Friday, May 30, 2008

A Greener Baseball Game

For those who don't know, my 4 boys play baseball. Avidly. Since they were 4. The oldest two are almost 13 now, so that's hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of baseball, considering we are there about 6 days a week. When it is winter, they play in an indoor league, so I don't plan for time off when the snow flies. Now, there is talk of joining a fall league. That would mean the only months I am not driving to baseball would be July and August. Add that to cross country, track, band, intramural basketball, preschool, field trips and oh, yeah - my job - and I am driving. A LOT. That's very not green. So, what did I do?

I switched from a hulking, gas guzzling SUV to a much more fuel efficient mini-van. That was step one. Then, I stopped letting the car idle more than 20 seconds during drop offs and pick ups. After that, we started working on carpooling with kids in our local area for practices, which we do at least once or twice a week when everyone's schedules jive.

One of the biggest sacrifices was deciding that taking more than one car to the games was just not cool. See, little eco 'burban boy is still quite little (OK, he will be 4 next month, but's he's still my baby!) and he doesn't always like to stay for the whole game, so in years past we took two cars - meaning one of us could take him home early. Because, you see, the big 'eco burban boys MUST be at the fields by 5:30 for warm ups and games don't end until 8:30 or even 9:00. That's a very loooong time digging in the dirt and eating laffy taffy from the snack shack. And, don't give me any crap about the non-local, non-organic laffy taffy. Bribes are crucial, OK?

So, between the carbon emissions and price of gas, we go one car to games or bust. This also means plenty of DVDs (from the library, OK! Geez, the laffy taffy doesn't have me completely off the wagon or anything!) and treats and blankies in the van, but it's working out. Everyone's a little cranky - especially eco 'burban mom - but we are making do. Saving money and cutting our carbon footprint - one game at a time!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nifty, nifty and oh, so thrifty

I wasn't a-kiddin' in my post yesterday about having to run out to the thrift store for a pot for one of the oldest eco 'burban boys science projects. He thinks it's a green bean, but the closer I look I am wondering if it's a pea instead. Time will tell I guess and since I am new to the gardening game, it might take me awhile!

My point is, that I did make a run to the thrift store - whereas the old me would have made a run to the closest Target or Lowes. I am finding that the thrift store is not just some place you go to drop off your old pregnancy clothes or outgrown toys. You can shop there too!! I needed the pot, and I found a super cute one for under $3 with it's little attached saucer. I also needed anther glass pitcher - since all scary, chemical-laden plastic pitchers are 'auf wiedersehen'!

While perusing the glass pitchers, I saw the cutest glass cookie jar I could not resist. No, this isn't an addiction, Chile, or even an impulse buy. I have had my eye out for more glass storage containers and it had completely slipped my mind that storage for cookies usually comes in a jar shape. I had made some of green bean's infamous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies the day previous, so I snapped up this jar right away. My total bill for a glass pitcher, ceramic pot w/ saucer and glass cookie jar with lid? $11.63 Reusing perfectly good products? Priceless. What that would have cost me at Target, including gas and other random crap that I threw in my cart - I have no idea. Certainly more than $60, give or take a fiver!

Now, tell me that this "goodies" jar is just not perfect for storing organic, fair trade, local treats?!? And, yes, those are the actual cookies in the jar. I had to snap this picture quick, though.. Once my boys hit the door, it's more like 'auf wiedersehen' to the cookies!
Oh, and if someone can identify that little science project in my thrifty pot up there, I would be giddy...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Algebra Teacher Would Be Proud

I didn't know I knew how to bake. I didn't know I could make it through the day without using a single paper towel. I didn't know I could get through the week without one trip to the store. I didn't know I could start a recycling program for the Little League. I didn't know that the only mill that stone grinds flour in our entire state is 40 minutes from my house. I didn't know I would like shopping at a thrift store.

