Friday, September 28, 2007

Paper Cars

There are times it comes in handy to have a gamer for a husband. Last year he found this great little paper model of a fire truck by Mega Miniatures to use for our son’s Fireman themed birthday party. This year the same fire truck and several other FREE paper models will come in handy as center pieces for an office commuting and commuting alternatives meeting.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Use, Reuse, Recycle

Today the Green Life has information about donating your old eye glasses and asks “What was the last item you donated?”

I try to donate or pass on anything we possibly can. Toilet tissue rolls and egg cartons go to the daycare for crafts. Cardboard boxes from home and my office get passed onto Carmae Office Products, Inc , a business who reuses them for their deliveries. Clothes and toys we are no longer using go to friends and family or The Closet, Inc., a local thrift store which supports local projects for battered women, homeless shelter and parks. What they can't sell will go to another charity in the Appalachia which doesn't get as many donations. Our old books get passed on to American Indian education charities (like the Red Cloud Indian School) or to the American troupes over seas. We are even passing on our old trees that had to come down. They will be recycling as firewood, gardening containers, etc by friends, family and neighbors. Our garbage gets divide between the wildlife (birds, squirrels, etc), the garden (compost), and the trash. If something can’t be reused only then does it go into the recycle bin or the trash.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Craft Season

The cooler nights have started and the growing season will be coming to an end. It’s time to start thinking about more crafts. I saw an episode (DKNG-411) of the DIY show Knitty Gritty which had ‘sushi” for the bathroom. I’m not sure about making a toilet paper cozy that looks like a sushi roll but I am still considering making the “Bamboo” Mat Tank Runner. I think a larger version would make a wonderful natural-looking area rug. Maybe after I finish the twin size blanket I’m knitting for my daughter. But then I may have to make some time to knit magic hats for both kids. So many crafts so little time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jay's Beautiful Photos

My friend Jay says he doesn’t have a creative bone in his body but he sure can take fantastic photos. Check out his photos of Italy and his other travels at his website at He was gracious enough to post my 1997 Cape Cod poem with several of his beautiful photos of the Cape.

Morning Cup of Tea

We probably have all received gifts that at first we aren’t sure we are going to use and then find that it is an essential to daily life. Well maybe not to that extreme. Years ago my parents knowing my love of tea gave me a little glass tea pot to boil water in the microwave. I had a “real” tea pot for the stove so I didn’t know if I would ever use it. I have to admit it spent a year in the cabinet but since then it has had a home next to or in the microwave. I love it. It heats water so much faster especially when I had an electric stove which is what got it out of the cabinet. It has found a permanent place in my morning routine.

Recently my sister gave me another wonderful gift which complements my little tea pot. It’s a tea bag pincher. My first thoughts were I have spoons and this going to take more space in my little kitchen. Those thoughts didn’t come back after the first time I used it. No more burnt fingers. It gets used so much that it hasn’t had to go into a draw yet it.

Since my current favorite tea Trader Joe’s Spiced Tea comes in tea bags complete with staples I have to do a little work to make this a “green” drink. Yes, tea bags cost much less in fuel etc to ship to my local store then bottled drinks but I still have a used bag when I’m done. Since I don’t want staples in my compost I separate the labels which go into the paper recycling bin (w/ staples), the used leaves get dropped into the compost bin and finally the bag gets tossed into the trash. At least it is 1/3 the trash. If I was sure what the bag was made of something biodegradable I would just remove the last staple and toss the whole bag leaves and all into the compost.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Garden Vandals

I’ve had a few instances of nuisance vandalism in my garden. The plant tags have been rearranged. The gnomes have been tipped over (actually picked up and moved to a place where they could lie down and not land on the seedlings). We think we know who is doing it but since no one has see anything we can’t do much. I decided to fight the vandalism with my own graffiti. I used white chalk to write ‘Understanding”, “Love”, “Charity”, “Peace”, “Faith” and “Hope” on the slate edging the mulch path through the garden. I placed “Love” and “Understanding” at the end facing the curb. The other three are further into the yard. Since the most probable suspect considers herself a ‘Christian woman’, I’m hoping these simple words will give her cause to stop and think. I am hoping she will then worry about tending her own garden rather then telling our neighbors how much she does not like of ours and stop doing little things to be nasty and rude.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Balloon Release

