Saturday, September 22, 2007

Moving - Update your bookmarks!

Thanks for visiting

I have moved to That's right... my own domain. I know it's annoying to have to update your links and bookmarks, but I hope you'll follow me to I won't move again, promise. I think the new features will make everyone happy.

This site will remain, for everyone to catch up, and so you don't have broken links. There is already a fascinating new post about solar-thermal power. Don't miss it!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Recipe: Bulgur & Bean Pilaf

Bulgur & Bean Pilaf

1 med onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3/4 cup uncooked bulgur
1 cup water
2 med tomatoes, chopped
1 can kidney beans, rinsed, drained
dash ground red pepper
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese (or soy cheese)

1. Saute onion, garlic, green pepper. Stir occasionally until vegetables are crisply tender. Add bulgur, continue cooking, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add water, tomatoes, beans, salt and red pepper.
2. Reduce heat to low. Cover; cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until bulgur is soft and chewy. Immediately sprinkle with cheese. Cover, remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Bulgur is cracked wheat, and it has the consistency of oatmeal. So, if you love oatmeal, you will love bulgur. This is one of my favorite meals.

-Land O'Lakes recipe book from grocery store line

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Car-Free Day... Week... World

car freeSaturday is world car-free day. One day out of every year is selected to highlight the idea that it is possible to live without cars. It really is.

In China, cars will not be allowed on Saturday in 108 cities to raise awareness about pollution, and to ease congestion. Only pedestrians, bikes, and busses will be driving on Saturday.
"No Car Day'' will cut 3,000 tons of emissions and save 33 million liters of gasoline, according to the ministry. (that's 8.7 billion gallons)
Some places have been celebrating car-free week. Greenwich, UK, is celebrating by closing the town square to cars, and having a party with art, music, and a beach. Montreal, Canada, is also closing town square for a concert, and they're having hiking and other events this week.

If you're interested, here are 10 ways you can break your auto dependence. Also check out

Britain plans to be entirely gas-free by 2040. It is possible. There are so many options for alternative fuel. It will be nice when consumers have the freedom to choose which type of energy they prefer, and how much they want to pay for it. Good luck, Britain, and thanks for leading the pack!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fall Cleaning

I can't believe I haven't written about my favorite yard tool - my push reel mower! My neighbor has one, and it's so quiet and odor-free that I had to try it. I fell in love instantly. The whirring sound of the blades is actually kind of comforting.

mowerThis mower is so easy to use, even I can use it. When we brought it home, and to this day, my husband and I almost fight over who gets to mow the lawn. I'm not kidding! It goes like this... "I'll do it." "No, that's ok. I can mow it." "No really, you go inside. I'll mow the lawn." Finally we agree to split and each mow half. We've even had neighbors come over and ask if they can push it around, and they reminisce about the good old days.

Once you try one, you'll never want to crank up the gas mower again. The smell of gas and grass is not pleasant, and it's useless energy consumption. The reel mower is so much more fun, energy conscious, good-smelling, and easy. Give it a try.

After searching the internet and garage sales for a used one, we went to Sears Hardware and bought one for less than $100. Do a little fall cleaning and push that gas mower to the curb or the thrift store.

Bioneers Conference in Cleveland next month

bioneers brings together people who are committed to the environment, health, social justice and good living. They have a yearly conference in California, which is "beamed" to satellite sites around the country. We are fortunate that Cleveland is one of these sites! Mark your calendars for Oct. 19-21 to attend the Beaming Bioneer Cleveland Conference at Cleveland State University.

The format is as follows - Local speakers and activities in the morning, California conference beamed in the afternoon. Daily yoga sessions, area tours, and panel discussions enhance the experience. Here's the schedule.

Topics include:
  • Green affordable housing in the city
  • Healthy Workers/Healthy Business
  • Solutions that benefit people, the planet, and profit
  • No Child Left Inside!
  • NE Ohio transportation
  • Plastic from alternative sources (not oil!)
  • Citizen Blogging - featuring terra, not terror
I will be part of a panel on Saturday morning to discuss Citizen Blogging and how bloggers can impact the environment.