I didn't know a lot of things. I guess I didn't know that I just wasn't done learning. See, I thought I had passed the task of 'learning' down to my kids. After all, isn't it their turn to soak up the knowledge from wise and witty teachers down at the middle school? When I started on my path to greenness, I didn't stop to take in to account that I would be learning along the way. Learning about farms, filters, pesticides, chemicals, animals, vegetables and miracles. I have been reading books, writing letters, joining groups, listening to other experts and even, maybe once in awhile, teaching someone else a little about being green. I haven't done this much learning since about the 11th grade - and most of that was about boys, track meets and hair-dos.

I am sure the learning isn't over, every day I read another chapter, find a new friend and discover another resource to teach me one more thing. So, what I learned today? Treading down the path to greenness isn't always about DOING something, it's actually about LEARNING something. The more you know, the easier it gets too. I am no longer afraid of local food challenges or speaking in front of the entire Little League about recycling and I am even getting comfortable with the fact that I just might not be dependent on paper towels for the rest of my life either.

I updated my To-Do List and my We've Done It List - because I deserve to scratch some things off in those two columns. I learned something, I tried something, I grew something, I read something and I gave something up - all without a fight. My Algebra teacher would be proud. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to run to the thrift store for a new container for the green bean sprout my son learned to grow in science class!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Going Local This Summer!

I am getting excited! I joined One Local Summer, and I feel so confident that this challenge is something I can totally knock out of the ball park.

About a month ago I joined a local food club and I have been slowly emptying my non-local reserves (into our bellies of course, I'm not throwing perfectly good food away!) and replacing them with all-local, organic and fair trade goods. Here's what's rockin' in my pantry:

  1. My beef, chicken, pork and eggs are all from certified organic local farms practicing all natural, free grazing methods.

  2. My coffee comes from the only source in Michigan roasting 100% organic, fair trade coffees - which they will deliver by bike, even in the winter - if you live in their area!

  3. My butter, cream and chocolate milk all come from a local dairy in reusable glass bottles.

  4. My maple syrup, peanut butter, bread, pancake mix, pickles, beans, popcorn, brownie mix and cinnamon rolls are all local, organic and completely high fructose corn syrup free!

  5. Veggies and fruits are trickling into the farmer's markets and starting this week I am off the California-grown produce and sticking with what is seasonably available - Barbara Kingsolver Style!
Now, if I can't make one meal a week out of the bounty in my pantry and fridge, well, then I am a more pathetic cook than I even give myself credit for. Hey - this meal might be pancakes and bacon, but it will be all local! Remember, I am feeding 4 hungry boys, so some flapjacks and sizzlin' pork goes a long, long way in their book!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Water Redux...

Memorial Day was finally warm, sunny and almost unseasonably hot. I know, I shouldn't say that... it was 83 today, tomorrow the high will be 55, so I soaked up all the sun I could get because it might have to last me for awhile. I finally felt like it was safe to plant, so in went two new trees, four new shrubs and some Phlox little eco 'burban boy insisted were to be HIS flowers. Now, how to water them?

In our scary, dark and dreary basement (I live in an 80 year old renovated lake home, so the word DAMP is a pretty common theme down there) hums a dehumidifier that helps to take the damp out of the air and make our home rather comfy. So, rather than snake a hose to the drain and let that water go unused, we carry that heavy, sometimes sloppy, water basin up the basement stairs and use those 3 gallons to water trees, flower containers and landscaping. Of course, that doesn't water everything, but 3 gallons every day adds up over a summer - yes, our basement is that damp!

I figured I water something for about 5 months out of the year, so my water savings adds up to 450 gallons in a single summer. Not earth-shattering, but a little water goes a long way!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bookworm Challenge - AVM Part 2

Chapter 6: The Birds and the Bees: Favorite Line - "These are the big lugs so famously dumb, they can drown by looking up into the rain" - while this is not the funniest line in the chapter (can-Jo, turkey sex and the suggestion of a turkey reproduction specialist as a career path got the most gut-busters) it is the most thought provoking. Genes necessary to survival in the wild being bred out of animals in captivity for the sake of pure convenience is just about as disturbing as cloned sheep. I am certain that I don't want to be eating animals so genetically modified they couldn't even reproduce. So, what did I do? We have been buying as much local, pasture raised meat as possible, but hadn't even put a thought towards the big turkey day looming in November. As part of our CSA we can pre-order a free range, certified organic turkey to be delivered for the holidays. Now, there, that was easy! And, now I can threaten my boys every time they slack on the homework that if they don't buckle down, they might just end up a Turkey Wrangler!

