Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

Wishing you LOTS of beautiful and awesome eco-Christmassy spirit!! :)

These are some of the awesome cards the girl scouts had made for the charity organisation - remember, if you think 'eco', smaller is better! Hopefully they'll get some eco tips for next year and go easy on the glitter!
I loved some of the designs, including the ones with paper napkins to the cards!

The card above is what I made for a friend, very quickly! I already had the 'Christmas trees' (from years before when I was teaching kiddies) so that bit got 'recycled' - and no glue! I just cut into paper (I admit I could've done it a bit more prettyfully) and inserted the pine trees...

I usually don't make and send cards anymore, but this one is pretty recyclable!! :) So maybe next year I'll make some more recyclable ones (most sold here are pretty glossy and don't look very easily recyclable!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

YAY! The Priest Likes my Eco Ideas! :)

Or better said, he likes your ideas! :)

He really liked the idea of 'Eco Fair' inspired by the fabulous Danda!

I talked how scouts could maybe hand out cloth bags in front of supermarkets, and take part in other actions, together with the charity group, maybe at a '2nd hand fair'...
He wasn't so sure how people would react to 2nd hand clothing or products (this is a very small town, almost a village!) but he said, 'We could have other stalls too' and I said, 'Of course!'
He had the idea to hand out or sell discounted lightbulbs that save energy etc! So he got quite excited about the idea!

He was real busy (and I was a little late) so we only had 15 minutes or so. But he liked the ideas presented!! :)

He gave me the contact for Earth Day scouts' coordinator (a girl I know!:)
And told me how ideas are discussed monthly by the scout leaders and accepted if they are found appropriate for the kiddies. The scouts are primarily to learn about Nature and establish a deep connection with it, inspiring others is secondary!
I'm to send him other ideas typed up, links to films the scouts could perhaps watch..

If you have any other ideas or suggestions, or links for further tips or good eco films for kiddies, please tell!! :)

Also, a friend of mine who is starting a design small business asked me for 'consulting'! /faints/ And for writing a few cheerful eco articles for their website!
She and her man are awesome and very eco too and I hope I'll be able to help them some! :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fitness Experts Advise to Eat Snickers?? Cookie Dilemma!

European Minimize Waste Week is almost over, and I've been feeling very guilty for not doing more. Well, hopefully next year. Ideally, I'd send articles or at least a press release to Slovenian media, but I just didn't know what to write. The waste issue in Slovenia just seems soo CHAOTIC!

Do I tell people the bad truth about recycling, or do I try to encourage them to recycle anyway? (It's probably better to recycle WELL - wash/clean the recyclables etc - than not at all, as DIRTY and moldy recyclables definitely don't get recycled. I do understand people who say, 'But it's not recycled then' because in some cases it really isn't - if the stuff is too dirty or they don't have a buyer. So, what to say?)
I wanted to get a 'list' of what is really recycled and what isn't, it seems not so easy to get by, and these things seem to change. As in any market it's about 'demand'. So, what to do? Any ideas?
I wanted to get together with another 'expert' on this, and it just hasn't been possible yet. Big dilemmas, yeah!

Also, my backache flared up again.
(Word of advice: if you see your backache appears after a changed monitor set-up, change it back as soon as possible and don't hope your body gets used to it!! And stay away from cookies!:)
My back got all better after 2 days away from the computer and some lovely company, and then it went worse again!

At least I'm being pretty much zero waste about the backache. I don't believe in pills or medicines (except when REALLY needed). Instead, I'm staying away from all cookies and sweets (again) and also - just in case, from gluten/flour and milk.
Also took a lovely walk today (these are imperative for my back's wellbeing too!) and it's already WAY better!

I'm afraid I haven't been able to stay away from cookies in the house, or offered at charity 'do's' - so no idea how to solve the Sis dilemma.
She started going to fitness and bought a bunch of 'trash'! (Her words!) Basically chocolate bars etc. She says the fitness instructor told her to eat them!! (Then explained he said it's better if she doesn't eat too big breakfast and eats an energy bar after fitness training, like Snickers because it has peanuts and thus more protein.)

I couldn't believe it!!

These bars don't even have a 'green dot'!! (They're 'supermarket brand' with metallicized plastic foil and would probably just go to incinerator anyway!! Even if they DID have a green dot or whatever.)

Sis said she bought them cause 'there was nothing at home' - and 'anything would be okay', muffins or cookies or whatever..

I'm afraid to bake for fear my backache would flare up again..
Do you have a secret recipe how to stay away from cookies/yummy sweets that are in the house/freezer?
Sis wants to lose weight, so the whole thing seems highly unethical - but it's better to have DIY zero waste cookies than store-bought trash?!!

Maybe just bake 1x/month and freeze? (And she takes them out as she needs them?)
She'd have cookies every week if she could, possibly every day, but I couldn't stay away from them if they'd be outside in the kitchen, and possibly my backache would flare again?

Baking just a few doesn't seem very energy-friendly, so probably best to freeze baked ones. Are they even any good, out of the freezer directly?
(I've frozen muffins before, they were inedible even before the freezing, but Dad still ate them! Sometimes my relatives amaze me!)
And yes, I can bake edible cookies, but usually there are none left to freeze! :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

European Minimize Waste Week! How to Green a Charity and a Church?

It's the European MINIMIZE waste week, and since it's my not-so-eco sister's birthday this week and she said 'Noo, no zero waste week, it's my birthday!!' I decided to work on the community efforts. So far I've:

- been to a really cool charity concert and afterparty and nagged everyone about collecting plastic bottles separately afterwards, when cleaning up ('It's the European minimize waste week!' lol - people were nodding, one said her son gathered 30 kg of tins/Coca Cola cans and then got only 3 Euro for it! Which really is a crying shame! She said her husband makes them recycle, and I was very happy to hear it! Some others were not-so-green, and too much plastic and aluminum foil was used for leftover cookies and meats and such, stuff for stars and everyone to carry home etc - hope by next year we'll find better options? I mean, some boxes people brought cookies in remained empty - why not use those again?)

- got a bag and collected some plastic bottles separately (there were two big bags with mixed waste aready!) It was a 'they can't stop me' moment lol! Best way to do something like this is to just do it.
I was a bit shy at first, and shocked everything was in mixed bags, as they have 'being eco' in their 'legislation', and since there are mostly older women there, but well, the European minimize waste week gave me the extra energy needed! :)
Next year ideally I or Mum would be there before anyone started, and would put big labels on bags or boxes: PAPER, PLASTIC BOTTLES, organic stuff for compost, etc.
- fished some plastic bottles out of other bags
- saved some pretty little glass bottles of fate worse than the worst (there has been a really COOL suggestion of using them for art workshops for kiddies, to paint as vases, as they were prettily shaped; & ultimately they were taken by a lady to be filled with yummy tomato sauce!!)
- came to clean up next day and the bags were gone! (some are too hardworking! Yikes!)
- found the bags, set them aside to pick up with the car later - then they were gone again! At least our intentions were good, next year I must put them in the car before anyone can do anything evil with them!

- avoided the polka dancing
- talked to a major Slovenian pop star (YAY he's cute live!)
(didn't dare to talk about trash as there wasn't enough time, maybe next year?;)
I realized too late that the minimize trash week could be advertised on stage!

- inspected the priest's compost (apparently he has one!)
But why is trash NOT collected separately in the church coffee club, and old veggies are put in with the rest??
- talked to the priest about when to talk (next week!:)
Our priest is great and is head of the scouts who are very eco, but he likes Coca Cola and sweets like my sister!! :( So, I'm not sure how it will all go?
I hope at least the scouts would be interested in some eco actions? :)
Like giving cloth bags to people in front of supermarkets... Any good ideas for other eco actions?

- suggested cloth diapers to a local women's shelter boss lady (okay, Mum did! She brought it up herself, after I talked to her about it in the spring!)
The boss lady was somewhat shocked, and said other things were more important at the time, we're not taking it as a final no and are going to look for cloth diapers online! (Then if the moms want to buy own plastic diapers they can buy them with own money, or they can use the cloth for free? At least that was the idea.)

