Greener pets: Welcome home!

Today, I:
brought home Maggie! (Edited to include actual name, now that "Dioge", her slave name, is officially gone.)

As much as I love my cats, nothing's quite the same as the love of a dog. The only thing better than THAT is the love of a rescued dog.

Maggie is the only survivor of a house fire, and hasn't been feeling too social since shelter-life began. She doesn't have any problems with aggression, she just needs some socializing and love. She's coming home with me as a foster for a little while to try and coax out the great dog we all know is inside. She's only been with me for a few hours now, and she's already made some AMAZING progress!

And... little does she know, but as long as she's in my house, she's going to become a Greener Maggie! Stay tuned :)


mini-post: (red)uce

Today, I got an excellent birthday present, the the starbucks (red)uce travel bottle!

My mom was the first person I knew who told me that re-using plastic water bottles might not be the best idea, what with the propensity that plastic has to share unwanted stuff with your water... and since then, I've been keeping my eye out for an aluminum bottle that was "just right" for me. Well, seems I didn't have to look too hard, the Just Right bottle found ME!

Btw, this bottle is all about the 3 "R's" all at once... pretty cool, huh?


Day ? - First CSA pick-up

Today, I went with mama to pick up her first CSA (community supported agriculture) haul. Boy was that a trip! Here’s the scene… grey sky, light rain… car pulls into a parking lot, empty save for a box truck and a few other ‘customers’. We’re invited into the back of the truck (air: pungent. Smells like sheep and chickens…) to collect our grab-bag of produce for the week… our name is crossed off the list, the “goods” are loaded into our car, and… the deal is done.

The COOLEST thing about this program is that each week’s items are determined by what is currently being harvested. It’s like ULTRA-seasonal eating. This weeks goodies included:

Two baskets of strawberries
A bag of pea shoots
A hand full of radishes
Two rhubarb stalks
One head of lettuce, red or green (we went green, mom already has a garden full of red)
A bundle of asparagus
Three leeks
Half a dozen eggs
And… SOMETHING I’m forgetting, but… I lost it.

Mom and I are really embracing the challenge of planning meals around these pick ups., and the asparagus looked SO good… we knew we had Friday’s dinner right there!

Whole-wheat pasta (we used rottini, I don’t think it really matters though)
A whole bunch of garlic, peeled and chopped
A handful of basil from mom’s garden
Some slightly wilted grape tomatoes
A bundle of asparagus

• Cook up the pasta according to the directions on the box. You may want to put the water on now, and wait until the asparagus is in the broiler to start actually cooking.
• Trim and wash the asparagus and oil/steam for approx. 5 minutes, then IMMEDIATELY immerse in cold water. This helps to retain their green color and halts cooking.
• Line a small pan (one with about a ½” lip – something like this frequently comes with a toaster oven) with tin foil. Lay out the asparagus on the bottom of this pan and top with the tomatoes. Spray or drizzle lightly with olive oil.
• Pop this pan under a broiler for 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and browned.
• This is a good time to peel and chop the garlic. Heat up a little olive oil in a large pan and sauté the garlic until soft. Put aside.
• Chop/cut the basil. Put aside.
• Remove the tomatoes, and put the asparagus back under the broiler for an additional 5 minutes until browned on top.
• Cut the asparagus spears into 2” sections, toss in a bowl with tomatoes.
• To serve, we do it make-your-own style. Fill your bowl with a few scoops of pasta, drizzle with olive oil, top with some sautéed garlic, sprinkle on some basil, throw on some asparagus and tomatoes, garnish with a little bit of parmesan cheese, and… dig in!

Today, I:
ate locally!
cranked out a few balance-ball sit ups. BOY does that thing make them more challenging!


Day Twenty One

I was sitting at work today thinking that just about the only green thing I'd be rocking today is my head full of snot... when a representative from Office Depot came in and saved the day!

Despite the "No Solicitors" sign on our door, we get a lot of people who show up and try to sell us stuff. Luckily, I was the only one in the office when this dude popped in, so I was able to pull the old "I'm sorry, I'm not in charge of purchasing, I'm just filling in for the day. Can I take your card?" It's the politest brush-off I can think of :) Now, imagine my surprise when, instead of a card, he handed me a zip-locked bag. What, you ask, was in this bag?

Check it out!

Yep, that's a zebra pen and pencil set made from over 70% recycled materials. This pen/pencil set is made of discarded CDs, headlights, LCD screens, car battery cases, and shopping baskets. Pretty neat :) Not only do I have my "little something" for the world right there, but it also makes a nice segue into the topic I wanted to address today,

Green Consumerism

Once again, this is sparked by stumbling across something in my online travels, a fantastic GOOD article called "Don't Buy Green".

