Monday, March 26, 2012

My Heroes

These two guys are my heroes. I just read an article about their innovative idea of creating alternative styrofoam packaging materials from mushrooms in Oprah Magazine.
While they were in college, both guys were working on developing a new type of glue for a class project. Eben Bayer rememered the sticky white substance "mycelium" that is found in old wood piles. He thought why not use it as glue? Their teacher encourage them to go with it. They tinkered with the idea and eventually they created a new product.

After graduation, they started Ecovative Design. Working with big accounts with Dell and Crate & Barrel; they now have a large facility that takes food by-products from surrounding farms. They grow the fungi and let it digest parts of the husks before baking it. The result is a new product that can replace our dependency on Styrofoam.

Their ultimate goal is to rid the planet of harmful materials and create something that can be beneficial to the environment even if it happens to become litter. Check them out at

Monday, March 19, 2012

Give your prom dress another whirl

Spring cleaning is just around the corner and I'm sure there's a cocktail dress or a gown that you haven't worn in ages. I had a beautiful red gown that I wore for one event and it's been in my closet for 12 years. After coming to terms with the fact that I won't be able to fit into it, I was ready to let go.

Someone at work was doing a similar prom dress drive and I donated my dress because it happened to be a convenient location for me. My dress had a classic cut so it's still fashionable. is located in quite a few major cities so if you are in need to purge your closet, you can contact your local chapter. They will take dresses, clutches and purses which will go to underpriviledged girls who are attending their prom. Proceeds also fund anti-human-trafficking efforts.

You can go to if you are interested in donating a dress. I must say that after I dropped off my gown, I was surprised to feel a rush of happiness because I knew it would make a young lady's night be extra special instead of being hidden away in my closet.

Monday, March 12, 2012

White versus Brown Coffee Filters

No doubt that coffee grounds enrich your compost with the essential Nitrogen element. However, a debate on whether to compost white versus brown coffee filters is often sparked. White coffee filters are bleached. Although I've read on many websites that the bleach has dissipated from the filter by the time it makes the compost pile, I tend to be skeptical about that because I don't see a scientifically based explanation on exactly how that happens.
If you want to play it safe, you can use brown coffee filters or better yet the built in gold coffee filters in which there is no paper waste. I try to buy the brown coffee filters that come in cardboard boxes rather than the plastic wrapping to be mindful of packaging.
I then tear them into strips which can be a messy process. It allows the paper to compost more quickly. I try to blend them in the compost rather than let them sit on top because as the filters dry, they can fly away.
If you need to add more Nitrogen to your soil, consider contacting a local coffee shop. Offer to drop off a clean 5 gallon bucket and figure out an agreeable pick up schedule. Make sure to label the bucket clearly with you name and phone number in case you need to pick up sooner than expected. I bring a tubberware to work and take the coffee grounds from the coffee maker and add that to my compost.
There are lots of little ways to make a big positive impact on our environment. Ask yourself what can you do?

Did you know?

Did you know that you can compost real cork from wine/spirit bottles? So you can enjoy your drink without guilt unless you are drinking a brand that uses the plastic cork stoppers which cannot be composted or recycled. A lot of local wines still use cork but I've noticed that the bigger brands used the plastic ones.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Taking a interesting class

I'm really excited because I registered for a 3 hour furniture refinishing class at one of the local community colleges. It's on the last Saturday of this month and I can hardly wait. I need more storage space for china and entertaining supplies. I see so many beautiful cabinets and lowboys in Goodwill and the Salvation Army but I'm nervous about purchasing them because I'm not confident that I can make it look professional. This class is for refinishing furniture that is damaged, scratched, etc. In this economy when people have to be frugal, this will be the best $40 I've ever spent.

You don't have to pay a lot of money for good style. You just need to have good taste and the knowledge to make it happen.

If you need some new pieces of furniture in your home, check with your local colleges to see if they offer a similar non-credit class.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

1 Billion

Is the total number of online pledges for Earth Day. Are you ready for April 22? What will be your random green act of kindness to our planet? Switch to LED lights, create a compost pile, plant trees, a garden or create a special recycling program in your community.

