Friday, November 30, 2007

Catalogue Choice

Catalog Choice is something I first learned about at the Glom Shelter blog a ways back. After almost recycling the new issue of The New Yorker before reading it because it was stuck in between a pile of catalogs I decided that it was time to look a little more closely at Catalog Choice.

I'm here to tell you, it's amazing. After filling out a short sign-up form I was on my way to declining a whole bunch of catalogs that were stacking up in our recycling bin. It seems like everyone is represented on Catalog Choice's list of catalogs, so don't worry if Birds and Bees Marital Aids Company is something you don't think is widely known. It's probably there.

I even declined repeats from Wireless. Yes, I know. Now I won't know when it's time to get the old man that "I'm tired of being my wife's arm candy" sweatshirt he's been wanting.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rockefeller Tree Lighting

I'm sorry, this is so irritating -- the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, long a tradition of New Yorkers and others for over 70 years, has gone "green" (as if the 1000-story tall Spruce wasn't green enough). So this year the tree is going to have energy saving lights and solar panels to help ease energy burdens (here's a link to the AP story). I was reading in the wiki about the Rockefeller Tree that in previous years they turn the tree into mulch and other things as a way to alleviate any associated guilt about cutting down a 60 year-old tree (such as the one this year), the trunk being used for some equestrian team to jump over; this year they will be using the tree to make boards to build houses for Habitat for Humanity. I think that's all great -- waste not, want not, and Habitat for Humanity is an amazing organization. And don't get me wrong -- I love the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. It's part of my childhood and makes me misty just looking at the image for this entry.

But here's my idea: Why not plant a meaty-looking spruce at the center and decorate that? Allow it to grow as a testament to good stewardship. It won't be as spectacular but it will be someday, and families can return every year to monitor how much it has grown and hear about any trying adventures it may have had over the past year (you know it would be a target for vandals and nesting birds). How about a new Rockefeller Christmas Tree tradition?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pad Thai

Okay, this is going to be a major suck-up moment in Thursday's REL4936 class (one of the last, ohmygosh!). We're finishing up this lovely little book called Seven Wonders: Everyday Things for a Healthier Planet, and one of the "sustainable wonders" we'll be discussing is Pad Thai. You might ask yourself why such a dish would be so sustainable. The great thing about Seven Wonders -- it takes about 5 minutes to read and I encourage everyone to get a copy -- is that it discusses broad, important environmental issues in terms of seven simple, everyday items. For a lot of people, Pad Thai might not be that everyday, but it brings up the issues of sustainable food production for our world, soil erosion, and the overuse of meat in our American meals. It is also very tasty.

Anyway, we were starting to discuss Pad Thai before the end of the class on Tuesday and I just happened to notice the recipe for Pad Thai this time around. Honestly, I read the book cover to cover but glossed over the sidebar-type pages, I guess. So, after class I went to Ward's and bought the ingredients for Pad Thai and actually made some for the fam yesterday evening. Well, DJ (Dude Junior) had plain chicken and broccoli, but me and the old man totally scarfed it up. It wasn't all goopy like the Pad Thai you get in the restaurant -- I guess traditionally it's not made with peanut butter. I was heartily encouraged to continue making Pad Thai. I did throw some cashews in, but not that much.

There were two things I realized in thinking about the Pad Thai preparations this morning; I used few pots and pans (mostly trays for cut vegetables) and even though we did use meat, the old man and I probably ate 2/3 of a chicken breast between us (and there is still a bunch of Pad Thai left). So, in retrospect, it was not only tasty as all get-out, but it caused us to slow down on our meat consumption. The little bit of chicken we had was just enough.

Even though our kitchen is miniscule, Pad Thai was worth the effort. Of course I encourage you to read the book and try the recipe for yourself, but here is a recipe for Pad Thai from that has lots of interesting information on the origins of Pad Thai.

Got the photo from Sightline Institute, formerly Northwestern Environment Watch

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Black Friday!

The old man showed me this quote from an article on Black Friday in our local newspaper and I had to pull it out for everyone to see. I think this sums up my impression of Black Friday:

Last year was the first time that 21-year-old University of Florida student Lindsey Jones went shopping on "Black Friday."
"I was at Target when it opened its doors and it was like something out of a movie," Jones recalled. "It was like it was the end of the world and you had to get in Target to be safe. Masses of women were running full force through the one main entrance."
Dirty looks and lots of running were commonplace, Jones said of the experience.
One mother lost her footing in the rush toward the door and fell flat on her face, Jones recalled.
Doesn't that just make you want to go out and buy, buy, buy? And so in keeping with the holiday spirit.