- networked with some really cool people (and got invited to sing at a local choir - am still contemplating it!:)
- sort of managed to change my biorhythm and get up EARLY!
Was online VERY little or not at all in the past two days, so saving electricity!:)

- checked out a local sweet shop and saw some ways they could minimize waste!
(shocked the sales assistant by not wanting ANY packaging - neither paper wrapping or paper bag - 'I'll eat it here', I said and grabbed it! Shocking, I know!;)

So, small, tiny things.. hope it'll snowball into something bigger!! :)
And I'd love to have a zero waste presentation for the charity in forseeable future! (They're keen to get supporters and want to get more young people 'in' soo...? ;)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eco Elvis Saves World From Plastic Bags! :)

Found at the awesome yert blog!

Blurb from their site: CHECK IT OUT!!
"Your Environmental Road Trip ( is a year-long eco-expedition through all 50 United States. With video camera in hand and tongue in cheek, Mark, Ben, and Julie explore the landscape of America's unique approach to environmental sustainability." LOVE 'EM!! Awesome trailer!!

And they went (almost) zero waste ON THE ROAD from one excellent & inspiring (or plain weird;) eco project to another! Making soo little trash!!

Check out old archives - WOW, this is waay better than TV!!
From museums made of trash - to interviewing Indians!! Awesome!

Can't wait to see the movie!!

They're visiting California now, so if you're from Cali, check 'em out!!

I can especially relate cause Julie gets backache from bad eco news too!! :(
Good luck Eco Elvis is here to save the day!! :)

I wonder who the baby will look like!! :)

PS Beware of elk burgers.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Falling Leaves for Yummy Compost! :)

Sorry I wasn't posting last week - had a bunch of posts planned, and still need to get some pics (of 'final products' he he..) and was kinda busy... (and my SD card is full /sigh/ Not sure if it's very eco to buy a new one? Or how to store and back up pics and little films safely in a zero waste way?)

So, let's see.

On Monday Dad and I took a neighbour's leaves off her grass - we need the leaves for our compost and she's had a hand injury! (Beware chemicals-sprayed thorns in your hand!! She's had 2 operations already and it's still not good! Her neighbours sprayed a fruit tree that's close to her roses, and apparently it then all got infected badly?)
It's good to have a big mouth (sometimes) though.

On Tuesday we got more leaves, as another neighbour I spoke to while handling the leaves (she gave us an odd look!) told a guy who didn't know what to do with them that our Dad might take them. So Sis and Dad went off and got a big load from a local sometimes-marketplace.
(Dad brought the guy a beer and was happy to chat about all evils of modern world afterwards too.)

On Wednesday I finally got to bring the 'zero waste reusable plastic containers' to a lady who makes the yummiest cheese ever!! (With walnuts or dragonwort or other yummy spices!) She was in town for a mini-event: November 11th is St Martin's Day and widely celebrated in Slovenia with new wine and ducks or geese!
Mom bought some cheese in a plastic foil ('Do you have the containers with? Do you want me to unwrap the foil?' the lady asked with concern - Mum shook her head and took two and phoned me and sent me to town with containers for future exchange. That involves a castle and a friendly pub owner. We'll see how it goes! :)
/We had to first empty some old cottage cheese plastic tubs from raspberries and such. This year almost 90% of our freezer stuff was in reusable boxes!:)/

On the way home, I caught the sub-mayor's wife handling the leaves!!

You can guess what followed. :)

Next day, Dad and I took the leaves. (There weren't many but I was furious at their pretty bags full of leaves and grass and other compost stuff whole year! I think a sub-mayor oughtta be an example, no?)
She was quite happy to give 'em to us, and told me she 'didn't know what to do with them'! /sigh/
My Dad had been embarassed to ask sub-mayor, his pal, and so I was at first a bit shy about it too.. Seeing how the other neighbour gave us leaves gladly, I decided to approach Mother Sub-Mayor directly - and, yup, sometimes women can be wiser!!:)

I was also in contact with some guys from another town, reading and listening to some stuff.. (That I wish I didn't know perhaps! /sigh/)

I still feel quite guilty for not doing more, you know!

At least we saved some bags of leaves from the incinerator!!
Any organic matter or plastics is BAD in an incinerator, as toxic dioxins and other poisons may be formed! And of course, when it's all mixed together with other trash, it can't be really usable, can it?

If composted, it'll make yummy compost for our garden!

Oh, and we made some YUMMY zero-sugar pear marmalade!! (That I'm now quite addicted to! /sigh/)
Previous years, often Uncle's pears just got thrown away to the compost (at least the compost got 'em!:) this year when apples are scarce, I thought it would be wise to get all the pears we can!
And yup, Uncle deserves at least a small jar! :)

I talked trash to Mother Sub-Mayor, one of the local girl scouts (they might be interested to hand out cloth bags!! Keep your fingers crossed!) and today, surprisingly even to my not-very-eco cousin! (He had good info on what it's like in Austria!)

November is a good month to sort and start again your compost, if you don't have one already? :)

What do you do with your organic waste, is it collected separately where you live? (Here it isn't, yet. Many people have compost, but not everyone. I was happy to see at least one new BIG compost heap (made of leaves mostly) - maybe result of my talk and articles? I'd love to think so!:)

And remember, November 21st-29th is European minimizing waste week!! What will you do to celebrate it? ;)

Thanks to the lovely Danda's blog for the info - apparently in Slovenia there is no official organizer? :( They just want to build incinerators??
I did see the 2nd biggest Slovenian city put up a notice for getting funding from EU for an incinerator there? :(

So, this week was full of ups and downs, of good news and bad.. I got invited to help film a documentary, it was sort of short notice though.. Got some cool new info though..
And today I just saw a local MP and almost invited myself to a meeting...? ;)
Probably better to get my act together and know what to say though!:) Any suggestions? ;)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Changing the Antifreeze in the Solar Water Heating Panels! (On the Roof!)

(Yes, I was up there! Right at the top, holding a funnel for Dad to pour the new liquid in after he poured the old one out at the low left corner of the solar panels!)

Today, Dad and I changed the antifreeze liquid in the solar water heating panels on the roof.
We've had them for almost two decades and they're fabulous! Hot water for free even in Winter! (On sunny days!)

Still, they're not completely eco friendly. That green antifreeze liquid looks suspicious! (And has to be bought and changed when necessary.)

Dad has scientific methods for when it's necessary. He pours out some existing liquid and if it freezes in the freezer - it's necessary!

I thought changing the antifreeze was a 'routine operation', and honestly, never thought much about it before this.
It was one of the things that 'Dad did'.

But this year more liquid needed changing, and Dad had some suspicious methods in mind!

So today I got woken up by an argument - Mum and Dad quarrelled if he can use the cannikins used to water the plants or not!

If Mum gets upset over Dad's iffy practices, of course there's probably a call for action!

So I nagged my way into helping him!

He was furious and didn't let me.

I'm not one for 'men's jobs or 'women's' jobs, basically, what needs to be done, needs to be done - frankly, I'm more of a tomboy and prefer doing 'Dad stuff' lol!
But it never even occurred to him to invite me with!

We both love it on the roof, the sun is wonderful and the view is fabulous!
(Dad said he was thinking about setting up a 'room'/opazovalnico there - to escape the crazy women if they get too cranky, lol!)

At first he was really furious at me for 'meddling' (I didn't let him use more than one cannikin for pouring the possibly toxic antifreeze! & he accused me of 'complicating'! We use them to water edible plants!) Well, later on it turned out his injured left hand thumb was not completely cured yet, and he was thankful for the help. Also, two people do stuff easier than one.

And two people can get much better ideas than one alone. I lamented my hands getting wet in the funnelling process (did you know antifreeze liquid can regurgitate like little babies, and spit the green nasty stuff back at ya?!) thought about using some cloth to 'mop up' - and Dad came up with the excellent idea to put some string or wool on the cannikin to prevent spillage. It worked!
(He said he observed something similar in pubs! To prevent wine from spilling from bottles! Excellent idea, it was much easier then, and my cold fingers really appreciated it!)

He was always left alone cause Mom doesn't get on the roof (later she said she used to get dizzy, I know Sis doesn't like the heights either and gets scared of them.)

I'm not so strong, but I can be very badass! (read: stubborn!)
And I love the heights, such a clear view to down below!

Some shingles needed replacing, so he replaced them. And I watched, like a good apprentice. In any case, it's good if a few people know how to do this so you don't need to hire outside help if needed.

So we fished some shingles out of the cobwebs (my left arm is stronger than I thought!), and Dad put some sillicone where there was risk of leakage (yes, it looks like a gun, lol!)

