We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow the earth from our
-Native American Proverb
We have been treating the Earth like we don't live on it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Email and IM with a heart

If you have Windows Live Hotmail or Windows Live Messenger you can make a difference by just communicating with your friends. A program run by Windows Live called the "IM Initiative" will donate a portion of its advertising revenue to a social cause of your choice off their list everytime you send an email or IM your friend. On the list are great organizations like Sierra Club, Unicef, American Red Cross and Ninemillion.org. Check it out. It is free and takes just seconds to join.

My personal email is through Hotmail. It literally took me 3 seconds to sign up. The hardest part was choosing the cause. I ended up choicing the Sierra Club but I felt like I was denying every other organization free money. To make up for it I'll go donate blood.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mixed Greens

I had a good eco day today.

My Acme Workhorse 1500 bags came, don't you love the name? I love them already and haven't even used them. I should go grocery shopping to break them in! And my daughter got a Hello Kitty Sigg bottle, she thinks she is so cool now.

I finally listened to "More Hip than Hippie" with Val and Dori. I first heard of them on Green and Clean Mom's blog. I happily uploaded the last few days worth on my ipod, headed off to the gym and got a longer workout just so I could finish the segment. These gals are funny and informative. And they are out of Sacramento, I will have to meet these ladies some day.

I haven't killed my veggie garden. Actually my husband planted everything-tomatoes, beans, peppers, zuchini, cucumber, and watermelon-I just water them. But I can try to not kill an herb, Trader Joe's has these awesome basil plants for cheap right now, I may head over there to snag one. MMM...fresh pesto!

I picked, with very minimal help from my children, 5 pounds of boysenberries. MMM...they are going to taste great on top of French Vanilla Ice Cream!

I also ordered from Amazon three books. Silent Spring by Carson, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Pollan and Organic Body Care Recipes by Tourles. I did order them used, one is even coming from the San Francisco Good Will. I am so excited to read Silent Spring and Omnivore's Dilemma, they come highly recommended.

Friday, May 23, 2008

One Local Summer

Green Bean is at it again. She inspires me to do things I have never done and maybe never would have thought of. First I am buying hemp flip-flops and now I am taking on the "One Local Summer" challenge over at Farm To Philly. The challenge is to make one meal a week from local produce from June 1 to August 31. Head over to Farm to Philly and sign up.
I have to admit eating local is a breeze for me. My community here, within 5 miles of my house, produces tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, nuts, corn, potatoes, plums, strawberries, plums, cherries, asparagus, olive oil, wine, fresh eggs, and the list can go on. I am very lucky! My biggest dilemna would be finding meat. But now that I know I can get eggs I guess frittata will be on the menu. AND there is always fishing in the Delta and lakes. My husband and I are also growing our own very small garden, hopefully we will get produce.
I know that I am boasting but I love living where I live. And I am thankful my community will still support the local farmers. Please bear with me while I get over my excitement.
So go sign up, you have until Sunday, May 25th! See you at the farmers markets!

I Had A Bad Eco Day

Yesterday was a bad eco day for me. No I didn't throw trash out the car window, let the water run all day or even let the A/C run all day. I went to Target with my friend AND took their plastic bags!!! Could I feel more guilty? (You have to know me, I was raised Catholic and guilt plays a big part in me being a good human.) Oh, the guilt as I walked out. I bought food like cereal, bread and whole wheat pasta, so that was not so bad. Oh, get this! They had a shirt that says "Go Green", so I went over to check it out. Made in Bangladesh, not organic, not recycled material and most likely made by a 10 year old. I am over it now and learned from my mistake. Two days ago I did order the Acme Workhorse ultra light bag from Reusablebags.com so I won't have any excuses when I shop.
If that wasn't bad enough I bought new books. My new philosophy is to avoid buying new books because of the natural resources that go into making a book. Buying used uses no new resources. I bought the books at my kids' school so it was for a fundraiser. I felt obligated to help the school.
On that same day I sent my son to school with lunch in a paper bag and non-recyclable plastic bags. By now I am feeling like this anti-environmental mom. BUT I had to send him with everything he can throw away because he was on a field trip.
THEN, to top it all off, my husband shows me his unrecyclable plastic fence to put around our organic veggies so the dog won't destroy them. And a new leaf blower! He was in a bad mood so I didn't want to even ask him why he can't just sweep up the leaves. I'll pick my battles.
I'm trying but some days just go downhill.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Republican and Global Warming????

I tend to keep politics out of my blogging but this site's supporter blew me away.

I was shopping on Simple Shoes thanks to Green Bean Dreams post. I wanted to read a little about the sites collaborations and they have one with StopGlobalWarming.org. I ventured to that site to find out that John McCain, let me repeat, John McCain is a supporter of StopGlobalWarming.org. Check it out! I know McCain has acknowledged global warming as fact but I never imagined him aligning himself with an environmental site. Or is he greenwashing? I know his environmental strategies are not as stringent as his democratic counterparts. But I can say it is nice to see a republican coming on board-somewhat.

