Thursday, November 11, 2010

We Will Remember

I'd gotten to thinking about this day we call Remembrance Day, for which we wear a red poppy to symbolize the occasion. There will be services at the cenotaphs this morning and, depending on how they are feeling, I want to take the boys. Even if we only stay for a short time and stand at the back so we can leave with them. If we can't go (it might rain and they are sick still) then we'll watch a little bit on tv and I'll tell my sons why this day is important. It's a tough thing to explain to a small child, wanting to keep them innocent yet start that glimmer of understanding.

It suddenly occured to me while driving home last night, that it's a very different kind of day from what I'd thought. For me, it's always been about the end of Great War, the war to end all wars (WWI) and it then embraced those who fell in WWII and then onward. But in my mind, it was always about the veterans - the old men I saw at the cenotaphs while I watched on TV. As the years pass, their ranks become smaller and I wondered what will happen when they are gone.

 Last night I realized that no matter what our opinions on the world today - this day is about young men and women, too. That families with babies and small children will be there to remember their loved ones. That young men and women will be there to remember their comrades in arms, their best friends, their brothers and sisters. It's not just about old men, is it? It's about so much more. I am sad whenever I see the name of another who has become a casualty of war, and it was more real when I saw the young man from my town in our paper. I didn't know him, but I know a family here grieves again today and I ache for them.

So today, I have a new appreciation of what this day means. So to all that serve their country - no matter where you're needed - you are there and I am thankful. And I will remember. And I'll be sure that my small children will remember, too.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Books books books! Sharing the love of reading

It's September and that means books!   While I was investigating something else, I came across a program in my school district called the Little Readers Preschool Book Club.  It's a fantastic idea!  In a nutshell, they take donated books for preschoolers, and then send them to every preschool age child in the district that is registered with them.  I'm sure it's a very time consuming job for the volunteers who sort, clean, package and send out the books.  They can be sent in the mail, brought home by older siblings, shared at a local preschool or at the Strong Start (another great program) locations in the district. 

I encourage you to take a look and see what this program has to offer!

AND... if you live in the district and have preschool appropriate books in good condition, consider sharing them.  I know that at the swapmeets you can get a wee bit of money for them, but for the sake of a few dollars, you could really make the difference in a child's life as some kids just don't have books of their own.

If your children are young, think about joining the club for them - what a wonderful surprise it is when they get a new book!

For those of you in other places - check with your school board to see what they have to offer.  Maybe this is something you might consider starting where you live?  Books are for everyone, and a love of reading starts young. And sharing, well that's a lesson we can all learn.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunshine on a stick

As you can see by my new picture, the sunflowers are out!   I had 4 giant sunflowers - the kind that give you seeds, but one tipped over and broke, one withered and I'm left with 2.  I have to try to get a picture of them when the sky clears.  They are my only sunshine in this rainy time.  Of course, just as I'm typing this - the sun is coming out!  The perfect time to go gather some veggies!

Our veggie garden was a hit and miss proposition this year.  The berries weren't so great and I have to go still and dig up the old strawberry plants and ensure the shoots take, and cut the old raspberry canes out.

We got lots of peas but someone, a slug I think, got more of them. I'd be waiting for them to pop full and go out and all of the ones I wanted were eaten overnight.. hmmmm

We got lots and lots of beans.  Apparently we grow good beans here! Carrots and radishes?  not so much.  The parsnips are small but look good. I'm leaving those for a while as I read a light frost sweetens them.  we have some cabbages to bring in, and of all the kohlrabi plants, i think we actually have one that grew to the right size. 

Our tomatoes look good, but are not ripening.  We need a week of sun!  The early ones, a lovely orange whose name escapes me, are good, though.  And peppers.  We have chilis, jalapenos, hungarian wax and something that was labelled the same but is a different pepper and I have no idea what kind.  Much much bigger, that's all I know.  I'll let my husband taste test. (It's ok - he loves the hot ones!)

We ended up with - are you ready? 3 ears of corn!  Not quite done, but that's it.  The kids are thrilled, so that's ok.  And potatoes - hmm.. as they are underground I have no idea.  I'll go dig up some this weekend and see what we have.  It's going to be potatoes this fall if they grew.

