Did you know that an average American uses 150 gallons of water per day, while the average person in a developing country struggles to find 5? Or that in North America, fruits and vegetables travel an average of 1,500 miles before reaching your dinner table? Or that dryer lint makes a great campfire starter?
I didn't know any of these things till I loaded a nifty little free plug-in on my browser called DoGooder. And now, instead of seeing ads for cars, disposable diapers and prepackaged foods while I'm surfing the web, I'm learning a bunch of new facts about the world, getting great tips on being more green, and seeing ads for products that actually fit my lifestyle and interest in earth-friendly goods. Cool huh?
Just like regular banners and ads, you can click for more information about the product, fact or tip featured. If you want to see the regular ad that's beneath the DoGood ad, you can right click for a menu to choose to see regular ads. And of course you can disable the plugin at any time using the browser's Tools menu. DoGood ads load after the rest of the page has loaded, so your browser's performance isn't affected. And DoGood donates 50% of their profits to charity, green initiatives, and non-profit organizations. Again... cool huh?
The DoGooder plug-in can be downloaded from the DoGood website at http://dogoodhq.com/. I think it's definitely worth the few minutes to download and try it out. I know it has made surfing so much more enjoyable for me, because I am learning so many things, clicking on tips and ads that mean something to me, and helping out in my own little way. Now I actually look forward to seeing what ads come up on sites.
If you're anything like me, you'll have a bunch of children over at your house very soon. Whether it's an Easter Egg hunt or Easter luncheon, there will be plenty of of kids around who need to be entertained!
This year my seven year old wants to have a hands-on celebration, and he wants the theme to be, as he says, bunny rabbits.
So we did a bit of brainstorming and decided that we would invite everyone over early and let them fold their own napkins.
Since it's children we're talking about, we're opting for the paper kind.
These are simple enough that older children can make their own with a bit of guidance.
So we start off with a basic paper napkin ...
and make a triangle out of it.
Pull up the bottom edges and fold upwards, and then fold it over again.
Pull the left corner up and across, and then repeat with the left corner.
Turn it over ...
enlist the help of a willing child ..
We purposely used items we had at home - but clearly you can be as upscale as you want.
This weeks' featured artisan is Shadow of Felt Fusion. She is truly an artist in more ways than one! Her works are breathtakingly beautiful and one-of-a-kind. Here is a little bit about Shadow in her own words:
I'm Shadow, WAHM behind Felt Fusion. Felting is the craft that, basically, takes wool fibres before they have been spun, and pretty much does what you would do if you put a wool sweater in your washing machine and turned it on hot! I take fibres and create items to order - my favorite way to work. I work with both specialized barbed needles (needle felting) and warm, soapy water (wet felting) and really love to combine the two!
I see that you are in UK. I would love to know a bit about where you live. Are you a Waldorf (Steiner) family? Do you keep a blog of your own?
I live in the middle of England, in a town called Kettering, in the county of Northamptonshire. We are quite rural, but being the centre of the country we also have a lot of hubs for major businesses. We live in a Victorian town house, about 120yrs old and terraced and we live close to the centre of the town.
We're not a Waldorf/Steiner family, but we do try to keep fairly natural and ethical in most things, toys, food, toiletries, clothing and cleaning products, etc. We homeschool our 3 children.
No blog at all, I wouldn't know what to write!
What got you interested in felting?
I'm not quite sure to be honest. I've always loved the look of felted items, they look strong and sturdy, yet soft and cosy. I seed grew in my head for a while before I started. I planned to try out felting once all 3 of our boys started school, but once our youngest started playschool and I had a little time on my hands I took the plunge. Then when we decided to take the boys out of school I just got on with it.
What is the most interesting thing you've made using fiber?
Tricky question, I'm not sure. I've had a fair few disastrous items that could have turned out interesting. I don't have much patience and once I've tried something I don't tend to want to work on it again. I guess one of my favorites has been the leaf blanket which I'm feeling an urge to repeat soon. Some of my wall hangings have been favorites too. I'm intrigued by wool dryer balls as I don't have a dryer and have embellished many, many balls for children. I like the simplicity of some of the crowns I've made. Christmas stockings and bags are great to make too. I can't choose!
How long have you been felting?
I started about 18months - 2yrs ago. I made a few little items that I gave away while I got my confidence and style going.
Are felted garments easy to care for? Yes! Anything that needs washing can generally be gently hand washed in lukewarm water. Or sponge cleaned.
Where do you come up with your ideas for designs and embellishments? I prefer to work to order so my customers come up with most ideas. For those I make to stock I tend to focus on nature, myths and legends or sometimes I'll see a fibre and buy it with a project in mind, or the name of the fibre give me the vision.
What is your favorite fiber to work with? I love to work with merino and merino blends. Angora is a lovely fibre to work with too and Optim merino.
What is the favorite item of yours you've made? I'm not sure I can answer with a single item. My fairy bag is near the top, I still use the original I made and it's going strong over a year on. I love the leaf blanket mentioned above and really enjoy making scarves and wraps. The wizard hat I made would be quite high on my favorite list too.
