Project Spectrum: Blue

I’ve had the blues all month, but don’t worry. I haven’t been sad; I’ve been celebrating BLUE for Project Spectrum!


Paddling my blue boat under a blue sky.

Turquoise and Red

Crocheting with blue cotton.


Nibbling my chocolate souvenir brought to me from the royal wedding festivities.

August is all about PINK, which was my favorite color for many years. Can’t wait to delve into it!

What do you plan to explore in August?

Project Spectrum: Living Green**

To wrap up Project Spectrum in June, I interviewed an environmental expert (Neal) about some good ideas beyond those that are usual, at least for me*, to be more green.  Here are his tips, given over breakfast this morning:

1. Fully vet your political candidates for their environmental concern and awareness. The League of Conservation Voters is a resource to see how current politicians are voting on environmental issues. On a local level, chat with candidates to learn about their views. We had a local state representative who rode her bike to do her door-to-door campaigning. That, combined with what she believed was important, garnered both of our votes.

2. Remember that economic conservation usually equals environmental conservation. Can you fix what you have (sew those buttons!)? Is there a used alternative? Craigslist and Freecycle are both excellent resources for used items, as are tag sales and thrift stores, of course. I sort of love the romance of used furniture!

3. Obey the law. If you can’t find a way out of driving to your job (public transportation needs a lot of improvement in most of the places I’ve lived, other than Westchester, New York!), make sure your tires are inflated properly and drive the speed limit. It may seem exciting or important to speed, but obeying the law also conserves precious fuel.

4. Keep your cats inside. I like cats. I’m no all-or-nothing dog lover. In fact, I was raised with cats (and often uttered the phrase “dogs drool, cats rule”) and had cats of my own for many years. Norman and Clyde, my childhood cats, were master hunters, bringing gifts of mice, voles, and birds to our door. As an adult cat owner, I kept my cats inside for their own safety, and I just recently learned that feral and outdoor pet cats kill millions of birds each year. Read more here.

5. Kill your lawn. That picture perfect lawn my grandfather had came at the price of pesticides, excessive watering, and endless mowing. We may not have a yard that makes most of our neighbors envious, but it does not require pesticides, watering, or very much mowing. Don’t give in to the phony ideal lawn; remember, the perfect suburban lawn is a myth created in the 1950s to sell pesticide. Learn what is native in your region.  Most likely it will require far less water. And while this will require water, you might instead consider turning your yard into garden!

6. Cancel your gym membership. Save the gas it costs to drive to the gym and instead work out on your own. Hiking, kayaking, skiing, running, and biking are all great exercise. Maybe you can’t do all of those right from your door, but maybe you can! Hoola hoop, jump rope, push ups, crunches, stairs; all of these are easy to do at home. Even tackling chores in a more old-fashioned way can be great exercise. Hanging laundry, a common green tip, can get you moving, as can weeding, shoveling snow, raking leaves…whatever is possible for you will help!  Turn off the machine (oh, how I hate the sound of leaf blowers on a crisp fall day) and do it yourself!

7. Embrace technology.  It took some persuading, but Neal gave up his daily local newspaper subscription and now reads The New York Times online (it offers better coverage than our sad local paper, too). Read magazines online. Less paper to go into recycling (because you do, of course, recycle, right?).

8. Embrace the seasons. Learn to be a little warm or a little cold. As we put this list together, I recalled my childhood bedroom, in the renovated attic. There was no heat in the winter, other than the little tiny bit that rose to the top of the house (when I moved out my parents had the baseboard pipes flushed and learned there had been an air pocket all those years that prevented the heat from circulating) and no a/c until I was a teen. The heat is harder on me, but our house now is fairly shaded from all the trees that surround us, and if I close the house up (windows down, shades down) early in the day if I see that it is going to be a stinker, it rarely gets hot enough that I must have the a/c on.  Chances are if you read my blog, you probably know a thing or two about fiber arts, which means I don’t have to sing the virtues of adding layers and wrist warmers and socks to keep warm!

9. Poke around your state’s Environmental Protection site for more ideas suited to your location. Unless you live in a state that doesn’t love the environment, in which case, poke around a different state’s site!

What do you do to be more green?

