Posted in Environment, Family life, First Friday Five, Gardening

First Friday 5 Cheap ways to help the Environment

To celebrate Earth Day that falls later this month, I’m sharing Five Cheap Ways to Help the Environment. No fooling in this post.  I love when being green helps me save some green.

  1. Make your own foamy soap. I used to pay $3-5 dollars per bottle for luxurious foaming soap in the bathrooms. Now I spend less than $3 per year for three sinks. soapHow? I ran across this recipe a few years ago. Now I buy scented dish detergent at Dollar Tree, mix 3 Tablespoons of it with 2/3 cups warm water and voila. I refilled the same container for two years, although, I confess I recently splurged for more stylish bottle that has the fill lines marked right on it. I save money and reduce packaging.
  2. Forget buying special potassium rich fertilizer for your roses. Feed them banana peels instead. You can chop them up and scatter them up top or bury the peels. I heard this from an avid gardener, but here’s some online info.
  3. Compost. Depending how much space and waste material you have, you can go big or keep it small. Either way, composting reduces the waste stream and helps your other plants grow strong and healthy. Your local Cooperative Extension Service is a terrific resource for practical information whether you live in an urban apartment or on rural acreage.
  4. Use a reusable shopping tote. Some stores, like Target, take five cents off your purchase for each bag you bring. Those pennies add up almost as fast as those plastic bags full of plastic bags used to.
  5. Take care of those jeans you bought secondhand. I wear jeans almost every day so the news that some washes are not so environmentally friendly was a tough blow. I also used to wear out at least one pair a year. Unfortunately, the brand that fits me best costs over $120/pair when new. The brand that fits second best is about $80/pair new. If I shop at consignment shops in the nicer parts of town, I can get those brands for about $20, sometimes with the original tags. When Tommy Hilfiger said he never washed his jeans, I was intrigued. For the past 18 months, I’ve pretty much stopped washing my jeans, unless they get too dirty to spot clean. I air them out after wearing and pop them in the freezer for a day or two once a month. I have significantly cut back on my overall laundry – saving time, electricity, water and detergent. Even better, the fibers stay strong. I haven’t had a single rip appear since I started doing this, which means I haven’t had to buy a $20 replacement.

Do you do any of these thing to be green and save green? How do they work for you? As for me, I saved so much money with this post, I think I’ll treat myself to a new book.

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Posted in First Friday Five, Food, Gardening

First Friday Five: The #Zucchini Edition

Each August, my garden reveals the extent of my annual exercise in futility.  This year, the chipmunks destroyed crops, putting teeth marks into tomatoes, stealing the strawberries and digging up the potatoes.  Only three items thrived this year–a lone onion bulb, the rhubarb planted by a previous owner, and, of course, zucchini.

To celebrate my overflowing zucchini vines, I present Five Things to do with Zucchini Aside from Playing “ding-dong ditch” at the Neighbor’s House.

yellow zucchini ready for harvest
yellow zucchini on the vine

1.  Sautéed zucchini. This is my kids favorite and it’s so simple, I have no recipe.  Slice up some summer squash about 1/4 inch thick. If you use zucchini – toss the slices in a colander with some salt and wait 20 minutes. Pat the slices dry. Heat olive oil to medium heat in the largest pan you have. Cook the squash until you get some browning, flipping once. You can add onions if you want and I usually cook it alongside the squash. YUM.

2. “Posh Squash” – At least according to the recipe card I have. When I looked on-line to find a link to share with y’all, most recipes called for eggs. So here goes. 2-3 medium zucchini (sub yellow squash if desired), One large tomato, one medium onion, cheddar cheese, breadcrumbs, butter.  Slice the veggies thin and layer starting with zucchini, onion, tomato, cheese and ending with more zucchini. Dot with butter and top with breadcrumbs. Bake in a 375 oven for 30 minutes for a 9×9 pan or 50 minutes if you do a double batch, and with all that zucchini, why wouldn’t you?

3. Tired of eating yet? Take a break and play with your food. I hope this video of Art in Zucchini Duck works. If not check out the amazing work of ItalyPaul on youtube.

4. Back to the dinner table! My husband made a corn and zucchini salad similar to this one featured on thekitchn.com except he shredded the zucchini instead of dicing.

Corn & Zucchini Salad with Chives found on thekitchn.com

 

5. I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to try this, but I’m intrigued! I’ve pinned this recipe for blueberry-zucchini cake from  iambaker.net and it looks like the most delicious way possible to use up excess zucchini. If I make it, I’ll share the results. If you make it before me, please let me know if it’s worth the effort.

 

zucchini blueberry cake found on iambaker.net

If you have any zucchini recipes to recommend, please add them in the comments section.

Posted in Gardening, On Writing, organization, South, Uncategorized, Writing

Weeding

With the weather turning tolerable (meaning lower humidity and temperatures under 90), I’ve finally begun giving my long neglected flower beds the treatment they deserve.  I’m pulling the weeds.

My front walk flower beds became so overgrown this summer, that I hereby apologize to every milk man, newspaper and package deliverer who has graced my door over the last few months.  I do not extend this courtesy to door-to-door marketers.  They deserved to be slapped in the legs as a punishment for taking up my time.  The others did not.

I pull the weeds by hand rather than spraying for three reasons.  First, it provides a bit of exercise. Second, manual labor is cheaper than chemical sprays that cost money and probably add to the pollution in the nearby Chesapeake Bay. (Stepping down from my soap box – sorry). Lastly, pulling weeds gives me a deep sense of satisfaction.  I can see and feel and even smell the progress. Chaos gives way to harmony before my eyes.

Weeding is a form of editing, act of destruction that allows beauty and creativity to thrive.  Soon I will plant pansies or perhaps violas in the vacant spaces leading to my front door. A riot of color will greet me and I’ll smile.

So let me ask you, have you done any weeding lately?