I even had the idea to put sillicone on 'future holes' (mini holes that could turn into major holes whereupon the shingle would need replacing. Not particularly eco either, but I didn't fancy the idea of water leaking over my head either.. & replacing all the shingles would surely be more costly and resource-intensive too!)
Dad liked it and so we checked the roof for possible holes together (his eyesight is not so good anymore, and he appreciated the help!)

He even bragged about me helping him to the neighbours! lol! :)

So, things to plan for next year: actually schedule this and not be surprised mid-sleep! (My Dad is an EARLY riser!)
Have things prepared ahead, including easy access to the shingles and tools needed.
Think out the cans and cannikins available and what could be used. (Previously, Dad had re-used old plastic bottles, but with more quantity this year, he was afraid he couldn't mix the old and new liquid so well in just plastic bottles.)
I still hope to refine the process somehow to make it more eco-friendly. Or get a more innocent-looking antifreeze? Does natural eco antifreeze exist?

There are systems without antifreeze. Our neighbour uses pure water (which is most eco!) and simply turns off the solar water heating in winter! (And uses more wood for heating, which is not so eco: since everybody uses wood for heating here again cause oil is costly, the air here is quite BAD, especially in the evening!)

Dad said there are systems that involve just water and work through the winter too - they involve a small electric pump (45W or so) Maybe now there are even better systems, if you're buying a new one, definitely worth checking out!
(It also depends on roof angles and panel angles etc. whether a pump is needed or not, we don't need it, but the current system relies on antifreeze for the winter.)

And yes, once we descended and I was left to mop the floow, I admit my legs were a bit wobbly, but probably due to kneeling and mopping the floor, methinks!;)
/I really hate such 'householderly' duties! Couldn't really trust him to mop up well though, either!)

Do you or your relatives/friends use a solar water heating system - and if so, what kind? (With or without antifreeze?) If not, what kind were you thinking of buying? ;)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009! Eco Romance in Writing!

I resisted for years, but somehow this year I signed up!

Okay, we all know sitting behind a computer isn't too eco, so why choose to do something like this?

Using so much paper isn't exactly eco either, at least I managed to buy ECF paper (elemental-chlorine free) locally and saved some one-side printed paper from burning today! Let's hope we'll find even more eco paper!

Why I first got involved in this zero waste thing is through my first novel (SF romance) I started writing a couple of years ago. I couldn't just 'do nothing', my characters kicked my ass into 'doing something'!!

I've always wanted to be a writer, since I was a little girl and read Heidi and Tom Sawyer! (And Astrid Lindgren!)
I fully believe books can change people's views and lives. (And sometimes create future.)
And they are cheapest and probably most eco means of travel to far-off locations (and universes).

Do you know how they say, 'A pen is stronger than a sword'?

In Slovenia, when Slovenian people had zero political power (like in 19th century or earlier) most education and 'enlightenment' and even political 'togetherness' came through literature, the written word.

When black people in USA were slaves, they still had the blues.

And no one could take that away from them.

When direct political speech was prohibited, fairytales and folksy songs were still okay, and passed the eyes of censors.

I thought about this muchly, and wondered, what to do. Then, I thought if one simple book could inspire me so much, maybe it could inspire others too? Empower and encourage people who'd otherwise just 'walk away' or think 'nothing can be done'?
Imagine if all people worldwide could be inspired to go more eco and do their best to go zero waste.. Or even just start making even the smallest changes!

My friends got inspired to really be more eco after I read them the Eco Cabaret and asked them to star in it! :)
(It's not finished yet and they're busy with other things now, we still hope to make it happen! And I told them they must set an example for others, so they're doing some awesome eco things already described!)

If everyone does just a little, together, we can do A LOT!!

If everyone on Earth would recycle just one can more - that would be A LOT of cans!!

I've learnt so much about zero waste inbetween that I can't possibly fill it all in the 1st book, especially as it's 3/4 written already! (and happening in Outer Space!)

So a few months ago I started writing a new eco romance, and then just run out of gas mid-book. I got this fun new idea for characters and conflict a few days ago and thought, 'Why not do NaNo'?

Check out my novel synopsis and please give me ideas, cause I almost ran out of what to write already! :)

Of course it's going to be an eco romance! :)

Do tell if you've signed up too, and friend me up! (I'm EcoLayla there!)
Oh, and do post your bodycount, oops wordcount!

Did I tell you I was slightly competitive? ;)

And YAY my first checque for the eco articles just arrived!! :)
It's not so big, but it's not so small either, so now I'm encouraged to write more articles! :)

Oh, and I had the brilliant idea to explore what it would be like to start an eco NGO or an eco biz (because a friend was telling me to do either or both!) - so what better way to do it than through a book? ;)

And there definitely aren't enough fun books with sassy sexy eco heroines!
There are films like Erin Brockovich or Princess Mononoke, but books? Do tell me if you know of any!

Do you read books? What kind of issues or questions would you like to see explored? What kind of heroines and heros would you like to see?
Any names for good guys or bad guys that you must see? ;)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Zero Waste Flower Arrangement - Tutorial! (with pics)

Due to popular demand, I'm posting pics and a quick tutorial! :)

Gather moss (easily spotted on a hike through the woods!) or get it from a farmer or a friend! Farmers on farmers' markets in cities might have ideas or might sell it to you if you ask them in advance, so they can gather it and bring it to you..
Also, gather flowers and greenery from your garden.. Find adequate space for doing this (garage or such may come handy).

Put moss in a 'dish' (bigger dish for bigger flower arrangements!) This is a small one for a smaller arrangement. Add water if needed (or add water later on!). Start with the greenery: put in the highest central piece/green branch 1st!

(It doesn't matter if some of the lower leaves are not so photogenic, with more green branches added in, you won't see those anyway!)

Get the green in first!

Then, start adding the flowers! And - voila!

Totally homemade, totally DIY, totally Zero Waste!
(It can all be easily composted later on. Since most cemeteries here lack true composting facilities, it will best be collected and brought home to our compost, or into Granny's 'green bins'!)
Still need to educate our relatives to compost and not trash this one!

Mum made two of those very quickly! One bigger (1st pic above) and one smaller (other pics later on)..
No chemicals added!!

She said moss is great to 'stick stuff in', so I'm expecting we'll be using this from now on, or grow/plant our own flowers! (Which might be not-so-easy, as Mum says the chrisantemum grown in pots need special 'care', sometimes special chemicals are used, etc! If you plant the ones from pots into your garden, big ones will grow! So, how to grow not-so-big ones?)

Cousin and Aunt planted pansies on the grave they tend, and into a bowl with some greens from last year. So they may actually even be greener than us! :) /gasp/
(no pic, it was dark and my SD card was full!!:)

Pansies don't survive after flowering, so it depends on what they do with them later on too! (Hopefully they'd get composted?) And of course it also depends how they are raised and where they are bought.. Local gardeners are better than big supermarkets, it depends what chemicals might be used in getting them to grow and bloom!
We did instruct our relatives on the glass candle, so hopefully they'll reuse that one! (Another set of relatives still needs to be instructed on that too!)

Remember, my Mum made this flower arrangement, so it reflects her taste - she made quite similar ones with plastic foam before! (Actually these two look waay better!!)
You can make what *you* personally prefer, what reflects your personality and style, and of course use what grows in *YOUR* garden! (Or your friends' or relatives'! - All this greenery comes from my Uncle's garden actually!:)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Zero Waste Flower Arrangement! :)

I really hate November 1st!

Not just because an INSANE amount of candles in plastic cases (sometimes - often - it's the toxic PVC plastic!) and also 'plastic' flowers or iffy flower arrangements are bought (but mostly because of that!)

We don't have Haloween as such in Slovenia (well it's been imported!;) but there is the tradition of honoring the dead by visiting graves and bringing candles and flowers, plus you get to meet some of your relatives you haven't met for a year!

My Mum is a DIY gal when it comes to flowers and flower arrangements!

We mostly had homegrown flowers - but her heart was in plastic 'foam' to stick them in! For years and years... /yuck!/
We had arguments over this previous years..

Some relatives made totally DIY arrangements, and they were kinda pretty too! (And *free*!;)

So this year I started some November 1st conversations earlier on in the week, and as a result we're splitting the 4-stop-one-day crazy schedule for easier-going 3 separate days with different cemeteries and relatives.. (We'll see how this goes, I'd prefer 2-days of frenzy only..)

