Friday, November 28, 2008

Only in America

Only in America do we support a system that kills its supporters. No, I'm not talking about Big Tobacco, though it would be yet another glimmering example. I talking about Corporate America and Consumers. Most of you have already heard about the Wal Mart worker trampled to death. How did this happen? The people who had been allowed by Wal Mart to start gathering at the door 7 hours earlier, through the wee hours of the morning, clearly were not making good decisions. After standing on line for SEVEN HOURS who does make good decisions. (Why did Wal Mart knowingly allow this, by the way?) Add that the media hype over Black Friday. Someone had to brainwash people into thinking it was a good idea to line up outside any store in freezing temperatures, with no access to bathrooms and food, overnight. Nobody would come up with that on their own. Sorry. Yet the advertising geniuses (who, trust me, were tucked in soundly in their beds while this young man lost his life for what was a close to minimum wage job) managed to whip up the masses with too good to be true offers. And after 7 hours of standing in the freezing cold, the people waiting at the door see a man and get taken up in mob mentality, rush the doors and end that poor guy's life. Take the Wal Mart challenge -- I urge anyone who has made a purchase at Wal Mart today to RETURN YOUR MERCHANDISE ASAP and do not shop there the rest of the holiday season! Send Wal Mart, the Media and the rest of Corporate America the message that we will not be manipulated. 'Tis the season to see corporate giants fall and return our economy to the little guy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Freaky Moon

Last night as we were leaving the grocery store the windshield of the truck was filled with a bright full moon, blurred by swirling clouds. My 5 year old remarks to my three year old, “Look at that freaky moon, and mom is driving RIGHT INTO IT!!!” Well, would you know that freaky moon followed us home? Cries of, "that freaky moon is chasing us" drowned out the radio. And when they got inside they let dad know that the freaky moon was waiting. RIGHT. OUT. SIDE.
Here's the Freaky Moon lying in wait in our back yard.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Nature Hike

Today we took a nature hike up the columbia trail and then we headed down the trail that leads to the waterfall over the Lake Solitude dam.

There has been much to do lately about turning this into a hydro-electric plant. I hope this will decrease the tax burden for this small town. We pay nearly tripple in property tax as the neighboring towns. We continued to follow the trail, which was marked, down to its end, which ended behind some old buildings behind the steel mill. There were some old buildings. Then we stopped by the park and the dizzy dog had fun:

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Thoughful Friend

A sweet friend of mine cheered my day (Hi Cheryl!) by giving me these this evening. I just love the colors. They remind me that no matter how cold the winter gets, spring is just around the corner.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bunny Lactation Consulting

When we had our baby bunnies, only one of four survived. The mom had stopped nursing them and was running from them and nipping at them every time she tried to nurse. I thought to put lansinoh on her but she nipped at me as soon as I touched her there so I abandoned the idea and let nature take its course. I could feel that momma was engourged and I searched the internet for what to do and discoverd that bottle feeding is almost impossible with bunnies. At the recommendation of few sites I got some goats milk and tried anyway. The one bunny that was strong enough to persue her momma relentlessly in search of milk is the only one that survived. A friend of mine's bunnies also had bunnies (hi Kim!!!) and the mom was doing the same thing. One poor bunny persued her around the enclosure only to have mom hop away as soon as she latched on. Well this poor momma was well on her way to being engourged too, so we did what any rational people would do let, nature take its course hold the momma down and let the bunnies nurse.

Apparently there is a favorite nipple worth fighting over.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fiber Friends!

We now have two new fiber friends, Sage and Rowland. It took more than 2 hours to groom them today. This was the result of their grooming --

-- 2 bags of fiber and a whole lot of matted and felted fur.

They are quite possibly the kindest and gentlest bunnies I have ever met. Though it was tedious removing the matted fur around their faces, at some parts matted to the skin, they did not nip, even once. I just need to work on my stylist skills a bit before the next shearing.

This is Rowland:

and this is Sage:

I have learned some things about angora bunnies today.

-- Don't groom them indoors.

-- Keep a close eye on the scissors.

-- Do not wear black velvet pants while near these bunnies.

