Saturday, March 26, 2011

Seriously. Cool.

I think it's a little ironic that I my blog has taken an environmentally-friendly turn lately, and I've been talking about making small changes to turn into good habits. Well, how about I make a big change? Like... a brand new 2011 Prius?

Meet Lexi (as in Sexy Lexi... per Randy. Yep. she is sexy). This is our new addition to the family. And while the old ride (our 2005 Equinox) was one of my favorites... the 17mpg wasn't cutting it. Since my commute has changed (I used to live 3 minutes from where I worked), I really started feeling the gas prices hitting me hard. After much deliberation between old and new, a model II or III, price, color, and everything else you could think of, we just decided that this one was the one we wanted. I love the silver... mostly the best color to choose from since the colors are so limited. I also love the navigation system, bluetooth capabilities, and XM radio (hello, station 51, Coffee House), not to mention the absolute amazing gas mileage I'm getting. It's unbelievable. 

It's pretty darn amazing how much technology goes into this car. There's most definitely a learning curve to driving it (start button, park button, keyless entry, camera for backing up, different drive modes, etc). It's made me into one careful driver, that's for sure, especially when there's no sound at all until you hit about 30mph. It's quite a weird thing to experience. I'm now just getting the hang of changing between driving modes. Power mode for get-up-and-go. Eco mode for cruising and major gas-saving. Hats off to you and your fine product, Japan. 

She even looks good from behind. It definitely makes going green look good :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Getting Greener: Part 2

With cloth napkins being made, I started thinking of more, easy ways to become Earth-conscious. Taking some ideas from Bea at Zero Waste Home, I've ordered this castile soap to start making my own cleaning solution (however, castile soap can be used for more than just a home cleaning product). With just 1 1/2 teaspoons of castile soap, 3 teaspoons of vinegar, and 4 cups of water, I can have an Earth-friendly (not to mention non-toxic) alternative to an all-purpose cleaner. In addition to the castile soap, I threw in a 3-pack of Caldrea scrub brushes, which are made from Beechwood and other natural fibers.

I also bit the bullet (after much hesitation) and bought "The Keeper", which is an alternative to tampons or pads. I think this product is just making its way to the states, but I've heard nothing but great things about them. So, I'm excited to try it out. I'm sure my husband wouldn't mind never having to buy tampons for me again (although he's never complained... such a great guy).

Like I said before, I'm trying a few things at a time.... making small changes that will replace wasteful habits with more conscious ones. Can't blame a girl for trying....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Getting Greener: A start

After discovering an article on Yahoo about a zero-waste family, I've become intrigued by their story. I found the mother's blog (here) and have been reading ever since. While I think she takes it to an extreme (e.g. I'm not sure how my local grocer would take me bringing glass jars to buy meat and cheese from the deli), I can appreciate the motives behind living minimally and with minimal waste. She also points out that this lifestyle is impossible to create over days, weeks, and even a year. She's spent years making changes to her family's lifestyle; however, it did get me thinking of little things I could change to start towards being a little less wasteful.

My start to producing a little less waste: cloth napkins. I'm saying good bye to paper napkins that are easily used and tossed without a thought to where they'll land up. And while I'm sure they will break down faster than other wasteful items I use (e.g. plastic pens, tooth brush heads, etc), I feel like it's something I can do that I don't even have to think about. Plus, it gives me small little sewing projects to satisfy my project ADD (we all know I get bored quickly with lengthy, complex projects....). Here are the first of my napkins... they just so happen to be the rest of the curtain material from the kitchen and breakfast nook valances.

With some more reading and inspiration, I hope to post some more of my small changes to hopefully get others thinking of what they could do as well. Let me know your ideas...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Planting time!

It's the middle of March, and it's planting time in Texas! The weather has been absolutely lovely... days mostly in the 70's or low, breezy 80's. This weather has been so nice for my spring break! I find myself still stuck in the Illinois mindset: don't plant anything in the ground until at least April, be prepared for a rainy or even snowy spring break, hope that the weather is in the 50's or 60's. But I've been assured by my grandpa (who does know lots of things about weather and planting due to tuning in to his weekly radio horticulturist, Neil Sperry), that now is the time to plant. So, planting we've done!

