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?