Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Razor7 and my other peeps :) !

In my blog roll post, I got a comment about another blog/forum on which I participate: Razor7. So here's a shout-out to the site and its message board, a great place to discuss a range of topics from politics to gardening to popular culture.

Also, the forum's owner, Andre Coleman, is a published author. Since I am a budding writer, I think it's probably a good thing to promote my friends who are already published. A journalist by profession, Andre is also the author of two novels, A Liar's Tale and Blackbirds.

And while I'm at it, here's info on a few other friends. A friend from high school, TR Locke, is a former screen writer and now the author of I Followed My Bliss to Bankruptcy -- What I Wish I Knew Before I Moved to Hollywood.

A friend from high school and college, Sophfronia Scott, is a former writer for Time and People. She has published both a novel, All I Need to Get By, and a non-fiction work, Doing Business by the Book: How to Craft a Crowd-Pleasing Book and Attract More Clients and Speaking Engagements Than You Ever Thought Possible.

All are available at

Gotta love the Web: even stories about tasteless, racist cartoons can have an upside

I do love the Web! The best part is the access to information, which is a major reason I started my blog: I want to share what I learn.

So the latest story on the Web about Republicans making tasteless, racist jokes/ cartoons/whatevers about Obama has an upside (for me), via the Web. Apparently, right on the heels of the NY Post chimp shooting cartoon, a Republican mayor of a California town sent out an email with a cartoon of the White House surrounded by a watermelon patch. As usual, when called on it, he claimed he had no idea it was racist. (Seriously?? And even apart from the racist angle, why don't these guys realize that sharing this type of stuff is inappropriate in a professional setting?).

On the web site where I read about this, a commenter wrote: "I love how these guys always say they didn't intend anything racist. So what did they intend? Is there any way to interpret this cartoon that doesn't play into racial stereotypes?"

Someone snarkily responded: "Hey, he's just promoting Michael Pollan's 'White House Farmer' plan!" (and the person included a link*).

Now, I've heard of Michael Pollan, but not of the White House Farmer. Pollan is the author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma." I haven't read the book, but I've read articles by him, and I know his creed is, "Eat food. Mostly plants." By eating food, he means things that our grandparents would recognize as food: bread and eggs and fruit, for example, rather than say, Pop Tarts. By "mostly plants," he advocates eating low on the food chain, consuming a lot more grains, fruits and veggies than meats and dairy.

I clicked on the link provided by the snarky commenter. The "White House Farmer" is a plan to convert much of the land surrounding the White House to farm land, in order to grow produce for the White House. It would allow the White House to set an example for the nation in producing its own sustainable, organic, local food.

Pollan asked for "White House Farmer" nominees from around the country, and had visitors to the site vote. The three top vote getters have been selected, and Pollan will soon forward their names and more information about the plan to Obama's staff. I looked at the three winners, and stopped at #2. Carrie Ann Little (who received about 50 votes less than the #1 vote-getter, and about 3,000 more than #3) is from Puyallup, WA! Right outside of Tacoma!

Ms. Little runs the Mother Earth Farm, which provides food for Pierce County's Emergency Food Network. Part of the reason this excites me is because she is farming for the needy here. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we were shocked when we arrived to see how expensive everything was at the local farmer's markets. (I seem to find organic goods cheaper here than in Boston. Locally produced food, not so much). So it's great to learn about people producing local, organic food for those in need.

I'm also excited because she is very local, for me. I'd like to learn more about the farm, and perhaps volunteer there. And she's not from Seattle! That's significant, because Tacoma is considered the unsophisticated, somewhat hickish little brother of Seattle, and so much of the cutting edge environmental stuff seems to come from our older sibling. (Like ads on the radio informing Seattle residents that they can now put their food scraps in a separate bin on garbage day, and it will get picked up for composting).

In addition, the nonprofit community development organization I work for has "providing the community with access to healthy, affordable organic food" as one of its goals somewhere down the line, and the not-yet up and running Tacoma Food Co-op, of which my husband and I are members, has that as its primary goal as well. Thus, it's great for me to learn about others in the area already doing what we're hoping to do.

So Mr. Mayor, grow up. Attend a workshop on diversity, while you're at it. And indirectly, thanks.

* Here's the White House Farmer web site url:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First steps to gardening

OK, the basil plant was in the window, and hubby was reading, and the sun was in his eyes... he closed the blinds and knocked over the plant. Bye-bye, basil.

