Feature: Tides, The Science and Spirit of The Ocean

January 27th, 2017

Those wondrous and sometimes frightening tides. Why do they act so? It’s time to take a little mystery away from them, but love them all the same.

What’s the book, and where can you get it?

Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean by Jonathan White will be released from Trinity University Press on February 21, 2017. It’s to be available at bookstores everywhere, if there are still actual physical bookstores in your area, that is! If not, visit the usual suspects online. I received an advance copy of this book at no charge, but I’m only writing this feature because this is a worthwhile book.

Who is the author?

Jonathan White is an active marine conservationist, a sailor, plus a surfer! His has also written Talking on the Water: Conversations about Nature and Creativity. This guy has really spent a lot of time studying tides, but he’s also a good writer, not a boring science guy. No offense to science guys on this planet. We need you more than ever. March on.

A little alert for literary nerds: The foreword is written by Peter Matthiessen, co-founder of The Paris Review.

Why read it?

Tides takes you to the Arctic, China, France, Chile, Scotland, Panama and Italy. On your journeys you’ll learn about tides, yes, but some parts of the book cover a very important topic, one that’s being ignored by many right now – climate change, specifically how the threat of sea level rise is changing the culture in Venice and Panama. Yet, in Chile and Scotland, you’ll learn about a rising alternative energy source: tidal power! It’s not all wind and solar these days.

Go on, flip the switch on your tidal knowledge. You won’t get lost. There are maps and everything.

Plastic Straws Are the Enemy?

September 22nd, 2016

There’s a lot of iced coffee being served. And have you ever seen anyone take their own reusable straw to a coffee shop?

It typically doesn’t happen unless said person is also taking along a reusable coffee cup. And I don’t see that often either.

Image by Horia Varlan flickr

Image by Horia Varlan flickr

Is it a big deal? According to a new post at treehugger, How to banish plastic straws from your life forever, yeah, it is.

Did you know that we use 500 million plastic straws daily? That’s just in America. Read more about the numbers at the National Park Service.

Image by Dann Toliver

Image by Dann Toliver

There’s no recycling number on plastic straws either. Most people don’t recycle them. And I have to admit that I still haven’t checked with my local recycling center to see if they’re accepted.

What’s the answer? Check out the treehugger plastic straws resource to learn more about alternatives (reusable straws or even pasta straws), and catch up on the growing movement against plastic straws.

Perhaps giving up the plastic straw will be a New Year’s Resolution. Hmm?

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!

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?

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.

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 »

Hug a Polar Bear, Take the Thermostat Challenge

February 9th, 2014

I know. I know! It’s a very yuck winter to be thinking about turning down the trusty thermostat, but will you do it in honor of International Polar Bear Day?

#PolarBearDay is February 27, and Polar Bears International is challenging you to take a not very icy plunge to lower carbon emissions.

 

polar-bear-international

 

All you have to do is lower your thermostat a couple degrees. If you live in a hot climate, adjust your thermostat so that the room temp is just a bit warmer, and if you live in a chilly climate, adjust your thermostat so that the room is a bit colder.

 

thermostat-challenge-1

 

Are you observing International Polar Bear Day?

Merry Christmas with Alternative Holiday Trees

December 23rd, 2013

Merry Christmas to you, and happy end to 2013. It’s been a pretty good year.

Here’s a look at my Christmas trees this year. I bought a tree made from wood scraps. It was created by a local artist, so no, I don’t have the DIY for it, but if you’re imaginative enough, I bet you could figure this one out!

 

christmas-tree-wood

 

I love the colorful wooden ornaments! I see now that my old ceiling tile wasn’t such a great backdrop for the pic, but it will have to do.

 

reclaimed-christmas-tree

 

And here’s a look at something I experimented with this year. I have a lot of ornaments that have been gifted to me over the years. I keep explaining that I don’t put up a big Christmas tree because it’s just too much hassle with my two cats. I have no idea how my dog would react, and I don’t want to find out.

 

pasta-drying-rack

 

But I have ornaments anyhow, so I thought it would be nice to display them in a nontraditional way this year. I remembered the trusty old pasta drying rack, which hasn’t seen much action lately. I angled the ornaments to come to a point, and really it was kind of a fun project! The picture isn’t so great though, so forgive the blurry. Ah, maybe Santa should bring me photography talent. Or I should use my digital camera instead of my iPhone…

Once again, Merry Christmas. And, please have a charming 2014.

 

Are reusable bags dangerous to grocery cashiers?

December 21st, 2013

I’ve heard a new one about reusable bags.

Placing my items and bags on the conveyor belt at one popular chain store I won’t name, I was greeted with “I’m not allowed to touch those. You’ll have to bag them yourself.”

Well, I’ve used my own bags at this store many times, so I was confused. The way that the check-out area was configured, it would have been awkward for me to bag my own groceries. So, I ask, “Is this a new policy?’

“No. I had a reaction and now I’m not allowed to touch the bags,” she said.

 

Image from when I forgot the garlic in my reusable shopping bag! Found it not so intact in the dryer.

Image from when I forgot the garlic in my reusable shopping bag! Found it not so intact in the dryer.

 

The cashier couldn’t say exactly what it was about the bags she had handled that made her sick, but there was fear in her eyes. If she had some sort of specific allergy, she wasn’t aware, but there was just something about the bags that had made her sick, she said.

I believe that. It could be that the cashier has some specific food allergy that she’ll soon discover isn’t related to reusable bags. However, I think it’s totally plausible that someone’s bags may have made her have a reaction.

Always Wash Your Bags

Reusable bags, like anything else you use again and again, should be washed to remove contaminants and allergens. Never buy bags for grocery shopping that are surface wash only. That’s not healthy. Think about it for a minute: You bags carry ready-to-eat foods like produce that can easily become contaminated by dirty grocery bags.

For your health, and your cashier’s, wash your reusable bags often. Visit the American Cleaning Institute for tips on how to safely store and clean reusable shopping bags.

 

How often do you wash your shopping bags?

Made in USA Christmas Toys for 2013

November 7th, 2013

 

Made in USA means your gift didn’t have to travel so far to get to you. Plus, it supports jobs in the United States. So, if you’re starting your holiday shopping, here are some ideas for Made in USA Christmas gifts for 2013.

 

Stuffed Dog, because if you can’t have the real thing, why not? Or, even if you can have the real thing, these pups are cute. Check out Cuddly Puppy Friend at Taraluna. These pups are made by hand in the United States, and they’re safe for small kids with no small parts to fall off.

taraluna-made-usa-puppy

 

Wooden Checkers, because cardboard just doesn’t last! These made in USA Wooden Checkers from Maple Landmark will last for years. And, if you’re looking for stocking stuffers that are made in USA, you can’t go wrong with the wooden dominoes, swords, train whistles, tops, puzzles, silly sticks and yo-yos at Maple Landmark!

 

wooden-checkers

 

Herd Your Horses is perfect entertainment for the horse lover in your family. The recommended minimum age for this made in USA board game is 8 years old. Herd Your Horses is available at Fat Brain Toys.

 

herd-your-horses

 

Tool sets aren’t just for boys! The Pink Tool Set from Green Toys is made in the USA from recycled plastic. Yeah, they also make a blue tool set. And they’re free of BPA and PVC.

 

green-girl-tools

 

And, of course, I leave you with the Vermont Teddy Bear!

vermont-teddy-bear

 

Are you shopping for toys and other gifts that are made in the USA?