Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Piratic



Some unusual towels spotted hanging on the balconies of a coastal hotel. And beach-going and sunbathing used to be such a mellow thing to do . . .

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Easter Turkey



I found this nine-pound turkey at the market, and while I've never roasted one this small, decided to make it for Easter (I also need to start making smaller meals as most nights it's just me and my guy having dinner.) It cooked up beautifully -- and very fast, too -- and we got dinner for three plus sandwiches the next day with no leftovers.

It required only seven slices of bread for the homemade stuffing (I usually use a loaf and a half), and it came with a base packet to help make the gravy, which was nice, too. The little chunks on the outside are sauteed onions, which I use in a special basting mixture of my own invention to keep the turkey moist while roasting and give it some extra flavor. Must do this again!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Poddish

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Old Gate

On my Spring walks I sometimes take a route that has me pass by a property with this rusty old gate, which is always left open by its owners:



I like open, old gates; there's something very welcoming about them (well, they are open.) I've Also been meaning to get a shot of it for years, as I love the way the wildflowers grow in and around it. Cross this off the bucket list:

Saturday, April 26, 2014

In the Pink

I'm taking a longish walk every day now to enjoy the arrival of Spring, and one newcomer in the neighborhood is this little, low-to-the-ground pinkish bloom, which I see sprouting up here and there I go:



It reminds me a bit of the blooms on a bottle-brush tree, except around here those are always red.



Whatever it is, it sure is cute. For a pink weed flower, anyway.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Mom, Stay!



The pups in my office after I came home from the last trip. After three days of separation they're not letting me out of their sight.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Yard Waste Recycling



The final topic for recycling week is one every home owner has to deal with, aka the reason my guy and I went to the local landfill: yard waste.



While trimming our trees in preparation for hurricane season yesterday, my guy created 400 lbs. of yard waste just like this pile -- and that's from only one day of work. He has about another week of trimming to do, so figure we'll have at least another ton of cut branches, leaves and stumps to dispose of before we're ready. Since we have a fairly well-wooded property, we have to do this at least twice a year, so while I can't give you a figure on how much yard waste everyone creates per year, I can tell you we probably produce a minimum of three tons.

So how do you recycle three tons of yard waste? We do reserve a small amount of our oak and pine branch trimmings to season in order to make our own firewood, and we chop up our dead leaves and grass clippings and respread them over our yard to return them to the soil (versus bagging and trashing them.) The rest goes to the local landfill, where it is recycled into mulch:



Many landfills offer this mulch free or at a low-cost to anyone who wants it, so it is constantly recycled. You can also check with your local firewood, landscaping and plant/nursery companies to see if they accept donations of yard waste for recycling.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Impossible Recycling



Today's recycling topic: waste that seems impossible to recycle (for want of a better term)



According to the EPA over 275 million old tires lay rotting in junkyards around the nation, and it may be because people think you can't recycle tires. Not so; as a kid I used to love playing in swings made of old tires (which everyone seemed to have in their backyards.) Today we turn old tires into everything from playground safety coverings to shoe soles, too. To see some really inventive recycling, WebEcoist.com has a very cool collection here of 25 things made from old tires.

Not everyone can make swings or art from their old wheels, but when you get new tires for your car, ask your salesperson if they have a recycling program. You can also check around your local community to see if any company wants old tires for manufacturing new things and take them there yourself.



It may seem impossible to recycle old concrete, but with a little effort you can. For a couple of years we used ten old cinder blocks to serve as makeshift "stairs" on our back porch (this is because we couldn't decide on how we wanted to build the permanent version.) Some concrete blocks can be used as pavers around the bases of trees, or as building materials for a backyard barbecue or fire pit, too. Btw, you do want to make sure the concrete you're recycling does not have any lead-based paint on it before you put it to any reuse that involved food preparation or frequent contact by you or your kids.

Many construction companies grind old concrete into gravel to serve as a foundation for new roads, or as aggragate to make new concrete, so check with your local contractors to see if they'll take it off your hands to build something new.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nothing Climbs . . .






. . . Like a Deere! Ha.

On a more serious note, today I want to take a moment to express my appreciation for all the people who work for county landfills to handle our waste management, recycling and local trash collection. They have one of the toughest, unpopular, and most toxic jobs in the world, and yet whenever I visit one of their facilities they are all unfailingly polite, helpful -- and most are even cheerful!

Thank you all, and bless each and every one of you for doing so much more than just your part for the planet.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mattress Recycling



Today's recycling topic: Mattresses



We throw out 40 million mattresses in the United States every year, and since each one can take up to 40 cubic feet of landfill space it's really important to recycle them if possible.

