Monday, June 30, 2014

A Year of Kindness - Challenge Week 26

Thanks to everyone who chimed in about conserving our energy and water resources! I have to agree with everyone who said that public transportation isn't a good choice for them. Seems like the only place where it is more affordable and well-scheduled are major metropolitan areas like Washington D.C.  Sarah is able to get just about anywhere on the metro and avoids the hassles of trying to find (and pay for) parking. Where I live public transportation isn't even available! No buses at all. And to get a train into Philadelphia is a twenty minute DRIVE to the station! So I feel you there. Here in rural suburbia there is very little that is in walking distance, so I have to be nice to the environment in other ways - I usually try scheduling my errands so that I run them all in one trip, making several stops, instead of going out in the car each day for just one thing.

For our final week of being Kind to Mother Earth, the challenge is to USE REUSABLE BAGS.  Turn down plastic bags whenever possible by keeping reusable cloth bags in your car for grocery shopping and department stores. If you find yourself in the position of having to accept a plastic bag, DON'T add it to your trash. Use them as trash can liners, recycle them, upcycle them. Check here and here for ideas from Pinterest on how to reuse/upcycle your plastic bags.

Plastic bags are a major problem in our global environment. Plastic bags:
  • take hundreds of years to decompose
  • while decomposing, release deadly toxins into our soil, lakes, rivers, and oceans
  • choke and strangle wildlife - Hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine mammals die every year after eating discarded plastic bags they mistake for food.
  • require millions of gallons of petroleum to manufacture
  • cause significant CO2 emissions during manufacture
  • rarely get recycled - nearly 97% of them end up in land and ocean fills
  • account for 10% of the debris washed up on the U.S. Coastline.
Paper bags are NOT a viable alternative. They cost more to produce and unless made from recycled materials, cause more deforestation. The viable alternative is REUSABLE BAGS.  Click here for a quick slide show with more information and statistics on the dangers of plastic bags.

This is where I am supposed to be posting a photo of the reusable canvas bags I'm creating. Alas, June's major work issues and vacation have me a bit behind schedule. The fabric paints have been ordered, but haven't arrived yet. So watch this space in a future week for a great canvas bag give-away!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Scavenger Hunt - 1

I'm participating in Rinda's 2014 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt again this year. Click on the link to get the list and info and play along - the more the merrier! There is even a Facebook group this year if you don't have a blog. And you definitely aren't too late - the hunt lasts until the last day of Summer in September!

I went to Key West thinking I might be able to knock out most of the Scavenger Hunt list there. Alas, I didn't even come close. Didn't have a camera out when we deboarded the plane to catch the "Welcome to Key West" sign on the airport (only one we saw).  Smallest airport I've ever been in!

We could have caught the Pride Parade on Sunday, but opted to avoid the crowds - instead we went to the movies and saw 22 Jump Street. Totally crude humor, but I laughed a lot!

I did see birds on a wire, but by the time I tried to get the shot, they flew away...

Despite a few missed opportunities, I got some great shots, so here we go:

#5 A Rack of Postcards - and no question from this rack about where we were!

#9 - A Bakery. Not much a photo - shot from the car with an iPhone.

#13 - A Sunrise.  This is right outside our hotel room. The sun is actually coming up off to the right of the photo, but was blocked by the building itself, so I settled for getting the pretty colors of the sky above the tree line.

#15 - A Juggler.  Every night at Mallory Square, Key West residents and tourists come together to celebrate the sunset. (Mostly tourists I bet!) Street performers are on hand hawking for tips. Here the juggler is tossing three fire sticks - and notice that unicycle to the right of the photo???
#4 - A group of tourists.  Here is the same juggler, now ON the unicycle, juggling a sword, a hatchet, and a fire stick.  This photo is actually a three-fer - juggler, group of tourists and lamp post(s). But I'm counting it for the tourists. Couldn't get anywhere near that guy! This photo was taken with my iPhone on zoom - something I have yet to master.

#17 A lamp post. Taken right before sunrise.

And here is the same photo with a RadLab filter:
I kind of wanted to use this photo as an example of #11, a horn.  See them growing out of Becca's head? Could be just the way she made me feel on this particular day... so how about this one instead:
#11 - A Horn. Or more specifically, a green iguana with rostal horns.  Apparently not native to this part of Florida, but a growing feral population. This one was spotted at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. We also saw one at the hotel pool. Some kids were trying to get near it and it made a run for the pool, but stopped short and headed up a tree instead!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Year of Kindness - Challenge Week 25

Hope you all had fun picking up trash last week! Turns out that the "beaches" (if you can call them that) I was able to visit last week at Key West were trash-free. That's wonderful. The only place I could have picked up trash was along the construction route on the main road. But there were no trash cans along the route either. So I'll have to make up for that one here at home!

