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Earth Day Is A State of Mind

I had the grandest of plans to blog in advance about all that I would do for Earth Day’s big 40th anniversary. Then I was going to at least blog at the beginning of Earth Day to fill you with inspiring ideas and useful links. And now it is a few minutes past midnight and Earth Day is over. But the intentions are not.

I am a very, very imperfect mother when it comes to setting an ecological example for my kids. But I’m trying. And I keep trying.  That is perhaps the most important lesson of Earth Day — it is not about a date and it is not about perfection — it is about raising our awareness and helping us improve bit by bit — sometimes by small steps, sometimes in great leaps.  Here are a few of the things we’re working on in the Java household:

Last year I was so sickened by the amount of plastic found in our oceans that I vowed to make a more concerted effort to use cloth or reusable shopping bags. My track record is far from perfect, but I’m getting better. While many of the bags I use are freebies I have received at various conferences, I also like the products from a company I saw at BlogHer’s expo last year, Blue Avocado.  I still forget to bring my bags in a lot of times, but I’m forgetting less often.

This is the year I’ve told myself we’re going to start composting.  My grandmother has always had a compost pit — a simple operation that involved little more than a cylinder of chicken wire and taking the kitchen scraps out to it.  However, living close to a wooded area, I want to make sure I don’t attract any unwanted visitors to the yard, so I’ve been looking at different options and was very intrigued by Julia Roberts’ appearance on Oprah when she discussed her composting habits and an expert brought up vermicomposting — using WORMS to help compost.  One benefit of vermicomposting is that you can compost items like meat (in small quantities), which you can’t in traditional compost pits/bins.  Now that the weather has warmed up and with Earth Day as a reminder, I’ve been researching worm bins although I’m a little bit nervous about taking on the responsibility of managing 5,000 earthworms in the 4-seasons of weather we have in Northern Virginia?  Have I menti0ned often enough on this blog that I am really am not much of a gardener and any success I have is merely a happy mistake?  I do not want to become Northern Virginia’s Worm Mass Murderer due to sheer ineptitude.  Not to mention that JavaGirl loves worms and I’m not confident I can keep her AWAY from the worms.  At the moment, composting is still in the “research” phase with the intention of getting to the “doing” stage shortly.

This led to asking my very wise friend Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes how she composts, and because she is truly magical in all things garden-related, she shared with me her MacGyver-like version of composting.  One day, when I grow up, I want to be Andrea.  Or have her adopt me.  One of those.

Another one of my good intentions is to have a rain barrel, and lo and behold, BJs Wholesale has rain barrels that have a conversion kit to attach to your rain downspout and is sealed so that mosquitoes won’t lay eggs in your barrel.  I’m still working on convincing JavaDad about this one, as he would be the one who would do the actual “converting” of the conversion kit.

We have become significantly better about recycling in our home this year once I finally found this online chart for what our disposal company accepts in the recycling bins.   We’ve always recycled cans and the more obvious recyclables, but I had no idea that we could recycle “plastic film” in our area.  I am, however, considering changing our trash hauler to a competitor who provides the RecycleBank rewards program — they have specially coded recycling containers and weigh your recycling each week and allow you to earn points to redeems for gift cards for a wide variety of retailers.  In other words, it literally pays to recycle!  Since we live in a neighborhood where we have a choice of three different trash haulers, this is a perk worth considering!

I still remember how “radical” a film about ecology seemed in the early 70s when I was in elementary school (I think my memory has mashed-up multiple films as it is a hazy recollection of a scare-fest about DEET and then something about the many uses of bottlecaps), and marvel at how ingrained the reduce>reuse>recycle message is in my children’s minds and lexicon today even at the tender ages of 6 and (almost) 4.  Mommy may be imperfect, but through media, school, and dare I hope, even at home, they are learning a little bit about taking care of this precious planet — every day of the year.

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Disclosures:  This post topic was partially inspired by my participation in the Yahoo Motherboard group.  There is a link to worm bins on Amazon using an Amazon Associates link. Purchases made through Amazon affiliate links on this blog yield a small referral fee. This applies to all purchases made on Amazon regardless of whether the product the consumer purchased was mentioned by me or not. The consumer’s purchases are confidential; I don’t know who has purchased items using my blog’s Amazon Associate links. 

When Life Gives You Basil… Make Lemonade!

purplebasil2I have a LOT of basil.

I mean a LOT. My mother brought me a sprig of purple basil from my great-grandmother’s garden a few years ago and it has turned into a hedge of basil, I kid you not. It is a wonderful bounty, and I love to share it — I gave each child in my son’s preschool class a plant to start in their own gardens and I’m always offering it to passing neighbors, strangers, the A/C repair guy…

But this year’s bounty far exceeds any previous year’s and I’m at a loss as to how to use it. I’m looking for additional recipes!

I’ve made some different pestos, and so far I like the version from Andrea’s Recipes — although I have to ask — do most people toast their pine nuts first or not?

I’ve made this creamy basil pesto three times now, with a few variations on the cheese, and we like it. (The original recipe is for shrimp, but I’ve made just the sauce, and put it over rigatoni or ziti with chicken or ham and peas.)

I’ve made this lemonade and it had a nice flavor — an added complexity to lemonade you would never expect. This is the blessing of a bumper crop — it makes you try new things!

I have not yet made this version of syrup for lemonade/gimlets, but plan to eventually. (I am not a big drinker, but I’ll try a gimlet, just to try one — we have these gorgeous martini glasses we got as wedding gifts and I don’t think we’ve ever had a reason to use them!)

And I’ve made this basil chicken with rice dish, which was very good.

I would love to hear from you about your favorite basil recipes, especially if it uses large quantities of basil!

And what is YOUR bumper crop this summer?

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Learn more about how my crop started from this DC Metro Mom’s post.

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