Next will be the clearing of the veggie patch, and we'll be digging in some compost and I plan to mulch over top with the leaves when they fall.  We don't have a mulcher, so I'll just run the lawnmower over them a bunch of times to cut them into bits.  It's a great way to stop the weeds.  i might do a layer of newspaper with this over top.  That will save me a ton of cleanup in the spring.

That's my update today!  Stay tuned for a quick product review...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Missed it by One!!

Ack!  I knew I would be close, but I just didn't squeak over the line.   I'd been working on the BC Hydro Team Powersmart challenge to reduce my usage by 10% over the last year.  My year ended on August 31st, and even with a 47.3% reduction in power usage in August, I came in at 9%.   I do have to say, though, that my bills haven't gone down any.   Usage went down, rates went up.  I really do think Murphy's Law might be in effect here. 

However, 9% over the course of a year, and one where we did spend a fair amount of time at home, isn't anything to sneeze over.   We can continue to do this, and each time we go a little lower, it's definately something to be proud of.  Hopefully it will save us money as well as save energy this time around.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Packing Kudos!

I think it's a first.   A kid's toy that came with acceptable packaging.  I didn't gouge myself on the wires, grit my teeth over the plastic overlays I can't recycle, or groan about all the tape.  My son was given a set of Cars (the movie) bowling pins and ball.   While the set itself is plastic, I think with good care it will last.  The packaging - a box, cardboard only with a small plastic handle on the top that pops off.  I pulled the box apart, the pins and ball came out and voila, instant play.  The box went into the recycling bin.

In fact, I'm so impressed, I'm going to write the company (at to tell them I'm happy.  Now that's a pleasant change, isn't it?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rain, Rain, come again...

It's raining outside which, surprisingly, is a good thing.   It's been hot and dry here for weeks and weeks with the only rain being the odd extremely light shower.  I can hear the grass and trees sighing in relief.  I've watered my veggies, flowers and pots as they need it, but unless the grass was near the paddling pool, or got some overspray, it was on it's own.  I'm actually fortunate - the only grass we have is in the back yard, and even though we face south, we don't the hot sun on it all day due to the mature trees at the back of the yard.  Our deck stays sunny, but the yard gets filtered light at the hottest points of the day,which is lovely.

I just received my hydro bill.  I've been working to reach a 10% reduction in usage to receive a rebate.  Let's just say I was shocked to see that I'm 75% over last year's month and now only at 6% for the year.  Sigh.  Not sure I'm going to get that rebate now as I only have until September 1st.  I think I'll have to turn it all off and live somewhere else to do it!   I can't figure out why so much more, other than I've put less on the line to dry this summer than last.  But surely that's not the only reason.  Now to figure it out.  Even if I don't reach the rebate, it's good to find out where I'm 'leaking' out the energy as that's money in my pocket either way if I stop it.

I've recently redone my bedroom and a few other spots.  When I have time, I'll share what I did.  I've reused a few things by redoing them and they look marvelous!   Since I'd had the old bedroom suite for somewhere close to 20 years, I didn't feel bad about getting a new one.   I'd say I'd gotten my use out of it, and then sold it to someone else so it will continue to be used.  I plan on hanging onto this one for some time as I really like it.   Being pine, and from IKEA, it's not an endangered wood, and it comes flat packed, which means it saves energy in shipping since they can pack more into a container.  Granted, it used WAY more of my personal energy to put it together, but I suppose we can say that's a good thing.  :-)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Does being green mean itchy rough towels?

Ah, now that's a question for the masses!   I've been trying to take advantage of the summer weather and my clothesline all at the same time.   Washing everything in cold water and hanging it to dry is sure to help me in my pursuit of 'greenness', right? 

But this leaves me with one question.  If I'm not using fabric softener (can't as my son's eczema is too bad) then how do I get nice soft towels?  Am I doomed to itchy scratchiness every morning?  Will my houseguests be rubbed raw?   Enquiring minds want to know!