I said the totally DIY arrangements were 'pretty' (and didn't dare to look at Mum's face!) and then, how we saw some awesome moss on our hike the other Sunday, and Dad volunteered info of another place where it grows and suddenly - it was doable!

I like the flowers that continue to grow too (in fact, I think they're more stylish than most flower arrangements I've seen! and more eco) but this year we haven't got any at home, we'd have to buy them (they're affordable though, 5 Euro at a supermarket! But I hate supermarkets, mostly) and well, it's always a BIG question how 'eco' the bought flowers are, what they have been sprayed with and fertilized with, etc!

So Mum and Dad went to gather moss (at first my coming along was a requirement, then they 'forgot' me?! /sigh/ That's how chaotic our family can be, lol! Well, I had other things to do anyway..)
...and Mum made the flower arrangements..


And guess what? The flowers are even prettier than last year!!
Mum said it was easy to make/'stick 'em in' too!! - And it can all be totally compostable, 100%!

I hoped to make an eco zero waste candle too (with natural beeswax) - maybe next year?!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Farm Living - Not for the Faint-Hearted!


I wanted to brag the other day how I efficiently had cows do the right thing and eat grass in peace without having to use weapons (sticks).

I stood in front of a cow when she wanted to move into forbidden areas (across the 'line') and she stared into me a bit. I talked to her calmly and told her how the grass was better in the other direction etc.
Then, I winked at her and motioned with my head 'Let's go back', and WOW! she moved away together with me.

I'm a complete NEWBIE at pasturing and having cows behave, I just remember enjoying their company as a kid on a few holidays at Grandma's!
(And I hate all forms of violence! On kids or cows or any animals..)

The good cows were quite great company.

One was quite 'wild' though, jumped across the wire (that didn't have any electricity in it) and then jumped back when I ran after her.
(And did you know cows could be LESBIAN without the 'boys' around?! And the bulls could go gay, totally! I was quite amazed at Uncle's stories!)

The cows behaved, pretty much... They were MUCH calmer than when I first ran up from the blackberry destruction!

Dad was running after them with a stick, and they were running away from him!

Dad later said he's scared of the cows a bit (?!) and wouldn't dare to step ahead of one, lol!
He used a stick and that only made them more 'crazy', so I tried to use none, and it worked, pretty much...

You know, young cows don't really know how to behave on a pasture in peace. How to walk in the grass, in steep terraine.. They get scared of airplanes or tractors or funny noises..
The trick is to talk to them calmly and stay calm..

So that's why Dad and I were helping Uncle to teach the cows how to be ladylike in a pasture. The first day was a wild success!!

The second day, anything but.

On day One, we laughed a lot!

The really funny thing was, I tried to 'feel' with a grass blade if there was any electricity in the wire yet, and I didn't feel any. I looked around, and all three cows were curiously trying to 'feel' the wire too!

And got 'hit' by electricity!

They jumped and ran away!
I think they held it against me a bit, but stayed away from the wire ever since!

The fourth young Miss only ventured outside later, and the fifth one didn't dare to go outside at all!

So next time Dad tried to 'encourage her' a bit too strongly!

Uncle said he had a cow that only went to the next cow's 'suite' the first day, to the other end of the stable the next day, and only ventured outside on day Three.
I wish we let this cow do the same.

On Day Two, we encouraged her outside, Uncle and I patted her a bit and tried to talk her into moving outside and then over an obstacle.

Dad said, 'I'll scare her' and he did.
She went out to the green, and even ate some grass.

Then she ventured too far. And the electric wire hit her.

She went into a wrong direction.

I thought to encourage her elsewhere, like the other cows, but it didn't work - it misfired. (Maybe slapping my jeans at the same time was a big mistake?!)

She went 'wild' and got scared, managed to get herself into a tiniest of openings, and ran into the woods and broke a leg.
If you know anything about big animals, this is REALLY bad news.

I swore never to try to get young cows who don't know how to graze into rain again!

It was like cowboys, like Animal Rescue - from a canyon! Like in a film, but it was for real! And raining all over. I wondered how she'd get out of that ditch alive?! But she did.

Alive wasn't enough though.

I wanted to heal her and remembered movies where a loving owner could heal the horse's leg, but I was told this only happenes very rarely.

Today we got the meat home, and luckily Uncle could find enough customers so he won't have to suffer too much of a loss - the vet and the service of slaughtering a cow (even when it's slaughtered at home!) are QUITE costly!

We didn't get everything back (like the inner parts of the cow, and the skin, etc) I wonder what is done with those? Are they just thrown away?
At least this is better than throwing the whole cow away - which is exactly what is done with somewhat ill or just older animals that wouldn't get a good enough price to even cover the costs! - I suppose they're all burnt in an incinerator, after the skin is taken away?! It's CHEAPER to burn then make tests and use the meat for food!

This cow was perfectly healthy, and the meat was of excellent quality, but Uncle would only get 10% of the cost of slaughtering officially if he sold it to the usual buyers. Luckily, the rest of the family and some neighbours and acquaintances decided to buy meat. Otherwise, he'd be forced to give the cow a 'lullaby' and have her taken away...

In an economic crisis like this, I wonder how sane it is to just throw food away?

This was a sad occasion for all.. (I couldn't sleep after it happened, neither could Dad or Uncle! We were all sad and sorry for what happened.. And feeling terribly guilty!)
At least it turned into an occasion of family support and celebration.. (Customers need to be celebrated, no? Aunt brought goodies!)
I didn't want to help out today, but someone had too.. Luckily, cousin, Dad and Mum did most of the work.. (I still can't handle meat!) This ex-vegetarian did her part though! Mostly I cooked tea and charmed customers.. ;)

All in all, a real farm girl must learn to handle all situations... /sigh/
Uncle hinted he'd like the young cows to go grazing again, but I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to help out again...? (Or if it's a wise idea??)
Not sure who else would help though?

Or where a school for shepardesses is??!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Been Busy Busy Busy :)

I'm really sleepy, but YESTERDAY I BAKED!! OMG!! :)

Bread and bagels, for the 1st time ever!!! :)

It was FAB!! :)

/Still need to practise on the results a bit, but I think the pics are publishable!:)/

Also, Dad and I re-shoveled our awesome compost ('man's work!';) and today I used eco methods on Uncle's shrubbery (instead of him pouring toxics on it!)
I feel muscles in places I did not know existed!

Oh, and I taught cows how to eat grass. Seriously.
I have three new best friends now!

Hope you had an EXCELLENT day too!! :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Feeling Dangerous!! :)

Well, today was another AWESOME day!




This bookish girl is feeling quite BADASS!! :)

Dad and I demolished the tomato summerhouse (wood survives winter better when under roof!) I forgot to photograph it 1st though!

We also 'unplugged' the beanpoles, and were left with the above!

We had a fab trip on Saturday (eco-coloured!), a marvelous hike yesterday, and today Dad and I took care of the garden, before the rain starts. (Mum's caught a cold, Sis was wondering if she caught one too, and Dad's hand is still injured a bit and not totally 100%, so I got to do some of the FUN stuff I've ALWAYS wanted to do!

You know, the really COOL stuff that usually Dad's done!)

So, last week I personally grated 35 kg (= about 70 pounds I think!) of fresh cabbage! :)
/Tutorial upcoming! Along with other food preservation tutorials!
I'm a bit WAAY behind with some of them, not sure whether to put them on anyway?)

It's freezing cold here, last garden work is putting away everything, feeding the compost.. (And smaller bits of bean plant are better for the compost, as they make yummy compost more quickly!)

I LOVE chopping stuff!!
(Though Dad kept yelling: 'Away from your fingers!')

You know, it's all pretty ZEN! (I never thought I'd say something like this about gardening or any of the 'home chores'!)
I felt like a kungfu master and if you got it just right: it was EFFORTLESS! :)
And very efficient.

PS All that said, I didn't get it right 3/4 of the time and am still pretty sore, lol!!
Told Dad he must make me practice for strength all winter and all year so I'll be able to chop beanpole vine better next year!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Superior Scribbler Award!! :)

YAY! Mrs Green of the awesome and also awesome Little Green Blog has honoured me with a Superior Scribbler Award! (Check out some of the other winners, they are pretty fab too!)