We started out with planting two Red Rocket Crape Myrtles in our backyard. Although I can hardly take credit for them.... three wonderful employees of the nursery came and planted them for me. Sometimes paying someone to do it is just the right thing to do. Nothing worse than dropping some $$ for trees and then killing them by improper planting procedures. Here's the result:

Then, today we visited Lowes (along with everyone else in Rockwall) to pick up some items for our vegetable garden. Because we're still unsure of the permanent layout of our backyard, we wanted containers for our plants this year. So, we bought a big plastic bin (which is not technically for plants but seems to work very well given some holes drilled in the bottom), lots of soil, and some tomato plants. Here's the end result with some pug additions :)

We've got two tomato plants, scallions, bell peppers, and lettuce growing. I also have some cilantro, chives, and parsley in indoor herb pots. I'm overall very happy with how easy it was to do. Hooray for smaller-scale gardening (and weeding)! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hello, sewing... it's been a while

After much debate, I decided to add some window treatments to our kitchen and breakfast nook. I love, love, love the fabric from World Market, so I bought it as a huge curtain and trimmed it down to fit the windows. After dusting off the sewing machine and getting reacquainted with it, I knocked it out in a few hours. I think it turned out very nicely. And I even have enough fabric left over for some napkins. Fun!

Spring Break Projects

Hopefully someone, somewhere, is relaxing on spring break. Not this gal. I have projects on my list that need doing. Randy actually helped jump start my projects with a kitchen backsplash. We both decided that we really loved our old kitchen's backsplash and how easy it ended up being, so we wanted to do it again. Plus, it would help our house look a little more personalized. In about five hours, we had it up and looking good!

Monday came, which meant it was time for painting. With Randy off to work, I taped, edged, and painted both the kitchen and some of the breakfast nook walls. All the cabinetry and backsplash made the process a little lengthy, but I think it was well worth it. We now have a kitchen that's warm and welcoming, versus stale and blah. 

Next, I need to find a few decorations for the barren breakfast nook wall and perhaps a new light fixture for over the table. But, all-in-all, I think my spring break is off to an awesome start! 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Weekend Review

I had the highest hopes for this weekend. On the list was getting lots of pots for container gardening, going to a nearby nursery to pick up a few trees for our bare back yard, and planting up a storm. So, Saturday, Randy and I went to Garden Ridge, a warehouse of all sorts of things ... including (what I thought to be) cheap garden pots and planters. Man, I was wrong. They had a large assortment of all sorts of pots, but none of them (including the fake real-looking pots) were cheap. Disappointing, to say the least. I'm using pots for my vegetable gardening this year, since we're in the planning stages for landscaping our back yard. I don't want any permanent garden boxes yet, so I was on the look-out for decently priced pots.... Garden Ridge was not the place to go. Instead, we came away with a still pricey, but nice looking medium-sized pot for our front porch. Whatever. I'm over you, Garden Ridge.

So, we took our search to Walmart, the place I try not to completely support but usually do because they have the best prices. And, as I waltz into the garden area.... there are beautiful gleaming pots.... for cheap. Red... green.... gold...

Better Homes and Gardens 16'' Bombay Planter, Red Sedona

So, planters, check. Got a red and green one, as well as some herb pots for indoors. We also picked up a indoor little greenhouse for starting seedlings. Lettuce, peppers, scallions, parsley, cilantro, and chives are all planted and sitting nicely in the sun in the dining room. 

Sunday, we decided, would be the nursery day. We were looking for 2-3 trees that would provide some privacy, as well as eye-appeal, since our house sits a little up on a hill, which allows our neighbors to view right into our back yard. Crape Myrtles are very popular and grow well in north Texas, so we were hoping for some like this...

But.... after waking up on Sunday morning with a runny nose and endless sneezing, I am sitting here still in pajamas. No trees for us today. Randy mowed the yard while I cleaned the house. But other than that.... I've been useless. Hopefully this work week will go quickly... next week is our spring break, so I can get my gardening and planting done then. I also hope to paint and spruce up the kitchen with window treatments and the like.... lots to do! I don't have time to be sick for long!