I have heard adding vinegar as a softener works, but I've not tried it  yet.  I'm hoping to remember with the next load of towels. 

Here's where you come in... If you have an idea of something to help, let me know.  I'm game to try it if i can.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Green Canada Day

This year I decided to host a Canada Day Barbecue.  Yep, one of those dress in red and white and show your colours, come eat the food kind of events.  Usually this sends me into a tizzy of consumption - you know, all the plates, cutlery, napkins, decorations, stuff we don't really need but would like to have.    But not this time - or at least no so much.  I wanted to do it differently.

I recently replaced my dishes, and wouldn't you know it, they are red and white.  How perfect is that for Canada Day?  So I dug out my dishes and mugs for the event.  Last year I invested in a bunch of kid friendly stuff for the boy's birthdays.  So I have a plethora of unbreakable cups and plates and cutlery for the kiddles.  So far, so good.  I also sewed up some red napkins earlier this year and had a stash of odd/ends of paper napkins that I  pulled out.  Christmas in July works, right?    My tablecloth - the unfinished length of fabric I bought in red/white checks - no one noticed the rough edge. 

Everyone brought stuff, and lo and behold - it all came in casserole dishes and the like. Other than the chip bags (we used bowls to put them out), there were no disposable containers.  I wonder - is this rubbing off on my friends? 

We had a good time - kids played, adults chatted, the barbecue bbq'd and we all ate, then chatted and played some more.  I did wash a lot of dishes, but since a dishwasher is the best option for that, and it meant not throwing things in the garbage, I'm good with it.

We were happily surprised by a local realtor, Jeremy Sutton with Remax, putting little flags at the end of all the driveways on my street.  It was just so cool to see that when we got up.  So, if you ever read this - Thanks Jeremy!  It really made the day.   I saved all the decorations for next year, a few flags, pinwheels and even the paper ones we got from the city's celebration, which we attended earlier in the day.  So once again, no garbage. 

It wasn't perfect, but I think we did better than we've done before.    Baby steps, that's what its all about!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kreative Blogger Award! Come see!

Back in April one of my readers, Christi  (website, "living green in a colourful world") at this link below
nominated me for a Kreativ Blogger Award.  I kept trying to remember to fulfill the requirements and have now finally gotten to it.  Sorry for such a delay Christi!  And thank you for the honour.

Here are 7 things you probably don't know about me:

  1. I collect old paragon porcelain tea cups and accessories - in the fancy patterns with lots of gilding and those lovely dish style cups.
  2. I have been following Flylady for a while and it appears to be working (most days, lol) - google her to see what that's all about - hint, it helps me stay sane in a chaotic home.
  3. Houseplants stand no chance against my black thumb of death - outside ones do fare better
  4. I used to have pet rats
  5. I work in conflict resolution
  6. I like soft boiled eggs with buttered toast 'soldiers' when I'm sad. It's a comfort food that reminds me of my grandmother
  7. I used to volunteer for the SPCA and spent a couple of years as a volunteer coordinator since I loved it so much. (that's where all our fur-babies came from)

Now it's my turn to nominate some pretty awesome blogs for the Kreativ Blogger Award.  Definately worth a  peek - and you may just have to follow them so you don't miss out!  Here they are:

  1. Rhondi over at Rhondis Rose Covered Glasses has a beautiful blog and she just had a porch party.  A must go see - I loved it! 
  2. Alicia of Posie Gets Cozy  also has a wonderful and creative blog.  She's got her first book coming out!  And I have to say, her little baby book on the blog is just so sweet.  Go take a look
  3. Tracy at The Enchanted Cottage  inspires me.  In her new home, she is having fun making it her own - and she's writing a story A Change of Heart.   Go and take a look (the story beginnings are on the left in the side bar under 'my writings')
  4. Heidi at All My Scattering Moments   will inspire you with her talent - she's an amazing quilter and I think she has a way with displaying things to look so pretty. 
  5. Rhonda over at If You Do Stuff - Stuff Gets Done (don't you just love that name?) shows you that's exactly true!  I love her blog - and can't figure out how she gets it all done.  Yep, she's got talent!
  6. Robin - Life with Robin  shows off her nest.  And Robin has been developing quite the photographic talent (get it?)  I love looking at all her pictures.
  7. Lesley has a new blog Country Roses and Roots that I think you will love.  Beautiful pictures and some great thoughts there. 
For you 7 Kreative Bloggers, here are the guidelines for accepting this award:

You'll want to post the award on your blog.
Be sure to thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog
Share your own list of 7 things that you probably don't know about me ... (or were afraid to ask

Nominate and link to 7 other creative bloggers who you follow and pass the award on. Be sure to leave a comment on their blogs so they know they've received the award

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What's A Girl To Do?

Why Shop of course...  OK.  that really does sound cliche, but it is a nice segue into my topic.  If you've been reading my blog for a long time, you'll know I used to have a dirty little secret called a diaper genie (long gone). Well, now I have a new secret... are you ready for this?   I love to shop!!!

Ordinarily I reserve that for second hand shopping - it allows me to splurge, but I'm not really contributing to the using up of fresh resources (this is how I justify it to myself) but lately I've noticed myself slipping. While I work hard to declutter - heck I even participated in a neighbourhood garage sale a couple of weeks ago! - I keep buying stuff at.. gasp... the dollar store.  Now I know, I know, this is a big bad 'no no'. It's cheap stuff, made with cheap labour and it comes with an environmental, and. likely, human cost.   It gets worse.  I've also been shopping at... double gasp... that big box store that sells more things than there are people on the planet.  You know the one.  And its for things I don't need - but suddenly discover in my basket (OK  cart)at the checkout!

Granted, a few things were on the list.  I needed some balls for a training thing at work; I needed sheets and they had the exact ones I wanted... but the rest?  Yeah... not so much.

I will be off for five weeks this summer and I will endeavor to cut that shopping habit in half, if not more.  It's going to be tough!  We also will be at two weddings and I plan on having 'fun packs' set up for my kids so they stay busy and not naughty.  While they have some stuff already from the first of my bad choices, I promise to look through what we already have to finish them up. And if I don't have what I need, to look for it second hand. 

The shopping bug has crept up on me.  I know I love it, and I used to be pretty aware of what I was doing, but lately I'm out of control.  If I want to teach my kids the lesson that less is more, I've got a LONG way to go.  And if I want to walk the walk, I need to lace up my shoes and get on with it. 

I'll let you know how I do!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Little Garden Growing

This is just a quick update to share about our little garden.  We've got strawberries on the vine, waiting to ripen, raspberries, too, and we've cut the rhubarb.  Lots of rhubarb came from that and we've shared with friends and family and frozen some for pies. (waiting for those strawberries!)

A few things didn't go so well - and I blame it on the lack of sunlight and endless rain we've had.  Nothing sprouted for a long time and of those that did, the spinach barely came up, same with the carrots. We have lots of leaves on the radishes, not so much the radish part, though!  and our lettuce started out ok, then bit it.  I saved 4 little ones and moved them into a shadier spot.  I'll plant some more over there soon.

So there are lots of things in the garden - the biggest are the sunflowers, cabbage, cauliflower and a few of the corn.  Of course, the corn that's growing well is in the wrong spot, tucked in with a sunflower.  Hopefully it'll move ok.  I put all the tomatoes and most of the peppers in pots. This is a sunny spot (when we see that yellow ball in the sky) and gets hot here for then.  As you can see, I ran out of pots, so I drilled holes in the old kitty litter containers and used those! (now how's that for re-using!)

I've put up some pictures for you to see.  The rest of the garden, well, that's another story!  One I might blog about here as I fight the weed battle. (with a shovel and plenty of recycling bags for curbside pickup!!)  Speaking of weeds, yep, there are some in the veggie patch, only problem is they are little and i'm not sure which is the veggie and which is the weed!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cleaning out the Medicine Cabinet

Everyone has stuff in the back of the medicine cabinet that they probably should get rid of.  (It can't just be me, right?) There are expired medications, unused prescriptions, leftover vitamins, and allergy pills that time forgot.  Or at least there could be, as I'm sure everyone has something a little different in there. 