Yesterday I spotted a strange piece of trash on one of my bushes. Upon further investigation I discovered it was a latex balloon which had obviously flew high enough to freeze, explode and fall to the ground. It wasn’t little spaghetti like pieces like the balloon release people claimed. It was a blob of ‘plastic’ which did indeed look much like a jellyfish. I can easily see how aquatic animals could miss take it for a jellyfish and try to eat it. It was photographed and tossed in the trash.

The 1954 penny in the photograph is one of the treasures found from digging out the new walkway. So far our treasures total 2 pennies, a nickel, a yellow pencil sharpener with a rusty blade, several springs, and an assortment of plastic parts.

Perfect day to hang out or have a picnic

I’ve caught the squirrels having a picnic lunch of beechnuts on the kids’ picnic table. The other day I caught one just hanging out. He just looked like he was enjoying himself.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Music to Make You Laugh, one of my favorite radio stations and home of The World CafĂ© with David Dye, has been playing songs by Flight of the Conchords. Wikipedia describes them as a folk, pop, and comedy duo form New Zealand. They most definitely have a wonderfully strange sense of humor. They have several songs up on YouTube including “Business Time” and “Most Beautiful Girl in the Room”.

Monday, September 17, 2007


I receive several daily emails from . The quotes are always inspirational but some days they just really hit home for one reason or another.

Today's Quote
If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator. -W. Beran Wolfe

Friday, September 14, 2007

Take a Hike

If you would like to get out for a stroll and would to meet some others who like to do the same check out the American Volkssport Association. This group sponsors walks in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. There are sister programs in Canada and International.

Several years ago I was introduced to Volksmarching and I love the one I went on. It was held at a local winery on a beautiful day. We strolled through the vineyard and adjacent woods and then enjoyed a barbeque afterwards. The winery was also offering wine tours and samplings.

According to Wickipedia, Volksmarching is from the German word Volksmarsch which means “people’s march”. The Volksports events are people taking walks together. Most of the walks are about 6 miles long and can be on going self guided walks or special events.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

L Shana Tova

Happy Rosh Hashanah

Blowing the shofar

Garden Envy

I’m hoping to expand my garden to something we can rely on as a source of summer and fall vegetables.

The story of Manny Howard in Brooklyn is about a man who had the aspiration to turn his yard into a farm. I have no plans of going this far but it is interesting.

My Empire of Dirt by Manny Howard

Star Wars Bad Guys

It’s finally here. Selena’s birthday present’s arrival was delayed by some shipping issues. We actually had to cancel the first order and try a second supplier for her new Spud Trooper. It’s here and now working with William’s Dart Tatter. I think the only one of the series we currently don’t have is Artoo-Potatoo. This is one vegetable they both love.

Yes, they have seen Star Wars, the first one. I was concerned about the trash monster and a few other scenes but none of them seemed to bug them. They love it and keep asking to see it. I believe it was the “movie of the month” for August. William calls it either “big little” for the big space station and the little spaceships or “good guy bad guy”.

Tim even found Spud Wars on You Tube which the kids love. A search for “spud wars” will get you over 50 videos of their saga. Some of them are quite smashing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Maryland Renaissance Festival

Saturday was a beautiful day at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

I stitched into the night to make sure all three jesters had costumes for this past weekend. Only to awake to find two willing jesters and one bug. My husband and daughter quite happily donned their jester costumes. My husband’s is an assortment of things he has gathered over the years. Hers is her brother’s hand-me-down from the 2005 Balticon Masquerade. He turned down his new one and wanted to wear his bug towel costume. Well it’s not period but why not. Several faire goers congratulated my husband for taming the beast. Others said he had slain a dragon. Whenever the little guy got one of those what is he looks I responded with a warning: "Watch out for the evil wizard. He turned the boy into a bug. Who knows what he’ll turn you into." This usually got a smile, giggle or a “Oh, my”.

