Monday, March 31, 2008

Earth Hour and Removing Candle Wax

So how was your Earth Hour on Saturday? It didn’t seem long enough to me. I totally enjoyed the stillness of Earth Hour. Turning off all my electric stuff made me appreciate the natural peace and quiet. I was especially happy to get away from my computer, as I’ve been absurdly addicted to it lately.

I'm assuming, like me, you all had candles ablaze during Earth Hour. Every now and then I like to use just candles at night and pretend I’m living like “Little House on the Prairie”. There’s something pretty important about the days when we lived by nature’s rhythm—up with the sun and winding down as it sets. Nowadays, thanks to electricity, we ignore those rhythms, which isn’t good for our health.

Anyway, I’ve gone off the point, because what I wanted to do is tell you a quick tip for removing candle wax from votive holders. It’s so easy and smart that I can’t believe I spent years trying to complete this task with knives and other pointy objects, nearly losing fingers in the process. All you do is pop the votive holder into the freezer for about 15 minutes. The wax shrinks and voila—it comes right out. I bet Laura Ingalls’ mom wishes she could have done that.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Turn Out the Lights--Join Earth Hour

My Dad was eco-savvy long before it became hip. He installed one of those water-saving shower heads when I was a teenager and a shower was vital to my social existence. Greasy hair was just not cool. But the biggest thing I remember is that he always walked around the house shouting, "Turn out the lights!"

He will be very pleased to know that at 8pm on 29 March 2008, cities across the world will turn off their lights for one hour sending a powerful global message that it’s possible to take action on global warming.

Earth Hour, which started a year ago in Sydney, Australia has become a global movement. Last year 2.2 million people, including corporations, turned out their lights in Sydney, creating a 10.2% energy reduction, which is the equivilent of taking 48 thousand cars off the road. Learn more about Earth Hour and how you can support this green movement. It will make my Dad smile.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Recycled Glassware from Green Glass Company

The Clean Air Council reports that the amount of glass bottles Americans throw away could have filled both World Trade Center Towers every two weeks. Farmhouse Wares has found one small US company that’s doing their part to keep the bottles out of the landfills and on your table.

The Green Glass Company brings you artfully designed glassware from recycled wine and beer bottles. Besides saving the landfills from more garbage, it also saves a lot more energy to make these recycled goblets and tumblers compared to producing glass from scratch.

The Green Glass Company doesn’t waste a drop of this recycled glass. They can take a Napa wine bottle and produce two separate drinking glasses. The bottle is cut into two pieces, creating a tumbler from the bottom portion of the bottle and a goblet from the top portion of the bottle. The Recycled Willow Goblet (above) is created by flaring the mouth to form the base, then twisting the neck closed to fashion the bowl of the goblet. Pretty fancy!

Revered throughout Europe and other parts of the world as collectable art glass, The Green Glass Company goblets have even been chosen for the table of King Carlos of Spain, a former Mayor of New York City, movie sets, and celebrity dinners. Just think…you can make a difference just by sipping your next beverage in recycled glassware.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Healthier Way to Store Winter Woolens

When it’s time to store those winter sweaters choose something healthier and less stinky than mothballs for protection.

We’ve all regretted using Mothballs to store our winter woolens. Come next fall, every stitch of clothing you own smells, a grandmother. Farmhouse Laundry Sachets will help put an end to that old-fashioned tradition.

Farmhouse Laundry Sachets in Lavender are a safer alternative to mothballs. Lavender essential oil has the natural ability to ward off moths while keeping your clothes fresh. Mothballs consist of chemicals such as naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene. These chemicals transition from a solid to a gas that is toxic to moths. They say they are safe for humans because the fumes stay locked in the storage cases. Not so when we unleash those harsh fumes each new season. These fumes are especially harmful to infants. Lavender acts as a natural deterrent to moths. The scent of lavender repels moths, so you don’t have to worry about them damaging your favorite hand-knit items. Farmhouse Laundry Sachets are a Farmhouse Wares best-seller, and a pack of three is just $6.95. Be sure to tuck a few in your drawers too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

French Country in the City

Before moving to the country my husband and I lived in Somerville, MA, which is on the outskirts of Boston. We had a neighbor, an older French woman who pretty much kept to herself. Though her yard was tiny, she had the most amazing garden, including climbing roses and two well-groomed cherry trees. Every spring the cherry trees would explode with gorgeous pink blooms. I loved her yard because it allowed me to escape the city and imagine I was in the French countryside. The best part was, that come harvest time, I would come home from my job in the city and find a basket full of cherries waiting for me at the bottom of my steps. She never talked to me. She just quietly and mysteriously left the treats for my husband and me to enjoy. We'd return the basket in the same quiet manner. She must have seen me, admiring and painting her gardens from my deck. These charming, little Damier Red cherry bowls remind me of her. It's not quite cherry season yet, but just using them brings me back to her garden and makes me miss my French country in the city.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Have an Eco Easter

