Friday, December 11, 2009

fall bounty

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

we did it

We went solar, taking advantage of the U.S. tax credit.  Thanks, President Obama.  We have been considering this for a couple of years.  Very exciting. 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

the garden grows


a few weeks later

Seriously, I have never seen plants so happy and thriving.  When I see all of the rich green it makes me so happy.  I do love and adore the plants, and they do have good conditions.  Plenty of sun, ample water, and great soil/compost mixture.  Plus the soil was tilled and loosened before I planted this garden.  This is only half of the edible garden.  On the other side of the patio I have more tomato plants and tons of holy basil.  There the soil isn't as rich or loose, but the basil doesn't mind.  We also have a new tangerine tree in the front yard.

chard, kale, arugula, variety of lettuce, Japanese greens, onion, 3 types of peppers, 3 basil varieties, tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, broccoli, caulifower, marigold (edible, plus keeps away bugs), chives, onions, pole beans, bush beans.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


To read about bees in an urban setting click here.  Although I don't live in an urban setting, there is still valuable information to be gained.  Comments?

Monday, October 26, 2009


I saw this short video about a family in living in the southern California suburbs who had transformed their yard into a sustainable was so inspiring.  To watch this 8 minute video go here: the simple life.

I just expanded my garden areas where we are growing food.  I am going to jam pack as many plants into this area as I can.  I am also going to try starting more plants from seed.  No photos yet, but the above one is of swiss chard and kale grown by a neighbor.  I hope mine gets this big!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

go green blog

My blog is now featured on an informational directory of a website called "GoGreen."

How fun.

I wrote this blog, my second one, in hopes of inspiring people to live a more green lifestyle.  If this helps get the word out more, GREAT.  Please check out:

This is my other blog, All of Us:

We did a little traveling this summer and found in the European countryside, and even the cities, that green living is everywhere.  People had vegetable gardens, everyone was recycling, and many people hung their clothes on the line to dry.

Green living is everywhere.  Even in Italy!

And even in France!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

my new favorite tea - holy basil/thai basil blend

This was a decent sized basil harvest, the result of pruning my garden where the dozen variety of basil plants had grown to a few feet high. I picked mostly holy basil (tulsi) and some Thai basil, which has a slight licorice taste. I dried the branches, lying them flat on a blanket. I gave the leaves about an hour in sunlight, to have the plants soak in all of that light. Then I let them dry in the open air.
Once dried I plucked the leaves and cut them into smaller pieces. I saved a bunch for cooking, and still have several cups left. So I am using the leaf blend (because I accidentally got the two basils mixed up) for tea. I am drinking it iced with a little agave nectar, as it is hot here this time of year. Delicious! I just put the dried loose leaves right into a cup of water, let them soak and steep a bit, and I eat the leaves as I drink the tea.
Of course a more civilized person would use a strainer, but I love the taste of the wet, chewy leaves.

Friday, September 4, 2009

my favorite plant

Before I left for the summer I planted several small tulsi plants, many were just babies. I returned home after three long months away, no idea of the state my garden would be in. As we were driving down the highway toward the house I told my husband, "All I care about is that my tulsi survived." Even though we have irrigation, I was worried maybe they hadn't done well with the brutal summer heat and no rain.

I was so, so happy when I got home. A few of the tulsis didn't make it but the majority were enormous! They must have tripled in size. I was thrilled. There was alot of pruning to do, but that didn't matter. I got to eat all of the flowers for days and save the dried seeds to grow more.

This entire summer I had found myself munching on fresh grown herbs, flowers and veggies wherever I went. Lavender mostly. From France to Palo Alto to my mother's garden. This seemed to be almost an obsession. I must miss the minerals and energy I had come to expect from my garden snacking -- nasturtiums, pineapple sage flowers, arugula, rosemay flowers, Italian basil, Thai basil, and of course, tulsi.

Call me Peter Rabbit.

I have never loved a plant more than I do tulsi. Shh, don't tell the others. There is something so special about this plant. After all, it is holy basil.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

green kitchen quiz from the sierra club

I learned something doing this quiz. I am giving all the right answers for readers to see, but when I first took it I didn't score 100%. Have fun.

How Green Is My Cuisine?

Check out our other "
How Green Is My..." quizzes on everything from laundry to computers.
Your score: 100 out of 100 points.

Step away from the computer and get back in the kitchen! It's obvious you belong there. Bon appetit!

1.Your extended family regularly gathers for holiday feasts, and one of them is a huge fan of your fresh peach cobbler. For which of these family get-togethers should you prepare your fabulous dish?You answered: Fourth of July.10 out of 10 points.

Though a beautiful homemade pie might look nice surrounded by dyed eggs and fluorescent yellow Peeps, peaches are only in season during the summer months. It takes a lot of carbon to move fresh fruit from Chile to the U.S. in the middle of winter. Reduce carbon emissions that are produced by the shipment of produce from faraway countries by consuming fruits and veggies when they're in season locally.

2. When you go to bake that fabulous pie, you'll use:You answered: An oven-safe glass pie plate greased with butter.10 out of 10 points.

Glass is cheap and easy to recycle. Not only that, but it also heats evenly. That non-stick finish on the metal comes from perfluoro-octanoic acid, a "likely carcinogen," according to the U.S. EPA. The silicone? You're seeing it in everything now from cupcake pans to spatulas. According to the
National Geographic Green Guide, the sand and oxygen used to make FDA-approved food grade silicone are safe enough. But the additives used to create the colors and flexibility don't appear on labels, and this product is not easily recycled. We suggest playing it safe until more health information is available.

3. Which of the following dishes contributes the most to deforestation?You answered: Filet mignon.10 out of 10 points.

A leading cause of deforestation in the Americas and elsewhere is the raising of cattle and their feed. Deforestation is a reason given by many eco-minded folks for going vegetarian.

4. Your sweetie is a pescatarian (they eat fish but no other animals), so you're heading to the market for some fresh catch for dinner. Which choice is best for the environment?You answered: U.S.-farmed tilapia.10 out of 10 points.

According to the
Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guide, orange roughy grow slowly and don't reproduce until they're 20 years old (so the population is highly vulnerable to over-fishing), are caught using a process that damages the ocean floor, and often contain high levels of mercury. As for farmed salmon, Seafood Watch says waste from these farms is released directly into the ocean, and that parasites and diseases from farmed salmon can spread to wild fish swimming near the farms. So go with tilapia farmed in the U.S., which most often occurs in closed inland systems that guard against escapes and pollution. But be sure to ask about the source of the fish; in other countries where tilapia is farmed, escapes and pollution are bigger threats.

5. When cutting up veggies from your backyard garden, you should you cut them on:You answered: A wooden cutting board.10 out of 10 points.

Use a cutting board made of reclaimed or sustainably harvested wood. Bacteria thrive in the grooves made in plastic cutting boards by your knife, whereas the lignins in wood have natural anti-bacterial properties. That said, because there is
some debate about the benefits of wood versus plastic, we're giving 5 points to those who said plastic. As for the Times' food section -- yecchh!

6. You want to enjoy a mug of tea while you're steaming carrots (which you'll douse with a vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, toasted ground coriander, and rose water and top with chopped fresh mint). If you're heating just one mug of water for your tea, which of these is the most energy-efficient way to do that?You answered: In the microwave.10 out of 10 points.

Microwaves are more efficient than gas or electric ovens, but when it comes to stovetops, it's trickier. In this case, the microwave is the right answer because
you're heating up one mug of tea.

7. Guests at your cocktail party want their martinis shaken, not stirred. You'll fill the shaker with ice cubes:You answered: That you made using a tray placed in your freezer.10 out of 10 points.

Through-the-door features that serve up ice and cold water
add 10 percent to the labeled use of refrigerators. Make the cubes yourself!

8. The best way to get rid of your food scraps is to:You answered: Put them in the compost or worm bin.10 out of 10 points.

30 percent of residential waste is food. Compost piles and worm bins are great ways to recycle your non-animal food waste and cycle it into your garden. For perishables, food rescue programs specialize in redistributing leftovers, like that giant casserole you made for the dinner party only three friends showed up for. And you can give your pooch meat scraps, but you still need a compost pile to deal with produce. In some instances the garbage disposal is considered "less bad" than the garbage can, because some of the waste goes to water treatment plants that transmute solid food waste into fertilizer. But much of it also ends up in landfill anyway. And any food that is greasy or oily can harm pipes and even end up back in the water supply. Avoid food scraps altogether and join the Clean Plate Club.

9. When you shop for things like cereal, nuts, grains, and dried fruit, you:You answered: Buy in bulk from store bins.10 out of 10 points.

Of course you don't want to create waste from food that goes bad before you can use it, but you can buy small portions from bulk bins at the local store and avoid the horrendous amount of packaging that comes with some purchases. You can also re-use bags. Buying large quantities at Costco is like buying in bulk, but sometimes there's just as much packaging as there is on smaller, individual items, and waste is more likely if you're single. Then, too, big-box stores come with their own set of environmental issues.

10. You managed to buy a fixer-upper and are having green thoughts while planning the remodel. Which kind of countertop should you opt for in the kitchen?You answered: 100 percent recycled glass or paper, or Terrazzo with greater than 80 percent recycled content.10 out of 10 points.

A countertop made of some kind of recycled material is best -- recycled paper (yes, these exist!) or recycled glass. Terrazzo is a mix of about 70-90 percent recycled glass and cement; the little bit of cement mix makes it a lot more durable than 100 percent recycled glass countertops. Cement countertops are next best, particularly if they're made from fly ash, a recycled material. But cement production is carbon intensive (5 percent of the world's emissions by some estimates) which keeps it from being the top choice. New cement options expected to hit the market in the next couple of years will supposedly produce 95 percent fewer carbon emissions, but we'll see. Granite and marble are taken from nature and are not easy to recycle once in place. Stainless steel uses lots of energy to produce and pollutes in the process. Laminate and other synthetic materials use resin that may contain formaldehyde.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

green mama does venice

In a place where there are no cars or motorized vehicles of any kind, everyone walks to get around, or takes taxi boats. Hanging clothes to dry is the norm. There is good, fresh air in Venice. Even in a heat wave.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

images of the french countryside

photo by Skylar

Being in beautiful Sarlat was my favorite part of the trip. I loved the fresh air, the rolling hills, amazing views, the ancient town with stone buildings, the surprises the children and I picked, grown on the property we stayed on. We stayed in a villa where hanging the clothes out to dry on a line was the norm. I could tell by the crispness of the sheets we slept on the first night. And there was the huge garden out back filled with lettuce, herbs, currants, and many fruit trees not yet ripe for us to enjoy. Vegetable gardens in this tiny town were the norm, I was happy to see. And yes, everyone recycles too. Not bad for a town dating back to medieval times.

Monday, July 27, 2009

green mama goes to paris

What this country girl appreciated about the city of Paris: the overall cleanliness, the guys in green uniforms driving small green trucks that were constantly picking up garbage and recycling from bins placed on every street corner, trees and flowers and surprise gardens everywhere, flower boxes, recycled materials made into high fashion art, great public transportation, being able to walk to so many places, and the teeny tiny fuel efficient cars driven by many people.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

the joy of greens

Thursday night dinner: Chicken sauteed with greens and olive oil, garlic, onions, ginger and a pinch of salt.
Annabel's comment, well actually a proclamation:
"The greens in here are amazing! Taste them and you'll keel over with delight."