In keeping with our theme of being Kind to Mother Earth, this week's challenge is to CONSERVE.  Conserve Energy. Conserve Water. Conserve Natural Resources. And yes, I know I'm preaching to the choir, but here are ten easy ways to CONSERVE:

  • Run your ceiling fan counter-clockwise in the Summer; clockwise in the Winter.
  • Use shades, blinds, or drapes to block the heat of Summer sun, but open those shades and blinds in the Winter!
  • Keep your freezer full - it uses less energy than an empty one.
  • Unplug EVERYTHING that you aren't using - battery chargers, toasters, hair dryers, etc. If plugged in, they are still drawing energy.
  • Plug electronics into a power strip and turn off the power strip when the electronics are not in use.
  • Exchange incandescent bulbs for CFL
  • Take shorter showers (saves on water and heating)
  • Turn off water while brushing teeth
  • Only run the clothes washer or dishwasher with a full load
  • Walk, bike, or use mass transit
What are some of your favorite conservation techniques? What have I missed?
Sunrise in Key West. The area that needs to be cleaned up is the walkway to the left of the photo - but no place to put the trash. Maybe if the construction folks put out a few trash cans, folks wouldn't leave so much garbage on the sidewalk!

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Year of Kindness - Challenge Week 24

I've set this blog post to auto-post on Monday the 16th because when you read this, I'll be digging my little piggies into the sand on a beach in Key West. Hopefully soaking up some sun, reading a book or two, and generally getting in a lot of relaxation!

Continuing in our month of Kindness toward Mother Earth, this week's challenge is to LEAVE A PLACE BETTER THAN YOU FOUND IT.  I'm specifically referring to cleaning up trash. I almost always find myself picking up trash left on the beach by other less considerate folk. I expect this vacation will be no different in that regard. But I don't mind. I always feel good about it.  So this week, whether you are walking the dog, out and about shopping, wherever you are - if you see some trash laying around where it doesn't belong, pick it up and properly dispose of it. Take a bag with you on your next nature walk. You'd be surprised what others leave behind.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Life Tunes 1

It is June 15th and that means it is time for our first Life Tunes!  This month's suggested topic is "Young Love" or "Summer Love" and here is the layout I created:

Now it's YOUR turn to share a song that had particular meaning in your life.  The linky will remain open until the end of the month, so you have plenty of time to join in!

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Year of Kindness - Challenge Week 23

I was SO HAPPY last week to hear that so many of your communities are very involved with and supportive of recycling! I'm glad to know that the movement to cut down the amount of materials we dump into land fills is alive and strong and growing. It gives me hope. Thank you all for sharing your stories!

Continuing with our month of kindness to Mother Earth, this week's challenge is to UPCYCLE! According to Wikipedia "Upcycling" is the process of repurposing an old item for a new use, thereby increasing it's value.  I've "upcycled" old books into beautiful art journals. Jay and I have taken up what we call "antiquing" which is really just going out to antique shops, flea markets, and yard sales and finding beautiful old stuff to give a new life. For our first project, we turned a beat up "what not shelf" into a plant stand for our sun room. A little sanding, a little wood putty, and several coats of paint and it's better than new! This is far less expensive than buying a new mass-manufactured piece and saves on all the precious resources that get used up in making new consumer goods. We also turned a small plant stand into an end table for our family room (we needed something very small because of space considerations). We spent $12 on the little wooden stand and then sanded and stained it to fit with our decor. We have several other projects in progress. And the "hunt" gives us something fun to do together!

Around the house, I've repurposed a lot of "trash" for mixed media use (bubble wrap, toilet paper rolls, bottle caps, corrugated cardboard, to name a few) which saves me the cost of buying stencils or stamps to mimic that look.  I even cut the pattern out of some plastic microwave meal trays before recycling the rest of the plastic.

Jay and I also love to support artists and crafters who use reclaimed and upcycled materials in their art. We bought an occasional table made from reclaimed barn wood. The man who built it was able to show us photos of the barn he tore down. He left a lot of the old paint and patina in place, so the piece is definitely one of a kind.
We have a mirror for over our fireplace that is framed in old tin tiles. I can't wait to actually get it up!
And at the Eastern Market, as an early Mother's Day gift, Sarah bought me the cutest little giraffe crafted from an old Arizona Tea beverage can. The artisan calls his creations "Canimals" and says his friends now bring him their empties, so the cans are zero cost to him - his expense in this piece is the copper wire and his time. We watched him at work - he has several fingers wrapped in medical tape before he starts twisting the cut cans into shape. This little guy is tiny - about 6" tall. He has made them that are 6 feet tall! As tall, he says, as a real baby giraffe. I checked, he's right. And his work is incredible.