I had very little luck finding TerraCycle plant food at Fred Meyer, Walgreens, and Home Depot (all places where they sell their products, according to their web site). However, I did find their plant food that is specifically for tomatoes at Home Depot. I purchased a mini-tomato starter kit, a set of kitchen herbs starter kit, and a packet of organic leaf lettuce seeds. It's still a little early to plant, and it will be containers, because Tacoma soil is apparently pretty toxic. I also purchased a little sunflower plant "kiddie kup," and my daughter helped me plant the seeds in it (which she thought was funny because, "Daddy eats seeds just like this!). I thought the sunflower would be fun for her, because it grows so big and we can plant it in the yard.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Healthy and Safe Disinfectants

A friend sent me this info in an email:

Now that we have a baby, I went looking for a ‘green’ disinfectant; something non-toxic that would still kill germs like bleach and other strong disinfectants do.

To my surprise, I found two: one called Benefect, and another one called PureGreen24.

They are EPA certified disinfectants, and gov’t approved for use in hospitals and around children and pets and weakened immune systems, etc!

Here is a page comparing the two.

Spread the word… and here’s to our health!

UPDATE: Since I originally posted, I've learned some additional information. First, labeling either of these products as "food grade" is misleading; neither is meant to be sprayed on food or ingested. However, PureGreen24 is safe enough to be used on children's toys without a rinse. Second, PureGreen24 has an advantage over Benefect in that it kills MRSA, and Benefect doesn't make that claim. This last piece of info is especially meaningful to me, because we lived for a few months this summer with a relative who contracted MRSA post-surgery, and I was constantly worried about my three-year-old's exposure.

Irritating Green Tip #1

All over the place, on the web, in magazines, and in your utility bills, you'll see lists of "green tips." And some are great, but some irritate me. When I come across one that does, I'll blog about it, tell why it's not always a good idea, and suggest an alternative.

Irritating Green Tip #1: Print on Both Sides of the Paper

Supposedly a good green idea because it saves paper. But have you ever done this, and had the paper jam? Multiple times? If you have an expensive, heavy-duty printer that you can replace as often as the manufacturer recommends, maybe it's not a problem, but if you're like me with my little cheap home printers, and working for nonprofits that use office equipment for years and years: this is NOT a good tip for us. You waste much more paper, not to mention time and frustration trying to remove the jam than you would have had you printed one-sided in the first place.

Alternative idea: Print one-sided, but reduce the margins, spacing, font size, etc., or print two pages on one side.

I try to reduce my paper usage by reducing margins and font sizes (tip: the ubiquitous Arial and Times New Roman fonts aren't very readable when reduced. Better fonts to use are Verdana or Bookman Old Style). You can also reduce line spacing, from 1 (default) to say, .9, or character spacing by .1 also. It all depends on what it is, how good it needs to look. If I'm printing a grant proposal to be sent to a funder, I probably won't do any reductions. But if I'm printing something that is only going to be seen in-house, I will.

Also, if I'm just printing for my own reading pleasure, I print two pages on one side. Again, Verdana and Bookman are two very readable fonts, even when they've been reduced by 50% (which they will be if you print 2 on 1). Then, when I'm done with the document, I give it to my 3-year-old to color on the back or cut up.


More on my attempts at gardening: a few months ago, I purchased a basil plant starter kit that included a pot with soil and a packet of seeds. I let my daughter help me, and when she emptied the pack of seeds in the soil, it looked like nothing was there, the seeds were so miniscule. The instructions said to water it, cover with plastic wrap, and keep in a cool place, and the plant should sprout in 1-2 weeks. Well, 2 weeks later, nothing. I thought, "Me and my lack of green thumb, again."

But about two weeks after that, my daughter noticed that the plant had started to sprout. So I did what the instructions said at that point: remove the plastic wrap, water again, and place in sunlight. Well, sunlight in Tacoma is relative: it's mostly overcast except in the summer. But I placed it in a window.

Weeks and weeks and weeks went by, I watered it on occasion, and: nothing! No growth, no additional sprouting. I kept the plant, because it hadn't died, but figured this was another failure.

Then this morning, I looked at it. It has started growing suddenly! I haven't a clue why, but I watered it and decided that maybe now I should buy some plant food.

Enter TerraCycle. I learned about this company recently. They have a great story on their web site. They're a pair of Princeton grads who decided to start a company to maximize the "triple bottom line." Basically, there are three bottom lines a company can (and should) be concerned about: profit, people, and environment. Conventional wisdom says that the only way to maximize profit is to in some way shortchange people and the environment. That's why none of the most socially conscious companies out there (e.g., Whole Foods, Seventh Generation), while profitable to a degree, are among the top 500 companies in America.