This just proves that "green" can infiltrate anyone. And as I have been reading on other blogs, we all need to try our best to be green. Is this McCain's best?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Green Family

I've been noticing lately that my family is supporting my green efforts.

We are growing a small garden in the backyard and my husband noticed that some snails were eating our precious leaves. Before he grabbed the toxic powder he asked me if I had a non toxic alternative. I went to the internet for help and all I found was the beer trick and some copper band. Well, we didn't have any on hand. I did read that coffee grounds made good compost. AND snails don't like to crawl across textured surfaces. So hence, I thought I would try coffee grounds. They worked! It has been over 3 weeks and no snails. I was so happy he stopped to ask me first.

Today my son was given a plastic bag at his school book fair for 1 book. (I was not present or I would have said no plastic bag. Actually I would have tried to get the book used somewhere but it is a very new book and he gets so excited about reading I couldn't say no. It is very hard to tell your child no when the object will help him.) We got in the car and he apologized for getting the plastic bag. I was so proud that he knew that plastic bags are bad for the environment and that my actions are getting through to him.

I was so worried about my decision to green our lives that I would get rebellion from my family, especially my husband, but they seem to be embracing it. I am so proud. Actually, my husband has gotten more homemade meals lately because I try to eliminate most processed foods from our diets and I think he likes that. I am home more because I don't shop to buy anything we don't need so I have more time for family.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Falcon Follow-Up and Animal Advocacy

On Earth Day this year baby Peregrine Falcons were born San Jose, CA. The picture above is the most recent picture posted. (Courtesy of the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group.) Aren't they cute? I prefer kittens and puppies but they grow up to be awesome birds. You can also watch them here. Maybe you can catch them having a rodent snack. (Hey, it's nature.)

These cute little guys remind me of a museum we just visited with my Girl Scout Troop named the Lindsey Wildlife Museum. If you live in the Bay Area this should be a place you take your little ones. It's a small museum and wildlife hospital. The birds and animals housed there cannot be put back into the wild for various reasons. It is a wonderful place to see predatory birds, small canines, other animals and, if you are lucky, a cougar! It was exciting to watch the cougar they had there. Unfortunately, her story is a very sad one. She was rescued from a horrible human who thought it would be fun to keep a wild cougar as a pet but when she got too big to handle the horrible human just chained her up. She was rescued years ago but is sentenced to a life of pens and boredom. The museum does their best to keep her healthy and busy. Most of her time is spent off grounds outside in a larger pen but they bring her in periodically for viewing. I feel bad for her but she is a great ambassador for her species. She is a magnificent animal and she reminded me to be vigilant when hiking.

I have always been a wildlife explorer. Wanting to save even the ground squirrel that everyone seems to ignore. Or the great whales that live in our oceans. The plight of the wolves in Montana I have followed. And now the polar bears and buffalo are having their day in the news. Going green was to next step to help our environment. I not only go green for my health and local economy but for the animals and plants that cannot speak.

More on Local Produce

Again, I am so excited to be moving forward on the green road. Yesterday I went to a local farmer that just opened their season recently called Tachella Farms. They carry some of their own veggies and fruits and local produce also. I was proud of myself for asking where her products came from. (I am a pretty quiet person and only talk when necessary, but my husband would say otherwise, ha ha.) I bought red potatoes from Stockton, oranges from Watsonville and honey from "somewhere off the 5 highway". I can accept Stockton and Watsonville, I have been to both towns, but "somewhere off the 5 freeway", I am not sure if I like that answer. I still bought the honey because the family I bought from is local and I wanted to support them but I will be on a quest to find a more personal and local bee keeper/honey maker. The woman behind the counter caught on that I was looking for local and firmly assured me, in a motherly way, that all she sells is local and wouldn't expect her customers to eat anything but local. I felt so comfortable with her that I asked her where I can get local meat. She mentioned a guy from Orland, CA (about 160 miles away from me) that sells his beef at our farmer's market so I will try him next time I hit the farmer's market.
I know that I never mention organic. I am working on that. I think I am a little scared to find out that I am going to have to work harder and maybe travel further to get it. I work in steps. Local first and if I have to buy from the grocery store then I buy organic.
Well, I gotta go pick strawberries. The first crop at Chan's will be coming to an end soon and want to pick a few pounds to last me through the summer. Hopefully, if weather permits, Chan's will have a late summer crop also. And I can go pick again!
Happy Eating Locavores!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


We went into Long's Drugs the other day to buy shoelaces. (Actually that doesn't matter.) Anyway, I noticed they had a battery and plastic bag recycle collection located just inside the doors. I thought I would just share this tidbit of knowledge. So if you live near a Long's Drug store you too can recycle those nasty batteries and plastic bags in one place.
I also noticed they had a huge section of organic beauty protucts like Kiss My Face and Burt's Bees. So when your not making it yourself, check out Long's.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Farmer's Market is Open!