It's a good idea to periodically go through the place you keep medications and vitamins and get rid of the things that are no longer any good.   It's not safe to keep expired medication - especially if it's life saving stuff like an epi-pen or heart meds.

If you live in Canada - consult the link below to find out more about how you can safely dispose of your old vitamins/medications.   If you live outside of Canada, you can start by asking your local pharmacy if they have a collection program for this stuff.  If they say know - try asking why not and see if you can work with them to find a way to start a safe disposal program.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Planting my Zero-Mile Diet

*-9-+It feels like summer is here.  It's over 20 degrees outside with a great breeze that's keeping it perfect outside today.  We've finally got dirt in my new veggie patch - a nice long strip along the fence that's about 3 feet (ish) wide.  I have my seeds at the ready and over the course of this afternoon I intend to start planting my kitchen garden.  

I already have strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, onions and potatoes in our original patch.  I want this one to be a little more fun, if possible.   So while the peas will be in rows, I think I'll try to sow the other stuff a little prettier.   I have peas, carrots, lettuce, beans (which will actually go along the trellis in another part of the  yard where my climbing rose is)*-

I'm hoping to get out this week and  pick up some red leaf lettuce seeds, radishes, and a few other things I've not thought of yet.  (one always has to leave room for impulse when choosing seeds!)

We have a few sunflowers that have started in the yard, courtesy of our neighbours giant sunflowers that dropped seeds last year.  I also have a few saved that we'll plant. I'd like those up along the fence, their pretty yellow heads watching us play will put a smile on everyone's face.  (especially after we cut them and get to eat them!) 

I almost forgot, I have have a packet of pumpkin seeds.   Since my dog loves to eat the leaves, I'm going to attempt to grow them in the old veggie patch - it's a bit shadier there, but I'm hopeful a seed or two will bear fruit in the end.  Just in time for Halloween would be nice!

I've spent the last two days setting up the garden to plant, with the help of my husband who nicely dug and moved dirt for me (thank you!!)  I still have lots left in the big pile for my tomato and pepper pots that we'll do next weekend.   And while digging, we've found out just what's hiding under that dirt.  But more on that in my 'what not to compost' spot coming soon!

PS... I added a picture to show you my little veggie garden - there is a spot along the fence that is about 3 feet deep and then a little fenced in spot.  It's now all planted and providing I take care of it properly, it should be very plentiful!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Earth Day... how we did

Well, Earth Day has come and gone - and I didn't even blog on it!  Bad green blogger, me!  Even though I wasn't writing, I thought I'd share what we did - and what we are still doing.  

If you go back to Earth Hour last month we did turn off all the lights, lit some candles and just sat back and relaxed.  Friends came over and they joined us.  (and they never even gave me 'the look' when they arrived to the lights all off)

Then leading up to Earth Day, I sadly missed the City of Surrey's fantastic shindig.  They put on a great celebration, with a fish release, story time, music, demonstrations and more.  But I missed it because I was doing something green.  I was at the kidswap!  I've blogged about these before, but really, a kids only swapmeet is an amazing thing.  It's a whole economy in itself.  I arrived with my bins of stuff, set up my table and since the doors hadn't opened to the public, proceeded to check out everyone else's stuff.  My kids are now the proud owners of a tool bench and a hungry hungry hippo game that cost me a fraction of retail.  Nanna bought a table and chair set for her place (among other things, lol). 

I think this is a fantastic way to reuse stuff.  I sold a lot, people got great deals, things stayed out of the landfill, and lots and lots of stuff is getting reused - sometimes over and over as people continue to do this as their children outgrow things.  With all the recalls, thrift stores are very hesitant to take toys and kids items, but armed with knowledge (gleaned from the Health Canada website - you can go to to search recalls and most countries have their own information posted by their respective agencies) about recalls and what is safe, what needs new parts, etc. a buyer at these swapmeets can do very well for themselves.   For example - if you know that a crib has a recall but you know that the company has a fix to order - you can buy the item second hand for much much less than retail and then order the parts before you use it.  You end up with great savings and a safe item.    And many recalls are to alert consumers to the 'fix' you need to get so the item is safe.  By the same token, you can search what cannot be fixed and know to avoid it - and even educate the seller so they can return it.