These guys thought they could figure out a way. They started by making fertilizer, but have branched out into a range of gardening supplies, as well as cleaning supplies, office supplies, and handbags (!). Here's their concept: currently, waste is a huge industry in this country, and we're running out of ways to deal with it. People pay you to haul away their waste. So they decided that if they could make all their products from waste, including the packaging, they would eliminate their materials costs (and in fact, they often get paid by others for using their waste materials), and thus their revenues, minus labor, marketing, etc., becomes sheer profit. Their products are a crack-up: you can tell that they've used old soda bottles and milk jugs to package their plant food and potting soil, and they use stuff like snack wrappers, juice boxes and old diskettes to make office supplies and handbags.

I love it! And their supplies are sold at reasonable prices in a variety of stores, including Walgreen's, Fred Meyer, Home Depot, and Target. So after work today, I'll head over to Fred Meyer to purchase some TerraCycle plant food (made from food waste/worm poop!).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Trying to go green when you suck at certain things, Part II

Adventures in Composting

I've already mentioned that I had a few problems with my first attempt at worm composting (or vermicomposting). I recently joined the Vermicomposting group at Yahoo and posted about my problems, and got a few responses back. I'm going to cut and paste my post and the responses here, and then add my new thoughts.


My original post

In the fall I took a worm composting class, after which we were given a worm bin (a plastic tote with holes), shredded cardboard and a bag of worms. I went home eager to start. After a week, none of the food scraps I added seemed to be disappearing, so I emailed my teacher. He suggested adding a scoop of dirt. This would add other organisms to the bin, which he said would speed up the decomposition process.

After another week, the bin was crawling with fruit flies and other bugs, and I saw very few worms. I wrote my teacher again, who said to put a small glass jar in the bin with apple cider vinegar and a little dish soap in it. I did this, and while it captured a lot of bugs, it still seemed like just as many were swarming around.

For many weeks thereafter, this was the situation: very few visible worms, even when I dug around, and lots of other bugs. But since the bin seemed to have the right moisture level, it didn't smell, and food seemed to be disappearing, I thought that maybe it was OK.

However, since then I've read differing opinions on the web. Some say that you don't want to add decomposing food, because that attracts bugs and reduces your worm population. Others, like my teacher, say that decomposing food and other bugs are helpful, because they make the digestion process easier for the worms. So I am very uncertain.

Also, I have neither a garage nor a basement, so I keep the bin outside on my porch (I surrounded it with styrofoam, except for the holes, to protect from cold). When the first frost hit, however, everything in the bin died. I looked at it recently, and it has this white, spider-webby covering over everything that I assume is mold.

So now I have no clue what to do. Do I start over with a new bin and new set of worms in the spring? Did I do wrong or right with the bin I had in the fall? What should I do differently? And what should I do with the rotting mess in the bin I already have?

One more question...

How much food is a good amount to feed your bin? I kept food scraps in two 16-oz rubbermaid containers, and I generally filled both of them weekly. But I would only add one to the container at a time. Is that a good amount? Is it too much? How can you tell?



1. I don't know where you live but you probably need to keep your bin inside during the winter months. I'm in WI and I keep mine inside and will probably do so during the warmer months too just so I can keep an eye on it. I started my bin in November and I'm no expert but I've read alot and know what you mean about the information available - it can be confusing. Unless you have a well insulated bin that has some microbial activity working to help keep it warm during the winter the worms can freeze outside if you're in an uber cold place like I am.

To help keep fruit flys at bay you can microwave the food before you add it to the bin or freeze it. Both are effective ways to keep the fruit flys away. Also be sure to cover whatever you put in the bin with plenty of bedding to further deter the fruit flys.

It sounds like you need to dump the whole thing, wash it out and start over fresh. If you can't put the bin inside I'd personally wait until it's warmer outside to start a new one. I don't know that you did anyting wrong but make sure you have plenty of bedding next time. More bedding than food for sure. Cover the food well and I'd say either freeze it or microwave it before you add it to the bin and don't worry about if it is decomposed or not before you add it. It will decompose once it hits the bin. I personally blend my food too before adding it but I have a stackable system with good drainage so if you don't have good drainage you might want to skip that step. It's not really necessary.

