Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hey, who's in charge of updating this thing?

Oh! I guess it's me! Kind of fell down on the job there, didn't I?

Things have been...normal. The sleep deprivation was kicking my butt, and just when I thought I couldn't possibly take it any more, Z-man started sleeping through the night. Sometimes. Five nights so far, out of the last seven. Hey, I'll take it. It was enough to make me feel human again instead of zombie.

We went to New Jersey for my nephew's bar mitzvah. I can hardly believe I have a nephew that old! It was very nice.

Plus, every time we go to New Jersey, it reminds me how much I love Massachusetts. No offense, New Jersey! You just...aren't my cup of tea, let's say. It was nice to get a reminder about how lucky we are to live in the perfect place for us. I hope everyone in New Jersey feels like they live in the perfect place, too.

Our computer died. I'm limping along now on a SLOW mini we got free from the cable company when we signed a 2 year contract. I'm really glad we have it as I don't know what I'd do totally cut off from the internet, but I really miss a grown-up computer.

So that's it. We'll see if I can get posts up more frequently!


Bonus funny from N-man, that my facebook friends already saw in my status update: Out of nowhere he said the other day, "I have more ideas than my brain has space." I know how you feel, buddy!

And here's a bonus funny from B-man, that my facebook friends haven't seen yet: yesterday B-man called out to me from the bathroom, "Mommy!" I was worried something was wrong, so I hurried it. He held up his hand and said excitedly, "my thumb is shorter than my pinkie!" Okey dokey!


Green tip for the day: Consider switching to a shampoo bar. Great on so many levels: no plastic container, smaller so it's easier to ship, no weird chemicals get added to the water supply (or your hair). I've been using Burt's Bees Rosemary Mint bar. It's less harsh than regular shampoo so it did take a few weeks for me to step up to using it full-time. I started out switching between regular shampoo and the bar every other day, then every 2 days, then shampoo only once a week. TK and I have both been using the bar full-time since January 1. I think my hair looks much better and healthier as a bonus. Plus, the bar is much cheaper than shampoo in the long run. I paid $5.99 for it, which is a bit more than I'd pay for a bottle of shampoo. But, we got this bar at the end of November, and it's only about half done. I'd have already used 2 bottles of shampoo by now! Store the bar in a closed travel soap dish so that it stays dry and lasts longer.

It was hard for me to find a shampoo bar. I finally located this one at Whole Foods. Let me know if anyone knows of any other stores that carry them! (Of course you can always find them online, too).

Monday, February 8, 2010

Well, I guess if you have a good excuse...

I just reminded N-man he needed to clear his lunch dishes from the table. His response, very upbeat and happy, "Sure Mommy! I just need to save the world first!"

Then he ran away with a dun dun DA sound effect.

I wonder if Superman ever has to clear the table!


We started baby Z-man on rice cereal this past weekend. Both big boys love to help feed him. Today all four of us needed baths after feeding Z-man! I remember solid foods being messy with the twins, but adding 2 four-year-olds into the mix ups the mess dramatically.


Green tip for the day: As we're coming up on Valentine's Day, I'm going to go with my own little pet peeve: flowers. Aside from any environmental issues, let me be the first to admit that I've never really understood the desire to celebrate happy occasions by watching something beautiful die. I've always thought flowers were at worst rather depressing and at best a waste of money. But to each their own...I've even bought flowers in the past for people who I know would enjoy them.

In the past few years, though, I've been hearing more and more about the flower industry. They are heavy users of fertilizers and pesticides. They're flown in daily from around the world--not a lot of local flowers available in Boston in February! Basically, they're not very eco-friendly. Coincidentally, there's an article up about flowers on the Green Lifestyle blog today, too, so pop on over for more in depth info. I guess I'm not the only one with Valentine's Day on the brain!

But what if you really want flowers? Here are some alternate suggestions:
  • Get a potted plant, preferably locally-grown. At least a potted plant will live and be enjoyed for a long time, instead of just a week or so for cut flowers.
  • Give a gift certificate to a local nursery to buy flowers to plant in the garden come spring.
  • Build or buy a window box to fill with flowers in the spring.
  • Give a kitchen garden of pots of favorite herbs.
  • Give flower or vegetable seeds.
  • Give a framed photograph of flowers.
  • Turn pages of magazines, tissue paper, or other scrap paper into paper flowers. There are tons of instructions available online, and it would be a fun activity to do with kids.
  • Some CSAs offer flower shares, where you can pick flowers all summer long at a farm. Investigate to see if you can find one nearby. (Note: I don't know of any locally that you can purchase without being a member of the regular CSA. But it never hurts to ask!)
  • If you absolutely feel like Valentine's Day can't possibly be complete without cut flowers, look around for some eco-friendly flower options. You can find organic flowers, fair-trade flowers, and/or VeriFlora certified flowers.
And before I get labeled the grinch who stole Valentine's day, let me leave you with a really funny quote from the 30 Rock season 4 green week episode. If you don't watch 30 Rock, well, let me assure you it's hilarious. And here's just a little taste of why:

Jack: I love the earth. I have these blossoms flown in every morning from Sri Lanka on a private jet. That's the definition of green. And yet they force us to do more... more sacrifices. Why? For the children. What have children ever done for us?
Kenneth: Well, they make our shoes and wallets.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A dose of optimism

Today Z-man was once again not-napping*, and I said to the big boys, "Wow, Z-man really isn't good at napping!"

B-man answered, "but he sure is good at smiling!"

And you know what? He is. How lucky am I that at least Z-man skips his naps so he can coo, smile, giggle, and be generally adorable?


* Okay, I'm three kids deep now, and I think I can decisively say that my worst parenting skill is getting infants to sleep. Oh, I can do it: car trips, rocking, nursing, walking around holding them. But 2 out of 3 of my kids totally lack the ability to nap in a crib. If it wasn't for N-man, who was the world's greatest napper, I'd have a total complex. As it is, at least I'm not batting zero.

How long until Z-man is old enough not to need a nap? I can't wait!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Stove/oven/microwave-free food prep

This week's Change the World Wednesday challenge over at Reduce Footprints was spurred by a green tip from my blog! Pretty neat, huh? Thanks, Small Footprints! Anyway, the challenge this week was:

This week, "plan an oven- and stove-free day, and no cheating and going out to eat! Have sandwiches, cut up fruit, veggies with dip, leftovers from a previous dinner that you can heat in the microwave**. Plan ahead and make a pasta salad you can eat cold for a few days. Have hummus, feta cheese, and spinach on a pita or wrap. There are tons of healthy, delicious meals you can have without having to turn on the stove! As an added plus, many of the meals are quick and easy to prepare!"

**I'd like to bump up What A Card's challenge ... how about including microwave-free, as well.

I thought I'd give some quick background on where this challenge came from. A few months ago, I filled out an online survey on National Grid's site about electricity usage. After you're done, it comes back with a ton of suggestions for conserving energy. Many were fairly obvious, and things I already do, like using a programmable thermostat. Some things were "we can't afford to do that" or "we're saving money to do that" items. But some were things I never thought of. Two of the recommendations were: "Cut weekly oven use in half by baking multiple dishes at the same time: potential savings per year of 292 lbs of CO2" and "Use the microwave instead of the oven: potential savings per year of 1752 lbs of CO2".

I cook a lot. I'm a stay at home mom, and I cook with my kids. Sometimes I'll make three hot meals a day. For dinner, I often have the oven *and* stove going. I love to cook, and I'm still going to do it, but this has made me more aware of my electricity usage related to food. I've been making an effort to reduce my oven and stove usage when possible. For example, I've found that instead of grilled cheese on the stove (which probably takes about 10 minutes), I can make open-faced toasted cheese sandwiches in the toaster oven (about 1 minute). So, this not only saves electricity, it also saves time, not to mention is healthier since it's not cooked in butter. I know that's not a no-electricity meal, but I've been looking for opportunities like this to reduce electricity usage.

So, here are some ideas I've had of meals to prepare without electricity:

Fresh fruit
Granola bars
Baked goods that you cook the night before while you're already using the oven for dinner. For example, muffins, sweet breads, scones, etc.

Fresh fruit
Raw veggies and dip
Cold pasta salad
Cole slaw
Cheese and crackers

Same stuff as lunch

Here's what I made for dinner:

There's baba ganoush, ful medammes, and pita bread that we got at the farmers' market from Samira's Homemade. (As an aside for any locals reading this, that baba ganoush was the best packaged baba ganoush I've ever had!). I made a garbanzo bean salad on the side: 1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed, a handful of diced tomatoes, juice and zest from half a lemon, and salt to taste (I used Borsari seasoned salt). It's best to let it marinate in the fridge overnight. We also had a simple salad of things we picked up at the farmers' market: spinach, arugula, grape tomatoes, with a few croutons and my favorite dressing, Cindy's Kitchen Wild Maine Blueberry. It was all delightful!

So what do you think, do you have any other meal ideas that don't require cooking?


Green tip for the day: I'll leave you with another weird one from the National Grid recommendations: substitute buffalo for beef once per month for a potential yearly savings of 91 lbs of CO2. We don't eat much beef, and what we do eat I can source locally. I don't believe there's any local (to Massachusetts) buffalo, so I kind of wonder if the transportation would offset any CO2 reduction. But, I thought this was an interesting one, and I've heard buffalo is healthier than beef anyway, so I'll probably try swapping it from time to time.

Oh, and I guess a second tip is to check out the website for your electric or gas provider and see if they offer any energy-reduction tips. I found these pretty useful!