Monthly Archives: August 2009

Check it out!

My former student, Kayla, has a guest post at Fake Plastic Fish about how she’s reduced her plastic consumption!

Kayla blogs at My Polychrome Life and is currently tallying her plastic waste on a road trip from her home in Texas to college in New York.  Check it out!

And if you need to be inspired even more, check out Kayla’s senior project (back when she was in high school): the eco-friendly fashion show!

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Me and Kayla at the “Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet” award ceremony.

Kayla, you make me a proud teacher!

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My Students Need Your Help!

Here’s a call to all the greenies out there!

I’m totally re-vamping my college-bound environmental science curriculum this year, and I’m looking for cool, exciting resources in this last week before I go back to school.  If you know of any interactive websites, articles, outdoor activities, contests, video clips or anything else my students may benefit from, I’d love to hear from you!

Our major units of study for the year include:

I. Water, Soil and Air

II. Agriculture

III. Waste Management and Recycling

IV. Energy: Fossil Fuels, Nuclear and Alternatives

V. Biodiversity, Biomes, Endangered Species

If you know of anything on these topics, please leave a comment.  I know eco-bloggers are wonderful resources, so I’m counting on you!

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Filed under Outside, Sustainable Living

Red White and Blue

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I guess that hot weather was just what my tomatoes needed! Some are going strong while some plants are looking pretty sad… But after the trip out to the garden today, I have renewed hope that I might just be able to can some tomatoes this year.

How’s your garden doing?

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Filed under Food, Gardening, Home, Living from Scratch, Sustainable Living

Ruth’s Maine Blueberry Glaze Pie

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Ruth is a family friend who lives in Maine.  She’s the grandma in a big family full of lobster fishermen and she reminds me a lot of my Great-Grandma Rose.  I love spending time in Ruth’s kitchen, visiting, eating delicious treats, and playing games late into the night. 

This pie has to be made with fresh blueberries, which makes it all the more special.  Ruth uses wild Maine blueberries, but you can try it with whatever kind of blueberries you have.  Ed’s mom was nice enough to bring home some wild Maine blueberries for me, so I’m using them today.  The measurements here aren’t all exact, which makes me think of Great-Grandma Rose’s recipes even more.  I’m sure you’ll be able to figure it out!

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Ruth’s Maine Blueberry Glaze Pie

  • pre-baked and cooled pie shell
  • cream cheese
  • fresh blueberries
  • glaze*
  • sweetened whipped cream

*To make the glaze:

  • Simmer 2/3 cups blueberries and 1 cup water for 5 minutes
  • In a bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, 3 rounded Tbsp cornstarch, 1/2 cup water.
  • Add the sugar mixture to the simmering blueberries and cook, stirring, until thickened.
  • Cool.

To assemble the pie:

  • Spread the baked, cooled pie shell with a thin layer of softened cream cheese.  Just enough to smooth over the bottom of the shell so it keeps the crust from getting soggy (Note: I was out of cream cheese so I skipped this part today, but I really do like it and I’ll be sure to remember it for next time!)
  • Spread a layer of glaze over the cream cheese, then a layer of fresh blueberries.  Continue alternating until the pie is full, and end with a layer of fresh blueberries.
  • Cool in the fridge.
  • Top with fresh whipped cream and serve.

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Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Recipes

Horse Tales: Isabelle’s First Vet Visit

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Isabelle turned 7 weeks old today, and she also had her first visit from the vet.  Look how big she’s gotten in only 7 weeks! For comparison, her mom, Annabelle, is 18 hands.

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Of course Dukie was there to look on, jealous that all the attention wasn’t on him.  As the vet was leaving, he called Duke “the perfect fat farm dog.”