2. I killed my first apartment worm bin too. Here is what I did wrong:

--I made it too moist because I was dumping my daily coffee grinds in it in a pot of water. The bin became sludgy.
--I added way more food than my worms could handle. It attracted flies because the worms could keep up so the food would decmpose on top.
--I didnt keep enough shredded newspaper on top of the bin so there would be no room for flies.

I would dump out your current bin and start over.

Once I realized that my worms couldnt eat all my scraps, they thrived. My goal now was to get some good vermicompost every three months for my plants. I would add a little food each week...and actually monitor their progress.

I now live in a place where I have a big yard. An outdoor worm bin is much easier to maintain because of space. I can dump everything I have into a large pile...and the worms just grow with the space. since it's in the corner of the yard, flies and other critters dont matter. it all just decomposes and breaks down.

3. I'd say to start out add a handful or two then montior it. If it's disappeaing then add a little more. How much you feed all depends on what kind of worms you have, how much they eat, how often you feed, temperature, bin conditions, etc. so there are no hard and fast rules.

When you start your new bin put in some stuff that breaks down fast like banana or melon and mix it with some other stuff that is a little slower like potato peels or carrot peels to get the process going.

Just some thoughts. . . .


My thoughts

As I said in my original post, I have no basement or garage, so the bin's NOT coming into the house. Thus, I'll have to wait until spring to restart the bin.

I always used a lot of bedding and did the microwaving bit, but it sounds like I might have fed them too much food. So I think that's what I have to do when I restart the bin: feed them less, and gradually let it build up.

Anyway, here's to hoping I have more success with my next compost bin!

Trying to go green when you suck at certain things, Part I

Growing Things

I'm pretty good at quite a few things: writing, illustrating, cooking, and so forth. But it seems that when I'm not good at something, I'm often spectacularly bad. One of those seems to be growing things.

This is ironic, because my father had a degree in horticulture. He worked as a gardener and landscaper, and was later Commisioner of Parks for the city of Clevleand. Growing up, our back yard contained beautiful rose bushes, a vibrant vegatable garden, and strawberry plants. My mother, without my father's training, always maintained a large bevy of houseplants. And my siblings and I helped with weeding and watering.

You'd think I'd have inherited a green thumb, right? Wrong. My father died when I was 16, and for about a year, I tried to maintain the backyard garden, and failed miserably. In my adult life, all the houseplants I've owned have died. I had two that lasted about a year: one, a gift from a boyfriend, died shortly after I repotted it. It had outgrown its original pot, and I asked a florist friend how to repot it, and followed her instructions to the letter. It still died a week later.

Another plant my mother sent for my birthday a few year's ago, and I placed it in my daughter's room because I wanted her to have the better air quality that houseplants can provide. I think it was a peace lily, which is one of the easiest houseplants to maintain, surviving with little sunlight and water. I did water it and feed it plant food, but our apartment got little sunlight and we kept the heat turned low, so it was always cool inside the house. Even with this, the plant did very well for about a year. Then we moved it from my daughter's room, although I don't remember the reason why. In any case, two weeks later, it died.

All other houseplants I've ever had have had much shorter lifespans.

In my journey to green, I would really like to grow my own vegetables. In Boston, we lived in a second floor apartment surrounded by buildings on all sides, with no place to garden. (There were community gardens in the neighborhood, but I didn't want to be away from my daughter for the amount of time it would have taken to participate). But now in Washington, we live in a house, with a yard, and a beautiful terrace that overlooks the Puget Sound. So this spring, I'd really like to try growing a few vegetables.

I want to start small, one veggie this year, and in containers rather than a plot. I purchased a few books on container gardening and organic gardening from Amazon's used marketplace to help me get started, and from this, I know that lettuce is one of the easiest veggies to grow. So that's my plan: lettuce in containers in 2009, and we'll see where things go from there. But I have this fear that I'll fail, as I have with everything else I've ever tried to grow.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blogs and web sites I enjoy

OK, I have a bunch of diverse interests, so here they are (since I don't yet know how to create a blog roll):

Ta Nehisi Coates (politics, race relations):

Slacktivist (politics, religion, fiction):

Shakesville (politics, feminism):

Jack and Jill Politics (politics, race relations): ttp://

Balloon Juice (politics):

No Impact Man (the environment):

Crunchy Chicken (the environment):

A Happy Assembly (Jane Austen fan fiction):

Graceful Mothering (parenting, religion):

Tacoma Mama (local parenting guide):

Harvest Boston (religion):

The Black Snob (politics, race relations, and culture):

Making my own skin and hair care products

Two things motivated this. First, after my daughter was born, I started thinking much more about the environment and the impact that toxins and pollutants could have on her health, and I wanted to make changes in my lifestyle for her sake. Second, I had to make changes in my beauty routine out of necessity.