-- Angora fiber is lighter than air.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Lily of the Valley Fairy

Fairy maybe but that kid still has a face only her momma could love.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Power of Information

I believe in disclosure. I believe that people have the right to make choices based on the information they receive. I believe that people should be given all the information. Recently a law was passed requiring supermarkets to disclose the country of origin on all their produce. Two weeks ago, I passed up the garlic noting that it had been grown in China. I did not need trust Chinese garlic, particularly since some of it was going to be eaten raw in hummus. So I did not buy the Chinese garlic. Yesterday I noticed the garlic had a new sign next to the price. Product of the USA. Granted that's just a small change, however it proves that consumer pressure can cause even large supermarkets to yield.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fooling With Felt

I have found a new hobby obsession -- needle felting. Now my first attempts were laughed at by my family and called zombie, mummie and soft sculptures of Van Gogh's The Scream. I had never held a felting needle before but after they all went home I vastly improved my technique. So first here are the gnomes:

And then, coming soon for Christmas are the Wise Old Woods Queen and her husband the Woods King with unicorn. I will also be making a prince and princess and of course the little sister princess.

Now I am glad to have some things to populate the wood castle that I found at a yard sale for $15. The exact same one is here for much more. I just love being able to give my kids things I never would have been able to buy for a gift!
Now, those of you who read my blog know I like to recycle and that I never, ever pay full price for stuff, and this too affects my needle felting. Most people use expensive wool roving. However, I use recycled wool. Some of it I have found in thrift shops as balls of wool and some I have found in thrift shops as wool sweaters, ugly and ready to be un-knitted.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yoghurt and Cheese and Bread...OH MY!

With rising grocery costs we've been getting creative with food. A friend of mine was kind enough to give me some of her yoghurt start (thanks Kim!!!). She got it from a friend in California (we're in NJ) and her friend in CA's family took it with them when they escaped Lebanon in the 80s.

So first step make 1 gallon milk into yoghurt. This is easy (again thanks to Kim!!!). Bring one gallon of milk just to a boil. Do this carefully as it will boil quickly and wildly foam out of control all over the stove and take hours to clean, but I digress. Once to a boil, remove from heat. Stir in a package of non fat dry milk. This is optional. It makes it creamier. Then let it sit until it is cool enough to put your pinky finger in for 10 seconds. Stir in 3 T start (or you can use plain commercial yoghurt). Pour into two quart size jars, and pour the remainder into a glass pitcher. Put someplace warm for 6 hours.

Sweeten the two quart size jars with vanilla extract and honey. Add some sea salt to the pitcher. Line a collander with cheese cloth (doubled) or unbleached muslin (single layer). Put the collander within a bowl to catch the whey. Pour pitcher into lined collander. Top collander with a plate and put the whole shebang, bowl, collander and plate into the fridge for about 12 hours. The liquid that collects in the bottom is whey. Pour off the whey into a jars and seal tightly. You will need this for your bread.

I have discovered how to make 100 % whole wheat bread in my breadmaker that myhusband will eat (he likes the texture of store bought bread). It is light andfluffy and yummy. The secret is whey. Here's the how to:

Put the following in breadmaker and use whole wheat setting, light crust is best:

3/4 cup whey
1/4 cup + 2T water (hot water if your whey is cold from the fridge, otherwiseroom temp)
2T canola oil
2T molasses or honey
2T vital wheat gluten
3 c whole wheat flour
1t sea salt
2t yeast

So for the cost of 1 gallon milk, I have 2 quarts yoghurt, a crock full of cream cheese, and the ability to make whole grain bread that is not dense.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Come On and Take a Free Ride!

Anyone who has read my blog knows I love free stuff. Even more than getting something free, which is always a thrill, I love GIVING something away for free. (Just ask my local freecycle moderators!) Well, if you are in the Hunterdon County NJ area on November 1, 2008, come on and take a free ride on South Branch Community Chapel. Our good friends at The Inflation Station have donated their wild inflatables for us to give free rides to the community. Its totally free, we're all volunteers, and don't worry about it being a church thing -- nobody is going to preach at you. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pax Exitus

That's my version of the Latin *Peace Out*. Today I experienced this literally. My husband is on his way back from bringing Pax, my golden retriever, best friend for thirteen years, my loyal companion who lay at my feet all those times I was unfit for human companionship, to go to the place where all good dogs go. I am unconsolable. I cannot believe this dog, less than a week a go, walked two miles with me. He outlived all his littermates, and for a golden, lived a nice long life. But I miss him terribly. My husband is back now, $262 and one dog less. He said he perked up when they got there, jumped out of the truck and wagged his tail and wanted to play.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Energetic Ideas…

