Saturday, December 13, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Apparently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Congress have just passed a law which requires ALL MAKERS of CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS in the US and importing to the US to have their products and components tested by a CPSC-certified, third-party testing laboratory FOR LEAD CONTENT.
On Feb 10, 2009, all businesses which do not comply with testing will be in violation of federal law, guilty of selling banned products and subject to fines and jail time. This will affect Etsy sellers, crafters, wooden and organic toy companies, baby carriers, ect.
Here are several links for you to consider.
National Bankruptcy Day
Handmade Toy Alliance
Reportedly a hearing has already been scheduled for this coming Wednesday that may delay or significantly change this law with respect to this problem.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
And if you are on Facebook, you can show your support by adding Green Mickey as a friend!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
A big welcome to any new readers coming from the magazine!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
In our cohousing home, we had 2 sets of simplehuman pull-out recyclers in a cabinet. We had one can for trash, one for paper, one for plastic, and one for glass, styrofoam and cardboard (because they went to a separate recycling area in the cohousing trash bins). I am still not certain how we will do it in our new place.
In our new neighborhood, we arrange for our own trash/recycling pick-up through private companies. I have no experience with private companies as all our previous homes have been multi-family units where trash pick-up is included or have been homes with city pick-up. I was a little annoyed that the 96-gallon trash can was less expensive than the smaller versions, and we barely covered the bottom of the bin our first week! I am a bit horrified to think that a family might actually fill a 96-gallon trash bin every week. A separate and smaller recycle bin is included with our pick-up. It will be interesting to monitor the amount of trash and recycling our family produces every week.
I have some ideas for how I would like to organize the recycling inside the house but have yet to find the time to get it done. If you have a good system for recycling, I'd love to hear about it!
ps - the new house is still a disaster, but I am getting closer to taking some photos and blogging about the place!
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
About the same time we moved into our new house, a new friend arrived in our lives. His name is Mouse. He apparently lives at a Target in California (although this morning I heard that Mouse has moved into a new house in California.) It takes him 10 airplanes to get to our house to visit, and his favorite colors are purple and red. Mouse is 3 and has and older sister who is 4. He goes to preschool and likes to eat candy. I haven't figured out if Mouse is an animal or a person as Mouse is Jack's imaginary friend.
I have heard of other kids with imaginary friends, but I never really expected my kids to have one. At least not one that is so vivid, detailed, and consistent (the consistency amazes me!). I also find it interesting that Kate has accepted Mouse into our lives without hesitation. She doesn't question his existence, tease Jack, or even make up details. If she wants to know something about Mouse, she asks Jack.
I hope Mouse sticks around for awhile because I am really looking forward to the Adventures of Mouse and Jack.
Monday, October 27, 2008
- I am grateful that I got to deal with tired, cranky children all day. We got to spend extra time with my family before leaving late last night.
- I am grateful that I get to spend the next several days unpacking all my belongings. I am lucky to have so many nice possessions, plus it gives me a chance to sort out the items I no longer need.
- I am grateful that I get to plan and fix dinner this week. My family has plenty of food and is never truly hungry.
- I am grateful I get to go out in the cold tonight to empty the compost. Our worms are thriving!
- I am grateful that I get to clean out the hundreds of emails in my inbox. I have family, friends, and blog readers that care.
- I am grateful that I get to update our budget. We have money with which to budget!
- I am grateful that I get to get up early tomorrow to exercise. I have a healthy body that lets me do almost any activity I want.
- I am grateful that I get to re-roll my reusable bags to put back in my purse. I have the most awesome reusable bags ever!
- I am grateful that I get to wash the dishes tomorrow. I have several great reusable bottles that we used today.
- I am grateful that I get to winterize my garden. I am lucky to have the space, knowledge, and time to garden.
That felt GREAT. I am going to try to get back to a regular gratitude practice again.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I love holding and smelling the new baby! I always forget how small newborns are until they are in my arms. Kate is very enthralled with the lil' guy. Loves his little toes and keeps talking about his funny belly button.
I think my mom was genuinely surprised with her birthday party. I had told her so many fibs over the last week or so that I couldn't keep them all straight! It was a good party with lots of yummy appetizers and a German chocolate cake (my dad's favorite... *rolleyes*). It was also good to see my aunt and uncle and cousins.
