Monday, October 27, 2008


I have been very remiss in posting about the Green Moms Carnival that I have participated in the last 2 months. It is a great carnival with lots of post from great eco-friendly moms. This month the theme is Gratitude/Favorite Green Things. It has been a long time since I've done a gratitude post so I am looking forward to this one. I am going to express my gratitude with the little attitude adjustment from "have to" to "get to" that I learned last year. I really need the adjustment after my cranky attitude all day. The last three are my favorite green things!
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. I am grateful that I get to plan and fix dinner this week. My family has plenty of food and is never truly hungry.
  4. I am grateful I get to go out in the cold tonight to empty the compost. Our worms are thriving!
  5. 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.
  6. I am grateful that I get to update our budget. We have money with which to budget!
  7. 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.
  8. 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!
  9. I am grateful that I get to wash the dishes tomorrow. I have several great reusable bottles that we used today.
  10. 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.

Eco Stamps

We spent our first night in our new house last night, and I am happy to report that I slept really, really well! Not sure if it is the house or shear exhaustion. We flew home from Dallas late last night (with kids already in PJs!) and went straight to the new house to put the sleeping kiddos into bed. It was sorta strange to see all my furniture and possessions in what still seems like someone else's house! LOL

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed today. The "to do" list is at least a mile long. Call the phone company, call the garbage/recycling company, call the cable company, officially change our address, etc. One of the first things I did after we closed on this house was to get a new address stamp for mail. My mother-in-law always uses address stamps. In fact, she has several for frequently used addresses. I took her idea and use our address stamp not only for letters but for filling out all kinds of forms as well. As I was looking up stamps online, I was very pleased to find that there is an eco-friendly stamp option!

StampXpress carries a green line of eco friendly rubber stamps. They are made from 60-80% recycled plastic, use water based inks, are reinkable, and are even packaged in recycled packaging. You can also use their website to customize a green stamp with your own uploaded images. (I have a great idea for a holiday project using customized stamps that I will share with you soon - maybe after I am a bit more settled and can actually start thinking about the holidays!)
StampXpress is offering GreenStyleMom readers a discount on their Green Line stamps. Use the coupon code GREENLINESTAMP for $5 off on the Green Line. This code is good only on the Green Line Stamps. For other items on their website, use coupon code $3DISCOUNT for $3 off any order over $15. Plus StampXpress offers free shipping on any order over $10.
XStamperOnline also carries eco friendly stamps, and check out their eco markers (I'll review them soon). They are offering readers $7 off a $25 or more purchase using coupon code is ECOSTAMP. This is good on the eco stamps and any other product on the site. Plus they also offer free shipping on any order over $10.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lots of Happenings

I've had a really busy week! My nephew Sonny was born on Wednesday morning, I flew to Dallas with the kids on Thursday morning (under the premise of wanting to see Sonny although I've had the tickets for months), had a surprise 60th birthday party for my mom on Saturday night, and Matt is moving us into the new house today!

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

Big Step For Me

Let me preface this post by admitting that some of you are going to totally roll your eyes at my "big step," but, trust me, it is a big step for me.

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

Painting and VOCs

The new house is keeping me busy! We are very fortunate to be able to get this work done before we move into the house. Like I said previously, as some of the wallpaper has come down, we found that sections of the 100+ year walls appear to be 100 years old and required replastering. Nothing too terrible, but it is an added stress.

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

Crazy (Like Always!)

Life has been just a bit crazy with getting our new home move-in ready (surprise, surprise - when you pull wallpaper off 100 year old walls, many of the walls need re-plastering!) and a few other events that have been collectively taking up my time. So I haven't really been in a good place for blogging, but I feel totally lame that I never got around to blogging last week about poverty for Blog Action Day...

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

Getting Big!

Look at how much bigger Nina Sprinkles has gotten! I wish we had taken a photo of her every week next to something like a shoe or stuffed animal so we could really compare her growth. Since we didn't, these photos of her on my desk (excuse the mess!) will have to do. The first one is from the first week she was with us, so about 7 weeks old. The next is from last week at about 14 weeks old. Notice I was blogging in both photos!
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

Blog Action Day

Don't forget that Blog Action Day is next Wednesday, Oct 15th. Last year the subject was the environment. This year it is poverty. Hope you will join in on your blog!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Nina Sometimes Sprinkles

Our puppy Nina Sprinkles is getting so much bigger... at least 4lbs now! LOL I need to put up some new photos of her. She is so darn cute! And even though she is mostly housebroken, she does occasionally live up to her name. Fortunately most of her accidents are on our hard floors, but there have been a decent number of "sprinkles" on the carpet. Fortunately I had pulled a recipe for a natural carpet stain remover recipe from a Natural Health magazine last winter. It has been working great on puppy spots!

Mix equal parts of liquid dish soap (I used Clorox Green Works - they sent me a sample of their dish soap and even though I was a bit doubtful about the products when they first launched, I admit that I like the dish soap!) and hydrogen peroxide (make sure it is relatively fresh - old stuff doesn't work as well). Apply to stain with a sponge. Blot and reapply if necessary. Use warm water to rinse (I just blot with a clean, wet towel). Allow to dry. Hopefully the stain is gone!

Check out other Works for Me Wednesday ideas at Rocks in Your Dryer.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Garnet Hill Discount

I've mentioned before that Garnet Hill is one of my favorite places to shop online. I love that they have a great selection of organic and green cotton, plus I love the quality (and style!) of their clothes. Garnet Hill is having a Family and Friends Event starting today. Take 20% off your order* when you use the source code P8KPROMO. It is only good today through Wednesday, Oct 8th.

*Applies to merchandise total on in-stock itmes only and does not include gift cards, gift packaging, shipping and processing, monogramming, or sale and clearance items.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Itzy Ritzy Discount

Had to pass this discount along! Itzy Ritzy is offering 20% off purchases on their website when you enter the coupon code DONNY. The savings is good through the end of October. Itzy Ritzy carries eco-friendly burp cloths, blankets, and nursing covers made of organic cotton and bamboo that doesn't use pesticides or chemicals. An added bonus is that the products are made in the USA.

Almost makes me want to have another baby...

Last Child in the Woods

I am so excited! Tonight I am going with my friend Ashlee to see Richard Louv the author of the book Last Child in the Woods speak. Can't wait to share what we learn!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Up Close at the Zoo

Back in August, Matt and I went to a really fun fundraiser at our local zoo. The fundraiser is called Art on the Hoof and benefits one of the zoo keeper associations. Local artists donated animal themed art of all varieties - paintings, sketches, photography, murals, sculpture, pottery, etc. All the art is on display at the event. Every couple's name is put into a bowl, and as the main event of the evening, names are drawn out. As your name is drawn, you get to pick out a piece of art to take home with you. I was thrilled to get a painted footprint of Maggie, one of the zoo's hippos that had recently died. (You can see me with Shannon and our art on her blog! She is a bit more timely in blogging about events...). I also got to meet the hippos' zookeeper April and talked to her for a bit about how special Maggie was. There was also a silent auction. Matt and I opened up the bidding on a up-close experience with the elephants. We were quite surprised and pleased that no one else bid on the item, and we won!

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.