I totally ADORE MyZerowaste blog's quirky and fun adventures of one family's road to zero waste and The Little Green Blog is full of wonderful surprises too! Check out Change the World Wednesday!
There’s tips on how to go healthier and more eco, and lovely tidbits from daily life!

Superior Scribbler Award Guidelines

1. Each Superior Scribbler, must in turn, pass the Award on to 5 most-deserving bloggy friends.
2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and name of the blog from whom he/she has received the Award.
3. Each Superior Scribbler must display the Award on his/her blog and link to this post which explains the Award.
4. Each blogger who wins the Award must visit this post and add his or her name to the Mr. Linky List at the Scholastic-Scribe’s blog. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who wins this prestigious Award!
5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

And who gets the award? Honestly, I had sleepless nights over this!
So many awesome blogs out there!
Well, this time... drumroll... the awards go to:

Blah to TaDa! – Seriously awesome ideas for making boring everyday objects fab! (I find myself wondering, “Now how can I make this Blah to TaDa?”) Creative recycling at its best! - I adore Claire's ice-cream ideas! And the honey bears!

Work With What You've Got - Honestly, this blog keeps inspiring me!* Erin teaches us how to look fabulous on a budget and liberate your Inner Diva with - well, what you got! She also makes awesome jewelry, often with re-used materials!
*And it's not just in regard to clothes! I found myself re-filing all my files according to GTD method, telling myself to, well, 'Work with what you've got!'

Jen@Clean Bin – she and her man Grant and their roommate Rhiannon managed to do no shopping for a year (can you imagine?) except for food and such (and occasional white retro 2nd hand rockstar wedding suit – don’t ask!) and they made sooo little waste - can't wait to see the movie they're making about it! Awesome trailer!
The films and photos on their website made me and Mum realize how this eco thing/zero waste week could be possible!

Danda@Dandaworld blog, Italy – she’s started eco blogging about the time I have, and still has a better recycling station than I do – and a bilingual blog! Full of wonderful surprises – eco and otherwise! (And you can learn Italian at the same time!)

Mrs Almost Average@The Rubbish Diet - I was greatly inspired by both her and Mrs Green of MyZerowaste to start this trash-reduction in the family kitchen too and try to make my family green-er! (and go public with it!;) If you want tips on how to make less waste, and a healthy dose of chuckle, check out her blog and her Archives!

Sooz @The Last Biscuit Fairy-Pirate-Hippy-Dreamer-Eco-Girl... – how can you not LOVE that name? And because she’s planted garlic in a pot! (I wonder what will happen?) Honestly, how can you not love the name of her blog? :)
She's also implementing some awesome eco lifestyle changes - and staying stylish with it! Will probably also win the Most Promising Trash Reductionista award!! :) Watch out ladies!

Oops, that's six! (I hope the award police won't catch me! Couldn't decide!!)

There are so many other awesome blogs out there, so it’s really difficult to name just a few – there will be other awards for you guyz!! :)

Agatha Christie Would Cry! :)

Would you throw this beauty away?

Well, some people wanted to! Luckily, my relatives came to rescue!

It is now one of the awesome decorations of their attick, together with a set of beautful tiny glasses in style of Russian tzars!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Yummy Herbs: A Bath Sachet!

I just got sent this 'herb crafts tip' in e-mail by Herbanite Bob, from the book "The Pleasure of Herbs" by Phyllis Shaudys directly: A Bath Sachet

1 oz. Lavender or Rosebuds & Petals (or both)
1 oz. Peppermint or Rosemary leaves
2 cups Grated Castile Soap

Combine and use 2T (tablespoon)per bath. Fill muslin drawstring
bag or cheesecloth, tie and float in water as tub fills.

Hint 1: Add 2 T oatmeal or cornmeal per bag if you have oily skin.

Hint 2: You can also buy the disposable tea bags and put mixture
in teabag, heat seal and float in tub."

Sounds interesting! :) Of course no disposable tea bags in this household!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mint Tea Anyone? ;)

We have herbs in the garden, but there was very little mint this year, plenty of melissa though.
So I was very happy, when my friend Z. (the one with the gorgeous DIY BF!) offered me her mint. 'Oh, take as much as you need!' she said.

I asked her to show it to me, as I'm rather a newbie to herbs too!
Then I picked a bunch. It looked a little 'suspicious', but I thought, 'Well, there are many sub-sorts!'
Then her brother and her Mum both asked me what I was doing there, and her Mum said, 'But she doesn't have mint in her garden! She has melissa!'
'Well, she said it's mint!'
Her Mum came up to check: 'What have the two of you picked?'
'It's melissa,' she said (and my heart fell. We had lots of melissa in the garden ourselves!)
'But here, have some mint.' (lol, I could kiss her!:)
I love mint tea, and this year we only have a tiny bit - there's some stuff from years before, but it's not so strong or healthy!

mint! Source: the lovely Wikipedia!

melissa! source: Wikipedia

They are both healthy and calming and lovely - in moderation, of course!
A small bag with dry melissa leaves on your pillow is said to make you happy, so I picked some more in our garden today, for those long grey winter days! :)

Been busy re-filing my files (according to the GTD method!), among other things - our house also looks like a walnut production plant! - and found my herb files have been scattered in three places! (So hopefully next year I'll do better!)
We do have books, but I didn't bother to check!

Moral of the story: ALWAYS check the herb pics before picking them - even if you think your good friend is an EXPERT and her mom goes to Herb Club! (I wish the Herb Club weren't for older people who are already retired only!!)

The funny thing is my Mum used to think mint was melissa too, so quite possibly she had taught me wrong when I was a kiddie, so no wonder I was all mixed up, lol!

Oh, and I recycled an Amazon box-y thing into melissa dryer! He he... Our drafty attick seems an appropriate place to dry herbs, so I nickname myself Queen of Herbs even if I don't have much clue about them (yet!)

Do you pick or grow herbs? Which ones? Do you like herbal tea?
(I adore it!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yummy Zero Waste Food!! :)

Slightly exhausted, in the past few days I've had a crash course in:

- pumpkinseed preservation (yummy!)
- mushroom preservation (drying, freezing, in vinegar)
- peach juice production :)

Of course I'm a total newbie in all of the above. lol!

feeling: very accomplished, he he! :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Eco Refill-able Printer Cartridges?

After an excellent post on Myzerowaste on how to extend the life of printer cartridges, I went to investigate the options for our trusty old inkjet printer!

The original cartridges Mum has been buying are quite costly, and a neighbour has suggested refills!
We were of course very sceptical at first, but he told us of a trusted website he uses to get the refill kits from (inks+syringe+gloves), and how the quality is just as good and there were no problems with his printer! (We were scared any refills would damage our printer or produce lower quality, as the manufacturers or shops like to scare us with!) - Surely they can't be 'eco' if they can kill your printer? But do they?

Unfortunatelly the Slovenian site only offered new cartridges for our HP Deskjet, so I googled 'the type of the printer + refill' and voila! Apparently refill kits are available from international websites!

Source: (Yes, that does look a bit strange? I wonder what you get exactly!:)
The idea is exciting and I'd love to order! Or possibly find a more local source?

But are those websites (and inks) reliable? has a good review on inkjet refilled cartridges with great pointers and ideas to contemplate.

Manufactured/refilled cartridges can be either good or possibly too worn out from being refilled too many times, which can cause different problems according to type of printer and the heads used on the cartridge(?)
So a decision whether to use or not use manufactured non-originals might have to do with the type of printer too!

There were some small problems with some cartridges (one produced high quality prints afterwards though!) Then they had them evaluated by people who didn't know what was printed with which.

Now get this: "There are several conclusions that can be drawn from these figures, but the key one is: Our panel preferred prints produced with ink from a third-party provider over those produced with manufacturer’s own products." LOL!!

Some useful comments too: Why aren't cartridges more standard? Why isn't there a law to make them more standard?
The question for the average consumer is also how long the refilled cartridges last, to pinpoint the price.
Also, apparently damages are possible and depend on quality of products (meaning depends on manufacturer and their internal conrols!) - "the "cleanliness" of the ink, the filtration, and dye or pigment consistency and ink purity are all imperative, as well as other cartridge related factors, a longevity test showing the overall costs would" be important and helpful to decide.

So it seems like a complex issue, and most definitely a project!
It's not 'either' 'or', one needs to take into account own printer and suppliers..