Last Wednesday night was a sad one as it was the last time that the kids and I slept in our cohousing home. Matt has been working like crazy this weekend to get everything moved to the new house (for the record, I worked like crazy all last week to get the smaller items moved!). Tonight will be our first night in the new house. I'll try to get take some photos this week to share, although I imagine the place will be a disaster for quite awhile.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I've known the importance of reusing for a long time, but for me, reusing has always been reusing the yogurt tub for crayon storage or reusing holiday cards to make craft projects, etc. While other bloggers were praising the used items in the thrift store, I just couldn't see myself ever becoming a thrift store shopper. I would tell myself that I like new things. That unlike my sister who can come out of a thrift store looking totally cool and hip, I would come out looking like a bag lady. That I didn't have time to be frequenting thrift stores every other day looking for a great deal. That the new I was buying was pretty eco-friendly so it was okay. I did occasionally buy some used items on Ebay, but that was pretty few and far between.
Then my friend Dimity passed on to Kate the cutest pair of jeans that her mom had gotten at a thrift store but didn't fit Dimity's daughter. Oh so cute! Add the desire to be more green and the small feeling of guilt from buying only new clothes for the kids. Combine all that with a few extra minutes on the way to the grocery store, and I found myself in a local thrift store "just to check it out." I knew nothing would be to my standards, and I would feel justified in my current shopping habits.
Well, I have been converted. I found 4 really cute dresses that rival Hanna, Mini-Boden, and Garnet Hill for Kate - all priced under $4.99! I did have to sort through a bunch of rejects to find those dresses, but no worse than regular shopping. I didn't get to look at the boys' clothes as the store was closing, but I did pick up two books, a leotard for Kate and 2 items for our dress up box on my way to the cashier. Then we went back as a family the next night and picked out Halloween costumes (wait until you see how cute!).
I still believe that pushing thrift shopping to someone newly trying to go green and accustomed to buying everything new isn't always going to work immediately. I view it is a process that varies for everyone. I certainly was very wary despite making other changes to our lifestyle. I doubt that I will ever do the majority of my clothing shopping at thrift stores as I just don't have the style sense (although a few wraps caught my eye), but I am planning on hitting the thrift store for the kids and for books fairly regularly. I'll still supplement with new items, but every little bit helps, right?
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I have also been a bit overwhelmed picking out paint colors. I can easily pick a color for a single room, but choosing for almost the entire house and wanting everything to flow well is another matter. I bet I spent at least 8 hours early this week looking at colors. Then I spent even more time picking out a new green shade when the original "thyme" color sample looked like moldy pea soup on the walls. Yuck. All of the colors are a bit out of my comfort zone. (Actually, anything other than white is sorta out of my comfort zone.) Most of the rooms are a color called "Kansas Corn" which is very similar to the middle sample yellow/gold in the photo. The dining room will be two colors. Above the chair rail will be "Butterfield" which is more intense, darker shade of Kansas Corn. Below the chair rail will be a chocolate brown. The kitchen will be a dark sage green color similar to the sample in this photo. My office is a blue also similar to the blue in the photo. I'll take photos once they are finished with all the painting.
Our painters prefer to use Devoe Paint, and I was pretty pleased to find that ICI Paints (which is the manufacturer of several brands of paint including Devoe) has a vision "to develop, produce,distribute and market its products and services in a way that does not cause damage to the environment." They were also the first North American paint manufacturer to develop and market VOC free latex paint back in the early 90s.
I've learned a bit more about VOCs in this process (actually I knew very little about VOCs other than a vague understanding that they aren't healthy). VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds and emitted as gases from some liquids and solids. VOCs are found in thousands of products ranging from paint to adhesives to plastics and even The organic solvents found in paint fall into this category, and our painters explained that VOCs tend to be more concentrated in coloring added to paint than the paint itself. So paint might be labeled as low or no VOC (which is an unregulated marketing term), but the coloring isn't low or no VOC. As the paint dries, organic solvents evaporate (you often hear it referred to as "off-gassing" - I have enough info for another post on off-gassing) and combine with nitrogen oxides and sunlight to create ground level ozone or smog. The EPA has found that indoor VOC concentrations can be 2-5 times higher indoors than out and can be up to 1000 times higher after certain activities such as paint stripping. Yikes!
There is some information on the EPA website about some of the health effects related to VOC exposure as well as information on other sources of VOCs. The site also lists ways to reduce your VOC exposure. Some of the recommendations include:
- Increase ventilation (open those windows!)
- Use household products according to manufacturer's directions
- Buy limited quantities of products containing VOCs
- Keep exposure to newly dry-cleaned materials to a minimum (yet another post that I've been meaning to write...)