If your old mattress and boxspring are clean and still in usable shape, call around to family and friends first to see if anyone can use them (when you buy a new bed, you can ask your salesperson if they offer an old bed recycling service, too.) You can also move the old bed to a spare room to make it into a guest room. You may also check with your local thrift shops, homeless and crisis shelters to see if they will take them (because people often try to donate soiled mattresses most thrifts won't, but it doesn't hurt to check.)

If your old mattress and boxspring are not in usable condition, before you throw it to the curb contact your local waste management facility to see if they offer any kind of recycling service. Some do change a fee to take them, but this covers the cost of breaking down the bed into its many recyclable components.

One final thought: protect all the beds you own to help them last longer and be in good shape for future recycling by covering the mattresses with a waterproof cover. They now make them very thin, and often with cloth outer covers so it doesn't feel like you're sleeping on top of a garbage bag.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Wishing You

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cardboard Recycling



Today's recycling topic: Cardboard



Discarded cardboard and paper constitute up to 41% of the municipal solid waste stream, which makes sense, as every year an American family throws out 2,460 lbs. of it. Tossing out cardboard really bothers me, so I try to recycle it whenever I can by reusing shipping boxes (many of my giveaway winners know that, as they receive most of their packages in reused boxes.) I also challenge myself to find new ways to reuse cardboard in my journal making and art projects, and instead of storing things in carboard boxes (which over time inevitably fall apart) I try to use sturdy reusable plastic bins (and I'll admit here, I'm still in the process of changing over and replacing them.)

Recycling one ton of cardboard saves 9 cubic yards of landfill space, 46 gallons of oil, 390 kWh hours of electricity, and 6.6 million BTUs of energy, and that's the actual change your family would make if you stop throwing away your paper. Most local waste management companies offer paper recycling bins for pick up on garbage day, and this can become your family's paper "trash can", so why not get one and get started?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Recycling Week

My guy and I like to recycle whenever possible, so we make regular trips to our local waste management site. On our last visit I took along the camera to snap some shots and hopefully remind everyone of why it is important to think before you dispose of anything. I got some neat pics while we were there, so I'm officially kicking off:



Up first: Plastic Bottles



Americans throw away 35 billion plastic bottles every year, but what they don't realize is that it can take up to 1000 years for plastic to degrade in a landfill. Recycling plastic, on the other hand, offers all sorts of benefits. Recycling one ton of plastic saves 30 cubic yards of landfill space, 685 gallons of oil, 5,774 kWh of electricty and 98 million BTUs of energy.

You can make one simple, positive change by eliminating disposable plastic water bottles from your household and using instead reusable water bottles filled with tap water (we put a carbon filter on our pump to eliminate the "well water" taste, and there are other filtering products should you have tap water taste problems.) This one change can prevent the waste of at least 100 plastic bottles per person per year.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Objects Appear Larger . . .



When they land on your car's windshield an inch from your nose just after you get your new prescription glass, they look five times bigger than this. In reality Mr. StrangeBug was about 3/4" long.

Being a child of the Seventies, all I could think was, Alien!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Down is Up



Lakes are often sky mirrors, as seen here. Also lovely to come home to after a long road trip.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Brownie Moon

I stayed up until the wee hours to photograph the lunar eclipse, which was supposed to produce a "blood" moon. From my position on the planet it looked more like a big brownie, and the lack of light made it hard to capture the last stage of the eclipse. Still, first time I've ever watched one, so that was rather neat.

Here's a slideshow of the least-blurry pics I took:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lego Movie!



One final pic from MegaCon -- the table on which they illustrated scenes from the Lego movie. Since I haven't yet seen it I probably didn't appreciate it as much as fans who did, but it was still very cool.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

MegaCon Madonna



A somewhat battered but serene lady -- okay, wig stand -- that I spotted at MegaCon.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tea Flowers



One of the new things I tried while I was away was Numi tea, which is a "flower" of petals and tea things sewn together. You drop it it your pot, add boiling water and it flowers open as it steeps. You then drink the lovely tea.

My flower turned out to look more like a sea urchin (and it never sank to the bottom as per the package illustrations but just floated around.) Still, the tea was delicious -- oolong + peach -- and I admit, it was neat to watch the little urchin grow.

I purchased my box at World Market, btw, and it's $5.99 for four "flowers." You can reuse each one three times, so that works out to about fifty cents a pot.

Friday, April 11, 2014

I Want One



(In my youth I played Dungeons & Dragons, so spotting this really tickled me.)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Snake + Mirror = Cool

Saw this very odd necklace on a mannequin at a mall while I was traveling:



I might have to steal the idea and make a steampunk version for Toriana. :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Snowbirds

Hiatus over! Hooray! Now to catch up on some of the interesting things I've seen while off dealing with work, starting with these three guys: