Too bad lucky doesn’t rhyme with toad. While straightening the garage the other day, some flattened cardboard packaging was set aside for recycling day. The spot chosen to stack the pieces was only “a hop, skip and a jump” from the herb garden.
This past winter was a test for us all. Now that it is a not-so-dim memory, reminders of the work that a record snowfall produces are everywhere.
Today for example, brings another 3-4 hours of yard clean-up–10 1/2 hours, so far. The huge branches that came down have been chain-sawed into a manageable size. The brush pile for the bunnies and other little critters that live under its protection has grown considerably. The best thing to say about it is, that just as shoveling snow burns calories, so does spring clean-up. Especially this year. There will definitely be a sortie for an ice cream cone in this evening’s outing.
The other positive thing about our cold and snowy winter has been the positive effect it has had on the trees and flowers. Every hillside, every landscaped corner of every neighborhood is beautiful. It’s as if an artistic wind blew through, randomly brushing bright shades of pink along the petals.
The moral of the story is that winter produced lots of work–work that extends well into spring. Lots of work means lots of calories burned. Lots of snow and cold means a beautiful spring. Winter, just like the old Timex commercial says, kept on ticking. In an optimist’s world, it continues to produce a gift that keeps on giving.
Is this the coolest bike rack you have ever seen, or what? I love it. It is whimsical and utilitarian, the perfect integration of form and function. Looks like a racer participating in the Tour de France. Is that Lance Armstrong coming down the block…?
A few purchased silk sprays packaged with leaves and berries scavenged from my yard. The week’s vacation has fast dwindled to a few hours, but part of the joy of some time off, was the opportunity to meander through the yard, casually picking the bones of an arrangement. It happens during normal work weeks, too, but the pace is more of a sprint then–trying to fit it in minimal time and minimal light.
As a child, the apple orchard that had been planted long before we ever lived there, provided a spot for swings, tree-climbing, pies, applesauce and spur-of-the moment snacks. Climbing the various apple trees were one of my favorite past times. There were times that I would go outside, scrambling to the tippy top branches, as high as I could go. My Mother would come to the door, calling my name to come do some chore that she had found to occupy my time. I would sit in the tree top, hidden by the leaves, pretending I hadn’t heard her.
There were also the times when I was sent out to climb the tree, picking the apples to make a pie or homemade applesauce for dinner. The Golden Delicious Apple tree in my current yard is full of fruit. It’s time to make batches of fresh applesauce for now, plus a few containers to stow away for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
Gather and wash 8-10 fresh Golden Delicious Apples. Peel and core, cut away any bad spots and rough cut the apples. Put in a heavy-bottom pot, adding about 2 cups water and 1/4 to 1/2 cup white sugar. Heat over low heat until the apples are very soft. If you prefer chunky-style sauce, stir in about a teaspoon of cinnamonand serve. If you prefer your applesauce to be very smooth, put through a food mill, a food process or use an immersion blender.
The recent purchase of a new pair of reading glasses sparked a quest for a way to donate the previous prescription to a group that would deliver them to someone who needs them. A few clicks later, three choices were available:
- Many local Lions Clubs collect used eyeglasses. Window decals and posters are common, identifying sites for collection boxes in public spots, making for an easy drop-off while running other errands. Follow this link to learn more about their program: http://www.lionsclubs.org/EN/content/vision_eyeglass_recycling.shtml
- www.neweyesfortheneedy.com has been collecting used glasses since 1932. Needy recipients in the US and overseas get help that improves every aspect of their life.
- Many of your own eye doctors offices, and, large chains like LensCrafters and Target Optical send old glasses to www.givethegiftofsight.org.
The point is that helping others is so easy with such little effort. Imagine what it would be like to not have the glasses you need to go to school or do your job. Then imagine what it would be like to have that opportunity. The possibilities are endless. The rewards are bountiful.
Until the description of what is used to make crayons came to my attention, the notion that it is a good idea to recycle crayons never crossed my mind. Crayons are made from what everything seems to be made from these days–petroleum! Not only are they not bio-degradable, they are also getting more expensive.
The collision of those two facts is enough reason to gather together the remnants of many a rainy day in childhood. The website, www.crazycrayons.com, details the address of where to send your leftovers, and, the specifics of how to pack and ship your old crayons, labels intact. Leaving the labels intact makes for easy sorting on the other end.