I went to the Brentwood Farmer's Market on Saturday. I was so excited to see it open. I have been on a quest to see if I could find a lot of my food locally. And I scored at the farmer's market.

  • Fresh eggs from Shelly's Garden in Brentwood-my hometown
  • Zuchini and cucumbers from Arata in Byron-next town over
  • Lettuce, broccoli, carrots and potatoes from Garcia Farm in Hollister-about 111 miles away but still considered close to me
  • Blueberries from Alpine Blue in Vacaville-56 miles north of me
  • And sweet potato pie from Gran'ma Lillie's in downtown Brentwood

I also bought oranges which I forgot exactly where they came from. I believe they were from Allard farms in Westley, which is 45 miles southwest of me. Oh, the asparagus is of unknown origin to me also, but looking at the list of farmers on the market's website it was local also.

I am blessed to live here in the far East County of the Bay Area because we are very close to the main farming belt of California in the Central Valley. And Brentwood is known in the Bay Area as a farming community (well, after the SF Chronicle this weekend, we will be known as foreclosure central. I don't care, I enjoy raising my children here.) In July we will be up to our "ears" in corn and we will get a huge influx of Bay Area people coming for u-pick cherries, apricots, peaches and nectarines. Besides the heat, and I mean hot dry heat, I believe I live in a great place.

I am still looking for local cheese and meats. I will ask around to see if those exist within my area. But I live about 1 1/2 hours from Sonoma and Napa areas. I am going to look there for cheese. Where else would I look but in wine country for cheese. Actually Brentwood has a couple of wineries now. Come to think of it, we also have our own olive oil. Am I set or what? Now where can I find grain? I may have to just resort to the bulk section at Raley's.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Granola Bar Follow-Up

There's my first attempt at homemade granola bars. They were pretty yummy. I topped them with a little milk chocolate so the kids would want to eat them. And we ate all of them within 3 days. We did share them with my daughter's Brownie troop and I am proud to say they liked them too! They didn't even know they were getting wheat germ, almonds, oatmeal and sesame seeds. They just saw the chocolate and ate them up.
So now that I know the basic recipe I will attempt to add some peanut butter next time. Or maybe dried fruit.
Anyone that knows me knows I don't like to cook. I will try to get out of it anytime I can. For instance, last night I had a bowling alley hamburger because I was just lazy. With my new found knowledge (from books, websites and bloggers) I have been eating so much less processed, fried, genetically-inhanced, and toxic food that for one, the hamburger had almost no taste. Two, it had no nutritional value (well some). Three, I knew better. And, four, I am suffering for it today. So for me to be cooking my own food this often and putting this much effort into planning and making it, you can say this is a HUGE step for me. I am excited to say tonight's dinner is free range chicken kabobs with roasted organic potatoes and zuchini.
Thank you Robin for suggesting to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. My eyes are opening to the beautiful bounty the seasons have to offer. (I know potatoes and zuchini are not in season but I bought them before I started the book so I have to eat them.)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Granola Bars

I am very slowly trying to eliminate plastic from my life. It is very hard. Here are my dilemmas:

  • Deli meats and cheeses for our sandwiches come in plastic bags
  • The kids' snacks come in plastic-no matter if I buy larger boxes with plastic liners or individually wrapped when I get lazy
  • Bread comes in plastic bags
  • Fresh fruit and veggies can come in plastic. When I pick out fruit or veggies I avoid the plastic bag but there are times it comes prepackaged like a 5 lb bag of potatoes or 3 lb bag of apples

There are other dillemmas but these are my most pressing. So in order to do my share for the environment I am trying to make my own food from scratch.

Hence, the title above "Granola Bars". I got the easiest recipe at Mother Earth News. I went to the local supermarket and bought the ingredients for granola bars. And they are smelling really good in the oven right now. The kids are hovering but I told them they have to cool.

But buying the ingredients, even in bulk, posed an issue. I still had to put the oats, sesame seeds and wheat germ in plastic bags. I will wash out those plastic bags and use them again for the next bulk purchase. Some of the other ingredients came in plastic bags that I really don't know how to reuse. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth it. Will making more from home help the environment?

Putting the environment aside I do know exactly what went into my granola bars. I also know that they surpass the store bought ones in nutritional value. My kids are going to get a healthy dose of fiber and other great vitamins and minerals. I would say that it was worth making them. And my house smells so good!

Later or tomorrow I will let you know how they taste. (I cheated a bit and bought some chocolate chips to melt and drizzle over the top.)

As for my other dillemmas. I am working on making my own bread. I am looking for a higher fiber recipe. And I would like to start the bread in the breadmaker and finish it in the oven. (So I'm lazy, this eco-friendly living can get tough.) I have also made my own tortilla chips, they were good. I want to try to make crackers like Cheez-its or Gold Fish. But I just don't know how to cut down on the deli meat and cheese issue. I can't grow my own chickens and turkeys.

If you have any solutions or suggestions feel free to leave them.