*My assumption of what is usual includes: combining errands for less driving; biking instead of driving when possible; using the library with gusto; carrying a Sigg bottle instead of using plastic (and, hey, get your tap water checked; it may be better than most bottled water!); bringing your own bags to the grocery store; hanging laundry; buying products that have less packaging; recycling paper; and composting.

**Neal, often an angry environmentalist, wanted me to title this post “Don’t be a F*ck”, and while I wouldn’t do that, I did promise to let his voice be heard!

Ten Ways to Go Green When You’re Feeling Green: Guest Post

Project Spectrum‘s June color is green, but that word evokes so much more than the myriad shades of blue and yellow mixed together. Going green, green living…the terms we use to express environmental concern and action inevitably use green. To explore this aspect of green, I’ve asked Andrew Odom of Tiny r(E)volution to share his thoughts about sustainability as it concerns him and his wife as they prepare for the birth of their daughter.

When we decided to have a baby, it was like walking into a black hole; a tunnel that revealed no light at the end. We knew our job would be to protect and to care for our little one, but as we found out more and more about the world we lived in it became more evident to us that almost everything is said to cause threat to the pregnancy! We had to make an active choice a few weeks in to just stop panicking and let it all roll. We knew we wanted to keep our experience as eco-friendly as possible. We knew we wanted our baby to understand our commitment to the Earth and our love for the environment. And to our surprise what we found out is that raising an eco-friendly baby can be pretty easy on the nerves and the wallet!

Breastfeeding. I have heard multiple times that the best way to raise a natural child is to begin naturally and what is more natural than breastfeeding? It is absolutely the best way to start off your baby nutritionally, but it’s also better for the environment and your budget. I wish I could capture an image of all the cans of formula and bottles that won’t have to be purchased for your baby. So not only are you feeding your baby the best you can you are also helping the earth and saving a bit of cash. Rumor has it that breastfeeding is also a great way to burn an extra 400-600 calories a day.

Go toxin-free. Babies make messes. There is no debating that. In fact, they are walking (or should I say, crawling) mess storms. There is always a clean up on aisle 2 in the home of a baby. We learned about the harmful toxins in cleaning products at the very beginning of pregnancy. Standards cleaners can contain toxins that are linked to miscarriage, birth defects, and other pregnancy-related woes. And grabbing a “green” cleaner is really no better. Eco-friendly doesn’t always means pregnant-friendly or baby-friendly. I suggest opting for nontoxic alternatives to cleaning agents. Basic ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, castile soap – even just warm water – can tackle most household cleanups. If you want to know about your household products you can look here!

Organic Cloth Diapers. No matter what diapering system you go for cloth diapers offer yet another way to help save our earth by keeping a bunch of disposable diapers and wipes out of the landfills. Cloth diapering only takes a few times to get the hang of, and you’ll be glad you did because it saves on non-compostable products as well as non-refundable dollar bills!

86 the nursery. Who says every baby needs a nursery? The people who make cribs? It is almost crazy to think about. You spend 60% of what you used to call your bed time tending to a baby. So why not just find a way (co-sleeping or a small pack ‘n play) for them to be in your bedroom. It will give you piece of mind while giving them their own piece of the world!

Can your food. There is no reason that because the main garden season is over that your baby can’t enjoy fresh food. If you garden and have leftover fruits and veggies and take good care to can and preserve them, you can begin your little one (after breastfeeding) on a diet of low-sugar, no preservative, organic foods.

Hand-Me-Downs. I live by a saying. If it’s free, it’s for me. While we are not hoarders and don’t accept things just because they are free, hand-me-down clothes have been a real blessing in our lives already. Most kids grow so fast they hardly wear their clothes, let alone wear them out. Because we are older parents, most of our friends have already had theirs and have the wardrobes to show it. They offer and we accept. It is the ultimate reuse and a great way to get the most out of your friends’ investment and your own.

Water your kids. As with all things that grow, children need water. Why introduce them to sugary soft drinks or artificial fruit juices. Other than breast milk, let them explore good, clean, water. I encourage you, of course, to know the source of your water as well as to be wise about filtering but if you find a reusable drinking container, and good water, your tike can stay hydrated, happy, and healthy.

