This is our first spring in the new home. It is thrilling to see the hundreds of tulips poking through the snow dust. The previous owner has some nice flower beds and a herb bed, but no vegetable garden.
I’ve had some great flower gardens in my day and a few good veggie and herb successes, but I don’t consider myself a great or very experienced gardener at all.
I have only attempted my own seedlings a few times and mostly I suck at it. Usually I don’t get my act together until too late, and for a variety of reasons my seedlings have met with calamity involving a pet, kid or unwitting husband.
This year I got hubby on board early and we both want to try and grow some organic veggies and herbs from our fabulously oversized and sunny deck (after our failed raised bed experiment in the old house – this very enthusiastic Green Diva meticulously watched the sun and found the only patch that had full sun, but the trees weren’t entirely full yet. Once we got the beds built, the expensive organic soil mixed w/ our compost filled in, the veggies and herbs tucked in, and the fence to protect it all was constructed, the leaves on that darned tree seemed to expand and there just wasn’t enough sun! We had some lettuce and a few good herbs, but ugh.).
I haven’t had much luck finding organic veggie or herb plants that weren’t going to cost a small fortune. It is important to me to start with healthy essentials like organic, non-GMO seeds and organic soil.
Sustainable Seedlings: Veggie & Herb Gardens
It all starts with seeds. I wanted to find a source for organic and non-GMO seeds. I love the concept of a local seed exchange, but I’m out of the loop and needed to start fresh. I hope to be able to harvest some healthy organic seeds at the end of this season and participate in some seed exchanging for the next growing season.
We finally got to talk to the inspiring Mariel Hemingway!
But first, a big thank you to Green Diva Correspondent Sandy Holtzman for telling us about Bixby Bars and to Bixby Bars for sending us samples of their unusual, delicious, and seriously sustainable chocolate bars. Bixby Bars are organic, fair trade, GMO-free, and blend in varying combinations fine chocolate, dried fruit and spices to create a drool-worthy treat.
Green Diva Correspondent: Marie Wilson on Eco-Fashion at the Oscars
Our GD Correspondent report was from Marie Wilson, actress and model, who is well-known as Meg from As the World Turns. GD Marie dished on all the awesome eco-fashion on the red carpet at this years Oscars this year.
Many celebrities stepped up to the challenge after the original Green Carpet Challenge in 2009. (Did you know at last year’s Oscars, Meryl Streep wore an eco-gown made from Eco Certified Fabric?)
Helen Hunt wore an eco-gown designed by H&M, who just launched an eco-friendly initiative with the environmental group Global Green.
Skyfall actress Naomie Harris wore a gorgeous gown made with Global Organic Textile Standard-certified silk crepe de chine, recycled zippers, vintage glass beads, hand embroidered chocolate candy-wrapper embellishments (Yes, you read right — chocolate wrappers!). The pale mustard hue was derived from a natural dye bath of goldenrod and chamomile seeds. wow!
Green Dude Segment: Eco Ed Schwartz – Residential Solar Energy 201
Green Dude Eco-Ed joined us once again and did the second in his series on residential solar energy. He talked in more detail about how important it is to invest in solar energy and the different ways to do it.
State & Federal Incentives: There are many federal and state rebates offered to homeowners who invest in solar panels. Who knew? New Jersey is the second best state for refunds right behind California. It is very possible to earn your initial investment back quicker than you think. Go to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Energyto find out about incentives where you live.
Lease: If it is too expensive to purchase solar panels, you can always lease for a more budget friendly monthly charge.
PPAs Power Purchase Agreements: PPAs are financial agreements in which the solar panel developer owns, operates, and maintains the panels, and the customer agrees to let the developer to essentially rent their roof.
New Construction: Green Dude Eco-Ed also had a tip for architects building new homes-Design a house so if the owner doesn’t want solar panels on it now, another owner can easily install them in the future.
We finally got to talk to one of our Green Diva heroes, the beautiful and inspiring actress, author and activist, Mariel Hemingway. She is one busy lady these days with a documentary about her life as a Hemingway, Running From Crazy, and her new book, The Willing Wayand many worthy projects in between.