Chapter 7: Gratitude: Favorite Line - "Nobody fell in the creek, nobody went hungry and nobody's husband refused to dance" - this hit a note with me because I am forever planning a birthday, bbq, holiday party etc. and run around stressed out that the food isn't right, the decorations shabby or the kids not having enough fun. As I look back, I am pretty sure I am the only one not having any fun. So, this summer I plan to take it easy, cook what's local and if the gaggle of 11-13 year olds hanging out in the backyard don't like nitrate-free, organic turkey dogs, well, I am sure they can eat a cookie and be just fine...

Chapter 8: Growing Trust: Favorite Line - "Penny-pinching is an accepted defense for toxic food habits, when frugality so rarely rules other consumer domains" - Oh, the part about school lunches is just so true. Here in the 'burbs we demand quality education, new computers, athletic fields and science labs. But, we can't demand a higher quality lunch and pay 50 cents more for it? So, over the summer I plan to write a series of letters to the school district trying to assist them in finding better options - in my opinion, my kids deserve better than a "taco hot-pocket"!

Chapter 9: Six Impossible Things to Do Before Breakfast: Favorite Line: "In fact, June Cleaver has left the premises" yes, she ha.s ladies and gentleman, yes she has. Working mothers on the run between jobs, baseball games, baseball practices, band concerts and track meets (we had all of those this week alone!), housekeeping, gardening and lastly - cooking. Many of the things in this chapter, such as doubling up on a good recipe on the weekend, are complete common sense, but are the things I had forgotten over time. It was just as easy to crack open a frozen Costco lasagna, shove it in the oven and go back to my day. Now, I don't see myself as the type to make my own cheese (let's face it, Barbara is pretty ambitious!), but I certainly see myself as the type to make a double batch of homemade muffins that are great for breakfast and snacks. As a matter of fact, I did this last night and I ate one this morning. Yum.

Chapter 10: Eating Neighborly: Favorite Line: "We could hear the crash of corporate collapse with every bite". Oh, I hope so, I hope so. We all know CAFOs are inherently wrong, but so is the marketing, advertising and labeling of just about every single food inside of a gigantic chain store... Meats proclaim to be all natural, free range, antibiotic free! Buy Me! Buy Me! What they are not telling you is how that animal lived, what they really ate and how much time they spent outdoors. So, all of our meats are now coming from within our own state, from farms where animals are cared for as an art form, eating grass and natural foods and are packaged and processed naturally. It's strange feeling to get meat wrapped in blank, white paper and bacon without a single label - these farmer's aren't worried about their marketing pitch - they are just selling you good, honest product. Farewell Tyson and Perdue, I can hear the crash of corporate collapse!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bookworm Challenge - Book Review

Rather than an eloquently written, smart and knowledgeable book review, I am going to do this review of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for the Bookworm Challenge a little different. Hey, I live in the suburbs, remember? We totally find the easy way out... So, I am going chapter by chapter and giving you my favorite little quote that made me change the way I eat, shop, cook or live on this planet. Today is chapters 1-5 and tomorrow 6-10 and so on... you get the picture. Ready?

Chapter 1 - Called Home: Favorite line: "Potatoes have a plant part" and this is something I want my children to know too. Carrots have a feathery, leafy top. Peas come in a waxy, green pod. Cucumbers are really what you have before you get a pickle. So, what did I do? Planted some container gardens with beans, carrots and tomatoes along with some herbs.

Chapter 2 - Waiting for Asparagus: Favorite line: "making with care instead of buying on the cheap" and I want my family to eat more of what I made, with love, rather than what I bought pre-mixed, packaged and labeled at Costco. So, what did I do? Banned premade, store bought cookies from the house. Ouch. That is, until I made some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that are now a weekly event, when those boys roll off the bus at 3:15 and can grab a handful of cookies off the counter, I feel proud.

