December 22, 2008

last-minute ornaments

(posted today at f.pea)

Scissor ornament

Last year I first tried my hand at making some d├ęcoupage ornaments.

This is a fancy French way of saying that I glued some stuff on glass balls from the store. Sadly, the balls weren't hand-felted from locally-raised sheeps' fleece or anything like that, they were just on sale after Christmas. Glass (or glass-like) ornaments also turn up in the thrift stores right after Christmas, which is a good way to both be more green, and to stock up if you're one to plan holiday projects 11 months in advance.

Anyhow, last year I really had a great time with it, and decided to do it again this year. This is a fun project for one evening at home with some hot chocolate and a new album of holiday songs. It's a very kid-friendly project, as well. I'd love to see versions made from kids' drawings!

Last year I made a set of Darth Vader ornaments for a friend, made with dark purple glass balls, and Vader pictures from a comic book. This year I decided to use drawings I'd done myself of little crafty scenes, and a couple of boxes of silver balls, to make ornaments as little gifts for my friends.

Here's everything you need for this project:


1. A box of ornaments; 2. A set of small drawings (small enough to fit on your ornaments, which is pretty small); 3. Mod Podge glue and a paintbrush for applying it; 4. Colored pencils or crayons; 5. Scissors; 6. Glitter (optional, but why would anyone skip the glitter??).

Just color the little pictures and cut them out carefully. Don't use markers to color them - the glue could make the colors run. Crayons or colored pencils work best. When trimming the pictures, I like to cut away as much white space as I can - this eliminates paper wrinkles when you glue them onto the ornaments.

Little drawings, colored

Paint the back of a picture with Mod Podge, and then carefully place it on the ornament. Don't worry if it doesn't lie flat at first. Paint over the top of the picture, smoothing it down as you go. There will probably be some minor wrinkles - just try to keep them in the blank spaces rather than in the drawing itself. Flatten them down with the handle of your paintbrush, and make sure that everything is lightly and smoothly painted over with glue.

Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Really, a light touch is plenty here. The ones I did when I was generous with the glitter don't look half as good.

That's it! You can do a whole box of ornaments on one mug of hot chocolate if you're quick.

Crafty ornaments

Okay Sew Greeners, I know you can come up with some ways to make this project even greener. I've been thinking about greener sources for the ornaments themselves (the thrift store, your attic...). What else could I do to make this a more eco-friendly project in the future??

December 2, 2008

Green Giving :: For the Kids

December has arrived, and Advent has begun in our house. The countdown to Christmas is a tradition brought from my own childhood where we would be rewarded daily with a new picture to discover behind the flap of a paper Advent calendar. In an effort to minimize "stuff" - and inspired by Stephanie - we made a move to a homemade "experiential" calendar a couple of years back, where every night would bring us a new activity. Build a Fort. Take a Walk to look at the neighborhood lights. Have breakfast for dinner. Write letters to Santa. Lie in the backyard and look at the stars. We tucked these ideas, written down on paper, into numbered miniature stockings I made out of felt and hung by the chimney with care.

There are many great ideas for handmade advent calendars to be found. A few from flickr:
Advent Calendar inspiration
1. first, 2. advent calendar, 3. Baby sock advent calendar..., 4. Advent garland, 5. Advent calendar for the boy, 6. advento, 7. advento, 8. stockings 1234, 9. Advent calendar, 10. advent calendar, 11. stockings_1234, 12. advent calendar

and more at the Creative Advent Calendars group.

And this great pattern over at the Purl Bee.

Another source of holiday inspiration, the New American Dream website is chalk-full of ideas. I find myself rereading many of the articles this time of year. A good start here.

November 24, 2008

abundance and revolution

Last night I watched this documentary on PBS about the Karuk tribe of California. They live along the Klamath River. The logging companies and the federal government’s fire suppression policies have almost destroyed the Karuk. The Karuk cannot gather their medicinal plants, make their traditional foods, practice their ceremonies, etc. like they used to, because the landscape, their home, has been altered so much. Fire suppression and the planting of fir trees has almost wiped out many of the native plants in the area. This also affects the river water (fir trees drain the water) and thus affects salmon and other river flora and fauna.