I've tried Buy Nothing Day as a normal practice. BND is the day after Thanksgiving and its purpose is to encourage people to not engage in the normal hogs-at-the-trough mentality of consumption that we've come to expect as our right on the day after Thanksgiving.

But Buy Nothing Day is too darn hard -- I never prepare by buying enough food in the days before to make it meaningful. This year I've decided to not worry about it. We're not big consumers in the classic, Black Friday sense. We've never gone on these rampages, mainly because we've never had enough money to really do it right.

If you insist on doing such a fool-headed thing, Punnymoney has an amusing post on Black Friday. The blog is apparently "pro" this sort of stuff so be warned.

Being aware of BND is enough for me, because it reminds me of the important thing -- I'm home with my family the day after Thanksgiving, giving me one more thing to be thankful for.

Swiped the image from Punnymoney

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Bookcrossing Update

Sorry it took me so long to get back on this -- never did find the drop off point ("Library West - 1st Floor -Near Catalog Record Sign"...) so I'm going to have to notify the Bookcrossing folks and let them know that this is a non release area, when I can get confirmation that I am not a nincompoop and it really doesn't exist. With the next book I'm probably going to put it in the crook of a certain tree in the Plaza of the Americas. I ended up leaving it on the first floor by the cafe tables so hopefully someone caught it!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Make your own lotion

Just made up some lotion for myself and DG -- she nixed the fragrance choice for my last batch, Champa Oriental, so I switched to a Paloma Picasso type for this one. God forbid I should make anyone smell like a "head shop" as I was so informed. I like to think of it as smelling more like "church."

Anyway, I haven't blogged much about my beauty and hygiene supply making, mostly because I haven't had time to make any. But with an unexpected day off from school for DJ (unexpected to me and the old man as today begins the Thanksgiving break) we ran errands in the morning on bike (I'm feeling smug and disgusted simultaneously, if that's possible) and then waited back at the casa for the old man to get home from work.

The lotion recipe I use comes from the good people at Florida Suncoast Soapworks and is really easy. It does require buying a couple of ingredients you can't find in your local health food store and there are only a couple of suggestions I would make to more cost-conscious people who want to try their hand at making this stuff; substitute emulsifying wax for the sorbitan stearate, which you can trade out in equal amounts. The recipe also calls for jojoba oil which is great but kind of pricey so you can use coconut oil which you can find in any health food store. If you use the emulsifying wax, make sure to pre-melt the mixture used in the oil phase with a hot water bath -- the previous batch I made still had flakes of e-wax in it which does not make for a pleasant lotioning experience.

Of course, finding a supplier near your home is probably better but Snowdrift Farm is also a good place to go for supplies and recipes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Flying Spaghetti Monster

The Flying Sphaghetti Monster is not the stuff of this forum but had to blog about it because the three men pictured, besides being kind of cute, are graduate students in the Religion Department at the state university where I slave away. Their panel discussion at the American Academy of Religion's annual conference on the Flying Spaghetti Monster caused a bit of an stir in the blogorama, and got the department and UF on the cultural map of mainstream media. I found out about this at Tuesday's REL4936 class where the instructor filled us in a little on what's happened since the conference. I also found out from the old man that it also apparently got these three men a ton of hate mail, so much so that they've had to have their email addresses removed from the campus directory.

C'mon people! Are we so threatened by the Flying Spaghetti Monster that we'd harass and verbally attack scholars who are real people and not some faceless, amorphous enemy? They only want to study FSM's implications in the broader context of popular culture and religion. But apparently there are a lot of dunderheads who can't quite wrap their brains around that fact. It was a religion conference not a sci-fi convention for goodness sake -- oh, wait. If the panel discussion had been at a sci-fi convention I probably wouldn't be blogging about this right now because no one would care.

I guess the throngs of hate-filled, anti-anything-but-my-faith folks are in a lull while waiting for the next same-sex union amendment to come down the pike. Sorry, getting down from my self-righteous soapbox, now.

Took the photo from the CNN piece

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New Need-a-Bag Update (Welcome to Need-a-Bag)

Oh my gosh -- it's been two weeks since I've said "boo" about this. Okay, I've been asked by DG to make this an introductory post, so here goes. If you were wondering, Need-a-Bag? is a project which is the dreamchild of my friend (here named DG for "Delicious G") and is simple yet dastardly in its execution -- oh, wait, that's her plan to take over the world. Never mind.