Chapter 3 - Springing Forward: Favorite line: "The Case of the Murdered Flavor was a contract killing" and I was one of the accomplices I think... See, I never thought about buying strawberries in November or broccoli in March. I thought I was doing a whiz-bang job by getting the kiddies to eat some veggies or fruit and even better, much of the time it was organic. Sure, it was organic, but from where? Straight from Mexico, Chile and Californian hot houses and it really didn't taste all that good, I was just going through the motions. So, what did I do? I decided a really good strawberry was worth waiting for and we are doing our best to buy what is in season, from the farmer's market or the U-Pick place. Granted, sometimes our fridge has been pretty bare this month, but berry season is in a few short weeks, so I am certain it will be full and happy once again.

Chapter 4 - Stalking the Vegetannual: Favorite line: Stalking the Vegetannual - enough said! It's kind of funny to picture everything connected in that way, but it is and thank goodness we have bees to make sure everything is healthy and pollinated. So, what did I do? Decided that real honey, from local bee keepers will be the next purchase at the farmers market and to use it as a sweetener in things like oatmeal and snacks. Let's keep those bee keepers in business, shall we? Those bees have a job to do and it's hard to work when you're homeless!

Chapter 5 - Molly Mooching: Favorite line: "I am not one to argue with wild mushroom hunters who claim the distinction of being still alive". This actually made me giggle because for years my parents have been finding morels on their property in northern Michigan and my sister and I keep thinking that their eyesight isn't so great and one day - gulp - that might not be a morel in the dinner dish. They claim they have a "book" and they're sure what they're picking is a morel and they too have the distinction of still being alive. So, what does this mean to me? It's about trying new things and being more adventurous with what is locally available to me. Vegetables that I might have avoided because they look strange, tasted strange or were just plain icky to me as a child, might be worth trying again. We are signing up for a CSA this year and plan to try everything. Even the chard. Really. At least one bite. No plugging my nose either.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Make it from Scratch Carnival

Mama Bird from SurelyYouNest put out a call for the Make it from Scratch Carnival and I caved and submitted the 40th Birthday Gift my boys and I made for my husband. I am NOT a crafter by any stretch of the imagination and never, ever sew. My sewing machine consists of a ziploc baggie of safety pins and a mini glue gun...

However, I put this little envelope together using leftover Halloween costume felt and some scrapbook paper. My boys and I all created 40 different handwritten wishes for the Eco Burban Dad, which consisted of silly statements like "I wish you a home run in wiffle ball" and some insightful statements such as "I wish you no stress". It was wonderful to watch my pre-teenage boys take the time to think about their Dad and giggle a little bit... So, yes, I think it was the best.40th.birthday.present.ever. However, my little project is just a drop in the bucket - head on over to Mama Bird's Carnival for a look at all the cool submissions!

Sorry Green Bean - this soooo means that I am procrastinating on writing my review of AVM - I forgot my book at home today. Oh, and the dog at my homework too!

Monday, May 19, 2008

I have rocks in my socks...

...said the ox to the fox. OK, so maybe not in my socks, but in my backyard. I have debated on putting in a rain garden on the blog before, but I am pretty much scrapping that plan. Oh, but why you say?

Because I am moving on to a rock garden. I love my doggies and they love me, but the Dalmatian puppy (the digger has been on the blog before for his diggish ways...) finally destroyed the last of the blue fescue grasses I planted last year before I knew I was getting the little spotted dirt-monger! I had planned to continue to expand the landscaping bed this year, I really have no use for grass. (See my to-do list - less grass = less water)
But, now I am thinking between the doggie pee and the doggie claws I am better off with a rock garden. It won't need any water, I won't get any of the lovely burnt-out pee spots all summer long and there won't be any grass or plants for the sweet, sweet ball of RABID, digging fur to drag around the yard.

I would like to edge the area - it's right by the underground invisible fence system - which is now set on HIGH - so I think it might be safe. I like this picture of a garden I found online, but those yellow flowers might look mighty tasty to a 9 month old pup... Although, I wonder if he would eat rocks?!? I have rocks in my tummy said the puppy to the bunny!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cream in glass bottles = Cute!