The Karuk believe that the earth provides everything we need. Watching this documentary, I recognized a lot of similarities between the Karuk’s values and those of the Slow Food movement. There is an understanding that ecology and culture are inextricable, and that the only way to maintain cultures is to respectfully and correctly manage the environment. This is also the only way the earth will continue to provide for us. This kind of value system is not an economic one, but a subsistence one.

Now when we’re in this big economic crisis, I think these values are vital for us to ponder. When we don’t trust that the earth and our community will provide for us all, we become greedy and we try to figure out ways to produce/extract as much stuff as possible at any cost. {As an example, industrial agriculture plants monocultures of crops, because in the short term that is the easiest way to produce a lot of food. This ruins the soil fertility however, which will not only make the land unproductive, but also endangers surrounding communities because the soil won’t absorb water. Thus when there is a flood, it is far more devastating. There are tons of examples how overuse like this not only leads to depletion of resources and the obliteration of biodiversity but also makes us much more susceptible to flood, fire, hurricane damage.}

In the book Plenty, the co-author imagines what the part of Canada he lives in looked like before Columbus. The abundance of animal and plantlife described struck me. Our earth has become and is fast becoming less and less abundant because of our incorrect management of the environment, our shortsighted overuse/exploitation of resources and our blindness (or willfull ignoring of) how we are connected to all creatures and plants. In the focus on profit, we (industrial societies) are killing cultures, we are killing plant and animal species, we are endangering lives by making communities more vulnerable to natural disasters, we are polluting water. The list goes on and on.

I worry that in hard economic times, people will look to the short-term solutions that (the agriculture, oil, etc.) industries offer, instead of re-evaluating our capitalist value system. But I hope having a visionary leader (in America) who seems to want us to fight for community and for what is right, might inspire us to work towards just and respectful ways of living on and sustaining this earth and the earth's abundance.

Cross-posted on Mecozy.

November 7, 2008

to the next farmer in chief

a teacher of mine tipped me off to this rad article by michael pollan to our president-elect.

October 8, 2008

bicycle built for 2 (or 3)

cross posted at twogreenchickens

We are lucky that our situation allows us to be a one car family. My husband rides his bicycle / public transit to work daily, and after we walk the "big sister" to school, I try to use my bike, with the "little sister". She is growing though - and the trailer seems a bit too small these days.

So looking into a "longbike: for carrying the kids - and cargo.

These bicycles are becoming increasingly popular - and in turn more choices are becoming availalbe. Yesterday's Los Angeles Times weighed out some pros and cons. (You can find the article here.)

What I am looking at:
$1199 Xtracycle Radish

$895 KONA Ute longtail

$900 Yuba Mundo Cargo bicycle

Commuting by bicycle? Lots of info at 1 World 2 Wheels.

September 24, 2008


cross posted at jumilla bugs

1. stop, look, listen

2. make the most of what you've got

3. offer people a place to sit

4. think small for big results

5. enjoy more time out in public

6. rediscover the front yard

6. tear down fences

from The Great Neighborhood Book by Jay Walljasper

September 19, 2008

do it yourself oil changes

hi all... my dad wanted to post this article on green tips for changing your car's oil! [i know ideally we all wouldn't have cars, or cars that run on gasoline, but i think that part of what we can do as concerned folks is do the best we can with what we have and can afford]

it's from the union of concerned scientists - their website is actually a huge wealth of knowledge

here's the article on greener oil changes .

i'm actually due for one....

July 24, 2008

new architectural materials

an architect friend sent me this link to a lecture by Blaine Brownwell .

the lecture is really great - he talks about new materials for buildings [like windows that actually house solar panels with in them instead of having to place panels as an add on]. and then goes through a litany of recycled, re-purposed products [a cool lamp out of drinking straws]. it's really cool.

watch the video

June 22, 2008

Dwell - How Green are You contest

AIA & Dwell Magazine have a how green are you contest going. Entries are accepted through June 30th [so you have a few days!]. all you have to do:

1) Pull together up to 4 images of your green or sustainable project, please include photo credits if the shots are not taken by you.
2) Write a simple yet specific 250 word description of the project highlighting the most important aspects of the project. You may include material names, vendors, etc.

