Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday - One Small Change Challenge Review

This challenge has been a good experience. My family has learned to live without paper towels! I never thought it would be possible. We did slip up a couple of times, but for the most part we stuck to using cloth. I feel good about our part in helping reduce the use of paper products. I have also enjoyed shopping Etsy.com and eBay for paper alternatives. Who doesn't love a little shopping?
Here is a very small sample of my purchases. Most are in the wash right now :)



For February's challenge I plan to cut out plastic water bottles. I pack a cooler everyday to take to work so I can have easy access to cold drinking water. We had to give up our mini fridges earlier in the school year due to electrical problems in our building. I used to buy a jug of water every few days to keep in the fridge and pour from. So, now, I pack 4 water bottles to drink during the day. I do recycle the bottles, but I feel guilty even using them. We bought a Brita filter pitcher for our house last year for the sole purpose of not buying bottled water anymore. My husband reminds me of this when he has to buy my bottled "school" water. So yesterday I decided my challenge for February would be to use these beauties that I bought at TJ Maxx this weekend.



They will fit in my cooler, and help reduce my use of plastic bottled water. Hooray!

So I hope to go from this:



To this:



Thanks to my dear hubby for modeling this change for me :)

Let the challenge begin!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday Crafting Fun

Today AK and I decided to do a test run on her Valentine's Day craft for this year's Valentine's Day cards. We wanted to make crayon hearts. I found this adorable idea on the long thread blog, and decided to make necklaces out of them. Here's what we needed to get started.



The biggest struggle was peeling all of the crayons...whew...what a chore.



So I went online to find an easier way. Here's what we used. Thank you whoever created the box cutter. I love you.



The tutorial said to break the crayons into small pieces. I remember reading somewhere that you could shave the crayons for this type of project. We decided to experiment with both. I must say I am glad we didn't shav
e too many crayons because the broken crayons worked out much better!



Here's what it all looked like going into the oven...275 degrees for 7-10 minutes.



Meeeelllllttttiiiinnnnggggg....



Add straws during the cooling process.



The final results!



Now, all we have to do is go to the craft store and buy something to string each heart onto, and we'll be done with these! I wish they were a little thicker, but I think they turned out pretty cute. If I feel the urge to peel more crayons, I might try again and make them a bit thicker :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Birds

Birds...I love them. I don't know what it is about those little feathered cuties, but they fascinate me. My house is decorated with birds. My classroom nickname is the "Brainy Birds". I have a huge collection of bird watching books. I wear them on my clothes and jewelry. I love to watch them in action, which is why.....

I cannot wait to start this year's
Great Backyard Bird Count!

I participated a few years ago, but kind of forgot about it after AK was born. Kind-of like I forgot about bird watching in general after she was born. I had a few other things to think about :) This winter I have really enjoyed watching the birds at my bird feeders again. I am hoping our resident wrens will be back soon to build their nest and raise their babies. They have come for the past two years. This past year they raised two sets of babies (at different times)! Anyway the GreatBackyard Bird Count begins in February. I will be there. Watching. Counting. Loving every minute of it!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Comments and Confessions

I realize that no one is reading my blog...are you? Anyway, if you are, I would love a comment here and there! I check daily for comments.

With that said, I confess...

I used a paper towel this morning. Ugh! I was running very late, and I had made a bagel for breakfast. I didn't want to put it in a plastic baggie and I was running around frantically searching for something to wrap it in. So I gave in and grabbed a paper towel. I need to find an alternative. Any suggestions?? This would be where all of my readers comment ;)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Crafting

Well, I tried my hand at crafting today. First AK and I made paper snowflakes. Now, I have never said I am creative, so bear with me. One of my goals this year is to learn a craft. Paper snowflakes is not it :) I would like to learn to knit and/or use a sewing machine. For now it's snowflakes.


My next crafting endeavor was a felt wreath. I've been working on making the felt for about a week now. Supposedly all you have to do is wash old 100% wool sweaters in hot water and dry them in the dryer. It didn't turn out quite the way I pictured it. Instead of felt, I got slightly fuzzy, shrunken wool sweaters. Anyway...I pushed on. Here is my process:





And VOILA!


I almost forgot our halftime entertainment...

video

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Temptress

Tonight we had our first paper towel slip-up. John was cooking a yummy breakfast for dinner, dinner for us. He introduced AK to the Canadian bacon while he was cooking. Well, that sneaky girl tried to get more after being told not to, and she grabbed the package spilling Canadian bacon juice onto the counter and floor. John, in a frantic/irritated moment went to our large stash of neglected paper towel rolls and grabbed one. Dinner turned out yummy, and I will put the roll away...far away...so as not to tempt us again.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's getting easier...

Not using paper towels at home is getting easier. We haven't used a paper towel in about a week! Hooray for us :)
However, not using paper towels at work has proved to be impossible so far. I teach. 21 Kindergarten kids. Enough said. I do plan to take some of my washcloths to school to use to clean tables, but I think we will still have to use paper towels for hand drying. Any suggestions?