As part of my eat local challenge one of the changes I tackled is the milk / cream / dairy consumption. When you live in a house with 4 growing boys milk is a rapidly disappearing natural resource straight from the refrigerator. And, the organic stuff is more expensive per gallon than the other natural resource that making the news headlines every day!

We have been drinking the organic version for more than 4 years, so I thought I was over the sticker shock. Until I decided to switch to glass bottles that is... So, we are taking it one dairy product at a time. The delivery service for the local foods I am using does make this switch super-easy. Along with the flour, eggs and whatnot she delivers milk in perfect glass bottles and picks up the empties that get returned to the dairy for reuse. Last week we tried the chocolate milk and of course the kids are in loooove and want to make sure we get that treat every week! This week I added the half and half for the coffee to the list and when I opened my delivery box there was this cute little glass jar of nostalgia.

My first thought when I opened the box wasn't, ooooh less plastic, this is WAY better for the environment - it was a rush of "look at the cute little glass jar, isn't it sweet"?!? I immediately took the jar into the other room to show my husband it's round, glassy cuteness. I can certainly say not a single cardboard carton or plastic bottle of half and half lugged home from the Kroger made the cuteness list - organic or otherwise! So, what is it about milk in glass bottles delivered to your doorstep or a trip to the farm that brings a rush of nostalgia or this feeling of going back to a "simpler time"? Does it evoke memories of a grandmother or childhood? Or is it just contentment and a feeling of achieving 'June Cleaver' status with a humming refrigerator full of rows of glass jars, paper wrapped butter and homemade goodies?

So, I'm shelling out the big bucks for the chocolate milk and cream in the cute glass jars. Next week probably the skim milk too. And, what am I getting in return? Healthier kids, a healthier planet and a nice healthy dose of nostalgia. I'm buying it and loving it... every last drop!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Birthday = Local, Homemade Cake

This weekend is the big 4-0 birthday bash for the Eco 'Burban Dad. Not quite a big bash, but a small get together anyways. So, in honor of the big day and the fact that he is such a super, duper sport in all of my challenges and green escapades, I am making a homemade, all local birthday cake. (See how I'm still squeezing my challenges in on his birthday?!? Poor guy...) Don't worry, his favorite birthday beverage of choice, Corona, is a completely un-local splurge for the occasion. See, I'm not a total greenie-meanie!

But, considering I used to be the kind of suburbanite to rush out to Costco, because I was just soooo busy, and buy one of those huge, frosted cakes the size of a smart car (most of which ended up in the garbage), the art of a homemade cake is truly an act of love. Oh, please, you know I am still getting some help with this ordeal - I managed to find an organic cake mix from a local mill that is supposed to be fabulous. After I add the eggs, milk and a few fancy flavors and whip up my own frosting, it still totally counts as homemade. I haven't made a cake with actual layers since like 7th grade Home Ec... I will post a picture (lopsided and decorated by the 4-year old!) next week, but for today... Happy "Fabulous at 40" Birthday to the Eco 'Burban Dad!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bookworm Challenge = Farmer's Market Woes!

We had one of the snowiest winters on record here in Michigan, so I really don't know why I am surprised... I went to the second week of the local Farmer's Market here and still, not a veggie to be found. There are a few hardy souls there, selling seedlings, flowers, honey and bread, but I am desperate for some produce for my local challenge. I have broken down and bought some organic apples, red potatoes and some peas from Trader Joe's. I didn't even want to look at the back of the package to find out how far they traveled, but some apples for the kid's lunch and some red potatoes with onion and peas on the grill for dinner were a lifesaver.

In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Barbara Kingsolver relies on her Farmer's Market for early produce like rhubarb, salad greens and maybe a few early peas. I guess this is feasible in Virginia or Kentucky - but what about serious, Northern cold weather states? I am feeling a little stuck today, so I am guessing it will be the famous "breakfast for dinner" routine again with local bacon and pancakes made from the buckwheat mix from the local mill. I have been inspired by all of the recipes and meal plans in the book, but Kingsolver's May meal plan is more like my mid-June meal plan! Maybe next week I will find a bunch of greens or a few early peas? If anyone has any ideas, I sure would be glad to hear them!