I hope to see you there!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Farm Aid

farmaidFarm Aid was started in 1985 by Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp to raise awareness about family farms, and to raise money for farmers. For 22 years, they've been having concerts to educate people about the value of the American family farm.

This year's concert, held on Sept. 9th in New York City, featured 21 bands. Vendors provided fresh, local food to satisfy the growing demand for healthy, non-factory farm, non-hormone-laced food.

cowsAmerica's family farms face many challenges from bird flu to genetic engineering, globalization to factory farms. We can help family farms by buying local food, teaching kids how to grow food, and being aware of where our food comes from. Factory farms are producing hormone and antibiotic-laden meat and chemically-produced vegetables that have an adverse effect on our health, which costs billions in the health care industry. Helping family farms helps everyone.

Check out Food Routes, or Local Harvest to find farmers markets near you.

Happy Constitution Day

Sunday, September 16, 2007

VegiTerranean, Metro Living, Save the Civic

Yesterday, we had the Akron experience. We toured Akron's Metro Living, saw the opening ceremonies of VegiTerranean (actually opens in late October), and attended the rockin' Akron Civic Theatre benefit concert featuring Chrissie Hynde and Friends.

The Metro Living Tour was interesting, but slightly disappointing for a few reasons. We wanted to take the shuttle, but it never seemed to be available, so we had to drive from place to place. None of the "homes" were taking advantage of advances in renewable energy. There are so many chances to utilize solar power, which will be the norm in 10 years. If you want to be cutting-edge, you've got to reach out to the future. The Northside Lofts were ultimate high-class. There was a TV in every room. Coming from a 1-TV house, this was a little extreme. On a positive note, the color schemes were really nice. Spicer Village will be very cool when it opens in 2008. Rooftop gardens!

Next was the opening of VegiTerranean. We walked up as Chrissie Hynde was putting on an outdoor concert. Her voice is absolutely moving. It was a very energetic event! There was a food sampling expo featuring Akron restaurants. Strangely, it was all meat except for VegiTerranean. If you're having a vegetarian restaurant opening, don't you bring your vegetarian dish? We didn't eat. But, the menu for VegiTerranean was extensive, so it should be a nice place to enjoy a good meal.

It's great to see Akron renovating and trying to rebuild this great city. The views from the Exchange St. dorm make you realize how beautiful our city really is. We have great people here who really care about the city, and their efforts are to be commended. I look forward to seeing Akron's revitalization in the coming years.

The benefit concert was incredible! My husband's cousins are in The Diffi Cult, which opened the show, followed by 6 other bands. (I also really liked Pat Sweeney and The Numbers Band) Then, Chrissie Hynde again. She came out in her PETA t-shirt. It was excellent! The whole crowd essentially had to applaud PETA. (her boots, by the way, were made by Stella McCartney) While I am a Person for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, I tend to disagree with some of the tactics and statements by Peta, so even I was a little uncomfortable (I'll elaborate in the comments). Her set was incredible! Again, what a voice! Finally... Jerry Lee Lewis. They rolled out the piano and the rock legend was escorted onto the stage by Akron legend Chrissie Hynde. His set was so fun and energetic. We had a great view of the shadow of his hands on the piano. What a night! The whole stage was rockin' and people were dancing in their seats. It was a great show in Akron. I hope to see more fun events like this at the Akron Civic Theatre. Thanks to our good family for the tickets!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

What is a Vegan?

What is a vegan? Chrissy Hynde said a lot of Akronites don't know, and she's probably right. In fact, a lot of people don't know, so I'll do my best to explain.

Vegans don't eat or use any products made of, or made by animals. This includes meat, eggs, dairy, gelatin, honey, and refined sugar. Gelatin is made of marrow or hooves; honey is made by bees; and refined sugar is bleached with charred animal bones.