Monday, January 11, 2010

I am so proud of my family. Our quest to cut back/eliminate the use of paper towels is going well. I have placed a stack of old dishcloths under the sink for easy access for spills and general clean up. I used to always serve AK's morning toast on a paper towel, as well as snacks, etc. I was running out of plates quickly, and felt strange serving a piece of toast on a dinner plate! So I went to Goodwill this weekend and bought about 8 small plates. Actually, I think they are saucers, but they will work just fine. This has not been as hard as I thought it would be. I do find myself reaching for the paper towel roll, but it has been replaced by a new plant on my kitchen counter!

I did have one "slip up". I had to change the cat litter box. After I rinsed it I did not want to wipe it out with my dishcloth, so I used paper towels. There, I said it. Until I come up with an alternative, I will have to use the paper towels. The thought of kitty litter covered dishcloths did not make me happy!

On to better topics than kitty litter...

Look what John and I made yesterday!

Yes, that is Olive Cheese Bread from The Pioneer Woman's website. Oh my, was it rich and delicious! I could feel my hips expanding with each bite. Did I mention it has a stick of butter in it??? It was quite tasty, but I think I might make a few modifications next time. I will use less butter and mayo for sure. However, I was thinking it might be yummy to replace the butter with cream cheese, and top it with shredded Parmesan. OOOhhhh so yummy! Here are a few more pictures to document the delicious journey :)




Click on over to her website. It's full of amazing recipes. I could spend hours there!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow Day

Here in Georgia it is rare to have a snow day. It began snowing very lightly yesterday afternoon just as school was letting out. It was so fun to see how excited the students were at such a tiny amount of snow! At one point a big burst of snow came all of a sudden and all you could hear were screams of joy! I didn't really think it would amount to much because when I went to bed there was still just a dusting of snow in the grass, but I continued to be hopeful. As I was drifting off to sleep the phone rang with the much anticipated news that school would be closed!! All you could hear were whoops of joy from me and AK :)
This morning I was surprised to see how much more snow had accumulated. Now, to those of you who live where it really snows (I'm assuming anyone reads this blog) you would laugh at the fact that we Georgians consider this a major event. However, like I said, I was surprised to see the snow this morning. AK couldn't wait to get out there to throw snowballs at me. We bundled up and headed out into the 16 degree morning. Here are some pictures of our fun:
Here we are all bundled and ready for fun!


Snow angel


Throwing snow at Mommy. This was just before I threw snow at her and she started crying!

My One Small Change challenge is going well so far. Instead of using paper towels to clean the counters I used a towel. We usually put down a paper towel under our coffee mugs when we fix our morning coffee. They're very helpful in catching the sugar that seems to fly around everywhere (thanks honey). Instead, we didn't use a paper towel, and just tried to be more careful. We actually used the spoon rest that always sits by the coffee maker to rest our stirring spoon on...imagine that. Who would have thought! Instead of serving AK's very healthy breakfast of toast on a paper towel, I actually put it on a plate. Hey - I think this might be easier than I thought!
The only problem I have discovered is that instead of the one roll of towels I thought was left, I discovered a 12 pack of paper towels stashed in the guest bathroom shower. Yes, we are short of storage space around here. So, what to do with those paper towels? Any suggestions? Anyone?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Green Life

Hello stranger...
It's been a long time since my last post. It is a brand new year. Happy 2010! We have been busy with life. School and work are great. AK loves Pre-K, and I am learning to love my new students. Well, they aren't so new anymore! They are a wonderful group of 5 and 6 year olds :)

I have discovered many new (to me) and interesting blogs out there. One, in particular, is Hip Mountain Mama. She has posed the One Small Thing challenge...and oh, I am ready for this challenge. The challenge is to to make 1 small (or huge) change each month leading up to Earth Day (April 22, 2010). This change being something that will make a positive green impact. When I read this I thought, "What an awesome challenge!" I began to think of the things we already do to help the Earth. I began making my own cleaners around Thanksgiving. I found a great hard surface recipe here, and I have enjoyed using it at home and in my classroom. I even made gift baskets containing the ingredients to make the cleaner for my family for Christmas. We also participate in our city's curbside recycling program. We have replaced our lightbulbs with CFL bulbs. We freecycle on Carroll County Freecycle.

There are some things I could really improve on. I have reusable shopping bags, but I usually forget to take them to the store with me. I have tried growing more plants, but seem to have a black thumb. I have tried to reduce the amount of disposable containers I use in mine and AK's lunchboxes, but I could do better.

As I think of what would make the biggest impact in my house right now, I think my challenge for January will be to use cloth to clean with, and stop using paper towels. I have one roll left. I will not buy more. I will use old wash cloths, t-shirts, and socks to clean and dust.

I hope you will challenge yourself to make a positive change. The Earth is depending on us.