This project (and now we are forgetting about any plans to take over the world) has to do with the simple concept of enticing shoppers at our local farmer's market to use reusable tote bags for their shopping needs instead of plastic grocery bags which we all know are hurting the environment. So, we go to thrift stores and garage sales and find those ubiquitous throw-off promotional totes that you get at conferences, bank openings, and dubious other proffering opportunities, and we wash them and give them out at the farmer's market. Oh, and we also buy old tank tops, sew up the bottoms, and give those out as "T-totes." We have a drop box at the main entrance for people who have the wherewithal to actually locate bags they don't want or need to leave for us to wash and then recycle at the farmer's market.

We've been doing this for almost a month, now. If you click on the "Need-a-Bag? Project" link you will see the previous posts about said project. Last week was where we began to see progress -- when DG went back to the farmer's market to pick up the bags, sign-age, and drop box, she happily reported that there were only, like, four bags left! Dang! We had to get moving, so we purchased a passel more, made more signs, and flew back into action this weekend with renewed vigour.

I haven't received an update on our endeavors at the end of this Saturday's farmer's market excursion but, while helping DG set up before the opening, noticed an increased interest in the project. The new signs helped and a frequent farmer's market shopper handed us four bags he had extracted from his closet for our endeavor. Our first deposit! Thank you, masked project-helper.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Diva Cup (Boys -- TMI Alert)

Last night I finally broke down and went to Ward's to buy the Diva Cup. A friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, told me about the Diva Cup and how it has changed her life. Something like a reusable menstrual cup that changes your life...this I have to try! I was expecting it to be 40 dollars but was only about 24. Other than Instead (or, as I like to call it, "Instead of Nothing"), the rubber cup that looks more like a diaphragm, is not reusable, and has about the neatness factor of a mushroom-bacon-cheeseburger-with-extra-cheese, I had not ventured into the realm of reusable menstrual items, other than cloth menstrual pads. Many Moons used to have a cool pattern but I guess they got rid of it, so here's a decent looking pattern from that looks doable.

So far the Diva Cup is pretty easy to use and not that messy -- at least not messy enough where I'm like "eww" (like with the above-mentioned Instead cup). I started at the end of my cycle this month which was probably a good thing -- I'm not dealing with a new item and the intensity of Aunt Flo's initial arrival, if you know what I mean.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dial Corp Responds RE: Purex Natural Elements

Mrs Nordlie
Page 1

November 12, 2007

Dear Mrs Nordlie:

Thank you for taking the time to contact us concerning Purex Natural Elements Liquid Detergent. Your comments are appreciated because they help us to understand how we can better serve our consumers.

Purex Natural Elements does contain a small amount of petroleum based ingredients. We try & keep it to a minimum and it's generally a smaller amount than most laundry detergents. There are also brighteners in the product.

We are constantly researching new technologies, packages and ingredients to improve our existing products and develop new ones. Your comments are very helpful because they let us know exactly what the consumer wants.

If we can be of further assistance, you may call us toll free at 1-800-258-3425 between 6:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time Monday through Thursday and between 6:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. MST on Friday.

Consumer Affairs

If you should need to contact us again regarding this matter please refer to the following contact number:


Friday, November 09, 2007

Old Futon Woes Once Again

Remember when I posted about recycling my futon? Okay, you probably don't, so here's the link to my original post about futon recycling. Well, that time I ended up not doing anything with the futon and eventually my husband hauled it to Goodwill, which gladly accepted it, milk-sippy stains and all. Now we have a cheap-ass futon we bought at Big Lots with a cheap-ass frame, and a floor model futon that we got for cheap at the local futon shop (here's a tip: Do NOT buy floor models no matter how much of a deal you get -- ours went completely flat within 6 months of use). We've got a little extra money coming in and so we're getting a new bedroom futon and frame. But what to do with the old one? I still cannot find any information on futon refurbishment. You'd think that in a country that prides itself on borrowing from other cultures, we would have borrowed a couple of futon refurbishers from their native Japan.

Here's a Metafilter thread on futon recycling that has some good ideas, such as making the futon into a dog bed (or two or three, depending on the size of your futon, I guess).