This article brings up some very relevant points about the relationship between "green" goods and consumerism. The most important things I took away from this article are:

Buying eco-friendly versions of things you already use/need/etc? great!
Buying extras "just because" they're green? wasteful. I replaced the light bulbs in my house with energy-efficient ones, but only as the conventional bulbs burned out over time. It's not "green" to toss a good bulb in the name of efficiency!

As a final note, this article is quite helpful in sorting out the good, the bad, and the false when it comes to carbon footprint offset programs.

Today, I:
Wrote phone messages with recycled shopping carts.
Gave up and took some Tylenol severe sinus stuff... I'm pretty much miserable today. Today's a wash in terms of "me" stuff, but everyone deserves an off day every now and then.



Going Loco(motive)

This entry introduces a new facet of the Greener Alice blog, greener topics! I'll be tackling things such as eating locally, gardening greener, "recycled" crafts, and lots more!! Today's topic, as you might have guessed from the subject, is about... cars!

Having just bought myself a "gas guzzler" (see Day Nineteen), I spent some time online today looking at "hypermiling" tips. Ok, it didn't start that way, but it never does.

I was doing some research pricing repairs for the new monster, and one of the links that popped up sent me to a forum at ecomodder all about driving tips and modifications to improve gas mileage. That got me thinking... my truck's always going to be a truck, but I can at least do something to coax better mileage out of her.

For the geek minded, there's some really fascinating information over at this cleanmpg page. It includes some great driving tips on how to get the most out of your gas, and a lot of graphs and charts explaining the aerodynamics behind several of the tips and modifications. A warning, though... the basic tips are great, but some of the more "advanced" ones are dangerous! Some of the advanced tips are even illegal in certain states, so use your common sense.

Some quick tips I've gleaned from the various articles I read today:
  • Check your owner's manual and use the lowest kinematic viscosity oil that is recommended for your car. Most cars can even take a lower number than what is "suggested", make friends with your local auto supply and talk to the folks there. Mobile1 0W-20 was highly recommended in several of the forums, it's one of the lowest-viscosity synthetic oils on the market.
  • On a related note, regular tune-ups and filter changes can save you tons in gas mileage! 
  • When your car goes in for a tune-up, ask your mechanic to check the oxygen sensor. Engines run on gas AND air, and having a working oxygen sensor is essential for a proper mix in the fuel injection system.
  • "Hypermiling" driving techniques look a lot like Sunday driving... accelerate slowly, brake slowly, coast when you can, and try to avoid roads with a lot of stop signs. You don't have to drive like this all the time (especially if it would be unsafe to do so!) but just keeping a few of these ideas in mind can help you stretch your gas tank a little further.
  • When running errands, drive to the farthest point first, then work your way back. Cars run best when the engine is warmed up, and you defeat that each time you drive a short distance then cut the engine. Driving to the farthest point first then making stops on your way home helps make the most of your driving time to warm up the engine.
Hope you enjoyed part one of greener driving!


Day Twenty:

In the next few days, you'll see the dates behind this start filling in as I post the drafts from the last week and a half... I have a connection at home again!

Today was a very *eh* day. Woke up feeling yucky somethin' fierce, but I hauled butt to the office anyway... had some MAJOR editing to do, and didn't want to be hit with a double-load on Wednesday. Did battle with a barely-working computer, tried to swap it out with another computer in the office only to discover that one was even worse, tried to explain the situation to the computer-illiterate boss... oh that was fun, hehe. "This is running Windows 2000, it doesn't support your network. And it's wicked slow." "But it was only used for two months! It's barely used!"

* Side story, when my computer started acting up, I told boss-man about it. He said "ya know what the problem is? We all spend too much time online. If we use the internet less I bet that wouldn't happen. Try it, you'll see I'm right." That's like... if I said my car wouldn't start, and someone told me "you should just change the light bulbs, that'll fix it!"

I won one little battle today, though. I convinced boss-man to put energy-efficient bulbs in the bathroom! He won't use them in the rest of the office, because they give off the "wrong" light, but he conceded that it couldn't hurt to have them in the bathrooms. Yay for me! Next step, teaching the boys to recycle... ug.

Off to end my night with a netti pot and some Olbas herbal tea, one of the most sacred things in my house.

Today, I:
Won a small battle for energy efficiency!
Ended my evening with some yoga stretches and breathing... mmm, feeling a bit better already.



Day Nineteen

Today started out as a tightly-scheduled nightmare, and ended... beautifully. I love days like that.

First, I'd like to note that I have the best daddy ever. After running around to the bank, the office (where daddy's check book was no where to be found!), the dance studio (don't ask), the school (to pick up a sick brother, not part of the plan!), and more... and making several calls back and forth to my insurance agent, I was just about primed for a melt-down.