Simple toys. Most children don’t know they need expensive toys and plastic parts until you teach them that they do. Be cautious of the media messages they ingest as well as the toys you introduce them to. Limit the overall number of toys you buy. Instead, rotate in safe common household objects or invest in quality, hand-made toys. A little imagination from your little one will go a long way!

Air Dry Laundry. Nothing says summer like clothes on the line. Of course, this tip is easier to do if you live in a dry climate. But by doing so you will not only will you reduce your electricity bill by not running the dryer as much, but you’ll also avoid having the dryer heat up your house during warmer months. When you do run the dryer, run it at night when rates are lower and the outside temperature is cooler. And why do I even speak of laundry? Refer to #2 and #3.

And #10? #10 is all about you. It is all about today. What are you going to do today to paint your current pregnancy or new parenthood green?


Bigger does not always mean better. Progress does not always mean forgetting our roots in order to forge a new future. Blogger, photojournalist, and hobby farmer Andrew Odom has spent much of the last few years rediscovering the lost art of living, growing, and being truly happy. Visit him online, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.

Wrapping up Red

As part of my Project Spectrum exploration of color, I will be chatting with different visual artists to get their perspective on color. My good friend Linda Jean Fisher was kind enough to respond to my questions about red. You can learn more about Linda Jean, including seeing images of her work, at her website.

Our interview, conducted via e-mail, reveals Linda Jean’s combination of serious academic approach and humor. When she discovers a focus for her inquiry, she explores it through language and visuals. Her current project is entitled Six Million. I have written about it here. Continue reading “Wrapping up Red”

Project Spectrum Hooping*


Red and orange hoop


For the first time in who can remember, the sun is shining with gusto! I’ve declared the day Official Semester is Over House Cleaning Day, but even with windows wide open, it is hard to stay inside. What’s a girl to do?

Pull out her Project Spectrum themed hoop, put on some Beck, and hoola away on the deck.

When her pal swings by for a quick, cheering visit? Well, turn her on to hooping as well!

*My sweet colleague and her equally sweet husband make hoops, and I was over the moon when she gave this one to me. I can’t get enough of it!



Dinner tonight was delicious.  I saw the Smitten Kitchen recipe for asparagus salad, realized I had everything on hand, and bottle pop rocket! A new favorite dish was born! Glass of white wine on a Monday night is an extravagance, but taste this salad, and you’ll want a few sips of crisp wine, too!

I took a Macro May shot of the salad, too:

Asparagus Salad

And lest I forget about Project Spectrum, here’s a shot of what may be my oldest WIP, the ubiquitous February Lady Sweater (I don’t need to link it, do I?). Red WIP=Project Spectrum knitting.

February Lady

Have you tried a new spring recipe lately? Leave a link, please!

Project Spectrum: Red/Orange

Macro May

Today is the start of the fifth round of one of the most wonderful on-line projects: Project Spectrum.  The multi-talented and utterly charming Lolly has created all sorts of great social media outlets for this year’s PS, so be sure to check out that link!

I’ve decided to approach PS5 as a multi-media exploration of color.  Photography, fiber, paint, words…they will all come into play over the next seven months.  May’s colors are red and orange, and while I’m crazy for orange, I’m going to try to give red the attention it deserves, too.

In May, I’m also participating in Macro May as I strive to get to know my camera better. I failed at Project 365, but I think I can get in a picture a day for a month!

Today, while hiking with Rae and her dog Mia around Great Pond, Rae pointed out this little red and green budding leaf that had dropped to the ground.  It reminded me of a phrase that has been in my head for a few days now: “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May.” (Shakespeare’s Sonnet XVIII)

What a glorious May Day it has been, spent gardening, plucking violet petals, playing with the dogs, hiking, and enjoying the warmth.  What did you do to enjoy May Day?

Coastering or See What I Made, Cookie?

Img_1032I joined Ibby Bee’s Coaster Swap.  I decided to do a Project Spectrum theme and dug around my fabric stash (yes, I have one of those, too) for red fabrics. These were simple to make and satisfying.  I even made a second set for a hostess gift for a weekend dinner party.Img_1033   I used an antique linen napkin with red trim for the backs.  The front of the second set is fabric from Provence; coasters are a perfect project to use just a little of my precious  French fabric, yet still let the fabric have a nice impact.
I’ll be making many more of these, I predict!