Going Greener and Saving Some Green

In honor of Earth Day, I thought I would share some tips for having a greener household and also saving some green (money) at the same time. I am delighted to bring the first tip, since it was just yesterday that I discovered this one!

Tip #1- Recycling Flowers

While pulling into our neighborhood yesterday, I saw the lawn crew pulling up the pansies that had been planted not too long ago. They looked fine to me so I wondered why they were pulling them up. I stopped the car and asked one of the men what he was doing. He explained to me that they systematically come in and replace the old flowers with new flowers so the entrance stays looking new and fresh. I asked him if there was anything wrong with the flowers he was pulling out. He replied that they were fine so I asked if I could have them to plant in my own yard. He was delighted to provide me with all the flowers that I wanted – even digging them up, placing them in a bag and loading them in my car for me! The man also told me that he often brings the flowers back to his own house and plants them in his yard since there is nothing wrong with them. So, I ended up with enough pansies to fully fill 2 hanging baskets, 1 rectangular planter and 2 small islands in my front yard. I was so happy that this simple step of asking for something provided me flowers at no cost, kept the flowers from the landfill and gave the man working one less thing to dispose of at the end of the day!

Tip #2 – Recycling Home Products

My kids know that nothing goes into the trash can if there is a hope that it can be recycled. They often look on plastic packaging to find the recycling number to see if it can be recycled. You can even recycle some things that most people don’t realize – like the bag that bread comes in! We have a bin set up in our garage where all the recycling from the house goes. We have curbside pick up for recycling that is included in our garbage pick up, so all we have to do is put it out on garbage day and they do the rest. I also have a can in my office for paper waste only – junk mail, printer scraps, discarded schoolwork, etc. All of this also gets taken to the recycling bin during the week.

Tip #3 – Less Paper Products

I think I have spoken on this topic before but we work hard to keep our paper product usage to a minimum. We have a drawer in our kitchen that is full of rags that can be used for general cleaning and spills. The kids and even their friends know that I don’t have paper towels so if they need to clean up the mud on their feet or a glass of spilled juice, they go the rag drawer. I also keep a small plastic can under my kitchen sink for the dirty rags to go into. I wash the rags with the other towels in hot water and put them back when they are clean. We also use cloth napkins instead of paper. I have another drawer in the kitchen filled with napkins and treat it similar to the rags – when they are used or dirty, they go into the little bin, affectionally called the “rag bin”.

Tip #4 – Reusable Bags

I keep atleast 10 reusable bags in my car at all times. I take them with me whenever I go shopping for anything – groceries, clothing, household goods, etc. By doing so, I can cut down on the number of plastic bags being used and in turn cut down on pollution. I do, upon occasion, get my groceries packed in plastic but only so we can have the plastic bags to clean up after the dog. But hey, I figured this is a form of recycling too!

Tip #5 – Composting

I recently posted a picture of the new compost bin that John built for me. I have been using it like crazy and I love it! I keep a small plastic bin in my fridge that I place my kitchen scraps into (egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps) and then empty it into my compost bin once a day. I am not sure how long it will take to make usable compost for the garden but atleast it is keeping these precious materials out of the landfill.

Tip #6 – Gardening

My garden is growing like crazy and it makes me so excited to go out and look at it. The garden produces all summer long and helps us to save in our grocery bill. I spent less than $20 for the supplies needed including plants and seeds and it will produce way more food than that. I also have the peace of mind in knowing that my family is eating produce that I grew without any pesticides or chemicals. I have an all natural fish fertilizer that I sometimes use on the garden. It doesn’t smell very good but I know that it will not harm my family when they eat the vegetables grown using it.

Tip #7 – Turn off the lights and water

This is an easy step that save us tons of money and resources – teach your family to turn off the lights and water. This is a tip that we are still working on in my family. I have the water thing down pretty good with the kids but the lights habit is a harder one to break. If you can get your family to turn off the water when it is not being used (including when brushing their teeth) and turn off the lights when they leave a room, it can save tons of money in utility bills. Not to mention make our world a greener place because the best energy is one that is never produced!

Tip #8 – Use less gas

I am a homebody by nature. I can go days without ever leaving except to get the mail. One of the benefits is that I spend less money, after all you can’t buy something you don’t see, and use less fossil fuel, which also saves more money. If you aren’t like me and you have to leave your house, at least try to group errands together so that you use less fuel. The sooner we can wean ourselves from oil dependance, the better off we will be as a national and as individuals.

Brittany told me one day this week that our world would be such a better and cleaner place if people would do the same things we do. That made me feel so good that she was getting it all and creating habits that will last a lifetime for her. So, in honor of Earth Day, change one thing you do today to make it even greener. And if you can’t think of anything, one last tip to help – Starbucks is offering a free brewed coffee to anyone who brings in a reusable coffee mug. That is a delicious way to go green and save some green!

Washington, D.C.

I absolutely love Washington, D.C. It is one of my most favorite places to visit – in part because there is so much to do that is free! Our first full day in D.C. we ended up walking 11 miles – I wouldn’t have believed it if John had not shown me the app on his iPhone. The weather that day was beautiful, exactly what you would expect for spring in our nation’s capital. Our visit also coincided with the National Cherry Blossom Festival which celebrates the cherry trees given to us by Japan in 1912. There are over 3700 cherry trees planted around Washington with a great number of them planted along the river basin. The trees were in full bloom while we were there, which made for a beautiful scenic walk.