One reader asked me with what ideas I came away from the Energy Festival. That can be summed up in one word: community. I felt an overwhelming urgency to work together with my community to obtain alternative energy, to produce our own food, to support each other, to help each other, to grow together. Now honestly, I have a few neighbors with whom I could see this working, a few with whom we are already living like this, a few that could care less, and a few that would likely reject such ideas outright. In reaction to this, I have been more active in seeking out opportunities to help out my neighbors, to get to know them, to talk to them less and listen to them more. An amazing thing has happened in my trying to be a blessing to them – they are going out of their way to be kind to me! One has dropped off firewood, another a few bags of clothing she came across for my girls, another bringing some garden scraps for our momma bunny. Hmmm….could this be catching on?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fall Fiber Festival

I thought of my two friends, Jilly and Rachel at today's fall fiber festival.

The girls had fun. I learned how to knit. Well sort of. I hope I can remember it. Now I just need to figure out how to start something. Well maybe. I resisted the urge to buy wool as I know my mom is buying me some and some felting needles for my birthday. However, I did get myself some heavy duty hand lotion.

There was a petting zoo though the turkey was quite grumpy. Guess someone's a little too keeping track of the calendar these days...

The girls got to try their hand at what Salamander calls "balding the sheep".

Friday, October 3, 2008

Another Good Day at the Curb Shop...

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Those boots are merrells and the birds are happy to see another feeder go up since they are nearly done with our sunflower heads.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bonus Bunnies

Yesterday morning my daughter came in from feeding the bunnies screaming and jumping. Why all the fuss? It seems that the bunny we got Tabitha as an early birthday present came with bonus bunnies.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Feelin' Some Good Energy!

This past weekend I attended the PA Energy Festival for the first time.
The first thing that I noticed was the feeling of unity and peace that was about possibly the most diverse crowd I have ever found myself within. There were Muslims seated next to Mennonites. I saw people of ethnicities I recognized and those of ethinicities I did not know, nor had I seen before. There were newborn babies worn by their moms up to elderly couples that walked hand in hand. The Vegan Society co-existed in the sight of the 4H organically raised sheep for auction.

Most people attending shared a common goal: to tread lightly on the earth. Topics ranged from making your own biodiesel to protecting children from consumerism. Throughout each seminar and speaker common threads of real relationships, community, respect, and changed lives dominated this beautiful tapestry.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Kicking the Paper Habit - Part II

Back by popular demand in my inbox, more advice on kicking the paper (and plastic) habit: get your own shopping bags. Many grocery stores, including my local Shop-rite, give you a nickel off every time you use a cloth bag. Several stores make bags available for purchase, but buyer beware. I noticed that a certain chain grocer sells bags that are “manufactured with 100% post-consumer recycled content” and are made in China. Umm….huh? Apparently these things are here for my congreenience(tm). Notice they say manufactured with not from 100% post-consumer recycled content. That means they contain SOME recycled content. More alarming, however, is that we are importing MORE PLASTIC from China in the name of being green. I wonder what executive made that decision? Hello big grocery corporation with your name so neatly stamped on the bottom of your bag, I am paying attention!

Note: I did not buy this bag from A&P. I did purchase it at the thrift shop for a mere quarter.
I have made my own bags from, that’s right FROM, 100% recycled post-consumer waste, that is, other people’s discarded drapes.

These bags are easy to make. Find some old fabric -- old drapes, blankets, and upholstery are very sturdy choices. Now, cut two rectangles of your desired size. This will be the front and back of your bag. I have used lined drapes which make for an extra strong bag and look nicely finished too. Next cut two rectangles, one with the height being the same as the height of your front/back pieces and the width being about 6 or 8 inches. These are your sides. Cut a final rectangle for the bottom that is the width of your front/back and the height being the same as the width of your sides. Now, sew the front and back to the bottom, then sew the sides to the bottom, and sew the sides to the front and backs. Fold down the top, turn it under and sew a hem around it. Then you can attach your handles, just cut a length of fabric, sew it in a tube, turn it inside out and turn under the edges and sew onto your bag however you would like your handles. There you go, a funky shopping bag in 30 minutes or less.