The Willing Wayis born from Mariel and partner Bobby Williams’ passion for healthy, conscious living. Her passion came through the airwaves and we were all feeling it. We loved hearing that it wasn’t another ‘self-help’ book touting “this is THE way to happiness . . . ” Mariel quickly described that The Willing Way is all about helping people find their OWN path to passionate, conscious, healthy living.
Mariel is an awesome Green Diva, and we are all in love her. She said she will come to the studio and do the whole hour show with us when she is in New York promoting the book in April. Let’s hope we can get into her busy schedule in April!
I was the youngest in my family – by 8 years – and thusly spent most of my life trying to catch up. I never loved being the baby all the time, yet always found myself attracted to older people and perpetuating my role as the baby. But this week, the delusion that I was still the baby was finally crushed beneath that mother of all birthdays (at least in my current limited perspective) – 50.
I hadn’t really paid much attention to this as a big deal, but EVERYONE around me keeps saying, “oh, no – 50 is a BIG deal.” Oh. Ok. So, I should take this thing seriously?
Growing up hasn’t been my strongest attribute, but perhaps here at the half-century mark, I will consider it more carefully . . . nah . . . that hurts my wee brain. In fact, the phrase ‘half-century’ makes me want to dig in my heels and consider how awesome being a kid at 50 might be.
50 tried to kick my butt with a big dose of phlegm and bronchitis – my big event on my actual 50th birthday was to get carted off to the doctor by my oldest daughter. My potential future as an old woman flashed before my eyes as I sat in her passenger seat and felt like a pain in her @ss. This just boosted my resolve to be healthy, stay healthy and kick some middle-aged booty, because no doubt the next 50 years will bring this scene in sincerity all too quickly – must enjoy the time between as much as possible!
I’m not big on birthdays and gifts and all that hooha (at least for myself), but the universe gave me one of the most awesome unexpected gifts I could imagine – our new furry girl, Gracie Mae. We have always had dogs and at one point in the last 10 years, we had 3 big ones – 2 newfies and 1 very large golden (over 300 pounds of serious woof love).
The last one passed 2 years ago and we have been looking to rescue another furry family member for over a year. It isn’t easy to find a large breed puppy, but my husband and I felt strongly that because of our awesome grand babies, it was important to get a young dog that could socialize with the wee g-babes and they could all grow up together. We really never considered getting an adult dog, so as the months passed, we tried to trust that we would find our new baby, and we would know her/him when we found her/him. We fell in love a million times via internet, met a few dogs (not pups) that just weren’t right and almost gave up.
But, about 10 days before I crossed the invisible boundary into the second half of my life, we stumbled (literally) into our Grace. We had seen some pics online of some newfie mix pups and were running around trying to find them and the kind folks at Eleventh Hour Rescue said we had to go to their adoption center and sign up to be first on the list when the pups came up from wherever they were coming from. So, slightly discouraged from yet another future, maybe, hopeful excursion, we showed up to sign up in person (rather than online) for these puppies, but before we got to the desk, there was Gracie Mae (whose name was Mae) sitting with a volunteer. We stopped, stood, stared, gawked and I think we both cried before we spoke because we knew she was our girl. She came right over to us, kissed us both and offered her paw politely and we were smitten. There was no question, we barely uttered words, but we all knew what had happened and within minutes, there were papers and we were shopping for supplies for our new girl.
She is 5 years old and not what we were looking for, but she was patient – unlike us – and we finally caught up. Wow! We all bonded as if we had been together for 5 years. Grace found us and her exuberant energy is exactly what this green diva needs. She is amazing. May I gush just a wee bit? Of all the dogs I’ve loved, she is probably the smartest. She embodies many of the various favorite attributes of our best dogs in one miraculous package behind those soulful, sweet brown eyes.
So, I trudge this Road of Happy Destiny* with my husband on one side, my best furry girl on the other and the rest of my awesome family all around us. What a party! If I had any thoughts of being bummed out about turning 50, they are gone. I have been salvaged – yet again – I have been recycled and repurposed. I have been rescued by Grace (Gracie Mae that is).
*pg. 164 of the Big Book (if you don’t know what this is, don’t worry about it)
When did we start naming winter storms, and who the heck came up with this name anyway? Hard to think about a cute little colorful fish whipping the Northeast into such a frenzy. I don’t generally panic when it comes to snow storms – have lived in NJ or New England for my entire life. I feel like an old geezer, “I remember the blizzard of ’93 . . . we had 3 feet of snow and there were 7 foot snow drifts up against the doors and windows . . . ”
My husband and I LOVE a good snow storm, so we were almost disappointed that we only got a foot of snow!
The only bummer is that I’m in the middle of a week-long test drive of the adorable and surprisingly lovable Ford C-Max Energi and while I’m not the least bit worried about driving in the snow – in MY OWN car – I didn’t want to take any chances with someone else’s car. Not everyone is confident or skilled at driving in the snow and even if I am a particularly good snow-driver, there are those times when the dope with the rear-wheel tank applies the breaks at the wrong time and you find yourself helpless as you see one of these vehicles with their driver’s wide-eyed surprise sliding sideways towards you . . . ahhhhhh. Nope. Keeping this little cute car safely parked till we get the roads cleared up properly.
But, before Nemo, we had a particularly awesome show with an all-girl Green Diva studio. Unfortunately Green Dude Eco-Ed Schwartz, who was supposed to be IN the studio with us for the first time, couldn’t make it because he was too busy driving the porcelain bus (icky flu and we thanked him for not trying to be stoic and for staying home!). Sorry Ed! Feel better soon! But we got to talk to Green Diva Correspondent Maggie Miller from Georgia about the amazing eco-community of Serenbe near Atlanta.
Just before the show, we all got a treat and got to go cruising in the Ford C-Max Energi GD Meg’s been sporting around in this week.
Our only hit of testosterone came in the form of our wonderful friend and green dude, Rodman Schley, host of the TV series, The Urban Conversion. Rodman called in to talk about their fantastic adventure to the White House!
With Valentines Day upon us its pretty hard to escape all those heart-shaped, pink and red candies. While they may seem temping, many of them contain GMOs. GMO Inside is leading the push to get Hersey and Mars to stop making candy with GMOs in 2013, or at least to start labeling their products as containing GMOs.
GMO Inside is a coalition of businesses and organizations that support a healthy, GMO-free food system. Their most recent campaign is aimed at Hersey and Mars, that combined comprise nearly 70 percent of the U.S. chocolate market. Both companies have also spent more than a million dollars to oppose GMO labeling in California in the November 2012 election.
Because GMO corn, sugar and soy, which are commonly used for many of Hershey’s and Mars candy products, it may be wise to avoid them if you are trying to minimize or eliminate your consumption of GMOs.
Here are a couple of popular Valentine’s Day candies that contain GMOs:
Reese’s Peanut Butter Filled Hearts – BUMMER*
Valentine’s colored M&M’s
GMO Inside released a Valentine’s Day Villains shopping guide for consumers who want to avoid giving GMO treats to their honeys.
Our Green Diva Correspondent this week Maggie Miller, who called in from Georgia. GD Maggie is a fabulous artist who’s philosophy is to keep her art eco-friendly and sustainable. Some of her designs are in the form of reclaimed and beautifully painted old furniture. See her work on her Etsy site.
GD Maggie told us about the wonderful and interesting town of Serenbe in the heart of Chattahoochee Hill Country, which is about 40,000 acres of rural Georgia and pretty much the last undeveloped stretches of land in the Atlanta area. The founders of Serenbe realized that they had 1,000 acres, which would allowed them the opportunity to create a conscious community — an eco-village that harkins back to the simpler days and is designed for small community living.
This community bases itself on being completely sustainable. According to their website they hold the notion that a community is a living part of its natural surroundings, not something to be at nature’s expense.
One of the coolest parts to this eco-haven is Serenbe Farms — a 25-acre working, organic farm which provides organic produce throughout Atlanta and also to the local restaurants of Serenbe.