How long does a typical project take? I have always been curious about that. It seems like it would be a long time. It depends on the project. A simple scarf might take an hour, a wall hanging weeks. Something that needs wet felting and then needle felting, such as Christmas stockings, will generally take longer overall as I wait for it to dry. I tend to start something and walk away for a while and don't really time how long anything takes.
Do you prefer wet or dry felting? Why? I love to combine the two, but if I had to choose one then probably wet felting because I love to play with water and the soap needed adds a new feel to it. I particularly like cobweb felting. I find wet felting less predictable than needle felting, you can be quite precise with a needle, less so with wet, slippery fibre.
Want a chance to win a felted soap from Shadow?!?
Here are some example pictures of her felted soaps:
The winner will be able to choose from a few different soaps Shadow has available, as well as a small picture.
My mother teaches 5th grade. Just before the holidays, they were studying amphibians and reptiles. The students were giving her ways that reptiles and amphibians were alike and different from one another.
One boy raised his hand and the following conversation ensued:
Boy: Don't people get sick from reptiles?
Teacher: I'm not sure what you mean.
Boy: I hear about it all the time on TV.
Teacher: Well ...
Boy: You know, a reptile dysfunction!
My mother said she just stood there thinking "OMG - who can I tell??" while suppressing a laugh!
Etsy HC Street Team
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I have six kids. And with a lot of kids and not a lot of comparable income, I have to find ways to save money. So today I'd like to talk about several of the ways I use in my kitchen to save money, while still living a greener lifestyle.
The biggest thing I have changed in my own kitchen to save money and live a greener lifestyle has to be stopping using paper towels and napkins. I've found that I don't have a great place to store napkins, anyway, and when the paper towels are around, they are used for everything. So I made the switch to cloth towels and cleaning cloths, and cloth napkins. It's not a huge switch for me, but an important one. I was already using washcloths for dishes, and wiping counters and the table, but I was using paper towels for things like cleaning windows, wiping spills off the floor, and other generally "dirty" work that I thought I didn't want to use my washcloths for because of germs.
Then I started using cloth diapers. If there's anything in the world that will cure you of your fear of germs, it's cloth diapering. The thought of throwing a cloth in my laundry that might have germs from the floor on it was nothing compared to throwing a dirty cloth diaper in the washer!
So now I use unpaper towels and cloth napkins. This has saved me from countless purchases of napkins and paper towels, saving trees in the process.
I just use a wetbag to store my soiled napkins and unpaper towels, as well as dish rags, and throw the whole shebang into my washer when I do a load of towels. Easy peasy! The following link shows a great example of how cloth napkins, even with washing, really can save money. How Green Living Saves You Money
Another big thing for me is cleansers that don't have a ton of chemicals and stink. I have little children, and I need to be able to clean without a haz-mat suit! Insert vinegar, baking soda and liquid dish soap. I love these three common household staples, and I can't clean my house without them! I mix up a batch of all purpose cleaner about once a week using:
1 24 oz. squirt bottle filled with about 20 ounces of water
4 ounces (half cup) of vinegar
1 squirt of dishsoap (I prefer old fashioned Dawn)
Shake and you are ready to clean everything from your counters to your microwave to your kitchen windows. I have also used it with success on my wood laminate floors, but check with your floor's manufacturer to be sure. Vinegar is superstar in the kitchen that can do so many things, mainly cutting grease and killing germs. The dishsoap helps in the grease cutting, and provides a surfactant that cuts the surface tension of the water and allows the vinegar to do it's work.
Baking soda makes a wonderful abrasive but not scratchy cleanser, and deoderizes everything. I use the cheapo store brand. Pour out a little on a damp rag, and scrub away! Wipe up any residue. This stuff works great on a glass stove-top, as well.
So, for about $3.oo, I can clean my kitchen for a month with just a few commmon kitchen staples and no harsh chemicals! I love it!
Finally, some basic money saving tips that I have found to lower our bills while also staying green:
1. Buy in bulk and repackage. But not in plastic ziplocks, please! Single serving grocery items can really add up in cost. Using reuseable sandwich and snack bags to repackage your snacks, you can save money and packaging, which is good for the environment, and your wallet!
2. Buy recyclable packaging, or re-use your glass. We don't get curbside glass pick up in our area, so I try to use packaging (cans or plastic) that can be recycled. If buying food in plastic doesn't agree with you, re-use your glass jars by removing the labels. Save the lids, too! You can repackage and store many dry pantry staples like beans and rice in glass jars. I would not recommend using these for "wet" items, or items that must be refrigerated. I even use glass jars to store my scrap book supplies (plus, it's purdy!).