Skin Care

As teenagers, my siblings and I had very little acne. What we suffered from instead was red, scaly rashes the frequently spread across our faces. My mother took us to a dermatologist every other week, who kept prescribing different medications, which might or might not work for a while, but which often had side effects, for which he'd prescribe something else. And our skin issues never really went away.

Well, I went off to college with my skin care prescriptions in hand and tried to get them filled at my college pharmacy. The pharmacist stared at me and refused to fill them. "There is NO WAY any reputable doctor should have prescribed so many medications for you," he said. And he added, "I think most dermatologists are talking out of their neck anyway. Most of the time, they have no idea what's wrong with your skin; they're just guessing."

I am not trying to disparage dermatology as a profession, but as you can imagine, that soured me on dermatologists. But now I was stuck: what to do about my skin? One night, when my red, itchy face was driving me nuts, I thought, "What if nothing is wrong with my skin? What if it's just dry and sensitive?" And I grabbed a jar of petroleum jelly and slathered it over my face.

The next morning, my skin was clear and soft. No red patches, no itching, no scales. I had found the answer: nothing was wrong with my skin that keeping it well-moisturized wouldn't handle.

Of course, petroleum jelly is horrible for your skin, clogging pores (and I now know, is also bad environmentally). So I started trying different moisturizers. The problem was, after a few months, my skin would start to react again to whatever product I was using, even those labeled "hypoallergenic" (e.g., Eucerin, Cetaphil, etc.).

Enter my new interest in the environment. In the process, I discovered a lot of DIY homemade product recipes online, many of which I've modified to best suit my needs. Here are a few:

Skin care routine:

1. Cleanse with a mixture of powdered milk and water.

2. Tone with green tea.

3. Exfoliate with a mixture of baking soda and water (once a week).

4. Do a homemade facial mask once a week. I've tried a few different ones. My favorite so far is a mixture of plain yogurt, milled flax seeds, and yeast.

5. The best part: the moisturizer! I mix equal parts (usually 2 TB) pure shea butter (a company in Georgia, AAA Shea Butter, sells a 16 oz. jar for $25; it lasts me about a year) and extra virgin olive oil. Shea butter is a solid, so I melt it in the microwave. I also crush a couple of Vitamin C tablets in a pill crusher and add that, as well as about a tsp. of Vitamin E oil. I mix all this in a small jar with a good lid. I tilt it on its side overnight (otherwise, the Vitamin C will all sink to the bottom). By the morning, the mixture has the consistency of a cream. This amount lasts me about a month. Then I clean and disinfect the jar and make some more. Every morning, I apply it generously to my face and either rinse several times with warm water, or take a really hot washcloth and place it on my face so it absorbs in.

Since I've been using this routine (almost 2 years now!), my skin is soft and smooth, and I've had NO recurrences of the red, scaly itchy skin.

Hair Care

OK, I'm an African-American with lots of other stuff in my ancestry, and I have very thick, dry, curly, hard to comb hair--a nightmare for my mother as a child! (And I'm experiencing the same issues, trying to care for my daughter's hair). I have also suffered from really bad dandruff since I was a child as young as eight, something no dandruff shampoo seemed to alleviate. I'm still working on my hair care routine, but here is what I'm doing so far:

1. I've been 'poo free for almost two years. I used to use the baking soda/vinegar method, washing with 1 TB. baking soda in 8 oz. of water (applied with a squeeze bottle), letting it sit a few minutes and rinsing with warm water; followed by 2 TB. apple cider vinegar in 8 oz. of cool water as a rinse, letting it sit for a few minutes, and rinsing with cool water. For more than a year and a half, that worked well and eliminated my dandruff. Then my scalp started to itch like crazy! The odd thing was, my dandruff didn't return. In the past, if I scratched my head, a shower of flakes would fall on my shoulders. No flakes this time around, but boy, did it itch!

I have recently started reading about the "Curly Girl" method, in which you wash your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo (recommended since curly hair tends to be naturally dry). I started washing with Trader Joe's Tea Tree Oil conditioner (awesome, all natural product, 16 oz. is $3.99) mixed with water, and I still do the apple cider vinegar rinse. I've been doing this for six weeks now, and it's working out well. The itch is gone! I've since read that baking soda is a great cleaner for oily hair, but not so much for dry, but that occasionally (maybe once a month), a baking soda wash should be used to get rid of any build-up. I currently wash my hair about once every five days.