Some good alternatives for vegans include the meatless products that are generally made of soy. In baking, eggs can be replaced by applesauce, bananas, tofu. Soy, rice, and even hemp "dairy" products are good. (check out this video that turned me off milk for good - it's not gross) Gelatin can be replaced by something called carrageenan, which is made from seaweed (gelatin is not a vegetarian food either, so warn your veggie friends when you cook with gelatin). Honey can be replaced by syrups and molasses. Instead of refined sugar, look for pure cane sugar or turbinado sugar. (I've found it really cheap at Marc's) Additionally, "natural flavoring" can include animal-based products, so that ingredient should be avoided by vegetarians and vegans.

Vegans also avoid leather and other animal-based products, and don't use products tested on animals.

Why would someone be a vegan? There are many reasons, usually beginning with animal rights, concerns about factory farms, the environment, and health. Vegan and vegetarian diets have been shown to reduce many health problems, especially high cholesterol because only animal-based foods have cholesterol.

(wiki also does a pretty good job explaining veganism, with some great links at the bottom)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Recipe: Corn & Potato Chowder

Corn and Potato Chowder
(a favorite at the not terror household)

olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (1 small)
1 cup thinly sliced celery (2 stalks)
4 cups peeled (or not) russet potatoes cut into 1/2 in. cubes (2-3 medium)
3 1/4 cup soy milk or lowfat dairy milk
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
pepper, minced parsley (optional)

*Heat the oil in a 3-4 qt. saucepan. Add onion and celery and saute over medium heat until the vegetables soften, 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently.
*Add potatoes and milk. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 20-30 minutes. Mash some of the potatoes in the pot with a potato masher to thicken the soup. Add the corn kernels and peas. Cook just until heated through, 1-2 minutes. Add the salt and season to taste.
*Sprinkle with parsley.

from the Student's Vegetarian Cookbook

We don't use salt or pepper and it's just as good.
The smashed potatoes give the impression of a cheesy soup. Delicious!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sustainable Clothes

For those of us who want sustainable, environmentally responsible lives, we like to consider all aspects, including clothing.

Think about what your clothes are made of ... when evaluating natural vs. synthetic products, a lot must be considered. Pleather is not as long-lasting as leather, but it's cheap and not made from an animal. Polyester is made from petroleum (=oil!). It also doesn't breathe as well as cotton. Nylon is also made from petroleum, vs. wool made from sheared sheep's fur.

bambooSome people are looking for more eco-conscious clothes and finding new (not-so-new) materials such as hemp, soy, bamboo, and organic cotton. They are long-lasting, durable materials and easy to care for.

Many companies, including Great Lakes Brewing Company, are also looking towards these new fabrics as consumers are becoming more eco-responsible. I've been looking into hemp and soy clothes, and found these options for companies to outfit their staff, or sell to customers. Along with suppliers Kami has found (see comments), these companies are appealing, and their t-shirts don't cost much more than a regular cotton t-shirt. seems to be the best option for wholesalers. They have some good options, and put the prices and quantity available right on the website.
Efforts in Canada has a good selection of sustainable clothes, and offers wholesale prices with no minimum orders.
Bamboo Clothes offers a lot of clothing at reasonable prices, and they say their bamboo/cotton blend are the softest t-shirts on the planet (...mmm... tempting). has many styles, and unisex t-shirts range from $16-18 retail. (no new wholesale customers)

One problem is that a lot of these companies are small, to avoid sweatshops and poor quality, so they don't offer wholesale volume yet. The trend is catching on, so look for wider availability soon. Ideal Bite lists several soy clothing suppliers, which seem to be more expensive than the hemp clothes.

Check your label ... are you eco-stylin'?

Chrissie Hynde featured in Vegetarian Times

Chrissie Hynde, lead singer of The Pretenders, was featured in this month's Vegetarian Times. She is opening a new vegetarian restaurant in Akron, called VegiTerranean. It will be a coffee house, bar, and restaurant featuring vegetarian Italian food. Yum! The VegiTerranean preview celebration is this weekend, Sept. 15, and the restaurant will open in October.