And we're not even near the question of why our parrot coughed whenever there was printing being done? (Even with the original cartridges!)
Honestly, I smell it too, and might have gotten a sort of 'allergy' to ink from printers when working in an office with a laser printer, of all things! (Or maybe I was just allergic to the job?;)

What do you use? Original or refilled cartridges, or do you do your own refills? (I'm leaning toward the last option!)

Also, how do you dispose of the used cartridges? Do you give them back to the store/recycling programme immediately once they are used up, or do they gather dust in the drawer? (I know, I know.. guilty!! As we often didn't quite know what to do with them!)
Would it be best to give/send them back as soon as possible, so the ink is not too dried, and so they can be cleaned and refilled more easily? It would be good to know!

So, stay tuned! There will be more research into inks and refill kits and such! :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Green Templates for Eco Time Management?! :)

In my previous post, I didn't mention David Seah - mostly, cause he deserves a post on his own! He makes fabulous forms that help you keep track of time, or start projects! (And keep track of them!)

And what's more, he loves the idea of going green in his next print runs! :)

I REALLY love his forms and design ideas.

I didn't want to start a project the other day, and just the thought of being able to tick a box on one of his forms sent me running to start it – and then it was pure flow for the rest of the evening!

I was really inspired by his weekly template too, so I made this form:
(I hope it's okay to post) It’s very makeshift and scanned badly, but it sort of works, lol!

I don’t have the tools to design well, so I just used scissors (and bits of David’s form – though his stuff is muuch more beautiful!) - and Microsoft Word!
(Hope he forgives me!:)

Ideally, it would be printed on chlorine-free or fully recycled paper, still haven't managed to source TOTALLY chlorine-free paper locally yet, though. I've got recycled paper but it smells funny and am not sure how exactly it was made either (no info on the pack). I suppose I'll have to ring them up.
There's non-eco paper in the house so I suppose the eco thing is to use it up, and then buy more eco options? (Ideally before we run out!)

I put ‘necessary’ stuff assigned to dates or hours into the first row of boxes, weekly stuff not assigned to dates on the far right or so, tick daily walks or such in the second row, and keep track of details/hours spent on a project below. (It could get a bit messy if I put too much there, so I think I’ll start tracking lunch etc. separately again)

Ideally, I’d assign ‘points’ to projects and stuff done according to the CEO idea, not quite there yet though (except for the first few days) – admittedly, I haven’t done much but read GTD and tried to get organized these past few days and it doesn’t count as ‘points’, does it? :)

I had quite great success with it for a while and tracked my daily progress (or lack of it) for two weeks or so, now I use it more loosely and don’t keep track of everything, mostly the upper rows above.

I had kept a similar form years ago and actually managed to practise the guitar and write the 2nd half of the first draft of my novel with it!:)
It was inspired by a 'schedule' I kept when studying and later on teaching..
(I then stopped using the original form cause it had too many categories, and it made me feel slightly frazzled and like I wasn't doing enough.. So I now chose only a few categories. Also, some of my priorities changed.. It's a good thing to have them editable.)

Why is it eco? Well, previously I was keeping track in an old planner that had daily forms to keep track of things, and it took a page a day! (With lots of free space remaining.) It’s now one page instead of seven!

This seemed an ideal solution... Until something was causing me a bit of anxiety/annoyance/avoidance (the research etc) and I didn't want to even look at it on the same page as my other weekly stuff! Hm!
I am now wondering how to go around that.. he he.. :)
I still like the idea of a weekly (and yearly) overview!

Not sure if I need a monthly overview too, like what Antony Johnston has, or..?

Am still finishing GTD (and feel a bit confused with all the options, lol!) My health is still not quite allright either.
Not sure if it was the old walnuts or a bit of a flu – or the thought of actually having to do all those projects that are in my head (or my cupboard!) that's made me and my stomach queasy!

The pig flu is in Slovenia already, and not so far away from us either, but who cares? It's mostly a scare to get people to buy meds, most seem to make it just fine without. I'm pretty sure it's not it anyway. Dad's recovered in 2 days, so I hope I shall soon too.

The comforting thing is that I'm actually feeling quite happy to have the flu or whatever it is to take off the pressure a bit, to give me time to reconsider, and get a grip on things (again).

David Allen of GTD says it’s okay to keep a list (or box, or shelf – maybe even a cupboard?) of maybe/someday-projects and re-negotiate stuff as other things happen inbetween! Which is very reassuring!

This form or my other ways of time management may evolve in time... Do post any thoughts, ideas or suggestions! :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Effective Eco Time Management?

If you have A LOT of projects, ideas and wishes and things to do... How to track it all and know what to do when? (And not just resort to reading the latest thrilling romance? hm!)

People at writing forums say, 'Just write', but what if you are haunted of things not done yet and vague visions of ideas to be done even before you start?

Enter GTD. Getting Things Done is a famous book on organizing and time management, and there are A LOT of spin-offs online, some for writers or designers or other freelancers specifically. (I've even DONE some of this stuff before, and it was effective, and then just stopped and wondered where my inspiration/motivation has gone!)

GTD is or can be paper-intensive. It is also very vague and unstructured, so how to do it in a more Nature-friendly way?

I am still wrestling with some of the GTD concepts and ideas, and will probably come up with a system of my own.. (I've set up the 'inbox' already and it seems strangely inspiring!) It can be mind-boggling indeed (Read this article! It's hilarious!!:).

A 'tickler' file (no idea if I need one but some people have found it helpful) can be big or small. Tracking or planning your day can be done on a daily or weekly basis (more or less paper intensive).

Judy of the Woods has more fab ideas on flickr and her website!
She makes her own project booklets/binders (out of plastic milk containers and other scrap materials!)

I've done some tweaking of my binders and such (who needs 4 holes if 2 is more handy? And am running out of envelopes used as project folders) but she takes it to the next level!
I'm wondering how doable some of that stuff is, and what I could do too... :)

What DIY projects have you done to keep ORGANIZED and have effective time management?
How do you keep organized and how do you plan and keep track of things?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Been Farm

Geesh, I'm simply exhausted.

We've been picking the beans at Uncle's farm. Threatened by bad weather, we wanted to pick as much as possible. Some rain appeared inbetween, but we were fearless. Then it got sunny again, and we bravely did all we planned. Including making the beets less crowded. (Pretty sure this is not the right expression but can't find a dictionary:)

My nails and fingers hurt. Not sure if I'll be able to play any guitar today! (& I soo promised myself to start practising with JustinGuitar again! (If Katie Melua and Armenians can play fab in 6 months, maybe so can I?;)

Uncle helped us a bit, then he went to milk the cows...

It's such a different life...
I wanted to write articles today, but beans don't wait!

If 10 years ago someone would be telling me I would willingly pick beans, I would smack 'em!

But with Argentinian beans and Chinese garlic in our supermarkets, with GMO (genetically modified) food threatening on every corner, I am damn proud to be growing some authentic Slovenian food! (Or at least helping out, I'm still such a newbie!)

You know what, picking beans is boring. Especially when Mom and Dad quarrel, and Dad intentionally misunderstands us and mopes, or when the neighbours start loud equipment (I sighed and inserted earplugs).
If we calculated the hours (and fuel and food needed:) it would probably not cost as much as cheap food in supermarkets.

But it's FREE food!! Zero waste food! (If we manage to get it into freezer zero waste style!) From our seeds, completely self-sustainable.
Even if Peak Oil happens, or 2012 or whatever (not that I have my hopes up), we still have the beans and will be able to eat and survive. :)

And one can practise old silly songs in one's head, or listen to Uncle and find out things about planes and technology I had no idea about. (My Uncle ROCKS!)
I was even told about the old ways of handling the beans - zero freezer (and zero bugs!) ways. I hope to remember them and maybe some time put them to practice.

"9 bean rows?" I want to ask Yeats. We did 3 rows of Uncle's and 4 of ours and were quite exhausted! (Some was left to ripen.) Surely, he didn't pick it all in a day?

Maybe next year I'll update myself to an ipod or such, and have music in my ears instead of random noise.
Feels like a short while since we were planting the beans with Aunt. And chatted, talked about many things... Old ways were tiresome, but more sociable in many ways..
The cats are all grown up now, and still very hungry indeed lol.. But farm cats must be hungry to catch mice, no?

I'm still trying to figure out how to do effective time management with farm life included:) And Dad asked me if I lost the buzz for bees yet?!
I'm happier at the farm than in many many other places...

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Eco Friends & Renovation!