Now if you are not inclined to sew, you can still get good shopping bags at yard sales in thrift shops for less than 50 cents:

For those of you not in the know (and I am counted among you – I looked it up) Wine Spectator is a magazine for exclusive wine connoisseurs. Don’ t you just love the irony! And the little Lands’ End tote pictured here is amazing – it is quite sturdy and holds more cans than any plastic or paper grocery bag ever could. In fact, it can hold four 29 ounce cans of tomato sauce AND six 16 ounce cans of beans.

Lesson Learned? Read the fine print people. Green might be the new black but some shades of green are blacker than they seem.

Hope you are inspired to kick the paper habit one product at a time!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Congreenience (TM)

Congreenience: Con ∙ green ∙ ience (kuhn-green-yuhns) noun 1. Having the quality of seeming environmentally correct and being readily available to the mass population 2. Thinly veiled attempts by Corporate America to appear green in order to lure customers into buying other things they do not need.

The term congreenience is a trademark and the intellectual property of Sandy Westermann and may not be used without prior written permission and due credit to its owner. Not trying to get all weird about it but the last thing I want is some corporation getting hold of this and making money off my word. Coin your own words, Corporate America.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kickin' the Paper Habit

We are a nation with at least two destructive habits, and I am not even talking about drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. We are a nation with an insatiable appetite for oil and paper, however oil is a topic for another day. The typical American household uses many paper products: paper cups, paper napkins, paper tissues, taper towels, toilet paper, paper grocery bags, paper lunch bags, disposable diapers, disposable feminine hygiene items, and the list goes on. Now there are disposable cleaning pads for your disposable floor cleaner, disposable wash cloths, disposable toilet paper liners.

We are not a paper using family with two exceptions: toilet paper and feminine hygiene products. My husband objects to the letting go of the former, though there truly are some viable solutions. I have simply not had the time to experiment with the latter, though I plan to one day. Gross, you might be thinking, but here's the alternative: the bulk of feminine hygiene products wind up in landfills, perhaps the very landfill upon which your house is built. We do not know how long these items take to decompose in a landfill as one has yet to do so.

That said, I am not expecting anyone to make that drastic of a change... not yet anyway. An easy way one can reduce their paper consumption and landfill contribution is to start using cloth napkins. Besides being an environmentally responsible choice, cloth napkins are pretty. We use only cotton or linen napkins. They are very absorbent and can be used to quickly wipe up anything your kids can spill before it hits the floor. No more running for wads of paper towels. No more ruining everyone else's napkins when a spill occurs. (I happen to know this first hand.) Cloth napkins are easy to launder and fold. I just toss them in with our daily laundry, give them a stiff shake, and hang them on the line to dry. I have started halving them over the clothesline like this:

This method causes me to do one less fold and makes a nice crease. When folded I store them in a basket next to our dishes.
Hope you are inspired to kick the paper habit, one paper product at a time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Somtimes Half Can be Bad...

There was a TV commercial to that effect several years ago. I don't remember what they were selling, only that the words returned to my head the minute I heard my daughter ask, "Can I keep her?", as she picked up a tattered, fluttering mess from the road.

Oh yes. Half can be bad. Especially when you are a butterfly. From what we can surmise, she was hit by a car, half her wings remained in tatters on the gravel of the unpaved road. After a steady diet of sugar water administered by qtip she managed to hang on for several days.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Children in the Garden - Part I

So its been a month since I posted -- I have been gardening. Deal with it. I am simply unavailable for several weeks once the frost date passes. One morning two weeks ago I noticed how beautiful my blooming clematis was and went to photograph it.

I'm sure glad I did bc next thing you know, in walks my 4 year old thinking she's all that with a pretty flower tucked in her hair.


Friday, May 2, 2008

International Guerrilla Sunflower Day!

We kicked off our venture in Guerrilla Gardening by breaking ground on International Guerrilla Sunflower Day. Several weeks ago we selected this spot to begin:

Now I didn't have seeds but I do have hundreds of seedlings sprouting up everywhere so we dug them up and transplanted them in that fresh poison-ivy-free dirt right near the utility pole.