In VT, Hynde talks about being a vegetarian for 38 years. She started this lifestyle because of her compassion for animals. We're now learning about how destructive the meat industry is for the environment - it's the #2 polluter behind the auto industry.

Hynde wants to know why there aren't vegetarian fast food restaurants? And why don't they sell veggie burgers at rock concerts? Thanks to her, we don't have to ask why Akron doesn't have a vegetarian restaurant.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Paint-on Solar

Researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) have created solar cells that can be painted or printed onto surfaces. Most solar cells now are made from purified silicon, which is not a readily-available product. These new paint-on organic solar cells are made from polymers, which are a less expensive material. Energy is conducted through carbon nanotubes, which are smaller than human hair, and conduct energy more efficiently than copper wires.
“Someday homeowners will even be able to print sheets of these solar cells with inexpensive home-based inkjet printers. Consumers can then slap the finished product on a wall, roof or billboard to create their own power stations.”
Awesome!! I think this could be the future of power.

If you have iTunes, you can find out more about this solar research by typing "NJIT solar" in the search box and listen to the podcasts or watch the videos.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

100 mile diet

One trend among people who want to eat healthier, environmentally responsible diets is the 100 mile diet. Following this diet means you eat foods grown within 100 miles of your kitchen. It reduces pollution from transportation, and generally provides healthier food. (more reasons)

This diet takes considerable planning at the beginning. If you start cold-turkey, you may get frustrated by not being able to find your favorite fruits and vegetables. You have to learn a lot about the seasons, and your local farming community. Alisa Smith and James McKinnon, who wrote a recent book about the 100-mile diet, said they ate a lot of potatoes in the beginning. Finding wheat for bread was difficult in the Pacific NW. They were finally able to find a local wheat farmer.

People find it to be a rewarding experience that becomes kind of addicting. Now, when traveling, 100-mile dieters strive for local food, and really learn about the food and customs of the country they're visiting.

It's a lifestyle change. One that requires flexibility and an open mind. An easy way to start may be a state-based diet, where you eat food only from your state. The goal is to learn more about what you eat, and what you can do to reduce your footprint.

Monday, September 10, 2007


VW offering Carbon Offsets through January

rabbitVolkswagen is teaming up with to offset an entire year of carbon emissions for every car bought between Sept. 1, 2007 and Jan. 2, 2008. The money will be directed to "help reforest areas of the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (LMAV) in Northern Louisiana."
Not only does this program help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere but it also restores native trees to habitat, provides food for local wildlife, reclaims barren pastureland and increases water security.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Surprise! Food coloring and preservatives are bad for kids

A new study in Britain has found that food coloring and preservatives can increase hyperactivity, including ADHD in kids age 3-9, and also have adverse effects on the general population.

Children tested showed significant differences in their behavior based on whether their fruit drink had added colorings and preservatives, versus those drinks that were more natural. The additive-laden drinks increased hyperactivity.
“It supports what dietitians have known for a long time, that feeding children on diets largely consisting of heavily processed foods which may also be high in fat, salt or sugar is not optimal for health.”

Let's try to eat fresh, natural foods that are healthy and taste good!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Small... Smaller

Check out this ultra-small, ultra-efficient, totally cool toaster-oven/coffee maker/griddle. It's the Instant Kitchen. Perfect for a dorm, apartment, or people who just don't like having a bunch of "stuff" everywhere. It's only $45. (I saw this on Treehugger)

Back to comments: You may notice that I have re-activated comments. I really like getting post ideas from readers. So, I will be "moderating" comments, which means that I read and approve them. I'm following this blogger's philosophy - as long as comments add value to our lives, they will be welcome.
I look forward to your ideas about how to be more environmentally-friendly.