I thought I had published this post last week, but I mut have made a correction and saved it as a draft accidentally! The painters finished up Monday morning so I'll have to take some new photos. I'm not sure I love the color in the kitchen nor in the office, but I'll live with them for awhile before I switch.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I had this great post planned for Blog Action Day that has been rolling around in my head for a long time. I was doing a conference call for bloggers (that Crunchy Domestic Goddess referred to me!) with Brighter Planet (which I also never got around to posting about!). The question I posed during the conference call was how could they reconcile their credit card program that encourages spending and consumerism when many who are trying to be greener are attempting to decrease their consumption of goods. The response (wish I could find my notes to tell you who responded!) was a very good one. The premise was that while the environment is certainly an pressing issue for the world, poverty is an even bigger one. Many trying to overcome poverty depend on us to purchase their goods. We can help fight poverty and be environmentally responsible by purchasing goods that are fair trade, made of recycled materials, etc.
I'm obviously not going to write out all my thoughts that I had saved for that post, but I thought I would at least give you that thought to chew on.
We should be totally moved in the next week or so. Hopefully I'll be back to regular blogging before then!
Monday, October 13, 2008
I am amazed at how much hair she has gotten and how much longer her tail is! She is still pretty small, but when Nina Sprinkles moved in with us, she was almost too small for most of the commercial collars and leashes that I saw at the pet supply store. I am glad I waited to buy anything, because like everything else nowadays, I easily found a more environmentally friendly option. I am ordering a hemp collar and hemp leash from Earth Friendly Goods. Even better, Earth Friendly Goods is offering 10% off purchases using coupon code FALL08.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Last week we got to have our up-close experience. The kids loved it. We started out talking to the elephant zookeeper and learning about elephants. The kids favorite fact is that elephants wear mud as sunscreen. The zoo has two elephants. One elephant named Lucky is not so fond of visitors. She even flung dung at us while we were waiting! The kids thought it was hilarious. The keepers led Lucky to another area, and we got to go beyond the viewing fence to meet the other elephant Kimba. We got to feed Kimba carrots which she took out of our hands with her trunk. Then we all got to help give Kimba a pedicure. We scraped the dirt from the bottom of her foot, cleaned her foot with a bristly brush, and applied a lotion to her toenails. The keeper also brought out an old tooth, a piece of broken tusk and some elephant tail hairs for us to feel. It was an amazing experience!
But the day got even better. We strolled around other parts of the zoo and went into the hippo house. I saw the zookeeper that I had met at the fundraiser. She was just getting ready to feed the hippos, so she let us help! Feeding a hippo consists of the hippo opening her mouth (hippo fact - they can open their mouths 150 degrees!) and you throwing food in. The kids each threw a cabbage in while Matt and I got to throw in whole cantaloupes! It was pretty amazing to be so close to a hippo mouth!
It was an amazing VIP experience that I hope we can repeat again someday.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
But, it happens that a few months ago we found a house that we didn't feel we could pass up. It is an old house built in 1905. It has squeaky fir floors, an old coal cellar (soon to be my root cellar!), large trees, a big backyard and a view of the mountains. A home that seemed just right for us.
Our new neighborhood is very alive with people out walking and socializing. We haven't even moved in yet and already we have invites for dinner, housewarming gifts from neighbors, and several new friends. We will still be walking or biking distance to most of our favorite places. In fact, we will be walking distance to the cohousing community, so it should be easy to maintain many of our friendships.We won't be moving in for another few weeks yet. We are in the process of taking down wallpaper (there is wallpaper from floor to ceiling in almost every room!), painting walls, and a few other projects. Totally overwhelming to try to do these tasks in a healthy and green way. Fortunately we found a woman who takes down wallpaper with just water, and I am amazed at how accessible low and no VOC paint now is!
I hope to be blogging about our attempts to develop community outside of cohousing and our attempts to green a 100 year old house.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The entire community garden is fairly large. It is made up of individual plots that are roughly 3x5 ft (they all vary a bit - my main plot is funny shaped so it is 3ft on one end and about 5 on the other). Along the edges of the garden are some true community garden space where rhubarb, strawberries, and misc herbs are grown for use by anyone in the community. A native grass area around the garden serves as our orchard. Many of the trees are new this year, but we have several that were planted when the community was started and are bearing fruit. There are peach, apple, plum and cherry trees. And several varieties of each.