, poisoned and suffer from deadly blockages. Please stop littering....please dispose of your plastics responsibly.....please cut down your plastic consumption. We share this Earth with other animals who deserve a chance at life.....they don’t deserve to die because of our selfish need for cheap plastic.

Say no to plastic & paper bags---Plastic bags......or as I like to call them disgusting outdoor tree ornaments......begin their very long life as natural gas or other petrochemical substances. Factories across the world manufacture 4 to 5 trillion plastic bags each year. Most of these bags can be recycled at stores but sadly only 0.6% of the 100 billion plastic bags used each year are recycled while the rest fill up landfills or become plastic bag tumbleweeds or those disgusting tree ornaments along the side of the road. Paper bags are more likely to be recycled but their environmental impact is stunning. 14 million trees were chopped down in 1999 to manufacture the 10 billion paper grocery bags. The best choice is a strong, washable and reliable canvas bag. They can hold A LOT more then a plastic bag and won’t tip over. The next time the bagger at the store asks “Paper or Plastic” please reply “No thank you...I brought my own canvas bags.”

Raise your voice---Support national/global climate change legislation. Call your senator, congressman/woman and tell them to do their part to cut down our oil consumption. Tell them to support policies that will provide us with real long-term solutions. If your representatives aren’t listening to you vote them out of office during election season. Stop voting Democrat and Republican. Stop voting in the same people over and over again who do NOTHING and are nothing more then puppets for big corporations and lobbyists. Support and vote for Green Party candidates who aren’t puppets!

"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.”
~Ansel Adams

Say NO to more offshore drilling---More drilling in the Gulf is not the answer and we can’t afford another Gulf of Mexico disaster. Tell President Obama to end all new offshore drilling and to bring an end to our selfish addiction to oil.

"You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your Grandfathers.
So that they respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin.
Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our Mother.
Whatever befalls the Earth, befalls the sons of the Earth.
If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.”

Native American Wisdom

Our children....Pugsley, Morgan & Samuel say thank you for making a difference to make the world a better place for all creatures big and small.

Our Mother Earth....treat her kindly.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Natural Pest Control


Today’s post is a request from Deb, who is looking for natural ways to control pests. She wants to keep ants & bugs out her house along with stopping her outdoor plants from being munched on. Thanks for the question and email Deb and I hope you find the information helpful.

Dear Readers...please report back if any of these ideas do or don’t work. If you know of any ideas or tips that have worked for you please let us know.

Ants:

-First way to rid yourself of ants is to remove what is luring them into your house. Keep counters free of sticky spots & crumbs. Put covers on sugar & store honey bear/jar in a plastic bag. Remove sources of water by fixing that dripping faucet or don’t let dishes soak overnight.

-Fill a small spray bottle with soap water to spray the ants with.

-Set out bitter cucumber peels and slices in the kitchen or their point of entry. A lot of ants of a natural dislike of cucumber.

-Put mint tea bags, crushed dry mint leaves or cloves in areas where the ants seem most active.

-Slip sliced up garlic cloves between the cracks on your wooden deck.

-If you are able to find where the ants are coming in you can place a line of cayenne pepper, lemon juice, cinnamon or coffee grounds and the ants will not cross over it.

-Mix one teaspoon of Borax (another use for Borax), one liter of water and 1 cup of sugar. Soak cotton balls in the mixture and place them in small yogurt containers with holes punched in the lids to allow the ants access. Set the containers in a location where you have seen the ants. They will bring this ‘food’ back to their colony and they will eventually kill the entire colony. Please use indoors only and keep away from children and pets.

Flies

A really annoying pest here in Wisconsin during the summer!

-Place small sachets of mint around your house to discourage flies.

-Wrap bay leaves, eucalyptus and cloves into cheesecloth squares and hang by open windows and doors.

-Place a small open container of clover and sweet basil next to pet food dishes in your house.

Homemade Fly Strips:

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
strips of brown kraft paper

Combine the sugars and syrup and soak the strips of kraft paper. Let them dry overnight. To hang them put a hole in the top of each strip and hang with a thread or string.

Silverfish

-Vacuum the area to remove food particles and insect eggs. Fill a glass container 1/4 full of soapy water. Wrap the container with tape so they can climb up and fall in. The silverfish will drown because they will be unable to climb up the slippery sides of the glass.

Earwigs

-Lightly spray a newspaper with water and roll it up loosely securing it with a rubber band or string. Place on the ground where you have seen earwig activity and let it sit overnight. In the morning pick it up, discard in a seal container.

-Fill a tuna fish can half full with vegetable oil and clean it out daily.

Mosquitoes

-Despite popular belief citronella doesn’t work well for deterring mosquitoes. The New England Journal of Medicine found that 30% concentration of oil of eucalyptus was more efficient at deterring mosquitoes. The eucalyptus oil must have a minimum of 70% cineole content which is an active therapeutic ingredient.

-When you are grilling throw some rosemary or sage onto the coals.

-Mix 5 parts of water with 1 part garlic juice in a spray bottle. Shake well before using and spray lightly onto exposed skin. This repellent will last 5-6 hours. You can also dip strips of cloth into the mixture and hang around decks, patios and camping areas. Eat lots of garlic in the summer it seems to help people avoid getting bitten.

-Plant marigolds around your patio, deck and yard.

-Mosquitoes are attracted to colors that remind them of mammal flesh and nectar. Don’t wear bright floral colors and dark colored clothing. Light colored clothes like khaki, beige and olive are colors mosquitoes find boring.

-They are attracted to body odors so avoid fragrances in shampoos, lotions perfumes and soaps.

-Where loose, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.

-Look for Neem oil based repellents when shopping for bug spray. The leaves, seeds and seed oil of the Neem tree contain sallanin which has been effective for repelling mosquitoes.

Rabbits......Puggy takes great offense to this

Bunnies are cute but they can be very naughty by eating your garden.

Natural Rabbit Deterrent

1 tablespoon baby shampoo
1 tablespoon ammonia
1 quart of water

Pour ingredients into a NEW squirt bottle or garden sprayer and shake well to make sure it’s mixed together. Spray your plants every third evening until you are sure the bunnies have found something else to nibble on. Store the unused mixture for when they return.

Another one to keep the bunnies from sampling your garden is to not put weed killer on your yard. We have a yard full of white and purple clover and this keeps the bunnies satisfied. Container gardening is another great idea to avoid critters from eating your crops. If they can’t reach it they can’t eat it. This works well if you are only growing a few plants. If you have a large scale garden I would use the spray to keep the bunnies from enjoying a nightly buffet. If you dislike the smell of ammonia you can purchase Havahart DeFense Rabbit/Deer Repellent. It’s a natural deterrent that mimics the smell of decaying protein which makes the bunnies thick a predator is nearby. It also dries odorless to humans.