Recycling crayons can be a Girl Scout project, or a school initiative for the entire building. The website covers several ideas for ways to collect used crayons that are otherwise discarded, including restaurant chains that cater to families with small children. Just another small way to re-use and re-cycle.
Brown Water is water that has been used, but doesn’t have any septic content or heavy cleaning chemicals included. Describing water as brown seems to be a bit of a misnomer, however “Brown Water” can be a good thing. As a child, living in the country meant nightly reminders to “Turn off the water, now!” when filling the bathtub. Because we relied on a well to service the household, dry conditions were a special source of concern for a family of seven.
Laundry day in summer months frequently meant that the rinse water from the washing machine was wisely saved and used to water the parched garden. A rain barrel collected roof run-off to supplement the garden’s needs. Indeed, modern covered rain barrels can be directly connected to a gutter’s downspout.
We can do some of those same things without additional equipment, pipes or money. Although brown water collection systems can be installed, simple planning and a few buckets can re-distribute many gallons of brown water. For example, set a bucket under the tap in the laundry room sink. Children can wash their hands there when coming in from playing outside. The bucket catches the water instead of letting it go down the drain. Save the water that comes out of the dehumidifier in the muggy months. Use it to scrub the floors, help to fill the next load of clothes to be washed, wash the car or water a few garden plants.
How many times have you poured the last few ounces of water out of a plastic bottle before tossing? Use that water to refresh household plants or fill the dog’s waterbowl. The water that is left in your pet’s bowl can be used first. Lastly, prevent as much water as possible from ever becoming brown in the first place. Turn the water off when brushing your teeth or shaving. Follow your dishwasher’s instructions. Thoroughly scrape plates, but refrain from essentially washing them before they are even put into the dishwasher. Wait ’til full before running. Wash full loads of clothing.
Being aware is different than being a vigilante. Just think first. Simple things can really add up.
Reflecting on the dry heat of this August day, visions of something cool and sweet comes to mind. A visit to the creamery for an ice cream cone is one possibility, but it’s one more stop, and it’s so out-of-the-way to get to the stand…. Hopefully, your pantry is well-stocked, but if not, a trip to the grocery store was on the agenda anyway, and it’s right around the corner. Try this unexpected dessert, using the locally grown cantaloupes picked up at the farmer’s market yesterday or one of the ubiquitous fruit stands on the way.
Prepare 6 cups of cubed cantaloupe, (about 2 large cantaloupes). Divide. Place 3 cups of cantaloupe, 3/4 cup of unsweetened orange juice, 3 tablespoons lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract in container of an electric blender or food processor; cover and process until smooth, stopping once to scrape down sides. Transfer puree to a large bowl. Place remaining 3 cups cantaloupe in blender container; cover and process until smooth. Add to pureed mixture in bowl.
Add 1 (8-ounce) carton vanilla low-fat yogurt and 2 teaspoons ppowdered sugar to cantaloupe mixture; stir well. Top each serving with 1 teaspoon sour cream; garnish with fresh mint sprigs, if desired. Yields 6 (1-cup) servings.
Having recently completed the enormous task of cleaning and painting the insides of all the closets on the first floor of this house, the Mystery of the Multiplying Vases really has my powers of investigation stumped. It begins innocently enough. The florist arrives with a bouquet of flowers for the special occasion of the moment–birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, apology–whatever.
The flowers are always displayed with affection, carefully discarding individual blooms as each fades, eeking out the pleasure of the giver’s thoughtfulness for as long as possible. Inevitibly, though, the moment arrives when the last of the last has to be discarded and one is left with a vase. Being frugal and environmentally conscious, it is usually stored in the closet with all the other vases that have been accumulating over time. Occassionally, one is lucky enough to have a reason to give someone else a bouquet of seasonal flowers gathered when the blooms of the moment are lush and bountiful.
That false sense of security has surely been my downfall, as there has been an exponential explosion of vases that is threatening to take over the hall closet. My own pet theory has something to do with the fact that I read somewhere on the internet that glass vases are members of the rabbit family. Leave two alone in a quiet spot and its only a matter of time before nature takes its course….