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Arm and Hammer Essentials and Purex Natural Elements

Once again I'm blogging about products but I have to say, I've been using both of these detergents and have really liked them. I guess the folks at Arm and Hammer finally listened to all of the moms who complained about the overpowering smell because the bottle I picked up last night at the store was dye and fragrance free. We're almost at the end of our bottle of Purex Natural Elements. I just contacted Dial Corp. about whether or not the detergent is made with petroleum products or brighteners. Will update on their response.

Bookcrossing Update

I finally got around to putting one of those stickers in one of the books I have listed on -- this one is Attachment Parenting by Katie Allison Granju and Betsy Kennedy. It took me five minutes to do this and yet I procrastinated for...wait, let me check the original post on Bookcrossing...eight months. It was March when I originally posted about Bookcrossing.

Now my only question is, where do I find the drop-off point? I'm using the Library West one and for the life of me cannot find it. I emailed fiberlibrarian about this so I should hear something soon. Besides feeling like an idiot, I'm now going to be late with the drop-off time. Will update more on this.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bicycling to Two Schools

Today was the day -- the old man took DJ to school in the car and I picked him up with the ride-along from campus. On the way home (after spending about 2 hrs at the park) we went through the Hogtown Creek Greenway which was pretty cool and ran into some friends of the family which was also really cool. I only walked one hill and it was the one that the greenway exits onto on the 16th Avenue side. Next time, however, I'm going to stay on 8th Avenue. There's that one monster hill and then the rest seem like cake.

The only thing that was a hassle was not remembering to bring snacks for the little guy, who was a mess by the time we reached 16th avenue and 13th Street, so we ended up spending 4 clams at the Buck of Stars. But the ride the rest of the way was a lot quieter, so it was worth it.

Bicycle Safety Pullover

This is so nerdy eco-cool I had to share it. I just made this pullover for the old man to wear when he bikes to work in the morning. The fleece is made from recycled plastic bottles. The fleece is so dark, however, I added the reflective tape to the collar and the front and back yoke so he would be more visible to cars. The pattern is McCall's 9443 (Stitch 'n Save).

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Totey the Tote Bag

It's not entirely what I had in mind -- my ideal mascot costume would look more like a classic L.L. Bean canvas tote -- but it's something to think about...

Got the picture for this exorbitantly-priced mascot costume from

This Week's Need-a-Bag? Update

I really shouldn't be blogging right now -- I should be studying, since I totally tanked on my last Age of Dinosaurs test (gah!) -- but it's been unusually busy at the library, considering it's homecoming weekend and we totally trounced Vandy. C'mon students and alumni, don't you have some post-game celebratory drinking to get to? But no, I've been busy helping people -- which is fine because I love that part of my job -- but it has left me no time to crack a book or even read this month's issue of Psychobabble Today.

Anyway, I just wanted to report about our latest farmer's market adventure. DG and I got there at roughly 8:10 am, stuck our stuff on the picnic table and then started handing out tote bags. When the person said, "I already have a ton of those," (but of course had none with them), we handed them the cute little half-sheet of literature we printed up last night; on one side is DG's commentary about the problem with "too many tote bags," and I had some facts about plastic grocery bags on the flip-side. I put a .jpg version with this entry to give a sense of what we are trying to do.

After the farmer's market opened we set up the remaining bags on the picnic table along with the literature, and DG put the drop-off basket just outside the main gate. Then we parted ways to run through the farmer's market to do our shopping. She's more attuned to the need to get to each table fast so you can get the best of whatever; I sort of meandered and ended up chatting with a lady I had met through mutual friends years ago. She was selling pineapples so I picked one out to bring home and I learned the secret to telling if the pineapple is ripe: Sniff the bottom of the pineapple and if you get a strong whiff of pineapple-y goodness it is ready to eat. In addition to the pineapple, here is my complete list of items purchased:
  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant
  • Field Peas
  • Corn
I didn't want to get too much more than that because I just don't trust myself to cook a ton of food without it rotting in my fridge, first. Unlike DG, I'm still relatively new to this buying local food thing and am taking baby steps. Luckily there were choices of vegetables that I knew would get eaten at our house.

And, irony of ironies, I forgot to bring a tote bag from home and so used one of Need-a-Bag's many fabulous items.

After shopping and talking with DG's mom, we left the bags and stuff on the picnic table and went off in search of more bags (and more coffee). We ended up picking up something like 18 more bags at thrift stores and yard sales. Plus we each got some shoes and a couple of styling briefcase thermoses -- I am using mine right now and am quite happy. At 10:30 we picked up the stuff and went on home.