My friend Z. has recently moved into a flat with her man, they renovated it together in her Grandpa's attic! And her man is even more ECO than she is!

It's a beautiful location in the hills, everything is green all around.. (No pics, alas!)

They have a few neighbours, so they get fresh milk and eggs & chicken etc directly from the neighbour farmers!

A family of city dwellers (their relatives) was there before and partly renovated the attic already, but they didn't last for long! (They bought apples in store instead of picking them up from under the apple trees!!)
My friend and her man completely changed the layout (it was just 2 rooms before, now they have a complete flat with bathroom, kitchen etc!)

Her man did most of the work himself (sounds like a keeper!!:)
From measuring & drawing the options on computer, to working long hours (after work mostly)... The laminate flooring & even the gypsum boards on the ceiling that the city dwellers left were carefully removed and put back after the new floor layout was made, and new walls built.

They got the shower off the Slovenian equivalent to eBay for 10 euro! Even the roof windows and the kitchen were 2nd hand and VERY cheap too!! Basically the whole flat cost around 5.000 euro, and if they didn't tell me stuff was bought 2nd hand, I would never know!!
It's young, stylish and beatiful - and VERY ECO!

Of course, there have been some compromises, & some stuff was bought new (they still don't buy cheese in a reusable plastic container either) - Still, I'm VERY impressed they even sorted the construction waste by hand into 'can be composted', 'can be used for roads' and 'to be disposed off properly via garbage center' (many people here still just shove stuff into a ditch!)

Even insulation was bought off the eBay-equivalent, leftovers from other people's projects - so it's not uniform, but warm in winter & cool in the summer nevertheless!

Overall, they are a GREAT inspiration! :)
I started eying OUR attic in a new way! LOTS could be done here too!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fixin' the old beehive! :)

Dad & I FINALLY managed to coordinate our schedules & get round to fixin' the old beehive!

So this is how it looked in May:

It may look romantic, but the shingles are bad in places:

This part got fixed today!
I was suspicious about Dad's methods at first ('just find a few planks without measuring first' - I had to measure!) Ultimately, his eye was successful!
/no new pics yet though!/
It's not 'pretty' pretty yet, it's just fixed so the rain doesn't destroy it further!

The nettles got annihilated & new planks replaced the convenient gap! (That could be used as door and looked great on pictures!)

If I really get into keeping bees and such, then Dad said he'd fix it more proper! (Or maybe make a new one - but I'd prefer to keep old Grandpa's beehive!)

There is one BIG danger though! lol - Dad is afraid!

A whole hive full of wasps!

/source: the lovely Wikipedia, all other photos by me!/

Will we manage to fix the beehive? (& survive?) What to do with the wasps?
I don't want to toxify them!

It's almost like having bees, they hum in and out so nicely.. Just minus the lovely smell of honey!

In fact, if I don't get the bees this year, I don't see any harm in letting them be in the 2nd hive from the right all summer.. How would we fix the roof in the front then tough? Dad is scared!

The smart thing would be to annihilate them (& their home) in May, but I was so fascinated with it!

(Click on the photo to see the fabulous texture better! It's like a work of art! Can you blame me for not wanting to destroy it? - The top shelf is their home of many years! The bottom shelf has drinking dishes for bees.)

/I found myself humming to them a song that goes, 'Bees are our friends!' & they stayed good all the while we were repairing the roof in the back!
It took a bit to convince Dad it was safe to fix the roof in the back, lol! :)/

Now you must know my Dad is a BIG hunk of a man over 6ft (185cm) tall!
It is soo funny to see him scared of such tiny animals!
(He's scared of the bees too & thinks I'm terribly brave for wanting to have 'em!)

I wish I had a better camera - it seems my cousin's phone takes better pictures - especially macros of flowers and such - than this! /sigh/
He said he'd replace it in 2 years & I asked him to take great care of it & give it to me when he replaces it! lol! :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

To the Recycling Bin On Rollerblades!

.. & it's great exercise too!! :)

I took the tins to the recycling bins (on rollerblades, lol!) & had a nice chat with one of the Mums from our street. She says her hubby likes to drink beer in cans, & then she fishes them out of the trash! The Grandma of the family LOVES to recycle the cans too, as she's heard or read somewhere AIRPLANES get made of them! :)

Not sure if it's true, but it's a lovely inspiration!

They don't wash & recycle the yogurt pots & such, I said we do wash them.. Maybe they'll get inspired too? hm, we'll see..
I did tell her that waste companies say yogurt pots & tetrapaks are recyclable & the other company says they don't take 'em.. not sure if this would inspire her, though.. Still not sure about all this & what would be best (except avoid all yogurt pots & tetrapaks too, as much as possible! I told her we get milk from a farmer & make our own sour milk/yogurt..)

There was too much plastic bottles to carry by rollerblades, we'll probably need the car (the bags are too big & too full!!) We almost don't buy new plastic bottles anymore, these are old ones or our relatives'!

Also carried two (quite heavy) boxes of paper to the neighbours! Who needs weight-lifting? ;)
They have a kid in primary school & next year the kids would collect paper at school, so they agreed to store the paper in their barn attic. (The paper recycling bin was quite full so this was an overall better solution!)
We were decluttering this week, & it was handy to get rid of the paper!

Dad & I had a huge row re: recyclables earlier this week - I demanded a CLEAN bag & CLEAN hands when sorting them, can you imagine?
I told him Mom & I would take over all dealing with recyclables (to prevent further misunderstandings or bad solutions) & now they need to be sorted more frequently, to avoid Dad's on-the-spot decisions of dubious nature & impatience, or misunderstandings.
If you take them to the bins more frequently, it's easier to carry them without a car!
I also put the 'questionable' recyclables in separate bags, so we can at least recycle more often what we know gets recycled for sure.

PS Still experimenting with blog layout, if I messed some things up I deeply apologize! (Had no idea changing the layout might cause some changes & stuff to disappear!) I may experiment with the layout some more, so that it's easy to comment even for friends with older computers! (Apparently some blogs are easier to read & comment on! If you know which, do tell!)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cocoa & Cookies for the Compost! :)

If I were a compost, I'd be chuckling happy today!! :)

Mum brought some 'uneatables' from a lady who apparently has a habit of misplacing her bought items - & then little wigglies get 'em!
(Dad & she were painting the walls of her flat, & are now searching for a non-loud fridge for the lady!)

Soo.. our compost got the yummies!!

I was still unhappy about all the food packaging, but at least the food will not be making methane in landfill or contribute to toxic gases in an incinerator!!
/No idea why the ladies of the Charity packed some herbal tea (non-infested) too, maybe because it was dated 'July 2009'? we drink old tea all the time, - but as there was cocoa all over the packaging, it did end up in Compost too!/

My Uncle's hens will get the rest of the yummies! (like popcorn, spaghetti, maize, flour, etc!)

Moral of the story: eat your food at the right time & don't put it in drawers & forget about it!
(Or our compost will get it!!)

Yum! Yum! Yum!

PS I found some tiny Easter eggs that were perfectly edible - you have to look if they are 'attacked' by worms or not! mostly ok! lol The Compost *didn't* get these! Yet!)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Is London Tap Water Safe?

Remember my friend Lenny from the post below? The horrible consumer of 5 plastic bottles in a day? (Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but I've seen her grab 3 at least!)
She text-messaged me from London she's been now re-using her plastic water bottle with tap water for 10 days & I'd be Ah, so proud! :)

I am not so sure how safe tap water in London is (apparently there may be swine flu abounding too?) or how safe the plastic bottles in London are?
It truly is an eco moment, don't want it to be at the cost of her health though! So hm, what to say? ;) /in a short text-message?;)/

SOME RESEARCH if you want to READ MORE (still no idea how to put stuff behind a 'cut!'):
Well, & the Mayor of London say it's safe! says it's even better than bottled water!
They do say "80% of our drinking water comes from storage reservoirs connected to the River Thames and the River Lee. The remaining 20% comes from boreholes connected to groundwater stores" but the river water is pre-treated & there's natural purification etc & tests show high quality. They also give some really good facts about bottled water use! (some quite shocking!)
People interviewed by BBC seem mostly a bit sceptical still.. & so do people here (in comments - or could it be people financed by bottled water companies?), mainly with regard to taste. Due to years of marketing or..? (Or does BBC have bottled water sponsors too? hm!)