Josh and Brittany couldn’t resist climbing some of the snowy white trees and I couldn’t resist taking pictures of them doing it!

The first day was spend touring mostly monuments. We hit the Lincoln Memorial, WWII memorial, Korean Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, FDR monument, Washington monument and the National Archives, home to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I had asked the kids prior to starting out what their priorities were for D.C. and I was pleasantly surprised. Brittany wanted to make sure to see the FDR monument and Josh wanted to see the Declaration of Independence. So, we made to sure to include those both on our first day in D.C.

Of all the monuments and memorials that we saw, I was most impressed by the WWII memorial and the FDR memorial. I had not seen these in past visits – I think they were added after I had last been to D.C. approx 7 years ago. The FDR memorial was one of the largest memorials that I have seen since it is set up as several distinct outdoors rooms that represent all 4 terms that FDR served as president.

To me, the most moving was the Korean Memorial due to the fact that my grandfather fought in Korea and I know that it has profoundly shaped his life. It was a very dramatic memorial that included life size soldiers that seemed to be searching through the underbrush. It also had a reflecting pool and an inscription reminding us that “Freedom is not Free”.

John at the Lincoln Memorial
The FDR memorial
The Korean Memorial
Inscription at Korean Memorial 1950-1953

We finished up our first day with a little adventure in downtown D.C. We had been walking all day and it was beginning to get dark. We realized that we were starving for dinner so we whip out the iPhone and find a Five Guys a few blocks away. Or so we thought. We proceeded to walk through downtown D.C. for at least an hour trying to find this restaurant. We finally find it inside an almost unmarked building to only realize that they closed about an hour before, when we had started the journey. So, it is 8pm at night and nothing that we could find is open for dinner, especially given that we have 2 kids in tow and budget to maintain. We finally found the metro station (which in itself was an adventure) and proceeded 10 stops to our hotel and ended up in a nearby IHOP. My kids had never been in the ‘hop before and according to Brittany she will never be back. It was at least 9:30 before they got dinner that night. My poor kids were exhausted before collapsing into bed that night.

Here is the last view of D.C. from our first night there…..

Weekend update

Wow! It was a busy weekend at the Rodi house this weekend! We spent most of the weekend in the yard and it looks so good! We moved the garden from a less sunny spot to the sunniest spot we have in our backyard – which isn’t saying much since most of our backyard is shaded by large trees. We do a Squarefoot Garden so for us to move the garden requires moving the boxes, the dirt inside of them and the fencing around the garden. Since it is spring planting time, we almost added compost to our garden and put in seeds and plants. This year we are planting tomatoes, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, rosemary, lavender and cabbage from plants. The cabbage was brought home by my third grader as a little at home project on plant growth. We aren’t big cabbage eaters but I like the fact that she is interested in growing something in the garden. We are also growing greenbeans, carrots, basil and cilantro from seed. I would have liked to put squash and zucchini in our garden but from what I had read it needs a lot of room and having planted it the past two years, I have come to realize that it just doesn’t do well in my garden. Here is a picture of what it looked like after we were done…

As you can see, I mulched around the plants but left the seeded boxes empty until the plants start to come through and then I will go back to mulch them. I am excited to see how much the garden produces now that it will have sun for atleast 8 hours a day! Yeah!

The other big project that we tackled this weekend was to create a compost bin. I have wanted a compost bin for some time now but we were concerned with both the smell it might create and wildlife it might attract. After doing some research online and looking at compost bins in the local home improvement stores, John designed a bin out of what we had on hand here at the homestead. He used an old garbage can, scrap plywood, a piece of pvc and his drill. It took him a couple of hours to knock it out but I am so happy with the way it looks and works! I have already added a small amount of produce leftover from today’s meals, along with some leaves and worms that Josh and I found hanging out in the backyard!

Time for bed….again

Ok, I will update the blog with pics and details about our Spring Break trip to Washington DC at a later time but right now I want to talk about getting kids to sleep. Are we the only parents in North America who can’t get our kids to stay in bed? We put them in bed every night at 7:30 and by 8:30, our son has been up at least 4 times about everything – wanting something to eat, temperature is too hot, it is too cold, his feet are hot, his feet are cold (sometimes we get the hot/cold feet back to back – great!). I mean, seriously, why can’t they just go to bed and stay in bed?!?!?! I wish I could go to bed and have someone else taking care of everything for me. I could go to bed by 8pm and a little fairy could walk through the house and put away all the things I got out that day, do the dishes, fold the laundry and make me food. Oh, what a dream life! Why don’t they see it as such and just GO TO BED??

Brittany will at least stay in bed but our problem with her is that she wants to stay up reading until all hours of the night. Sounds like a dream come true, right? A kid who wants to read? Yeah, except for when you can’t get them to stop so they can get some sleep and function like a normal person the next day. So, we have tried a timer and threatened her with every punishment we can think about but it doesn’t seem to do much good. She still pokes her head out of her room around 9pm announcing that she “accidentally” read until then. Great….

So, how do you do it? Or do you do it? Who else just wants their kids to go to bed??