I will be growing and tending to my seedlings for a vegetable garden. Today, I gave a friend extra seeds I had from last year's harvest because she said she wanted to grow cantaloupes. You can pledge on and/or please leave a comment to share with us how you will make a difference on Earth Day. We would love to know.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Can't Wait

I am currently participating in one of Terracycle's program by collecting Bic Pens, Highlighters, Sharpies, and plastic tape dispenser rolls.
We use these all the time at my job and I am making special canisters to hold these items. Here was an easy way I created them. I took the canisters and used a sheet of 12" x 12" scrapbook paper. I had to trim a little bit off the top. I taped one side on the canister then wrapped the paper around to the other side. I taped the seam. Then I printed the sign and taped it to the front, leaving the seam in the back of the canister. Volia!! A canister than can better accommodate long writing utensils. Can't wait to bring them to work.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Plant a Tree Non-Profit Opportunity

If you happen to live close to New York City or in the surrounding areas, this
non-profit will provide you with an opportunity to roll up your sleeves and hit the dirt.

You can register for volunteer opportunities to plant trees in local NYC communities. If you don't live in NYC, you can make monetary donations and/or you can plant trees in your local community and contribute the number towards their million tree goal.
For more information, you can click on

Organic Willow Tea

I just read this great tip from Horticulure Magazine. Listen up if you are a serious gardener.
Did you know if you take cuttings from your garden, you can make a natural tea to help them sprout roots?
Follow the steps to make your own willow tea:
Step 1: Cut a healthy branch from a willow tree. A branch approximately 1/2" in diameter and 6 feet long will yield 1 cup of tea. Depending on how many cuttings you may have you can gauge how many willow branches you will need. Please don't use branches that have fallen to the ground.
Step 2: Cut the branch into 3-4" pieces. Put the pieces in a large pot and add enough water to just cover them. Cook at medium-high for 20 minutes. Afterwards, turn off the stove and leave the pot where it was overnight, undisturbed.
Step 3: Remove the branches and put the tea into a glass or plastic container. You can refrigerate this tea for up to two months. When ready to use, use equal parts water to dilute the tea for your garden cuttings. The tea can be used in place of watering from time to time until the roots are established.
Conclusion: The willow bark contains a natural rooting hormone which help your other plants to establish their rooting system.
The tea should NOT be used for human consumption so clearly label the bottle that is being refrigerated.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cleaning doesn't have to hit a sour note

A part of me is mortified to show how dirty my microwave can be but I wanted to share a great cleaning tip I got years ago. Sometimes, I have a small amount of white vinegar left in the bottle. You can also use red wine vinegar or cider vinegar. I pour 1/4 cup of the vinegar in a mug of water like the one in the photo.
I microwave it for about 2-3 minutes. It creates a high humidity inside which softens caked on food that is really hard to scrub off. When it's done, I reuse the vinegar/water concoction. I dipa rag in the mug of vinegar/water then proceed to wipe off the mess.

It makes cleaning really easy and less frustrating. Plus, I feel better that it's natural and there isn't any chemical residue to possibly get in my food while it's cooking.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tunes 4 the Troops

If you've recently upgraded your iPod, what do you do with the old one? What do you do with all the CD's you've got cluttering your space? What do you do with the DVD's you have now that you have Netflix streaming?

Tunes 4 Troops (which is run by The University of Tennessee Tech) collects these items and sends them overseas. You can even become a satellite coordinator in your community. Click on this link for more information

Here are the types of items they collect:
New/gently used CD's, DVD's
iPods/MP3 players
iTunes gift cards
Game systems

No VHS tapes or CD's, Games, DVD's that are copied illegally. You can send CD's and DVD's without the plastic jackets.

Donation and shipping costs are also tax deductable. It's cheaper to use flat rate shipping boxes to ship game consoles. Great way to show your support of our troops.