Monday, May 12, 2008

What I have done so far...

I am not quite halfway through the month of the local food challenge for both Mrs. Crunchtastic the Blue Collar. After a rainy, yet leisurely Mother's Day, I thought today might be a day to pat myself on the back for the changes we have made.

We have kicknamed my husband the "barrista" because he makes the best darned iced tea and coffee this side of Starbucks. We have banished the countless glass jars and bottles of store bought iced tea and now rely on our refillables each day. It's always a treat to try a new flavor and of course the tea is fair trade and the sugar organic. Our coffee - from a Florida company - is also made at home and toted in our stainless mugs to work each day.

Two local bakeries in our area now supply our family with freshly made loaves of wheat, multi-grain and even a yummy cinnamon swirl for a treat. And... the occasional cannoli! I had forgotten how good a slice of whole wheat toast with a little organic butter and jam can be for breakfast!

I found La Vida Local, a local business that sources locally produced food, dairy and beauty supplies from community farms, dairies and mills. I now rely on the wonderful Julie for my eggs, chocolate milk, butter, cheese, bacon, pancake & cake fixin's as well as beans, oats and a variety of other organic and / or locally made items. We are having a ball trying new things and making meals from scratch. Hey - I didn't know I could MAKE potato salad from scratch, OK!

In short, this challenge and my bookworm challenge for the wonderful Bean - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - have almost changed my life. I cook more, but have more time. I spend more on a loaf of bread, but have more money in the bank. I learned that those big-box retail stores actually needed me more than I needed them!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

To Do List - Growin' Some Green

Another item from the To-Do List is getting my hands - and those of my children - dirty planting some green edibles. I have always loved planting flowers and perennials, but living here in suburbia big gardens are a no-no. Not so much a rule per say, but between the rabbits looking for their next meal and the chemicals getting sprayed on just about every green surface around, it's just not feasible.

This year we decided to tackle some container gardening for a few veggies and herbs. My kids think produce comes from Costco in a crate, so hey, 4 pots of something growing is progress, right? Today (in the windy rain!) we planted little cherry tomato plants we found at the Farmer's Market, a pot of carrots from seed, green beans from a real bean and a small container of herbs - in actual organic soil. For the first time, give or take 55 days, we will actually eat something we grew! More pictures to come as our veggie garden *hopefully* grows to fruition!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Local + Bread = Cannoli?!?

I am trucking right along on my eat local / buy local challenge. I am giddy, can't you tell? But, I have to tell you there are pitfalls along the way. I have driven by this bakery not too far from my home a gazillion times and always wondered. What do they make there? Is it any good? Not once I have I ever screeched my little mini-vannie wheels to a stop to duck in and take a look.

Too busy. Already have 72 loaves of bread bought by the case from Costco. Too tired. Too many stops to make today. Blah, blah, blah. Today, thanks to my local challenge, I stopped. I found out that they make all their own breads, cookies, pizza dough etc. fresh daily. And, a whole loaf of multi-grain bread made this actual morning is only $2.89. So, I bought a loaf - we are actually out of bread. And, our economy here in Michigan sucks, so buying bread from a local family not only tastes good, but might actually make a difference.
Oh, but you say... didn't you mention pitfalls?? Yes, yes... this bakery (Italian, I should mention) makes their own homemade cannoli shells and cream and will fill them RIGHT ON THE SPOT when you order. Do you think I could walk away from that? Of course not! I bought one loaf of bread, two large size cannoli (one for me, one for hubby!) and a homemade donut for little guy who happened to be on my errand run with me. So, yes Local+Bread= Cannoli.
Update: Those local cannolis were YUM! They certainly didn't last long in our fridge! Mmmm...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

To-Do List - Paper Towels - Again

Still trying to break that habit. I've gotten better, really I swear. First, I bought the recycled version. (not as strong, somewhat wimpy and thin!) Now, I am trying to use less than a hu-mungo handful to wipe up the doggie drool, or the kiddie drool, whatever. So, in the spirit of using less, I bought two dishtowels while at the Green Street Fair from the nice little coalition Handmade Detroit. Basically, it's a nice mish-mosh of crafters who work together and shared some space at the fair selling their handmade goodies. I managed not to buy a purse, belt, scarf or any other fashion item, but for $7 found a nice two-pack of flour sack towels embellished with scrap fabrics. Cute, and the red stripe goes with my kitchen, 'cause you know that's important!