The Green Divas Go Cruisin’
GD Meg’s had a special ride this week from the smart folks at Ford, who thought she would look adorable and probably fall in love with their new C-Max Energi. This C-Max is a plug-in hybrid and indeed Ford will have a hard time taking this car back!
Check out GD Meg’s posts her experience with this Ford C-Max Energi:
Today the rest of us Green Divas got to join in on the fun. Green Diva Mizar took the wheel and went joy riding around Boonton Township. Green Diva Meg, Mizar, and Jamie all agreed that this was one cool car.
The car also drove well — it had great pick up and was super quiet. The coolest feature was its backing up camera which shows you through lines exactly where to go and to not go. So, for all you people who can’t back up to save their lives this is the car you need to get.
This week Green Diva (and re-purposing queen) Mizar gave us a great way to use all those fallen tree limbs — thank you new stormy climate! This has been the year of the storms and trees suffer many casualties. GD Mizar’s DIY this week offers one solution by giving instructions on how to make coat racks out of fallen branches. To learn more see GD Mizar’s latest DIY post on making a coat rack from fallen tree branches.
The host of Urban Conversion (and one of our favorite semi-regular guests), Rodman Schley called-in this week to update us on his recent trip to the White House. Rodman along with his wife and kids were given a tour by the White House Assistant Chef, Sam Kass who is also the Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives at the White House. Rodman informed us that only a small portion of the vegetables and fruits grown in the White House Garden are served to the President and his family. Most of it is donated to Miriams Kitchen, a local D.C. soup kitchen. The idea is that everyone should have the same access to the same kinds of food no matter what their socio-economic background is.
On the heels of the big annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit, It’s fun to think about the possibility of getting a new car. I realize that in a perfectly green world, I would walk or ride my bicycle or take mass transit everywhere, but that just isn’t a workable reality where I am, so . . . The Detroit auto show and my participation in it were timely this year, because I am in fact looking for a new car as mine was trashed by a large oak tree during Sandy. In the midst of researching the greenest, most reliable, affordable and attainable cars available to me, my head is spinning and meanwhile I’m happily sharing my husband’s fancy Lexus Hybrid.
It is easy to get caught up in the idea of a shiny new car, but I wanted to remember some simple ways we can make whatever car we are currently driving a little greener and save some money while we’re at it!
Watch my segment on Ebru Today where I talk about driving greener . . .
6 simple tips for driving greener
1 Of Idle Minds & Idle Cars
When you’re idling, you get zero miles per gallon. That’s right. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. If you think you will wait more than 30 seconds, turn it off!
2 Pump it Up
Underinflated tires can cost you 1-2 mpg! Check your tires once a month; your owner’s manual will show you the recommended air pressure. Some cars even have a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or on the inside of the fuel door. Get a decent air pressure gauge or fill your tires with 100% nitrogen – it keeps the tires at the proper air pressure longer than regular air.
3 Chill on the Gas & the Brakes and Cruise Baby
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, accelerating or decelerating too fast can lower your fuel economy by as much as 33% on the highway and 5% in the city! Don’t do a “jackrabbit” start when the light turns green. Use steady and smooth pressure on the gas pedal. Also, avoid heavy braking — anticipate upcoming red lights and coast to stop. Use cruise control when possible.
4 Slow Down!
The sweet spot for fuel economy is between 40 and 60 mph. The faster you drive, the more energy is needed to overcome the aerodynamic drag, causing your gas mileage to decrease by about 5 mpg for every 10 mph you go over 60 mph.
5 Lose Weight
An extra 100 pounds in your car can lower your fuel economy by 2% – wow! Guess I should lose those extra pounds, huh? Also, avoid a loaded roof rack, which can decrease your fuel economy by 5%.
6 Be Smart and Plan Errands and Trips
This may seem obvious, but it’s something that a lot of people don’t do. If you know where you’re going, you can shave off several miles off your trip. Also, when it’s cold outside, combine several short trips into one because a cold engine will decrease your fuel economy.