I just love second hand shopping - it gives everything a second chance! 

After the swapmeet, I posted some stuff on craigslist, gave away a few things on fullcircles and donated a big box of clothing and accessories for baby to a local pregnancy crisis centre.  (Pregnancy Options in Surrey, BC)   I like that they give things to the people who need them.  If you are interested in something like this, contact your local Pregnancy Options place and see what they can use.  Often space is very limited so it's good to see what they can use, or let them find someone who can use what you have if it's bigger.  And remember, it's nice for babies to have nice things - I've always given a mix of play clothes and dressier clothes, and never things that are too worn. I like to think that donations would be what I'd want, too.

I have also been working on my kitchen.  I really wanted a new set of canisters and breadbox, but have decided to paint the ones I have.  After all, they are the size and style I want, just not the colour anymore.  I'll take pictures and share the result. (assuming I do a good job!)  This keeps me from buying more stuff - reusing is definitely a better option.

We started to put a little 'green' into our lives this past Sunday.  My preschooler and I planted potatoes and onions, fixed up our pots outside (where I transplanted a few things from the garden I'm going to move) and are contemplating the completion of the new veggie bed.  He's getting his own little plot in there.  I thought he'd love a place to grow his Bean and maybe a few friends for Bean.

Next on the list is to move a what feels like a ton of dirt into our new veggie bed, and to clean out the pots for planting tomatoes and peppers in.    (and dig up the weeds in the front and put in rock - no more weeding! and hey, isn't rock xeriscaping at it's best?  low to no maintenance? and even better if I can get it for free if someone else local is pulling it from their landscaping!)

I'm looking to see how to reuse things.  I still have a pile of bricks at the side of my house.  I picked up large ceramic pot saucers on clearance (they were seconds) and I think I'll put the bricks together to make a stand to use them as birdbaths.  Functional and reusing something I had no use for.  

So far that's what we've been up to.  I'm still clearing the garage and giving away stuff like crazy.  I'm thinking that this week we'll be done in there and we can finally organize what we are keeping.  It's spring and I'm in the mood to let go - a popular thing for many. It's the season for lightening up.  

What are you doing around your home?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sew Wonderful - Re-usable Napkins!

I got busy tonight and sewed up a window topper for my kitchen. Since I had extra fabric, and had some other red fabric to use up, I also made napkins.   If you can sew a straight line (or a sorta straight line) and wield an iron, you can make these pretty easily.  Just cut your squares, iron over the seams (twice for a clean look) and stitch in place.  Voila!  Re-Usable Napkins!   Almost like magic!

It's a great idea - if you sew, go through your stash and use up bits and pieces.  Napkins don't have to match, after all, they're for cleaning up, right?  Or pop on down the fabric store and pick up something fun and make a batch.  A basket of these will mean you don't have to buy paper napkins.  And if you just toss them into the wash with your towels, they don't take any extra energy to keep clean.

If you can't sew, consider investing in some cloth napkins - or ask a friend who sews to help you out.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring has Sprung!

Do you ever wish there were more hours in the day? I sure do – it’s SPRING and I long to be outside up to my elbows in dirt! For my birthday this year, my husband has promised me a raised veggie bed along our fence. Our current veggie patch doesn’t get as much sun as the fence area, so this way I can mix around what I plant depending on what it needs! I see lettuce (pretty ones!) and sunflowers (lovely and tall with BIG seed heads) peas, beans, more raspberries and strawberries, carrots, radishes and more in there. I plan to make it pretty.

In my old veggie patch, I’ll leave the rhubarb and the raspberries currently there, as well as my strawberries. I want to add in potatoes, onions and squash – maybe a pumpkin, too.

My dog loves squash/pumpkin plants so in order to get them to grow, they need to be behind the fence I have around that garden.