If you are interested in learning more about this artist, check out this article on him.  

Now I KNOW that actually upcycling something won't be a challenge at all for my blog friends. I KNOW you all upcycle already! So I'm challenging you to blog about your favorite upcycled piece (with photos if possible), or leave a comment telling us all about it - let's share some inspiration!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Coming Up For Air - and MORE

Coming Up For Air
I've spent the last week and a half nose to the grindstone and super stressing. I was writing (from scratch) a ninety minute presentation (my speech plus the power point slides) on a topic that I was somewhat familiar with, but definitely not an expert on, for a group of forty brokers that I've never met at a place I'd never been to.  In addition to the presentation itself was a twelve page hand-out that included a lot of information and template language for inclusion in contracts NOT included in the presentation. I haven't done that kind of in depth coverage on a single subject in years. In fact, about eight years or so. To say I was nervous would be an understatement.  I was living, eating, breathing this topic for the last ten days.

My presentation was on Friday. It was well received. So well, in fact, that I've been asked to consider presenting the same talk again in other venues. Now that I've done it once, doing it again wouldn't be so bad. But I need a break first! I'm glad to have survived it and equally glad to put it behind me and come up for air - and find my life again.

Announcing Life Tunes - a new meme.
I had a lot of positive response to the idea of a meme around songs that had/have meaning in your life when I posted about it here.  So I've decided to run with the idea. Starting on June 15th and then monthly for just six months... because I know things get crazy around the holidays.  Each month I'll post a suggested topic around the concept of "Life Tunes" and then I'll post my layout and open up a linky on the 15th of the month.  What you offer up can be a blog post, a layout, a link to a song on YouTube ... whatever you are motivated to do that brings to light a song that has had special meaning in your life. My topic is just a suggestion. You can run with the topic, or you can go with whatever is moving you at the moment.  I do hope you'll play along!  My suggestion for June is "young love" or "summer love" - do you have a specific song that reminds you of an old flame? Or the song you and your current flame first danced to, or played at your wedding? And if an "our song" isn't your thing, do you have a favorite summer song?  Again, I'll post my layout and the linky on the 15th - see you then!

Final LOAD share

For my final LOAD layout, I created this pocket page for my Mother's Day card to go with the previously created Mother's Day layout. I was really grasping by Days 30 and 31 - mojo was seriously running out. But I did it - 32 layouts in 31 days!

Krystal Hartley new kit - Felicity:
And I'll leave you with this creative team layout for Krystal Hartley's new kit Felicity - a yellow and grey themed kit with lots of beautiful papers. Not a color scheme I would ever choose or use on my own, so I grabbed a template to work with it. And I think it came out okay.

So happy to be back!  Missed you all! :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Year of Kindness - Challenge Week 22

I hope you found a few extra opportunities last week to say "thank you". I had so much fun creating a blog post for the sole purpose of saying thank you to everyone who made me feel so special on my birthday!

I'm approaching this Kindness Project a little differently for the month of June - while it is getting warmer here in the Northern Hemisphere, but before it gets too hot to even be outside - and before it gets too cold in the Southern Hemisphere - I want to devote the entire month to acts of kindness toward Mother Earth. Call me a tree hugger if you want, I'm okay with it!

This week's challenge - RECYCLE!

In our home, all of our trash is separated. Easily ground food stuffs go in the garbage disposal. If I were more committed, we would have a compost pile somewhere for all those banana peels and apple cores! Paper (including newspapers, magazines, receipts, junk mail, mail, school papers, etc.) and plastics (water bottles, processed food containers, packaging, detergent bottles, etc.) and metals (tin foil, cans, etc.) are each separated out and taken weekly to our recycling center. We watch for the annual electronics and hazardous recycling events and that is when we dispose of old computers, televisions, batteries, etc.  We look for every opportunity to limit the amount of trash we put out for collection each week and to responsibly dispose of items at the end of their life cycle. I'd like to think that by doing this, and by purchasing products made from recycled goods, we are doing our little bit to help to save our forests, our air quality, and our land from becoming one massive toxic land fill.

I know that not all communities make recycling as easy as it is here, but let's talk about it. What is the standard for recycling in your community? Do you regularly recycle items? If so, what? Do you have other ideas about what can be recycled? (Note, I am not talking about Up-cycling which is a subject for another week!).