The kids seemed to enjoy walking around checking out all of the people and sites. I believe their favorite two were the Aerial Angeles and the pirate ship at the kids’ playground. We did have to drag them way from the pub when the Pyrates Royale were performing. If we weren’t off to meet folks the kids could have easily stayed in one spot to listen to them sing and ‘rrr’ like pyrates often do.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Box #3 is Ready to Grow

This past week garden box number was filled and seeded. One corner now has the lavender plant I’ve been longing to have. It has been joined by garlic, 2 kinds of lettuce, beets and kohlrabi.

Last Friday the Garden Guy, Mike McGrath, from WTOP mentioned you can plant garlic from organic garlic in your grocery store. It has to be organic since some of the others have been treated not to grow. Just separate the cloves and poke them into the ground. The garlic should be ready to harvest next June. We decided give it a try and I planted a row from two heads of garlic. One was clearly labeled organic from Trader Joes and one we aren’t sure of from Safeway. Now we just need to wait and see what happens.

The rest of the bed was planted with the seeds I picked up from the garden center: Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce, Oak Leaf Lettuce, Detroit Red Beets, and Purple & White Vienna Kohlrabi.

Friday, September 7, 2007


My meadow gardens won’t photograph well to show the beautiful shafts of grass but I was able to get a nice shot of one of the wildflowers in bloom. I’m not sure what it is but the butterflies love it and the kids think it is beautiful.

Copping with Traffic

The reports are out and once again the Metropolitan Washington DC area has rated as on of the worst areas for traffic. Considering just Fairfax County has over 1 million people there is no surprise the roads get a bit congested as we all try to get to and from work, school, shopping and visiting. Rush hour is not known for going very fast. BUT if you are prepared you can get around relatively easily. Most employers who can have flexible schedules so you can avoid the ‘rush’ and even have a life outside of working and commuting. Whether you have this option or not there are ways of getting around some congested areas or avoiding backups from accidents and who knows what else.


  • WTOP News radio has traffic reports on the ‘8’ as well as information on their website

Cell phone options – (best to have your navigator handle some of this for you)

  • 511 SEND free traffic updates
  • Tellme - call 1-800-555-TELL (8355), and say, "Driving directions."
  • Google Mobile - text GOOGLE (466453), enter your starting address, then to, then your destination, and get free directions via text messaging.


  • MapQuest
  • Google traffic maps - Google maps can be downloaded to your phone or PDA. Having it on my PDA makes it very easy to check where there is congestion on the way to my car.
  • Map My Run - Hey if you can map out a good run you can possibly map out a back road route to the office.

Public Transportation

Of course if you can there is always public transportation. It may not be the best in the world but the Metro trains and buses can get you most places you want to go.

Growing Customer Service

Years ago our CEO passed out the customer service cards which the Ritz-Carlton gives to their staff. If you ever have been at the Ritz for any reason you know they pride themselves on their customer service. They treat everyone like they are royalty. I can only image how they treat the royal families who often reserve entire floors.

This week I’ve experience this same type of customer service at Merrifield Garden Center. I’ve always had pleasant experiences at their stores. Every person has been wonderful and very helpful but this week they went over the top. I check the store closest to me for some seeds to plant this fall and only found a few options. Considering I live in Metropolitan Washington DC this doesn’t surprise me. Most of the yards are solid grass or ornamental plants. The farms land has been all turned into a development of one kind or another. What was surprising was when I checked their website and called them the type of service I received for just 4 packs of seeds. Heather took my call with a smile and was so great. I was treated like I was spending hundreds or thousands in stead of $5. She checked the other store to see if the seeds were in stock and then she checked with their garden specialist to see if it was too late to plant them. She called me back with answers the same business day apologizing that she didn’t call back sooner. She set the seeds aside for me and they were waiting for me this morning as promised. The cashier and staff I spoke to this morning were all equally helpful in answering other questions and helping me check out with my handful of seeds. I have to say if I’m every having a bad morning I’m considering stopping by just to say hello and if I ever need anything else for the garden I’m definitely starting there.