So, I have been trying to dry my hands or the occasional splash of water with the towel instead of the paper. I still can't force myself to clean food-goo or doggie drool with it. Yuck, ick, ugh. Now I wish I would have bought another two-pack because I feel that the towel really needs to be washed every other day. At least. Maybe more. Can you say germ-phobic anyone? So, I did a quick look on Etsy and found nutnutgoods - she has some cute organic flour sack towels printed with food grade inks... Mother's Day is right around the corner, maybe I will get lucky?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mmmmm... Local Soap

The Green Street Festival this weekend did have some great green products and unique local vendors and artists, but it was full of the same big-business sponsorship I am guessing is vital to the financial bottom line of a big event. Toyota, Whole Foods, Bosch, Clif Bar are just a few of the big corporate entities hanging out, trying to act cool, but at least they are companies that are all making strides for the environment and the well being of the people in it.

As part of my eat local / buy local challenge I did find a great little soap company at the fair, handmade here in Michigan with the nicest smelling suds around. We have switched to bar soaps and only have one bar of my Trader Joe's Oatmeal Soap left, so I really did need some more. Even if Crunchy's Buy Nothing Challenge is over, I am still challenging myself to define purchases into a "needs" and "wants" category. This one fell into both - I needed it and I wanted it!

The Boh Bon Soap Company came along at just the right time! The soap is handmade with all natural ingredients by a long-time Michigan resident. The quirky name of her company is actually a play on the name of her grandfather's grocery store from the U.P. region of our state. Now, how much better can I feel about getting all sudsy in the shower with local, handmade soap with scents like tangerine or cinnamon swirl? Not that I'm going to tell you..... Oh, an added bonus? Not a single scrap of plastic packaging - just a wrap of recyclable corrugate! Yippie!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Green Festival in the'Burbs - Really! It's True!

So, you all know I am from the 'burbs here in the Detroit area. Let's face it, we are not the first place anyone thinks of for green and sustainable lifestyles. Come on. Every third car is a Hummer, Escalade or Suburban, most recycling bins are used to hold hockey skates and and folks here drive two blocks to the party store for a bag of ice. So, to find an actual green festival means we are really coming around here in the 'burbs. I believe, really I do! Tomorrow I will be attending the Plymouth Green Street Festival where there will be eco-friendly home building, fashion, energy alternatives, kid's activities and food. OK, I agree with the Crunchy One that buying more crap that you don't need really isn't green at all. I am planning to attend to try to find more local food sources to help me get through my eating local challenge I am doing for both Blue Collar and Crunchy's May challenges. However, if it takes a few suburbanites to buy a pair of Simple Shoes or some organic cotton undies to start making the switch to a greener lifestyle - I am all for it. Hey, we all started somewhere and I am not that far removed from the day when I bought my first green product, so who am I to judge? Hopefully, I won't need wild horses to drag ME away from some of the booths selling their wares... I am a sucker for some shoes!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Grabbing a Great Green Book!

The other challenge I am really, really committing myself to is Green Bean's Bookworm Challenge. I checked out 3 different books from the library (see! no buying! no paper waste!) and I am already 2 chapters deep into Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I am showing no signs of slowing down. And today is just is only May 1st!

So, I am guessing I will get to Affluenza soon and then can enjoy a semi-green read, The $64 Tomato. Seriously folks, this is an easy challenge and you might just remember that reading a book to yourself is just as important as reading "Click Clack Moo" like 100 times a day to those under 4 ft. tall! If you haven't joined, it's not too late! Seriously! It's not! Green Bean is on vacation until Friday and without internet access, so quick, get on over there and sign up before she gets home!