First of all, Happy Friday! Second of all, I didn't plan on writing about Easter again today, but here goes:
These ideas come straight from The Big Green Purse. I hope you'll check out their site, because they share lots of good info on green living.
"Green" your own grass. Skip that yucky shredded plastic stuff. Make your own "grass" by shredding paper (or the Sunday comics). Next year, get started three weeks in advance and grow actual grass you can fit in your basket.
Dye eggs the natural way. Warning: this method takes more time than just dropping a commercial dye tablet in a cup full of vinegar and water. But if you like a challenge, give it a try. Use cranberry juice, pomegranate seeds, beets, raspberries, or red onion skins for pink and red. Saffron or tumeric will create yellow. Blueberries tint blue (naturally!). Yellow onion skins will create orange.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More Easter Entertaining and Decorating

Easter is my daughter's favorite holiday. Well, one of her top faves. She also loves Christmas, Valentine's Day, Halloween and St. Patrick's Day. (She was born on St.Patty's Day.)

She loves the idea of a magical bunny leaving oodles of fun things crammed into a big basket. (I'm a little embarrassed at how much I indulge her.) Every year I hide her basket and leave bunny footprints as clues. I make the footprints by sprinkling powder on a template of a paw I cut out of cardboard. She’s probably not going to fall for it this year. Even if she suspects there is no Easter Bunny, I have a feeling she wouldn’t let on for fear she’d stop receiving the bounty. (She has her ways of indulging me too.)

After the basket and egg hunt, my family is pretty casual about the day. We spend our time playing with Grandpa’s animals. (The sheep shown in the picture above really needs a haircut.) Then we gather for dinner. Now there’s not a lot of us, and we all know each other, so you may ask why on earth do we need place cards. Well, there’s a very good explanation. You see, some of my chairs are pretty old and rickety, so I have to be careful where I place the adults. I try to give them the most comfortable seats. It’s all very strategic. I love the Farm Animal Place Card Holders (show above). They're very appropriate for our farmhouse gatherings. The Scramble Ice Napkins by Potluck Studios (also shown above) are also a nice, casual touch. The light blue color feels very spring-like for this occassion. They’re so easy to care for that it makes it easy to save some trees and forgo the paper.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Easy Easter Entertaining

I like to entertain. I love to decorate the house for a special event, to try to make things comfortable and festive for my guests. I keep it simple, adding just a touch here and there, particularly if I've got a big crowd on my hands. A good party has to flow, so decoration can't get in the way. I love it when I find functional ways to add some flair. Here's one: A three-tiered cake stand. It adds drama to the table or buffet and makes serving easy and relaxed. Our enamelware cake stands make attractive displays for cheeses, cupcakes and other yummy treats--just about anything you'd like, even cake. The stands can be used individually or as a two- or three-stand set. It's simple, comfortable and beautiful, with a vintage feel that works well with any style. You can purchase this set of three enamel cake stands at Farmhouse Wares. I think you'll enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Here's a Seed of an Idea

This picture fills me with hope. I'm getting excited about my gardens again. For those of us in the northeast it's time to take out those garden journals and start planning. Every year I say I'm not going to purchase any more plants. Sometimes I think my gardens might be worth more than my house. But I'm weak when I get to the garden centers.

A good way save is to plant from seed. Last year I did most of my annuals and cut flowers from seed. It was a great project for my daughter too. She was pleased to see her hard work turn into vases of flowers. I recycle the plastic six-pack containers that annuals typically come in, along with the garden trays. I just line the six-packs up on the trays, fill them with soil and have my daughter stick in the seeds.

A great resource for seeds is Local Harvest. Many are from small family farms and you may be able to stay local too.

Happy planting!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sugar Shack Attack

It's that time again! Everyone around here starts tapping for sap. I love it when I see the sap buckets in bloom. Well... now we seem to have these tubes that weave throughout the woods collecting sap instead of the old-fashioned buckets. Up the hill from my house there is a spider web of tubes that takes every drip of sap and distributes it to one main storage bin. It makes hiking a challenge. Sometimes I opt to climb over this intricate web of tubing. Sometimes I do the limbo and go under. I feel like I'm in one of those movies where the thief has to dance and weave his/her way through red laser alarm beams. Hello Ocean's 12 (or is it 11 or 13). Hello, George Clooney. I digress... (Though, I wouldn't mind having pancakes with George.) The best thing about syrup making is that it's a sure sign spring is on the way. Yes, the other great thing is that the sugar shacks will be serving up some maple goodness. I love cramming into a sugar shack on a snowy Sunday morning, smelling pancakes and bacon and wood stoves burning. It's the kind of moment in time where you might just see a community sharing its harvest, or better yet, George Clooney eating pancakes.