3. Keep a paper recycling area right in the kitchen. I don't know about you, but my kitchen is the hub of our household. Everything that comes into the house (including the mountain of papers and mail) goes through the kitchen. Immediately recycle anything that doesn't need further attention. That way it doesn't build up in piles, and get tossed out of sheer annoyance. Then on recycling day, you just take the bag/bin/tote right outside. I keep a paper sack in my kitchen just for paper. I put recyclables (jars, etc) into a bag that goes out to the bin every day. This is my six year old's job! Make it easy, and you will do it more often. This will save tons of counter space, and make your kitchen much easier to clean and manage. This isn't a money saving tip so much as time-management, but time is money!
4. Buy and use canvas or other sturdy grocery bags for bringing your groceries home. It saves you money, because many stores offer a discount for each bag used. After 20 visits to the store, most bags are paid for. They hold a lot, and are sturdier than paper or plastic. Also, it saves trees, and keeps our landfills from becoming choked with plastic bags that won't biodegrade for thousands of years.
5. Don't forget the reuseable water bottle! Millions of water bottles are tossed out each year, again, choking our land with unwanted and nonbiodegradable plastic. One water bottle that can be reused can save you a ton of money, and save our planet. Really! If we all switched to a refillable reuseable water bottle, think of how many cases of water and all that plastic that would be saved. Even if we recycled all of it, it takes water to do that. We only have so much water on the planet. Let's save it where we can.
There are so many more, I can't even think of them all. Please feel free to post your own green time/money saving tips!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse Chicken and pat dry. Place chicken pieces in a shallow, non-stick roasting pan. Arrange quartered pieces of onion and baby carrots around chicken. Pour wine over chicken pieces and cover chicken with the juice of two lemons. Drizzle the olive oil over the top.
Sprinkle chicken and vegetables with salt and pepper to taste. Cover chicken with garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Slice one of the remaining lemons and arrange slices decoratively over the chicken.
Dressed down: When I'm making this dish for a quick family dinner, I take a few shortcuts! Always use fresh lemon juice, but you can substitute fresh rosemary and thyme for dried. I save herbs from the garden in the Summer and dry them for future use but straight from the jar is good too! Use minced garlic from the jar or even garlic powder. Skip the sliced lemon garnish all together. You won't sacrifice flavor- just save a little time!
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for a total of 1 hour. Begin basting the chicken after 45 minutes, using pan juices. After the chicken has cooked for 55 minutes, squeeze the remaining lemon over the top of the chicken. Turn the oven to broil at 350 degrees. Place chicken under the broiler for approximately 5 minutes or until the skin is golden and crisp.
Dressed down: You're ready to eat! Serve straight out of the pan. Be careful if little hands are reaching for chicken. The pan is still very hot!!
Dressed up: Arrange chicken pieces on a platter. Place lemon slices that are now slightly golden over the top decoratively. Finish with fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish. The perfect, yet still easy, dressed up meal for company!
Etsy HC Street Team
Monday, February 15, 2010
Contest has ended - congratulations to Stuff Parents Need! The name Holden's Landing(owned and operated by Bonnie Vontz of Connecticut, USA since 2004) has become synonymous with fun, functional (and drop-dead-gorgeous) cloth diapers, knits, clothing and organic bedding.
Now it's time to meet the WAHM behind the business – and what better way to do that than by letting other WAHMS ask the questions!?!
You seem to get so much done. How do you organize your day, and what does a typical day's schedule look like?
I would love a few more hours in every day as time management is my biggest challenge. Currently I work from early morning to noon, then do schoolwork with the kids (we are homeschoolers), then back to work until late afternoon/early evening, then family time/dinner. I am always working on something though. If the kids are doing research on the computer, I'm next to them snapping diapers; if we're watching a movie or are out at the park, I'm knitting.
I keep several to do lists and am always jotting notes about what needs to be done next. It is very satisfying to cross things off my list every day! What doesn't get finished that day gets moved to the top of the next day's list.
What inspired you to start your business?
When I was pregnant with Holden, I was researching cloth diapers. I bought a few mass produced diapers (I didn't know about work at home moms back then!) and though I liked them, I didn't love them. So I started working on some designs of my own. Just before his birth I was introduced to the WAHM community - and a whole new world opened up. I adored making the diapers for Holden; it provided a creative outlet that I needed, and I soon realized that I was making far more diapers than one little boy could ever need. I started calling for testers and Holden's Landingwas born.
Bonnie, so many of your diapers are works of art. What is your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from lots of places, but generally a customer will suggest a theme or a color and I will run with that; creating several new items based on that theme or color. I just had a customer send me a picture of a flower to try to replicate in dyed OBV. This image has spurred about 10 new colorways for spring!
What is your favorite medium to work with? Your crafts seem to span many mediums from print to knitting and all your sewn goodies in between.
My favorite has to be organic bamboo velour. The way it dyes up, the way it sews ... I love everything about it. Closely followed by wool interlock.
What is your favourite item to make?
They are also my most labor-intensive item, taking anywhere from 2 - 6 hours to complete. I love having a small canvas to put together a scene on - it's fun and a challenge because of the small space.
Now … here's a question for YOU.
Are you ready for the chance to win Bonnie's fabulous giveaway?