It was pretty cool here today, but I know it’s warming – the daffodils are nearly done, the tulips are getting ready for me and so much is greening out! I plan on getting out there this weekend as the weather is supposed to be somewhat nice for part of it. Lots of cleanup to do, a compost to feed (and turn!) and planning of how we’ll arrange things over this coming year.

Gardening is about as green as I can get. I use organic fertilizer and try to plant smart. Weeds go the old fashioned way – we dig ‘em out! (not the funnest part, unless you are in a bad mood – then ripping out weeds can be therapeutic!)

Do you have a vision for your garden? Pots on the patio? Herbs on the windowsill?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tiffin Tales Part Two!

For those of you that have been reading this blog for some time, you may remember me mentioning the tiffin - that lovely little Indian food carry-all.  It's essentially a set of stacking metal bowls that are locked together with a carrying handle.  I bought one to use when I go to the cafeteria at work so that I could avoid styrofoam containers.  

Well, if you don't live in an area that has a larger Indian community, you may have difficulty finding one of these.   Until now... I just saw that the Avon catalogue - campaign 7, page 114 (or at least that's where it is in my catalogue) has a tiffin in it!  They call it a Triple Decker Food Container... but it's a tiffin and a rather pretty one, too.  It has a yellow plastic outer on the bowls, stainless steel inside, and a pretty yellow carry handle.   So if you can find an Avon lady, you too can have a tiffin!

I will vouch for the fact a tiffin is a cool little thing.  It does keep things warm for quite some time (far longer than styrofoam!), and I've even taken mine to a mall food court and they've put my food inside it.  This way it was still nice and hot when I got back to the office.

Take a look, and if you think it's something you'd love, too - consider getting one.   Either from Avon or, if you have an Indian store nearby like I do, you can get an all stainless steel one for less.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spring Dreaming!

Spring is in the air - or at least it is in South Western British Columbia!  Today I noticed there are four little crocus flowers in my garden.   That's a sign if you ask me.   This got me to thinking about the garden and how I plan to approach it this year.  

I want to expand my vegetable garden to run it along the fence - like a side bed in the yard.   I will put in veggies and maybe some flowers to make it pretty. Although things like scarlett runner beans, peas, strawberries and more are all pretty in their own right - and their flowers look great.   I've also noticed that some salad greens are pretty, too, so I would like to plant them all together so they look nice as they get big enough for me to eat them.

I didn't cut down and dig over the beds this past fall.  I kept seeing the birds landing in the tall stalks, so I left them all.  It turns out this was a good thing, as I know where all the plants I like are.  I'm going to move some things around, and this makes it easy.   It also  provided a haven for little birds and bugs over the winter.  I'm hoping this will prove to be a benefit for my garden this year.  

I want a garden that's low maintenance, so I'll be laying the drip hoses early. This way my plants will grow up over them.  This is a good way to water, keeping it low on the ground where it's needed.   And I've let go of some plants that didn't suit the spots, which should make care easier, too.  And our front yard now has very little planting.  We have very large trees under which we will put rock, and in the open area we have river rock and a few dwarf trees and a couple peonies.  All of the rest we pulled as it was full of weeds and so on.  Now it looks nice, has some beautiful plants and the extra visuals will come in a few large pots of flowers.  Simple, pretty and low maintenance.  Most of it requires watering only if it's dry for a very long period as it's well established- that's a good thing.

Do you have spring planting dreams?  Ideas for great veggie gardens (the zero mile diet!) or fantastic flowers?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Get Organized!

I subscribe to the Blog "Rubbermaid Aventures in Organization" and over the past few months I've come to one conclusion... getting organized is a good way to be green.  The theory that everything has it's place, and that everything should be in it's place is pretty self-explanatory - or at least it should be. Somehow, though, my brain has continually resisted this idea and it keeps making my hands drop things where they don't belong.  Consequently I spend valuable time searching for things, money on replacing things and energy on stressing out over it all. 

Then it occured to me if I just got on with it and put things away, I might have greater peace of mind.  Now where to start?   I've read all the books, seen all the shows and I'm still flopping around in 'stuff' and clutter so this is a HUGE question to ask myself.  With two small children, stuff is really like an entity in this home - it lives here. 

