Make Greener Decisions to Honor Earth Day 2016

April 21st, 2016

Earth Day, April 22, is a time to stop and think. To mark Earth Day, you don’t have to go to any official event, though you can! But what’s really important is that you consider how your decisions affect the earth.

I’ve listed some ideas to help you make more earth-friendly decisions in 2016 and beyond. There’s a bonus fun cat picture if you make it to the end of this post.

strawberries-pesticides

Eat fruit instead of packaged snacks.

Apples, bananas, etc. They taste better than you remember! I know it’s tempting to reach for those convenient plastic-wrapped snack bars that likely have chocolate in them. But think about your health. Think about all that packaging. Eat fruit as a side dish, as part of breakfast, or as a afternoon snack.

Image converted using ifftoany

Repair when you can. 

So, sometimes it makes sense to buy a newer, more energy-efficient appliance or car. But, often we rush to buy a whole thing when repairing the old is actually a better choice. And when you see an estate-sale find that needs some love, don’t be afraid to have it fixed. If you don’t have the skills, others do.

Here’s one example: Your recliner is looking so gross. The underlying frame is fine. It still reclines, but the fabric is worn and the padding has shifted in all the wrong places. Do you toss it?

If you’ve invested in a good quality piece of furniture, repair is usually an option. Just get on yelp or call your local fabric store and ask for a recommendation for an upholstery repair person. They do keep such lists…

When you repair, you’re helping a local small business and also saving yourself money. Think about other things you can repair: clothing, shoes, decorative pillows, stuffed animals, window treatments, and lots of other google-worthy things.

When you buy, think into the future. 

eifflel-tower-rainLike, go deep into the future. Will this item fit into your lifestyle in a year? Does buying it prevent you from achieving any long-term goals? Just as you read ingredient labels for food, think carefully about each thing you accumulate, especially if downsizing is anywhere in your future.

Here’s an example. Your dream (long-term goal) is to travel the world for a year. Think carefully about every single item you buy. Is that belonging worth placing in self-storage? Is there another way to solve your problem? Will purchasing it take too many funds away from your savings for travel? Is it something you can borrow or rent instead?

Traveling the world for a year may sound like an extreme example, but the goal is to be honest with yourself. Don’t allow stuff to get in the way of your dreams! Buy only the things you really need, and save your cash for what matters in life. That’s earth-friendly and people-friendly advice.

Recycle. Why aren’t you recycling? Give me a really good reason. I’m waiting. Here’s a cat in a basket image to look at while you try to come up with a good reason not to recycle. He got in there on his own. Don’t worry.

Once you form the recycling habit, it’s so hard to break. That’s good, because that means it’s easy! If you’re not already recycling, start and you’ll be amazed at how your level of trash declines. So, recycling saves you money on trash bags.

Plus, if you have kids, they will admire you for recycling, and for teaching them to recycle.

Have a great Earth Day 2016. Think about it!

Easy, Cheap Solution for Dog Food Mats

January 31st, 2016

After my dog first crossed the threshold into our lives, I bought one of those terrible silicone food mats with a bone design on it. It always had a weird white film, even after you cleaned it. Then, for a while, I just didn’t use a mat, but I was always cleaning up splashed water on the floor.

dog-bowl-poster

Use a Simple Everyday Little Rug

So, finally I decided to open up my linen closet and use a cloth mat that I already had but never used. It didn’t have a dog design, but that was OK. It can be machine washed too. If you don’t already have a simple mat like this, you can easily obtain one of these ubiquitous things at a garage sale or the clearance rack at a home store.

Note: This is in an area where I don’t walk. If you’re going to walk around the area where you’re placing your dog’s food and water bowls, you may want a mat with a slip-proof backing.

Reuse Ignored Dog Toys… for Decoration

My brilliant dog improved upon it. She loves to move her toys about the house, but she pretty much always ignored the Nylabone I had given her as a puppy.

A few months ago she decided to move said Nylabone to the mat right beside her water bowl. And she never moved it again. I thought it was cute, and decorative, and I’ve left it there.

So, the moral of this story is that if you have an ignored dog toy, use it to decorate your doggy mat. You don’t have to worry about the dog moving it. Speaking of, here she is in 2014.

stella-water

Sweet and Simple and Cheap (Not the Dog, Well, Maybe)

The plain rug graced with a dog toy is so much cuter than a loud dog mat with random dog faces or “bow wow” written all over it. Who designs those things? It’s subtle, unlike my dog when she wants a walk. And it didn’t cost me anything. I just used things that were hanging around, waiting to be purposeful.