First place is $1000 and 2 runners up get $500. not a bad deal m'thinks.

click here to enter.....

June 9, 2008

Your House Without You

Have you seen this? Guess how many years it would take for your home to disappear - then watch...

And that seems to be not withstanding all the stuff that would be in your house.

From the site for Alan Weisman's new book, The World Without Us.

June 1, 2008

green AND Greener

Our friends Alegre and Sean have realized their dream of a brick and mortar location. Come join in the fun!

Green and Greener Grand Opening
June 10, 2008 10:00am - 6:00pm
Eco-living general store and design center, Green and Greener opens its first physical retail location at 4838 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Valley Village 91607. There will be a grand opening eco-living inspired art show (until July 10th), free gift with every purchase on the 10th and an on-going 10% off discount if you don't drive to the store. Bike rack located in front of the store and public transportation map available here. Regular hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-6pm.

May 14, 2008

On the move

I am in the process of moving my office from here. to here. Working from home will have many perks - best of all, the end to my daily commute. Instead of a 30 - 45 minute drive each way, I will now have a leisurely 10 foot walk out my back door.

So as the days toward completion of my new office space draw near, I began to look for movers to help me lug bookshelves and flatfiles to their new home. A quick look in our local Yellow Pages put me to Mean Green Trucking and Transport. Their trucks run on biofuels, their NY warehouse is solar powered, and they plant a tree for every move they make.

They do appear perhaps to be a little pricey - I am still waiting for a comparative quote from a "traditional" mover. Will let you know what happens.

(cross-posted at Two Green Chickens)

March 28, 2008

earth hour - 8pm on the 29th of March

For those of you who may not already know, it’s earth hour this coming Saturday night.... Well, that is, in Australia. If you’re in the States or the UK or any other marvellous part of the world for that matter, then it’s 8pm on the 29th of March, your local time.

All you have to do is sign up on the web site and when earth hour rolls around, turn everything electrical off in your house. Lights, tv’s, dvd’s, ipods, kitchen white goods and yes even your beloved computer.

You could then light a candle or two or, as many are doing, gather with others and watch you local city lights switch off. I think it's going to be amazing.

This little clip may help explain where it all began (Sydney, Australia 2007). It may make you want to join in too. I hope so.

March 18, 2008

A grey water solution for someone with no plumbing skills

For a few years now I’ve not had a washing machine. It’s called for the occasional trip to my folk’s house to use their machine, and to the dry-cleaners for silks and delicates. But on the whole it’s called for a great deal of hand-washing. Lots and lots of hand-washing in a small bucket or the bottom of the bath. It’s been a little slow and laborious at times, but on the whole not too bad, save for jeans and woolly jumpers. And all those buckets of grey water were easy to cart out and pour onto the garden.

However, as soon as the option of installing both a water and energy efficient machine became possible, I welcomed it with open arms. Yay! I cried, no more 18th century washerwoman for me.

Even though my new machine is super efficient it still uses a fair bit of water. The green solution was easy, even easier than carrying bucket loads of water out to the dry, struggling garden beds. It is a grey water solution perfect for someone with no plumbing skills. Perfect for me, and perfect for you, too, I suspect.

It goes a little like this…

Walk down to local hardware shop and purchase a grey water diverter hose, 10 metres in length (minimum).

Connect the grey water diverter hose to the washing machine's drainage hose (of the same diameter). The diverter hose has a flexible plastic end to it which stretches tightly over the end of the washing machine's hose so that it doesn’t leak or separate once the machine starts a-swirling. If you’re feeling extra handy, screw on a clasp to this join to make it extra strong.

Unravel the full length of the grey water diverter hose, extending it from the washing machine, over the laundry floor, out the back door and onto the garden.

Turn Machine on and watch the grey water drain out onto the garden… you can almost catch sight of the trees and plants smiling quietly with relief.