I'm determined to keep decluttering, but while I do this, I have to find ways to stop the influx.  Inevitably I purge like crazy and a few months later drown in stuff.  But now I have a plan.  I'm not going to do the crazy woman thing anymore. Instead I'm going to focus on one thing at a time - one small area.  Purge, tidy and organize.   I'm going to invest in the things that are needed to contain the things I want to keep.  And all the things I keep will have been looked at upside down and sideways before they get to stay.

I'm beginning slowly. Just as being green is a journey, so is letting go and organizing.  By doing this, I give myself a better chance at living a sustainable lifestyle.  I'm not wasting things, moving around doubles (or triples) and I'm able to access what is needed at the moment it's needed. 

Being 'Green' isn't just about less chemicals and going organic - it's about finding ways to use what you have responsibly and organizing after decluttering is a good way to do this.  So jump on the bandwagon here and go find yourself one small space to clear out.  Let go of the junk, keep the jewels and then organize it so you can find what you need later.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Seventh Generation Give-Away

After I posted my blog for today, I went to visit Canadian Natural Mama - Product Reviews.  It's a great blog for getting info on green stuff for your family.   Well, lo and behold, right after I mentioned Seventh Generation in my blog (my all time favourite eco friendly company) she has a great giveaway there, with some really great reviews of the items she has tried. 

So... go check it out!!!

And read on, as there is some really great info in this blog.  I highly recommend it (and have her listed in my green blog roll!)

Back to the Basics

Well,  it may not seem like it, but I'm still here!   With going back to work in November, it's become a major juggling act just to keep our sanity.  With the new year well upon us, I think it's time to take stock of where we are and what's important.  Back to the Basics, as it were.

I'm not sure if I posted about our insane gas and electric bills in this house.  Lets just say we pay double what most people we know do.  While I realize a hot tub takes a lot to heat, that still doesn't explain the crazy gas bill.   So, with that in mind, we replaced our furnace this past December.   We didn't end up springing for the high efficiency model, since it was a bit pricey even with both our provincial and federal grants. Instead we bought a two step mid-efficient model and installed a new programmable thermostat.  Already we are reaping the rewards. Not only did we replace the original furnace (nearly 35 years old) but we discovered why we had no heat in our bedrooms and fixed that, too. Now we have no need to use the electric heaters (other than the odd time we need only one room warmer).  Both things are saving us money already.

I think, too, having installed the new windows this past year has positively affected our bills, as both of them have dropped - about $60 on the monthly gas and about $15 on the electric.  Next step - turn off those darned lights when we aren't using them!   I'm really bad for it.  I spend a lot of time running around the house turning them all off. Time, I think, better used. I really have to make it a habit to turn them off as I go.

We also bought a new washer and dryer (and I will NOT get started on my issues with the dryer and the place I bought it from - let it suffice to say I'm not happy and am working to a resolution).   I hope that the front load washer will help with the bills, too.  I don't do many hot water washes, but those I do should use lots less water. And I'm using less water overall and that's a good thing - same on the detergent (which is, of course, my favourite Seventh Generation)

Oh, there is so much to do around here still.  We have six months left (roughly) to get it done and reaudit the place for our rebates. I'm hoping we can do some of it before then (add some insulation, sealing the leaks, etc)  I'm also trying to do the cut your usage by 10% with BC Hydro for their team powersmart.  Yeah.. so far I'm up about 11%.  But that's going down.   The first months we compared had us working the first year, and me at home the second so we do use more energy that way. Now that I'm back to work, we'll see.  Yet another reason to turn off those lights and replace a few energy sucking fixtures around here.

My resolution for this year is to work hard at the small stuff.  We've made a few big changes with the windows, furnace and appliances (new dishwasher, washing machine/dryer) this past year.  This year it's all about little things.. Oh, and my garden.  If I can ever get motivated (as in have time to do it, without wee babies pulling me in other directions, LOL) I will be planning my veggie garden and some expansions there to make it better and easier to care for than last year.  Ahhh.. dreaming... but that's for another post!

Have you made any 'green' resolutions this year?