Oh, and you may be wondering where her food bowl is located. In our house, the two cats gather to be fed near the laundry room where I keep their food. So, this is also where the dog waits to be fed. (She has to do everything they do.) So, I just place her food bowl on an area rug near the laundry room, and the bowl is empty in two minutes! However, she prefers her water bowl in the kitchen.

What do you use under your dog’s bowls?

Your Disposable Cake Dome Isn’t So Useless

January 31st, 2016

I’m a baker, but I know not everyone is. Those plastic cake domes are a thing. Cakes get sold from grocery stores. I get it. But is there something more to the modest plastic cake container?

Perhaps! All cleaned up, could it be used for storage or packaging? One vendor at my local antique mall thought so. Check it out.

cake-dome-reuse

I spied this plastic cake dome reuse in September, but it took me this long to share. Forgive.

Why I love this.

What really caught my eye most about this? The wooden Christmas ornaments. Oh, nostalgia. My favorite childhood Christmas ornament was a wooden snowman driving a stagecoach covered in red gingham fabric with a wreath on the side.

Leave the pesky sticker on already.

Here’s another view of this plastic cake container reuse idea. You can see the Kroger sticker still on there! No need to pretend it’s not a cake dome.

plastic-cake-dome-reuse

Disposable cake dome, thy name is handy!

The vendor was offering this whole cake dome of charming vintage wooden Christmas ornaments for something like $20. I didn’t bite. My two adorable cats make Christmas trees too difficult a task to muster. Bet they would like that bird too.

How should you reuse a plastic cake container?

Whatever you’re nostalgic about and can’t find a proper container to house, think about your humble plastic cake dome. Or, maybe save those domes for an antiques dealer, if you know one. Or.. glue a handle on the top and use the lid to cover food for picnics.

Do you have other reuse ideas for the sweet, the meek plastic cake dome?

It’s Alive. Grizzly: The Bears of Greater Yellowstone

October 2nd, 2015

No, you wouldn’t want the long-clawed yet adorable grizzly in your living room, but now you can have the next best thing!

 

Grizzly-c0ver

 

Grizzly: The Bears of Greater Yellowstone is the culmination of 10 years of work, and it’s one of the most timely books to be published this year.

The bears almost became extinct due to logging, mining and poaching in the area in the 1970s. The Endangered Species Act saved the grizzlies, but they’re once again facing a threat from us.

 

baby-bears

 © Thomas D. Mangelsen

 

Believe it or not (I had trouble believing it!), grizzly bears may lose their federal protection. It may soon be legal to pursue them in trophy hunts right here in the United States.

Are you shocked? Read more about the status of grizzly bears at the NPS. Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.

 

Grizzly 610 and cubs walking along Pacific Creek Road.

Grizzly 610 and cubs walking along Pacific Creek Road.

 © Thomas D. Mangelsen

 

More about Grizzly: The Bears of Greater Yellowstone

This monograph is not only a great gift for the nature lover in your life, it also has all this:

  • The book honors and follows the most famous family of grizzly bears on this planet—matriarch 399 and her adorable offspring as they roam the Greater Yellowstone Park and the Rockies
  • More than 150 crisp and lovely (see for yourself in this post!) images from nature photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen, who tracked and photographed the bears for 10 years
  • A dramatic story of the near annihilation and ultimate survival of grizzly bears told by environmental writer Todd Wilkinson
  • Life-and-death stories, including those focusing on the relationship between people and grizzly bears
  • Forward by Ted Turner, whose foundations work for our safer, healthier future by addressing wildlife conservation, and other causes
  • High-quality 13” x 10 ½” hardcover that spans 240 pages with a nice cover hiding behind that also-nice dust jacket (What I’m saying here is that it will look good in your house, or inside a reusable gift bag)

 

Grizzly 399 and her three cubs cross Buffalo Fork in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Grizzly 399 and her three cubs cross Buffalo Fork in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

 © Thomas D. Mangelsen

 

This book will be released by Rizzoli on October 13, 2015. Follow the Rizzoli link, and you can find out where to buy the book locally or online.