Since the morning glories seeded themselves too, we brought some of those along as well an put them in right near the sunflowers. I was a bit nervous as we don't go anywhere unnoticed. Right next to this spot is a historic hotel turned apartment building -- George Washinton is said to have slept there. We were not there five minute when the first tenant appeared, a young Phillipino family whom we had met them several weeks earlier while on a walk. I felt I needed to explain what we were doing so I told them we were planting flowers. They were thrilled. Then a few moments later another tennant appears and asks, "No dogs today?" See we do NOT travel incognito with this many people. So he comes over and introduces himself as I stand there, shovel in hand, again feeling compelled to explain what we are doing. I tell him too that we plan to put pots of plants up on the cement landing once we get the decayed leaves, poison ivy and garbage cleared off. I inquire about a barrel lying on the side of his builing (thinking some squash or tomatoes would grow great in there) and he pull it out of the weeds for me AND cuts it! Who would have thought -- the first day and already people are getting involved. I am encouraged and excited and I am thinking how many people could I really feed if I were to obtain enough pots to really fill this area? Could this be the start of a community garden? There is a lot to be said for loving your neighbor.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Today's Garden Department Specials

That's right, more curb shopping. Apparently today the Garden Department of the Curb Shop was just GIVING stuff away!

Now see that big bin on the bottom? I can expand my red wigglers. Who knows where the top two bins will end up being used. Probably to hold books. And the stars? Oh somewhere on the patio wall will be great. Now, I have saved the best for last and without any further ado...the rustic bench.

Is this thing cool or what? Perfect for the garden.

Rainy Day Visitor

When returning from our morning walk we found this handsome guy on the side of our road.

He is the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrepene carolina carolina). These poor fellows are suffering greatly from lack of appropriate habitat. Too much of their woodlands no longer exist and they are killed off in large numbers by cars, pets, and, unfortunately, people who take them in with no idea of how to care for a turtle. We took him away from the road (increasing his chances of survival) and set him down near our little pond. He did not seem to like it here as we saw him heading out of our yard a few hours later. Perhaps we will see him again next year.

UPDATE: Our neighbor (she's just not the type of girl to touch a turtle) just came to the door so we could rescue this guy from the road again. We put him back in our yard. I have thought of relocating him but I have read that they like to stay in the same territory from the time they are born. Looks like we'll have to be extra careful on the road.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Girls and Boys...its All the Same

This picture and little post is for my dear friend on the West Coast (you know who you are). Little girls climb trees too. Even little 4 year old girls.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Pupa

Here's an intesting find of yesterday's strawberry planting project -- the pupa, and what a large pupa he...or

Okay, that *is* a six-year-old hand, but still. After several minutes were spent tickling the poor pupa and making it sqirm, came the inevitable chorus of, "can we keep him"? So we made a nice home for him, burried him back in some nice loose, black garden dirt, like were we found him, and placed a stick in his cage so that when hatched he may crawl up and dry his wings.

My experience with these things (yes, I am crazy, I do have experience in these things) tells me this is the pupa of a moth, a large moth. We actually found one quite a bit larger than this a few weeks ago but a certain child "forgot"where she put it. Note to self: keep mouth shut when sleeping.

Now we must remember to keep our dear moth-to-be well watered and moist. Drying out is a grave danger to pupae in captivity.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Stupor Mundi...

...Wonder of the World, goes the Latin saying. Sunday evening my life changed drastically. Meet Cooper Mundi, 80-something pounds of fur and muscle, the latest addition to our family.

Getting this pooch to be still long enough to take his picture was no small feat. This dog honestly touches more things he's not supposed to than my 2 year old, and he is much bigger than her. He can swipe things off my kitchen countertops with all 4 paws on the ground...and he is still growing. He came to us with the name Cooper and my 9 year old Latin student decided Cooper Mundi was a good fit -- he does wander about in all the wonder of a toddler. One of us was less than happy to welcome Cooper into the family. Pax is a little old (11) to tollerate 24-7 of His Puppiness.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Honey, Did you Let the Worms Out?

No that is not a typo. The dogs are in, the worms are out. Today we removed the worms from their winter lair, the hall closet.

Many people have come through our hallway since we brought them in from the cold in late October, completely unsuspecting that they were passing a writhing mass of red wigglers (eisenia fetida). There is of course one child who likes to “see people’s faces” when she tells them that “worms live in her closet”, so the winterized worms have not been completely covert. We started our vermicomposting bin last September. This is what I have learned:
  • It is not easy to find the happy medium between fruit flies/smell and hungry worms. I would much rather err on the side of hungry worms.
  • The cool, damp air space between the bottoms of the bins is preferred by the occasional cave centipede. Truth be told these things are just plain creepy and I only saw one but still I have heard they can give a nasty sting so I thought it worth mentioning.
  • Apparently our worms reproduced in captivity, though I was unable to determine if any of the pieces of matter were eggs. Little baby worms are very small.

