Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool Easy-Care Washable Blanket

I've coveted Pendleton wool blankets for years, but only recently allowed myself to purchase one of the pricey bed covers when I realized it would be a quick and frugal fix to cold nights in our new house that is without insulation and wrapped in old siding and laden with air holes and old drafty windows, many of them broken.

The Regency wood burning stove insert we ordered before we moved in nearly 3 months ago still has not arrived or been installed into our fireplace (sigh). Insulation, hole-mending, new siding and windows will come within this first year of our tenure--should our coffers provide. But until all of the updating is complete winters will be chilly because I'm keeping our thermostat as close to 60 as we can bare in an effort to minimize our oil usage and bills. A thick wool cardigan has been my house uniform of choice this winter, and the temperatures, as you know, have not been very low. Even so, I've been known to sleep like a pioneer woman, a wool hat pulled down to my ears.

Back to the blanket, which possesses so many recommendable qualities. It's one of the few fine products made in the USA today. And the wool used in the entire Eco-Wise line of home products and clothes wear is, according to Pendleton, "created to leave the lightest impact on the earth. From the sheep to the shelf...it passes strict standards of sustainability and responsible environmental stewardship."

And if all this do-gooding doesn't do it for you, there is the fact that it's practical--warm and washable. It's also luxurious and soft to the touch, and in an array of colors and patterns it comes in there should be at least one to please everyone's tastes.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Composting, Envirocycle Compost Tumbler, Worm Bins & Vermi-composting

This weekend, more than 2 months after moving into our new house, I finally retrieved our envirocycle from our old Manhattan apartment building basement and found its new home in our backyard, so it seems an apt time to revisit the important topic of composting.

Most of us now know what a good thing for the earth and our health composting kitchen scraps and yard debris is, but many Americans still don't realize how fun, easy, satisfying, and un-smelly it really is.

I've written about this topic in the past, so in lieu of repeating myself I'll point you to my other entry on composting and the envirocycle, which I love. Of course, if you have the right situation you can also easily and cheaply build your own composting area. There is much information online to gather on how to do this, and perhaps in the future I'll write on it, as well.

There is also the very good option of vermi-composting, or letting red wriggler worms make short shrift of your scraps. Kids--and this adult--love watching this dynamic natural process; It's better than reality television! You can build your own worm bin for the task or purchase a ready-made one, like this great one.



photo by flickr member pretty poo eater

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Banana Bread Recipe - Use Your Bananas Before They Go Bad - Prevent Food Waste, An Environmental Issue

It's shameful and an environmental issue that America throws away nearly half of all its food, according to Jonathan Bloom.

Necessity IS the mother of invention! In an effort to not waste our food, I recently created this easy to make, delicious, moist confection -- a hybrid of several banana bread recipes I found online and in cookbooks -- in order to use most of a banana bunch before laying them to waste. *We don't have composting set up yet in our new home.

Makes 2 large loaves and serves many.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 c. (plus enough for pan) white whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur. White or a mix of regular whole wheat and white would work.)
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. cardamom
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • enough brandy to top off raisins
  • 3/4 c. oil (I used peanut. You can use canola or vegetable)
  • 2/3 c. sour cream (I had on hand a vegan sour cream. You can use dairy-based version or buttermilk.)
  • 1 c. raisins
  • 3 handfuls walnuts
  • 4 average to large ripe bananas

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
  • Measure raisins and add brandy enough to just cover them. Set aside and let soak at least 1/2 hour, more if you have the time.
  • Combine all dry ingredients, except the walnuts, in large mixing bowl.
  • Beat eggs, then mix all the wet ingredients, except the raisins and brandy, together in a separate mixing bowl.
  • Peel and hand-mash bananas, add to wet ingredients.
  • Combine these wet and dry ingredients into one bowl, mix well with rubber spatula or large spoon, making sure to scrape sides to incorporate all.
  • Mix in all the raisins and brandy.
  • Fold in walnuts.
  • Oil and flour 2 large metal bread baking pans, or if you have non-stick pans omit this step.
  • Split the batter evenly between the two pans.
  • Bake for an hour or until a tester toothpick or thin skewer removes clean after being inserted in its center.
  • Remove to cooling racks.
  • Slice and serve. It will go fast, but it freezes and thaws well. Before freezing wrap well with foil.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Marmoleum - Eco-friendly, Sustainable Flooring Options

The most sustainable option in flooring is clearly making use of what you have. But that's not always possible or desirable.

Once we removed the old, funky-textured linoleum, peeling asbestos tiles, and avocado green and royal blue 1970s carpeting, we were lucky to find good oak wood flooring throughout most of our new home, so we'll only have to sand, then finish them with a low- or no-voc wood floor sealer.

Our kitchen and bathrooms are exceptions to the warm oak flooring, so we considered other eco-friendly options and for the kitchen we settled on marmoleum by Forbo Flooring, a "green" version of linoleum. The tiles and wide strips are a composite of recycled materials, including wood, flour, and "tall oil," and renewable products, including jute, linseed oil, and pine rosin.

I like marmoleum in the kitchen for many reasons, not least of which is that it's easy to clean and is kind on the feet and body when you're standing and working there for long stretches. We also loved the wide color palette it's available in and that you can cut, mix and match tints to achieve some very fun, creative results.

There are many other eco-friendly flooring options, including bamboo, salvaged wood or tiles, concrete, recycled glass and ceramic tiles, recycled rubber, cork, renewable, natural fiber rugs and carpets, and others. Green- and aesthetic-wise, considerations are many when you shop for eco-friendly flooring. Not all the choices are equal when it comes to their environmental impact, so do your research and make the best choices you're able to make.



photo by baubilt.com
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