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Back to the visit: The vet made friends with her, chatted with us about her birth, training, and eventual weaning, breeding Annabelle again next summer, and the merits of artificial insemination vs. natural.  Apparently there’s a 30% pregnancy rate with AI as opposed to about an 85-90% pregnancy rate the old-fashioned way.  We’d love to breed Annabelle with Isabelle’s dad again, but he’s out in Michigan.  At least we have a year to figure it out!  As for Isabelle’s checkup, the vet listened to her heartbeat and then gave her a shot for tetanus, West Nile, and Western and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.  He said he didn’t want to give her too many shots at once, and he’ll come back in 4 weeks.  When he gave her the shot, my dad scratched her neck, I scratched her rump, and the vet sneakily gave her the shot.  She didn’t even notice.  During the exam, Annabelle munched happily on grain.

As the vet said goodbye to me, he told me he couldn’t believe how lucky we were to get such a nice horse from the internet.  He said it was like a fairy tale.  We agree!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Horse Tales!

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Live Sustainably and Save Green

This post is my contribution to this month’s APLS Carnival, “Green on the Cheap,” which will be hosted by Robbie at Going Green Mama on August 19.

Back when Ed and I were first married, we had tons of money for kids our age.  We lived in a sweet little apartment over my parents’ detached garage, paid no rent, and had two good jobs.  Our only real bills were Ed’s truck payment and our cell phones.  Our savings account grew and grew, but we also had money to spend on whatever we wanted.  We weren’t wasteful really, but we never worried about not having enough money.

Flash forward five years.  We built our dream house and burned through that savings account quickly.  We’ve got a hefty mortgage to pay, along with electricity, heating oil, property taxes, insurance… the list goes on.  Needless to say our spending habits have changed, and in the process we’ve also become more sustainable.  Here are some ways we save money while going green at the same time.

Cook at Home

The Savings: Back in our early days of marriage, we thought nothing of going out to eat a couple times a week, probably spending $50 each time.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I can cook a pretty fabulous meal for more than two people for way less than $50.  If we went out to eat 2 times a week, that adds up to $5200 in a year.  Wow! What were we thinking? Now we go out to dinner once every couple months for special occasions, and prefer to have family and friends here instead.

The Bonus: When I cook at home, I control the quality of the ingredients and can purchase from local, sustainable sources.  The food I cook is generally healthier and lower in fat than restaurant food, too.

The Downside: Dishes.

Adjust the Thermostat

The Savings: Last winter, Ed and I kept our thermostat set at 50 degrees when we weren’t home, 55 when we were, and supplemented with wood in the wood stove.    By doing so, we saved two whole tanks of oil, which translated to a savings of over $1700  when we factored in the drop in oil price from winter 07-08 to winter 08-09.  This summer, we’ve used our AC sparingly and have seen savings on our electric bill.

The Bonus: More snuggling! We also dressed warmly, in sweatshirts and thick socks, and enjoyed the quilts our grandmothers made as well as the snuggies my mom gave us.  I also rekindled my love for fleece jammies.  Oh, right, in terms of sustainability, you drastically cut carbon emissions and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

The Downside: Bringing wood into the basement and keeping a fire going.  Also, people complain that your house is cold, but it didn’t stop my brothers from their regular visits.

BYOW (Bring Your Own Water)

The Savings: When I first started teaching, I would bring about two plastic water bottles with me each day.  At about a dollar each, and 180 school days, that translates to $360 a year.  That doesn’t include all the other single-use plastic beverage bottles I purchased.  Those reusable water bottles filled with my own well water paid for themselves in a few weeks.

The Bonus: BYOW means reducing your plastic waste immensely! Plus, carrying around your own reusable water bottle makes you a sustainable role model.

The Downside: Darn it! More dishes.  Also, I forget to wash them out each night, so to solve that problem, I have a few bottles.

There are many more ways that we save green by going green, but these are simple examples that I could put some reliable numbers on.  By cooking at home, adjusting the thermostat, and bringing our own water, we saved a total of $7260 last year!

If you’ve got some suggestions for saving money while living sustainably, please leave a comment or contribute to the APLS carnival!

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Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Sustainable Living