In this world where stores have determined that you can find what you need on your own and check yourself out it seems places like the Ritz and Merrifield Garden Center are numbered or at least found a very pleasant niche in their markets.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Candied Sushi

I have one of those jobs that occasionally I get to surf the web to see how other people present certain elements of their pages. Since this can be time consuming and even tedious I try surfing for things I have an interest in as wells a variety of industries to make sure I get a broad cross section. Last week during one of those surfing sessions I not only found a variety of what I was looking for I also found a fun recipe to try.

Rachel Ray has posted a recipe for Candied Sushi that is wheat-free and could be fun to take to a party. Her recipe is a variation of a crisp rice treat with licorice and dried fruit leather. The photos on her site make it look easy to make and very tasty.

Candied Sushi is actually how I was introduced to She has a section of faux foods which includes candied sushi and links to many variations. The one I tried was from USA Rice and called for sushi rice, coconut milk, water, sugar and crystallized ginger. I left off the toasted coconut because of personal preferences. It takes a little practice to make beautiful rolls but no one had any problems helping to eat the messy pieces. This tasty treat can be made a head of time but needs to be eaten within 2 days. If you have sushi lovers with a sweet tooth around this will not be a problem.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Fall Crops

The Green Life by the Sierra Club posted yesterday some information about the cross-country road trip heading to Farm Aid 2007 which is promoting eating local eco-friendly foods. They had a pie contest in Ypsilanti, Michigan which had a wounderful sounding pie win the “Winner of Most Unusual/Unexpected Pie” award called Tofu Pot Pie. It sounds quite tasty and is inspiring me to plant some kohlrabi this fall if I can get some seeds next trip to the garden center or next spring. The Gardener’s Network has some helpful hints for growing Kohlrabi .

Merrifield Garden Center has gardening tips by the month posted on their website. For this area they claim I can plant beets, radishes, turnips and leaf lettuce as a fall crop. I may need to get that third gardening box ready this weekend for some beets, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, and maybe turnips.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Raising a Garden

Over the weekend I laid out some weed guard and secured it in place with the raised garden boxes and stones. The two bags of mulch only covered than half of the cloth. After another trip to Home Depot for more hardwood mulch I was able to finish the start of our little garden path.

I filled the first box with layers of dirt and fermenting grass trimmings (PEW!). Once it was with in about 2 inches of the top we planted the pansies in the corners and I planted 3 kinds of seeds: Bok Choy, Chinese cabbage and Great Lakes lettuce. The pansies flowers are edible, but may be too pretty to eat.

I lined the second box with a thick layer of news paper to smother the existing weeds and grass. This layer should turn in to wonderful compost after it has done its initial job. I then layered the top soil and clay I’m need moved to install a walkway with more fermented grass trimmings (if you live near a farm that still spreads the fields in the spring you know the smell). While at Home Depot for the additional mulch I picked up bags of play sand which we mixed into the top two layers of soil. The kids thought mixing in the sand was the best part of the project. This bed was completed by pretty pink flowers the kids picked for the corners and 3 packets of carrot seeds. The seeds were sent as fundraisers and are from 2004, 2005, and 2006. I’ve kept them in the refrigerator. I’m not sure how successful they will be. We may have a few carrots for ourselves or we may be taking them to every potluck we go to this fall and winter.

The third box is in position and will probably be next weekend’s project. I may see about getting new seeds for something different or planting more lettuce and cabbage.

Pumpkin Patch

I did a little research on fall crops this weekend trying to plan what to put into the new raised beds I’m building. I came across some good news. Pumpkins are a fall crop. (Yes, I’m not a farmer and I’m learning as I go.) I was concerned that I had gotten my little pumpkin sprouts into their garden bed too late and it appears I got them in at the perfect time. So we have a chance of one of these beautiful blossoms turning into a delicious pumpkin.

First Watermelon

Last week after testing the watermelons almost daily to see if one would let go of the vine, the kids were thrilled when one came right off in their hands. The look of surprise was followed by wanting to know if that is what it was suppose to do or if they were in trouble. It is just what the little refrigerator size melon was supposed to do. I am glad to report that it was worth waiting for and worth picking the seeds out. It was a wonderfully tasty and juicy melon.