Here in Slovenia, in our region the water seems quite good! Not sure how it is in elsewhere though! - So, hmm?

Must admit I drank tap water in London on my visit there a few years ago - & am still alive! :) I did mix it with a cheap vitamin-rich powder (admittedly not really 'healthy' but it was yummy!)

Similar tips given in a comment by Golodh, London, UK here:
"- store it in the fridge. The deposit (if any) will sink to the bottom, and you taste less when the water is cold (compare e.g. with beer)." - might be doable in a hostel with a kitchen & fridges
"- drink lemonade. Find a brand of cheap squash you like and top it off with chilled bottled water. It will increase your sugar intake, but at least you'll be able to drink it." - doable, real organic lemon would probably be better though - how does lemon juice affect plastic or metal bottles though? I'm still partial to glass myself!
"- filter with active carbon" to remove the taste (?) - hostels could have these available (hopefully with recyclable/refillable filters!)
Good stuff like magnesium can be filtered out too, so only filter when really necessary!

(Well, if you're Coca Cola you can also spend 7 million pounds on marketing it then! Apparently it was even on CNN a few years ago, not sure if Dasani 'purified tap' water is still sold in UK?)

As for the plastic bottle - glass or maybe metal might be better, 10 days is probably okay but she better stay out of direct sunlight & such?!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Street Theatre Festival!!

So, for a few days, the capitol of Slovenia was swarmed with jugglers, street performers, circus artists & clowns & such...

(don't ask!;)

... and TRASH!! yikes!

I went there fully prepared. Or so I thought.

Brought with a reusable plastic box with two yummy sandwiches & a cloth serviette & metal fork, & a glass bottle. What else could a girl need?

I told my cousin to bring with a reusable box too, & as much zero waste food as she can.. & to adhere to strict zero waste rules, as to give a good example!

So my gorgeous cousin brought this, & did great on day 2!

My zero waste sandwiches were totally yummy too, but on Day 2, I ran out of them & forgot my reusable container at the hostel - and had to buy... THESE! Yikes!

I quarrelled with the shop lady to give 'em to me in ONE paper bag, but she wouldn't have it! 'Regulations,' she said, & whatnot!
I was too tired and hungry (& there was a queue forming) so I had to take 'em, but I swore to return with my reusable box & demand good service & no trash - or ask for the book of complaints!
(it's paper with foil.. & the foil is.. well, not zero waste, is it?)

Oh & there was a sheep!! :) called Sophy!!

My friend is totally awesome but.. uhm, not so zero waste..
She was bossed into recycling a beer can & bringing back the plastic cups she got us on Day 1..
.. but slipped a Coca Cola can into trash next morning, sigh!!

She had a most gorgeous cloth bag, but left it full of goodies with us to watch, & brought back one of those iffy free plastic bags from the shop!

She also lost my glass bottle! /sigh/

And what do you do if people get baloons for their kiddies? hm!

There was dancing in a public fountain involved, and a foam party.. What can I say? ;)

(& a deep social commentary on the nature of human greed & 'materialism'!)

I tried to make my friends recycle stuff & possibly avoid the plastic bottles, but on Day 3 the plastic water bottles were free (& my friend was convinced the Capitol has bad water?!) so they couldn't stay away from them!!
as if the plastic water bottles had any better water? /sigh/
/of course I was mortified cause I was trying to get some other NGOs to co-operate with the whole zero waste thing - some were even interested!! didn't dare to talk to any more after!! yikes!
There were even some celebrities at the scene, was too shy to talk to them & ask them to take part in our eco Cabaret too - sigh/

My reusable container came handy for the most excellent (spicy!) goulash - cousin however 'wanted her own' cause she was afraid she wouldn't get enough if he put it all in one reusable container! /sigh/ Never argue with a hungry woman!!
(of course that polystyrene foam tray didn't get recycled! /sigh/)

Overall, it was fun! & at least we got the plastic bottles to the recycling bins, which is more than many others did!

I was also shocked at the big amount of many beer & soda cans that ended up in 'ordinary trash'.. (not sure if I dared to photo any of those..? my memory card ran out, so I had to buy a new one - & slower too, yikes! Never buy in a hurry!!- it got stuck in another camera though!)
some bins for organic waste we encountered had really iffy stuff in them too!! (plastic bags the very least, or worse!!)

We were pleasantly surprised with separate recycling bins at the hostel - but they were not labelled clearly so we had to ask what to put where, I'm sure the others didn't bother much!
the color coding is different in every city.. & we don't expect foreign tourists to know our system by colour either, hm?
/it would be great if whole Europe had the same color-coding system!!/

Bye street theatre festival! - hopefully next year the organizers will be persuaded to get separate bins/bags for recyclables too??
Wouldn't it be great??

So, rules for big events:
1. Keep your water bottle firmly in grip! (Yes, even when ordering zero waste ice-cream!!)
2. Keep your friends' recyclables firmly in hand! (or rucksack)
3. Bring a spoon! (even if you think you won't need it!) And reusable container & fork and maybe knife & a napkin. And a cup.
4. Bring extra reusable containers/bento boxes/cups for hungry friends?
5. Have fun, ha ha!! :)

PS I'm not on any of the photos, just my amazing friends - big THANKS for the awesome moments! :) what can I say, I hate being photographed & am rather behind the camera! & don't have all the photos yet, akhem!
Also, for the record - the more risquee photos & vids can be found on YouTube - just kidding!! ;)

Oh, & remember that spicy goulash - I even brought some home in the reusable container & it was a lovely meal too! /eat your heart out, coz!:)/

Monday, June 29, 2009

Geronimo! & they say condoms can't be reusable?;)

This was in discussion at another forum & I just had to paste it here for all you ladies' (& gents') enjoyment: old-fashioned condom & a nice elderly man who talks about it!

So I wonder, would something like this still be possible today?;)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Zero waste pizza possible? In a students' dorm?

I visited my cousin at the students' dorm, & while also meeting many great people interested in zero waste & a better world :D (which is always a good thing!:)
my cousin fed me order-pizza!!

hmm!! It was YUMMY!! but-

could the boxes be made compostable? (or can they be composted as they are?)
why did they add sweets in plastic foil (to throw away)?
& salad in 2 recyclable #6 containers? (that I doubt my coz will wash - forgot to remind her!) They could've brought that in one container - it was one big pizza!!
(Could even those containers be reusable? Are there any already, anywhere in the world?)

If I ever visit her again, I will probably have to insist on another option!!
(or maybe we can just cook some pasta? I saw a student use Barilla carton packaged pasta - but the box wound up in the mixed-waste bin!! Together with some bread etc!! ugh!!)

I didn't see them throw that in! Or I would've said something!!

Students are notoriously 'bad' when it comes to recycling & such!!
/I did fish out a newspaper my coz's roommate threw in their bin though!/
Newspapers can be recycled most easily!! (as opposed to bad glossy magazines!!)

need to research more what is available to them to sort the 'garbage' in!

Feels like the day we started sorting the trash at home - from scratch!

Ooh, there's more work to be done!! :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Zero Waste Report #8: Can we take the trash out?;)

Today, Mum asked: 'Can we take the trash out?'

& I said, 'Can we last 1 more week so it's 2 months?'

Yes, the bin is pretty FULL!!

& Mum had 3 quite dirty-looking plastic bags (from spinach & quark! yucky!) she wanted to get rid of in the bin - if we took it out.. I muffled around a bit, not sure what to say.. Then I started drying up the rest of the dishes, & she just washed the darn bags, & I hung them on the line outside to dry!

must say I hang them conveniently above asparagus so it gets some moisture - seems to be enjoying it! ;)

I've also started thinking more about water these days, as it's been really hot, & we discussed it some at the Slovenian forum..

Some said washing the recyclables etc isn't wise with regard to water use, but we use the water we've been washing other stuff in too (if detergent is needed) or pour the nutrient-rich water (from yogurt etc!) into compost!

I re-use water from washing lettuce to put into the tub for watering plants (if there's room) or water the grass beneath the balcony.. Today, I had a crazy idea to have the big tub outside the house closer to the balcony or connected to the balcony so I could pour it all in?! (I hate splashing about too much lol!)

So, hopefully, we'll last till next week & then take the bin out, & start anew!
(& hopefully with a 'stricter' regime again!!:)

EDIT: More than 2 months now!! YAY!!! :) Go Mum!! Go us!! :)