Then daddy swooped in, grabbed all my paperwork, the cash I had gathered so far, and rode off into the sunset... only to appear later with my registration, insurance card, and plates for my NEW TRUCK. What a guy.

So, for the first time ever... I own a vehicle that *I* picked out and that *I* paid for, and while I did have some help with the whole deal (Greg! Dad! Mom! Pat!), it feels damn good/totally terrifying to have something so wholly on my shoulders.

I call this... progress.

(Pictures to come when she gets home from K&M Trucks, Lucy's* getting a new set of brake lines!)

*I should explain. A truck this beautiful and bursting with personality deserves a name. The logic here is that she's big, red, kind of funny looking but graceful and beautiful in her own unconventional way, and my favorite part... at 23 1/2 years young, she can't be in the 'show'! (Standards vary greatly, but many people consider it acceptable to call a car/truck a "classic" once it hits 25 years old...)

Today, I:
"recycled" some more of last year's potting soil into the garden.
Took a walk around the track with my mama.



In The In-Between Time

I've been without an internet connection at home for several days now... I'm still writing posts! I just don't have the associated pics and links embedded yet and all that. And that's most certainly not happening tonight.

Just so ya know :)

Also, tonight was an AWESOME night filled with good traffic, better parking spaces, art students, a grandparent, awesome food, funny faces, and excellent music. My family pretty much rocks.


Day Eight

I've officially made it past the one week mark, and... I have one reader, yay! Unfortunately, she's only read the first post. Ok, my goal for this second week is to pick up at least one more. That would DOUBLE my audience, woo!

This week, I finished the clean-up on my yard, and am now ready to start putting plants in the ground! I also went from being able to do 15 really weak girly pushups to 20 (still girly) pretty decent ones! I've sweated, prayed, mopped, shoveled, walked and been grateful for every bit of it.

What a week :)

Today, I:
Left the truck at the office and walked around to get my errands done.
See the above mentioned walking, yay!

Oh, does anyone recognize this plant? It's popped up on my "lawn chair" and it's quite pretty looking... but if it's something nasty, it's gotta go!



Day Seven

I am... tired, cranky, cold, and I just want to go to bed. Since I'm trying to pay attention more to what my body's telling me... I'm gonna go to bed!

But first, I'd like to mention a little something, One Love For Chi. Chi Cheng is (NOT WAS!) the bass player for the Deftones, and has been in a coma since November of 2008. I'm not going to get into the whole story here, but his family and friends started organizing prayer groups (and fund raisers, his insurance screwed him) in early 2009. This website was born out of that, and is a place where many of the fans share their prayers and wait patiently for updates on his condition. There's even a way to record a short message for Chi, which will be played for him!

So today, to do something for someone else AND for myself, I prayed.

Who/what do you pray for?

Today, I:
Gave it to god.



Day Six

A day and a half of netti pot rinses, and a hand-full of () that I got from my naturopathic doctor last spring, and... I'm enjoying spring! Granted, only time will tell if I've truly beaten the allergy-monster, but it's a good start. Even if this is only a temporary reprieve, it couldn't have come at a better time!

The air conditioning battle started at work today... the hazards of having a menopausal co-worker I suppose :) But as soon as I was done with my work for the day, it was time to go OUTSIDE.

I stopped by the parental home base to drop some stuff off, and mama had the genius idea of "suggesting" that my little brother join me for the afternoon. This served the dual purpose of giving me a little extra help and a much needed second set of hands, and getting the kid outside and away from MLB2K9 for a little bit.

This was the perfect day to have extra hands! There was furniture to be moved, dirt to be turned, weeds to be pulled... we had a busy afternoon ahead of us.

Also... I cheated a little.

To prove a point, the bro just HAD to give it a shot at starting up the mantis. He's a 16 year old boy, and apparently that means... *he* has the magic touch. Two pulls and it was purring like a kitten. Well, it was already going, so... I let him run it across the garden. JUST to loosen the top layer of soil.

Cheating aside, we got a lot of good hard work done today, and it's time for this tired girl to go to bed!

Today, I:
bagged up more greens to take to the ecology center and "recycled" last year's potting soil to enrich this year's herb bed.
spent 2+ hours playing around in the garden, and had strawberries for desert!

Not much to show in the yard, but here's what the deck looks like at this point:



Day Five

Spring has come to Long Island, folks, and with spring comes pollen.

Saturday was so beautiful! I opened every window to air out my apartment and then headed outside! (You knew that already, of course, because you read my last post, right?)

At the end of the day, I just couldn't bring myself to close those windows. My place smelled so fresh, my cats were so happy, how could I? I fell asleep with the windows wide open...