If you have a flat garden, as I do, then you wont have the benefit of gravity to help you drain the pipe completely once the washing cycle is finished. In this case, simply disconnect the grey water diverter hose from the washing machine's drainage hose and hold this end of the grey water diverter hose up high. This will drain out what water remains in the hose.

I think the only trick is to be aware of the basic dos and don’ts of grey water usage, and more importantly what washing powder or liquid you use as this will be going onto your garden. I’ve been using this one and it seems great thus far, but there are many more eco friendly ones on the market.

There’s so much information about grey water recycling and systems, just look to your favourite green info source and I’m sure you’ll find all the details you need.

(Originally published elsewhere.)

March 17, 2008

swap style

Ever since college, a group of our friends has been getting together a few times a year for a clothes swap. I love the clothes swap, particularly now that I'm not buying anything new (thank you, Wardrobe Refashion!). This time I came home with a great haul: several tops to wear to work, a great skirt, some short pants for spring, an orange vintage crocheted blouse, and some great socks for making sock monsters. And nothing beats the price: free!

If you've never been to a clothes swap and you'd like to try cooking one up with some friends, here's what you'll need to do it:


Space. We've always had the clothes swap at someone's house, though lately it's gotten quite large and we had to move it to a bigger venue (in this case the performance space at a wonderful music shop in downtown Raleigh). As long as you've got a main area for laying out clothes, and two spaces for dressing rooms (one for fellas, one for ladies), you'll be all set.


Clothes. The price of admission is at least one clean garment in good condition. I usually have a shopping bag or two; some folks come with just one item and some come with huge bags full. At a clothing swap last fall, I scored a beautiful black crepe suit made for a friend's great-aunt in Paris in the 1950's.

swap6 swap5

A cooperative spirit. This is not a competition, it's a free fashion night. The most successful swappers hunt in teams. If you dig up the perfect skirt for your friend, toss it to her. She'll do the same for you.

cats and catnip are optional at most clothes swaps

Basic rules. This is the least fun part, so I prefer to minimize rules, but suit yourself. The way we do it is, start at 7PM. Lay out the clothes by type (pants, skirts, jackets together, etc). We never used to segregate clothing by gender, but as this thing has grown quite huge, it's starting to seem like a good idea. Don't start swapping until it's time... time is around 7:30. Keep swapping until your appointed time, say 9 PM. No limits on how much you can take - just as long as you actually plan to use/wear it. Then everyone helps bag up what's leftover to take to the thrift shop.

Snacks. Not required, but highly recommended. We do it potluck-style, and the fare ususally consists of chips, salsa and some beers. The quantity of beer usually correlates directly to the zaniness of outfits that people start modeling as the evening goes on.

swap7 swap8

Clothes swapping is a lot of fun and very economical. It's also a delight to see your old favorite clothes getting a second (or third, or fourth) time around on your favorite people.

March 11, 2008

poppy talk green market

buy local, buy handmade, re-use, re-cycle. sure we all want to do what we can. but what do you do when you just do really want to BUY something. you know - that consumerist itch we're all trying not to scratch?

well - at least this month you can put a little bit of money where your mouth is and support up and coming creative folks.

jan - the genius behind poppytalk has put together an eco themed market for us this month. up through april 11th.

shop with a little less guilt here

March 2, 2008

Cloth Pads + Goods 4 Girls

I got this email from Deanna and thought it might be of interest to our readers:

I don't want to take up much of your time, but I did want to tell you about a new project I just started, Goods 4 Girls. In short, it is an organization that collects donations of new, reusable menstrual pads (aka Mama pads) from women who either want to sew their own or want to buy pre-made ones. Goods 4 Girls is working with aid organizations in Uganda and Kenya to distribute the pads to girls in need.

There are currently Tampax and Always ads airing on television regarding Proctor and Gamble's donations of disposable pads to South African schoolgirls to help keep them in school. My concern when I first saw the ads was with the environmental impact of the disposable menstrual products. So, I posted on my blog about the alternative with reusable pads and the interest was great enough that I started up Goods 4 Girls and now have several aid organizations on board. To sum it all up, girls miss school when they have their periods because they don't have adequate supplies.