Friday Recipe: Easy Nacho Skillet Dinner

Easy Nacho Skillet Dinner

16 oz. can black beans
16 oz. can kidney beans
15 oz. can tomato sauce
2 cups frozen corn
2 tsp chili powder
2 cups slightly broken baked tortilla chips
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (or soy cheese)

Stir first 5 ingredients together until corn is thawed and everything is heated through. Sprinkle tortilla chips even over mixture. Top with cheese. Cover, simmer 2 minutes or until cheese is melted. (There's nothing green in this recipe, so for variety, you could add a green pepper or something.) Enjoy!

-Altered recipe from the back of a package of frozen corn

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Green Dorms

Many college students are demanding eco-friendly dorms, and colleges are starting to meet that demand with simple changes such as energy-saving light bulbs, low-flow showers, and other high-tech changes.

NPR highlights Pitzer College. Pitzer students returned to school to find organic gardens, buildings built with recycled modular steel, and 80% of building materials found within 200 miles of the campus, which saves on transportation while helping local economies. Dorms feature cross-ventilation, solar power, low-flow toilets, and the campus showcases stormwater recycling and drought-resistant plants. Pitzer's renovations have received Gold LEED certification.

Students at the University of South Carolina have found that it's easy and fun to reduce your impact on the planet - to live "green" in their Green Dorm. The West Quad dorm uses solar panels to heat the hot water, and recycles rainwater to water plants. It was built for the same cost of conventional dorms, and reduces the cost of energy throughout its use. USC's housing director predicts the green dorm to cost 45% less because of the renewable energy. Students noticed the odor-free atmosphere. Carpets were made of recycled material (so they don't give off carbon dioxide), odorless paint was used, and construction workers weren't allowed to smoke in the building.
Buildings like West Quad also enhance and protect ecosystems and biodiversity, improve air and water quality, reduce solid waste, and conserve natural resources. Other benefits include improved individual and community health.
Many students go home with the environment in mind and encourage their families to recycle, and live more eco-responsibly. When I read these stories, I'm always looking for something revolutionary, but these ideas are so simple! Reduce, reuse, and recycle are the prominent themes. They save the universities money on energy, and benefit the environment at the same time.

Here are some easy, fun ways to green your dorm, even if you don't live in a LEED certified green dorm.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Just say no

Your average quarter pounder, according to one Cornell University study, siphons 600 gallons of water, 1.2 pounds of feed grain, and 6 square feet of former prairie land—plus the loss of five times the patty's weight in topsoil—even before it gets slapped on a grill. -Treehugger

If you've ever been interested in becoming a vegetarian, check out this guide. Some good steps: Have a good reason, start by eliminating red meat, get some good recipes.

(sidenote: people are often offended by vegetarianism. When I post about a vegetarian diet, it will be a post of facts and alternatives, just like all the other topics on this blog.)

Bed Nets against Malaria

Researchers in Kenya have found that insecticide-treated bed nets are more effective at reducing Malaria-related deaths by 44% than outdoor spraying of DDT and other insecticides. Making the nets available for free increases the effectiveness of the nets because more families have easier access to prevention.
Increased ITN (Insecticide-Treated Nets) coverage in Kenya has resulted in 44 per cent fewer deaths in children, and increases in the birth weight of babies, according to preliminary data from the Malaria Control Department of the Kenyan Ministry of Health.
Check out Nothing But Nets, a program partnering with the UN Foundation to provide free ITNs to people in Africa.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The US Military and Green Power

Our US military uses renewable energy to save money and resources. They have the manpower to research, purchase, and build eco-technology. Renewable energy would also help when they are on assignment in locations where fuel is scarce. Here are some of the technologies our military is using:

tentPowerfilm solar tent covers. They are able to generate solar power by covering their tent with a "thin amorphous silicon technology."

Aviation Biofuel. The Defense Department is looking for ways to reduce the military's reliance on oil to power jets, ground vehicles, and ships, so it is turning to biofuels as a possible source of energy.

Micro fuel cells. MTI builds fuel cells the size of a phone book, which is a portable source of energy for our servicemen and women. These fuel cells utilize methanol, which is not as flammable as gasoline.