... and woke up Sunday with a face full of pollen. I felt so miserable that I couldn't even go to see two of my friends' daughters' christenings! I took some tylenol cold and sinus, or something of the sort... usually I avoid meds whenever possible, but I determined to make it to the party. I had spent half of saturday night making cupcakes for Ava's christening (this was my gift to her parents) and damn it if I wasn't gonna deliver the goods!

Well, ew. I absolutely hate how I feel when I take stuff like that. I was flying high for a little while, crashed HARD when I got home, and woke up feeling like I had out-drank all my Checkmate friends twice over... Is that really how I want to deal with a little pollen getting me down?

By now, we all know where this is heading... I'm going to tackle my allergies the greener way! (You'll see a lot of loose uses of the word "greener" on this blog, make peace with it.)

As soon as I woke up today, I drank 2 glasses of water and stripped my bed. I took one advil (to counter yesterday's mistake, and make it possible to go to work today. baby steps, remember?) and spent 5 minutes giving myself a little sinus-draining massage to keep the nasty stuff moving. Then, I busted out my trusty netti pot! I've decided that I'm going to try my mom's suggestion of rinsing twice a day with that sucker to keep pollen and other allergens from setting up house. So far, so good... made through the work day with slightly itchy eyes, but no additional symptoms... I'll keep y'all posted.

It may be too late this season, but I'd like to try and remember to try the whole local honey thing for the fall... more on that later.

Today, I:
Picked up a grocery bag of trash at west meadow beach...
... while taking a niiiiiice long walk along the sand bars.



Day Three/Four

Saturday, my big goal was to tackle the actual dirt in my garden. I had this genius plan (my first mistake, having a plan!) to dump the soil in last year's pots on the strip of sand-and-clay I call a garden... then I was going to mix all that good stuff in with my parent's Mantis. Quick, easy, effective! Lame.

I went down to my parents' house and asked my dad to show me how to use it. He had some trouble getting it started up, and a little trouble keeping it running once it started, but he said with a little fidgeting I'd get it going. He mixed up some gas for me, helped me load my new table into the truck (more on that later!!) and I was on my way.

One sore arm and lots of cursing later, it occurred to me... just how green is a gasoline powered garden tool?

(Yes, I've decided to spin my inability to start the blasted thing into an environmental message.)

So... I continued straightening up the yard, emptied a few more pots, and made peace with not getting that particular chore done that day.

I think tomorrow I'll go and borrow my parents' pitch fork. Greener gardening, and a little exercise! Isn't that what this is all about?

Today, allergies set in and I had a christening to go to. Not much to report on the greener side.

This Weekend, I:
I learned a valuable lesson, accept that some jobs just need to be done the 'hard' way.
I did 15 more "girly" push-ups, and they were a little easier this time!

Just for show and tell, here's the blasted Mantis:



The planet doesn't need to be saved!

Just so no one thinks I'm taking things too seriously, here's what George Carlin has to say about all things green:

Personally, I'm inclined to agree with him. That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep doing what we're doing, though! We just need to change how we think about it. We're not working to save the planet, it'll "shake us off like a bad case of fleas"... we're working to save ourselves! We're looking to protect this "version" of the planet, the one that can support human life.

On that note, I'm off to the beach! What's the point of "saving" it if we don't take the time to enjoy it?



Day Two

Today, I had a genius idea. Tackling my messy yard kills two birds with one stone! I can clean up the yard and get some exercise at the same time!

This was the perfect day to start this project, too. Got to leave work at 3, I had tons of energy, and darn it all if the weather wasn't just PERFECT for gardening.

So here's today's little something for the earth and myself... my yard!

Today, I
filled one bag with leaves and other yard refuse to take to the ecology center's compost heap.
spent two hours cleaning up last year's plants... and maybe dancing around the yard just a bit, too :)

For reference, here's what I'm starting with:



Day One!

Today is the day after earth day.

Today, I spent a lot of time reflecting.

I am miles away from the person I was last year, but there are still many more miles to go. I thought about how I've taken more pride in my apartment and my yard. I thought about how I take care of my two wonderful rescued cats. I thought about how I eat healthier... not all the time, but I try! I thought about how I've been working for my dad for two years now, and how much I LIKE my job. I thought about how I respect myself more.

And I thought about how much I think about myself. Wow.

So I am going to spend 365 days... thinking about something else. This lovely planet I call home, and the other people I share it with.

I am also going to spend 365 days doing little things to help my body. By eating locally when I can and walking more often I will be supporting the local economy, polluting less, and... just generally spreading a little joy whenever I can :) Plus, it's been proven that losing weight has a ton of additional benefits including improved gas mileage!

I'm not promising to post every day, but I CAN promise that I will strive every day to be a little bit greener, a little bit better, a little closer to the best person I can become.

Today I:
watched an hour of tv, instead of keeping it on for company all night.
did 15 "girly" push-ups!