 

Grizzly Bear 399 and cubs walking over snow-covered sagebrush in Grand Teton National Park.

Grizzly Bear 399 and cubs walking over snow-covered sagebrush in Grand Teton National Park.

 © Thomas D. Mangelsen

 

Let’s close with what Tom Brokaw had to say:

Tom Mangelsen is a photographic genius at bringing nature’s greatest creatures into our lives—and his work with the magnificent grizzly bears of the American West is a gift for all generations. We have grizzly visitors in Montana—usually a mama and a pair of cubs—and their presence stirs the soul for they are the essence of wild. Tom’s photographs and Todd Wilkinson’s narrative capture all of that without the need to find an escape route!” —Tom Brokaw

 

sunset-grizzly
© Thomas D. Mangelsen

Would Automatic Voter Registration Be Greener?

August 20th, 2015

The upcoming election year hovers above us like smog. Maybe that is bleak-think, but apparently many people don’t like elections much. Just look at low voter turnout rates.

I’m excited that I no longer have cable and will be spared the never-ending negativity/sense of doom encased in most political commercials.

Image by flickr.biofriendly

Image by flickr.biofriendly

Right now, around a quarter of Americans eligible to vote haven’t bothered registering. But one might ask: If voting is a right, then why do you have to register?

In fact, many politicians have been asking that question. Well, at least democrats have been asking it. So, now I’m asking you these questions:

  1. Would automatic registration increase voter turnout? Take a wild guess.
  2. Have you ever wanted to vote in the past, but couldn’t because you didn’t register?
  3. Would everyone be mailed voter registration cards, or would an ID suffice, saving paper and money?
  4. Would automatic registration encourage voters who are concerned with the environment to show up to vote?
  5. If automatic registration became the law all across the U.S., would anyone really want to opt-out of that process? (If so, please explain why!)

Don’t leave me hanging. I really want to know the answers to these questions.

How to Get Cats to Drink More Water

May 29th, 2015

Do you also struggle with an elusive water drinker? For years, I filled my cat’s little water bowl. I never saw him drink from it, but I refreshed it anyway.

After an emergency room visit for a bladder problem years ago, I  had to make sure he got plenty of wet food. I think this was his plan, but that’s another story. So, now I see my kitty cat of 12 years drinking water all the time. You know what changed?

cat-hair

 

The Solution: A Dog Bowl

My cat started drinking out of the large stainless steel water bowl belonging to my 70-pound dog.

No, he doesn’t like dog-slobbered water, but he’s commandeered the dog’s second water bowl. The dog learned to make do with one water bowl at most times.

I think my cat likes the dog’s bowl because it’s large. But the stainless steel bowl is great because it’s easy to clean, and healthier than plastic. And it’s unbreakable!

Cheap and Easy Alternative to Pet Fountains

So, if you’re considering spending a lot of money on one of those fancy plastic motorized contraptions (cat fountains) that require tedious cleaning and replacement filters (I hear, but I’ve never had one), don’t do it. Get a big pan of water instead!

You can buy a nice steel water bowl designed for large dogs for about $10. I would recommend against getting one with a rubber bottom, as those have more of an odor. Place the bowl on a mat to prevent skidding.

Do it! And watch your kitty drink at last. But still give him wet food. Cats rule, and they deserve to eat like royalty. Of course, cats have distinct personalities, and you’ll never know for sure if this will work until you give it a try!

Appreciate the Kitty Kiss

February 13th, 2015

Get Your Pickle Bucket

February 6th, 2015

Ever found yourself needing a place to stash dog poop?

Let me explain. I’m between houses. When you have a house, it’s easy to throw your dog poop in your outside trash receptacle. Cause you don’t want to bring that sh-t indoors. Continue reading »

Cat in Your Engine? Winter Pet Safety Tips from the ASPCA

February 6th, 2015

It’s cold out there! The ASPCA put together this new infographic with tips to help you keep our furry pets and feline ferals safe this winter.  Continue reading »

Most Adorable Kitten Graduation Photos You’ll See Anywhere

November 5th, 2014

Just in case you’re having a bad day, here are some smile-inducing images from the graduation of the ASPCA Kitten Nursery

white-kitten

The kitten nursery is the very first high-volume facility located in New York City that’s dedicated to care of this vulnerable (and cute) population. It began in the summer of 2014. Continue reading »