Now it is obvious we did not feed them enough. There was not nearly as much castings as I had hoped for. So today we made more bedding of torn cardboard and leaf litter and gave them a fresh meal. I am thinking they need to have food thrice weekly.

Preparing a worm farm is easy. We use two large containers, one which fits inside the other. We put bricks as spacers between the two containers and drill the inside container with small drainage holes. Within the small container we put shredded cardboard, old dry leaves, and a handful of sand (though gritty dirt will work as well). Mix it all through and wet it till its is quite moist but not dripping and there you have it.

If your worms are happy they will not attempt to escape. We have never had an escapee. Note, worms do not like oak leaves and they do not like citrus and tomatoes. These create an environment too acidic for worms and they will try to get out. Feed your worms small amounts as your colony builds. We cover the inside container with a piece of cloth which has eliminated fruit flies. If you start to notice an odor, you are feeding them too much. If you chop your vegetable matter into smaller pieces the worms will eat it faster.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Randomness of it All...

I have been tagged by my friend Jilly. These are the rules:

1. Link to the person’s blog who tagged you.
2. Post these rules on your blog.
3. List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself
4. Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog.

Seven random things about me.

1. I hate plastic and I have even before they determined it to be bad for you and before children made it a safety issue I used to remove medication from their plastic bottles and put it in pretty glass or tin containers.

2. I don't watch tv.

3. My life seems sureal at times -- I never thought I'd have 4 children.

4. I am crazy enough to want more children.

5. I always root for the underdog. Always.

6. It is very difficult for me to wear synthetic fabrics. I kinda think they are like plastic.

7. I like wearing wool sweaters.

Okay now send this on to what 5 no 7 more people? Huh? But Jilly aready sent it to all the people that I know that have blogs. Looks like the buck stops here.

Save NJ Parks

Today we exercised our right to assemble peacfully in protest of Govenor Corzine's proposal to close 9 of New Jersey's parks. There were hundreds of people, old and young gathered outside of Round Valley State Park. Here's the youngest and possibly cutest protester (and no she's not mine -- thanks JW!):

We were addressed by Senator Lance and Assemblywoman Karrow (gotta love her) who gave us their support and vowed to fight against Corzine's plan to close state parks.

If you are a NJ resident I strongly urge you to sign the petition to recall Corzine. He showed disregard for the safety of NJ when he travelled 90 on the Parkway and continues to disregard our well being by taking away our parks where we go to enjoy fresh air and nature. Just go to and download and print a petition. Don't forget to have your neighbors sign.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hushing the Household Buzz

One of the biggest contributors to household stress is noise. Our homes have just become too noisy. Several years ago our dishwasher broke down. Fatally. We did not have money to replace it and I told my husband I would see how I could get on without instead of worrying about how to replace it. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was after supper without the noise of that contraption. Secondly I noticed that it didn’t take me any longer to wash the dishes by hand than it did to scrape them, rinse them, load them into the washer, fill the soap dispenser, unload the dishwasher and wash by hand the one or two items that just didn’t come clean. Over the next several years I discovered many noise making, stress causing, energy suckers that we could and do live without. Ironically, many of these items are marketed by the masterminds in advertising as time saving, cannot LIVE without items:
  • Dishwasher – getting rid of this item can lower your electric bill, lower your water consumption (especially if you use the gray water from your dishes to water your garden), and contribute to the peace of your home.
  • Clothes dryer – getting rid of your dryer will lower your electric bill drastically. Clothes can be line dried in the summer and dried on racks within the home in the winter. You will also save water as you will be more discriminating in washing only things that are truly dirty if you KNOW you will have to take the care to dry the items. Having your children help hang the clothes to dry drastically reduces the amount of clean clothes that wind up on the floor or in the laundry. Forget the fabric softener too, its mostly chemicals that the water supply can do without. Instead fill your softener dispenser with vinegar. That’s right, plain old cheap white vinegar. This deodorizes clothing, and reduces the “stiffness” of line dried clothes.
  • Video games and toys with batteries. If it can play by itself then we don’t need it. Interaction and creativity are superior toys.
  • Microwave oven – the safety of these things are debatable in many ways. And it hums. And bings. Those are contenders for the most annoying noises in the world.
The other night I heard the spring peepers down by the river calling for their mates. Years ago this would have been drowned out by the dryer, the dishwasher, and *hum-bing* of my tea water being heated in the microwave.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Never Mind the Milk...Got Green?