2. I make a daily leave-in conditioner from 1/3 part TJ's Tea Tree Oil conditioner, 1/3 part extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), and 1/3 part filtered water. Very nice, keeps my hair well-moisturized without feeling greasy.

3. I make my own detangler! The "Curly Girl" method says you shouldn't comb your hair, but I can't imagine that--my hair would be a rat's nest if I didn't. This is an AWESOME detangler. I fill an 8oz. spray bottle about 2/3 full with filtered water. Then I add (no set amounts, just until the bottle is full) some TJ's Tea Tree Oil conditioner, some pure Aloe Vera gel (I can purchase a large bottle at Super Supplements for $7.99), and some EVOO, along with about 10 drops each of peppermint essential oil and grapefruit seed extract to make it smell good. I can't believe how easy my hair is to comb after spraying this stuff on! It even works well on my daughter's hair, miracle of miracles! (Oh yeah, you have to shake well each time you use it)

4. Here's the area I'm still working on. I still use a chemical relaxer about once every 3 months. I recently learned about a product called Natural Laxer from a company called Treasured Locs, made from Saharan Clay and herbs. I'd like to try it, because I want to get away from chemical products altogether. The only thing is, it says that it could discolor light-colored hair (which I have). But I hope to still try it in the next couple months, and post about the results.


UPDATE: I've also started adding a little vegetable glycerin to the above products. Vegetable glycerin is a humectant, which when used on the skin or hair, help them to attract and retain moisture. I purchased a 16 oz bottle of vegetable glycerin from Super Supplements for $7.19.

My attempt at going green

Earth-Friendly Things I’m Doing

1. Use reusable bags when I shop
2. Recycle
3. Buy clothes and most durable goods second hand
4. Make my own skin and hair care products from natural ingredients
5. Use only natural products on my daughter’s skin and hair
6. Use reusable menstrual products
7. Use only earth-friendly, nontoxic cleaning and laundry products
8. Use cloth napkins and cloth towels for cleaning
9. Use recycled paper products
10. Try to eat vegetarian meals often, and reduce amount of meat in meals for family (e.g, in stews, soups and casseroles)
11. Wash laundry in cold water
12. Turn off lights and power strips
13. Keep heat low
14. Use smaller appliances (e.g., toaster oven or microwave rather than oven) as much as possible
15. Buy organic as much as possible
16. “Let it mellow”
17. Toilet displacement bag; showering every 2 days (washing up in basin on alternate days); trying to be conscious of water use
18. Read and learn about environmental issues
19. Use canteens rather than buy bottled water
20. Freecycle
21. Use rechargeable batteries

Things I could be doing better

1. Composting. Still trying to figure it out. My worms seemed to die out as other bugs took over.

2. Taking public transportation. It takes more time and planning here than it did when I lived in Boston. My neighborhood in Boston scored 82 out of 100 (100 being the best score) for being a walkable community. My current neighborhood in a near suburb of Tacoma scores a 7 out of 100. I am, however trying to drive a short distance (2 miles) and park my car in a shopping mall lot, and from there take the bus to work.

(Find your neighborhood's Walk Score here: )

3. Buying local. Right now, it’s too expensive where I am. We were stunned when we visited the local farmer's markets during the summer--very few produce items cost less than $5/lb. I hope that when the Tacoma Food Co-op is up and running, this will change. My family and I are members of the Food Co-op, which is currently still in the planning stages.

Things I’d like to do

1. Learn how to successfully grow a small vegetable garden.
2. Adopt a tree at my local orchard. We'd have to learn how to prune it, but in the fall, we'll get to harvest the apples!
3. Buy Wonder Wash and Spin Dryer from Laundry Alternatives
4. Buy a rain barrel

Starting a blog

OK, I've been thinking about this for a while. I titled my blog, "Green for the rest of us," because I want (in part) to use this blog to talk about the relatively inexpensive and fairly easy things I'm trying to do to go green.

However, I also want to blog about my other interests, including fiction writing, child rearing (I have a lovely 3 1/2 year old daughter!), politics, race relations, religion, etc. So this blog will probably veer off in several directions.

Real quick intro: raised in Cleveland, attended college in Boston and lived there for many years, moved to Tacoma, WA seven months ago. Married, one daughter, and I work as a grant writer for a nonprofit organization.