"Efficient in-the-field solar cells." Instead of transporting batteries to soldiers in the field, which is costly and dangerous, soldiers can use solar cells to generate the power they need.
Ground Combat Hybrid. That is, hybrid tanks. BAE Systems designed these hybrid tanks, which have been tested and are planned for production in 2008 as part of the Army's Future Combat Systems.

Soldier Solar. United Solar Ovonic is working on a solar pack that can be worn by soldiers to generate solar power to be used in powering field generators and vehicles.

Hybrid Aggressor. “The Aggressor [is] a high-performance, off-road Alternative Mobility Vehicle (AMV) for military ground exploration and scouting missions." The Army had been exploring fuel cell technology, but has decided to go with diesel-electric hybrid power for the Aggressor.

- earth2tech

Monday, September 03, 2007

Root Cellars

Root cellars used to be part of every home. They are a good way to use the natural ground temperature to store fruits and vegetables. You can bury your cellar two feet underground to take advantage of the earth's cool temperatures. Root cellars also need humidity and air circulation so your produce doesn't spoil.

Root cellars used to be built into hillsides or mounds. They were essentially a walk-in natural freezer. I like the garbage can root cellar. It's a simple way to store enough vegetables to get you through a season.

If you dig a square hole, you can use pallets for circulation and stability. You could also recycle an old refrigerator into a root cellar, provided you give it some good ventilation. There are plenty of old materials and ways to make a root cellar. Check out Earth House for inspiration. Ehow also breaks it down nicely in 8 steps, using an old fridge or freezer.

One way to reduce your impact on the planet is to follow the 100 mile diet, eating foods within 100 miles of your home. The most difficult part of this would probably be the seasonality of fruits and vegetables. A root cellar is a great way to have local vegetables year-round. Another use of root cellars is for disaster prevention. In the event of a disaster, a root cellar and a well-stocked pantry could provide months of food.

Links: This site has a good explanation of root cellars. Here's a little of the history and usage of root cellars. Some approximate storage times can be found at the bottom of this page.

(Thanks to billygoat for the topic suggestion. I hope this helps.)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Northside Art Walk

We did the Northside Art Walk tonight, and it was a wonderful experience. We enjoyed seeing the art and artists, and we took notice of the fun and creative ways the artists have reused some unique spaces downtown.

The Red Light Galleries are in an old brothel, which made it a perfect space for an art gallery. (the website doesn't do it justice) The artists were able to spread their works through the old brothel rooms. Some of the old wall structure was maintained, with plaster and brick showing through, which gave the building some raw character. Village Green has good pictures of the gallery. Having a downtown studio / gallery allows people to see how artists work and appreciate the process of creating art.

Mocha Maiden had 2 vast, open rooms upstairs. It's part of Akron's Historic District, and the owners have maintained feeling of a historic building, while creating an "atmosphere of stylistic enchantment."

The last (certainly not least) place was the old Ice House on Summit St. The artist, Troy Myers, lives and works in a converted loft. He paints, draws, and makes unique clothing. His home is a site to see in itself, with high ceilings, exposed electrical and pipes, and a beautiful, old-style kitchen with a metal ceiling. His home will be part of the Akron Metro Living Tour on Saturday, Sept. 15th from 11am - 11pm.

It was so nice to see some historic, unique Akron buildings reused for art and public enjoyment. The characteristics of these spaces add so much to the Art Walk, and exemplify the benefits of "reduce and reuse."


I love You can find all sorts of ways to recycle and reuse old goods into cool new stuff. For example, you can make:

robotFree Air Conditioning (if you have well water!)
Credit Card Flower Box Fridge Magnet
Reusable Grocery Bag made out of 2 old Pillowcases
Copper Rain Chain
60 Minute Bookcase
Convert old CD packaging into a flower pot
Soda Can Fireplace
Glow Ground Effects Lights for your bicycle

The ideas are endless. Don't miss the Go Green contest! Check out this site for a rainy day craft project with the kids.