The BEST Green Smoothie Recipe Ever.... even your 2 year old will love it!

5-6 oz spinach
2 apples, cored not pealed
1 or 2 bananas
1/2 cantelope
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup strawberries
1/4 cup pure cherry juice

Make my recipe, link people to my recipe, but please DON'T steal my recipe and take credit for it yourself -- that would be mean!

And Finally...

The Borough has finally made efforts to remove MOST of the material from the leaf dump. After speaking with Councilwoman Hughes, I returned to the dump to ensure this was done. Some of the material remained, which was disappointing. While there I caught a local landscaper dumping materials.
These people should not be there -- they are not residents of High Bridge. The dump is for residential, not commercial use. Not only that, but they appear to have dumped prohibited materials that will cost the High Bridge taxpayers moneyto dispose of properly.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Disappointing Follow-up

Yesterday I returned to the borough leaf dump to see if the marials were removed as promised. The borough administrator told me he would have them removed from the dump. He shook my hand. He looked me in the eye. I asked him if I had his word and he said yes. I was disappointed to see that the materials were not removed, but rather bulldozed into the piles of good organic materials .

You can see the fresh bulldozer tracks in the mud and their attempt to conceal their illegal dumping they uncovered the old bourough commons sign, lying upsidedown in on the right side of the above picture. However, our much beloved Season's Greatings from High Bridge sign was burried but still visible:

It seems that someone thinks that if you bury something deep enough it will go away. You can see in the left side of this photo that the poisnous lead paint is chipping off to be included in the mulch that people put on the gardens from which they feed their children. Ironically we live in a world where foreign toy manufacturers are forced to recall millions of toys and small town officials can knowingly poison their residents.

I went to borough hall again and was assured that the offending items would be sorted out prior to mulching. I was not informed of any intent to remove chips of lead paint from the mulch. About an hour later I returned to the dump to take some more photos and I passed the department of public work's bulldozer leaving the commons. I tried to snap his picture but I was driving. This time they managed to deeply bury the poisons they illegally dumped.

There is honestly no need for this. There is a transfer station less than 5 miles away where such materials could be disposed of properly. It seems the borough did a whole lot of unnecessary work to bury these materials when it would have been easier to remove them AS THEY PROMISED.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Illegal Dumping by Borough Administration

Last week I visited our town's leaf dump and was appalled to discover the borough itself is illegally dumping here. For more than a year now I have been photo-documenting the illegal dumping problem. The organic matter of the leaf dump is ground into mulch for the residents. This is the sign posted on the only enterence to the leaf dump:

This is a wondeful thing my town does, however, if there is no control over the toxic materials being dumped there, this becomes environmentally devistating. As the residents apply this toxic material to their gardens, certainly it winds up on their dinner plates. Not only that, this dump site is uphill from the South Branch of the Raritan River, a stocked trout stream. Rain run-off from the dumpsite is further poluting the river as well as the fish that are deemed safe to eat by the state. Now, when we drove into the dump last Friday, this is what I saw:

Clearly, this is prohibited by the the borough's own ordinances. It is a sad day indeed when the borough does not care about the imact its collective actions have on the community. Not only that, the violator of this ordinance should be subject to fines, jail time and community service. Now upon discovering this I spoke with an emloyee of Public Works and he confirmed to me that they were ordered to empty the contents of the borough garage and deposit them in the dump. He referred me to the borough adminstrator, who I visited with four muddy kids in tow after leaving the dump. At first the borough did not seem to take my complaint seriously. I brought up that this huge sign was painted in 1962 and contained lead paint.

This is when the administrator promised to have the offending material removed from the dump site. I am certain that the borough does not have the appropriate permits to be dumping toxic materials there.

I will be checking back soon to see if this has been remedied. I am organizing a citizen's action group to police the leaf dump and promote public awareness of the illegal dumping here and other places in town. Please email me if you are a resident and you would like to be part of the citizen's action group to address illegal dumping. Just because it is what it is, doesn't mean we have to put up with it!