Currently, GladRags is offering a promotional Goods4Girls kit to be donated to Goods 4 Girls and other large pad manufacturers will be do so soon. The interest is very high with this project.

In the future, part of the program will involve assisting local African communities in teaching women and girls how to sew their own pads with materials donated and sent via Goods 4 Girls so they can be more self-sustainable.

You can find out more information about the project at the website . If you are interested in promoting the project on your blog, there are different buttons you can grab from the contact page

nikki posted awhile back on sew green about making her own cloth pads . the tutorial is on the right.

and if you are interested in purchasing some really cute and well made handmade pads you can visit amanda's shop modern acorn on etsy.

February 28, 2008

a little political refashioning

Since this is a non-partisan blog (as far as I know), I won't get into any electioneering here. But I wanted to share a little project with you that some of you Sew Greenies might be interested in: an online t-shirt making rally for your favorite candidate!

I signed up recently for the current round of Wardrobe Refashion because I've decided not to buy any new clothes this year. But that meant I couldn't buy a campaign T-shirt, and I have to say that I'm one of the more head-over-heels supporters of this particular Democratic candidate for the US presidency... (I'll let you draw your own conclusions about who that might be). So anyway, I decided to make my own T-shirt.

Then I thought about it and realized that some more folks might want to make their own shirts too, so I'm starting a rally! If you're curious, come check it out! We're designing and making our own shirts... repurposed, thrifted, recycled and/or hand-made shirts only, with your own designs!

Sign ups are going on now through the March 11 primary, and rally participants will share their creations on Flickr... winners will be chosen on the same date as the NC primary (my home state) on May 6th. There will be exciting crafty prizes for the winners!

If you want to do this but support a different candidate [or live in another country or something ; ) ], feel free to take this idea and run with it. There's plenty of craftiness to go around!

February 17, 2008

eco moms unite

my dad sent me a link to this New York Times article about moms getting together to talk about ways to go green at home....

i really enjoyed many of the points they bring up. even though i'm not a mom :)

read it here

[the image above has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that it feels weird to post without a picture and it feels like winter becoming spring where i live at the moment]

February 12, 2008

On this day.

Albert Namatjira Mount Sonder, MacDonnell Ranges c.1957-59 watercolour and pencil on paper, National Gallery of Australia.

Today the Australian government made a formal apology for the past wrongs caused by successive governments on the indigenous Aboriginal population.

Text of PM Rudd's 'sorry' address
Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were stolen generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.

In pictures.

Full text.

Rudd's dramatic first step moves Australia forward.

Lighting up Sorry week.

January 30, 2008

bleeding hearts benefit

hi sew greeners.

renee is hosting a sale on FRIDAY with the all of the proceeds going towards the Sierra Club . In her own words this is why:

I was reading about the impact oil drilling will have on Alaska, should the US pass legislation to begin leasing drilling rights in the Chuckchi Sea . Environmentalism is a cause I feel very strongly about, and couldn't sit back without doing something to help out. Especially with Valentine's Day coming up, I believe there is no better time to show the world a bit of positivity through loving actions.

She's collected a bunch of crafty goods and will sell them online starting Friday. If you'd like to support the cause there's more info and a preview here . the etsy shop [that will be filled] is here

January 9, 2008

hang up

happy new year to all our readers! we wish you all the best in 2008. and (naturally) a new year comes with resolutions (though every year i say i won't make any). this year i am trying out the more encompassing idea of living a "conscious" life. thinking (and in turn questioning) more.

my early christmas gift (the shelf)
our bathroom sans shower curtain

and now, as we nearly complete our bathroom redo, i have been put in charge of the accessories. earth friendly i say. no plastic please. (sorry rubber ducky.) i would very much like a linen or hemp shower curtain (this one in particular) but worry about the fine print stating that a liner is required. as usual, i am turning to our very knowledgeable community for guidance. does anyone have any experience with these products? any suggestions? i would be so grateful.

and what - if any - resolutions have you made?