Archive for December, 2008

Green Kitchen Renovation Project

In personal news, we are undertaking a kitchen renovation project at our home in Columbus OH. The house is 90 years old, the cabinets are 40 years old, and the kitchen is not laid out for functionality. We are going to change all that with a complete remodel (tearing down to studs and building back up). We are using as many green materials and practices as we can along the way.

If you care to follow and comment on our journey, read www.houndsinthekitchen.com.

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Happy Holidays

Whatever holiday you celebrate in whichever way, we wish you Peace and Hope and a wonderful new year.

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Eco Bags from Japan

We received a holiday packaged today from our friend Miyu in Japan. It was really fun to open! Miyu sent Alex and I two “pocketable” eco bags with this cute little note:

Eco Bag from Japan

“In Japan, we’re trying to not have (get) plastic bag at supermarket. I always bring a bag for shopping! Please use it with Alex!!”

Of course we already have tons of reusable bags (and more for sale in the store), but none so adorably Japanese. Yeah for the global spread of sustainability!

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The charity auctions have ended and we made cash donations today. In total, the 1% for Good program provided over $600 to non profit organizations.

We had so many great suggestions that it was hard to choose which charities to support. We researched possibilities and made our selections on the efficiency of the organizations and how their mission aligned with ours.

Here are the 2008 supported charities:

Capital Area Humane Society (membership and Second Chance Fund)
Nature Conservancy
National Audubon Society
4Paws4Ability for Ryan
Mid-Ohio Food Bank
School for Young Children scholarship fund
Turning Point domestic abuse shelter

Thanks for your support and purchases, without which we could not have this program.

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You need something to hold all the presents, right? Try an oversized reusable bag! You might have a paper one laying around from all the holiday shopping. If you don’t already have a good collection of durable cloth bags, consider the Toteyl reclaimed billboard shoulder tote from Green Guru Gear. It’s made in the USA of reclaimed materials. $29.95 in a variety of patterns.Tip of the day: When cleaning for holiday guests (or any time of the year), we suggest slowly replacing expensive harsh chemical cleaners and disposable wipes/towels with natural solutions and reusable rags. We use vinegar and old newspaper for windows and compost the newspaper when we are done. Vinegar and tea tree oil diluted with warm water is our mopping solution.

For bathrooms and other cleaning, we LOVE Charlie’s Soap All Purpose cleaner. It is safe, non toxic to children and pets, and not scented. Best of all, unlike most natural cleaners we try, Charlie’s actually works. If you are a local friend, email me to come by and pickup a free sample, as Charlie’s gave me an extra gallon (!) in my last order and I want to share the eco-friendly cleaning love.

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I just realized that OLovesM hasn’t been getting any love in our 12 Days series! Oops! OLovesM bags are stylish and functional handbags made from reclaimed yoga mat scraps and Chaco sandal straps. Each one is made by hand in Aspen Colorado by fairly paid workers.

The water bottle holder above is a great way to keep your water handy and stay hydrated day hikes or at the farmers market. A mesh pocket holds your keys, cash or business cards. $15.95 in a variety of colors.

Tip of the day: Many people are shopping online these days, which means many people end up with stacks of cardboard boxes at the end of the holiday season. Recycling them is great, but why not keep the boxes in use a little longer? Try these ideas:
*store for the next time you need to ship a package
*allow a child to turn one (or several) into a doll house, rocket ship, or castle
*donate to a local animal shelter if they can use the cardboard for bedding or critter houses.
*cut off or tuck in the tops and use boxes to organize your basement/garage/medicine cabinet
*add in small pieces to your compost box, or add to vermicompost

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Day Seven:
Looking for something unique to stuff in a stocking? Try Guyot Designs squishy bowls. These compact silicone bowls easily fit in the toe of a stocking, pocket of a purse, or bottom of a backpack. Pull them out and they snap back into shape! Eat or drink from them. These cool bowls are also dishwasher and freezer safe. $14.95/set of one bowl and one cup. Also available in travel shot size, $6.95 for two.

Tip of the Day: Pets add value to our lives and of course we want to express our affection for them as well. Our dogs have stockings hanging on the mantle waiting to be filled. Squishy Bowls are a fun food dish. If you are looking for a collar or coat, we love Annie’s Sweatshop. Annie makes quality durable dog gear from recycled and reclaimed material.

If buying new toys isn’t in your budget, maybe your beasts would enjoy a handmade batch of treats? Here’s our recipe for dog cookies, from MacPherson’s K-9 Cookbook:
3 cupes whole wheat flour
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup shredded cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk

1. In large mixing bowl, combine flour and garlic powder.
2. Make a well in the flour mixture and gradually stir in vegtable oil, cheese, beaten egg, and milk until well blended.
3. Knead dough on a floured surface, about 3-4 minutes.
4. Roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness.
5. Cut with cookie cutter, or into squares, and place on lightly greased baking sheet.
6. Back for 25 minutes at 400 deg F
7. Cool on a rack and store at room temperature with a container with a loose-fitting lid.

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We are halfway through the 12 days of Green Gifts and Tips! Today, we’re highlighting green gifts on sale. First, we just announced that all orders placed before December 19 will ship for free. No coupon code necessary. Next, check out our merino wool jackets on sale for 10% off. Finally, visit the clearance corner for great deals on closeout products, including the women’s climawool glove, a softshell warm when wet cold weather glove perfect for gift giving. $39 (regular price $70)

Tip of the day: Give durable gifts. Heirloom quality toys and quality clothes will last longer than plastic junk. This will certainly please your gift recipient, but it also keeps waste out of the landfill.

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Today, we are highlighting a local favorite: Jess’ Bee Natural Lip Balms. These all-natural balms are hand poured here in Columbus Ohio by a talented friend using all USA ingredients. They are formulated to sooth and restore dry skin. A super stocking stuffer! $3 each, available in tangerine or peppermint

Last night we decorated our Christmas tree at home. It led me to think about the baubles we decorate with this time of year. I know some people who choose a different decorating scheme each year and end up with hundreds of cheap ornaments that are deemed useless on January 1st. What a waste, I say. We like to reuse ornaments year to year and only add gifts or handmade baubles to our collection. It makes the tradition of hanging ornaments all that more meaningful because we remember where we got the ornament each year as we carefully unwrap it. Do you decorate a tree? What kind of ornaments do you have?

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On Day 4 of our ongoing 12 Days of Green Gifts and Tip series, we’re focusing on children.
Growing kids are more susceptible to chemicals in their environment than adults, making it even more important to reduce exposure to toxins when possible. To help children stay hydrated without spills or toxins, we recommend the BPA free 12 ounce Klean Kanteen bottle with a sippy or sports top. Our 3 year old daughter prefers the sports top on her “shiny bottle” aka a stainless steel Klean Kanteen. $14.55/12 ounce with sports top, $18.55/12 ounce with sippy, additional $2 for color.

If you have a child, here’s a great tip for gift tags: Cut holiday shapes out of your child’s old drawings, scribbles, or paintings. If you don’t love the idea of cutting all those shapes, borrow or buy a scrapbooking tag punch. Simply write your to and from in a contrasting color and you have a re-used unique gift tag!

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