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Earth Day: Baby Steps Toward Zero Waste

I've had this post sitting idly in my drafts for months, so in honor of Earth Day I thought I'd share it with you.

There's this new concept around the web called "zero waste". What's funny about zero waste is that it even has a title, when if we look back about 60 years, we'd see zero waste as everyday life; baking, preserving, reusing scraps. Now with a continually growing number of packaged convenience foods, the need for such a movement exists. The name is pretty self explanatory. Zero waste means trying to produce as little waste as possible. I'm big on green, natural/organic products, but only recently have many of my purchases depended on the amount of packaging and if said packaging is recyclable. Of course, I've hit some roadblocks thus far. For example, I asked the woman at the deli to wrap my lunchmeat in butcher paper instead of a plastic bag, but no luck as she had no butcher paper. Clearly she didn't understand that I was trying to decrease my waste because she gave me a 1/2 lb of prosciutto with a piece of deli paper in between every single slice. Sigh.

Although sometimes challenging, there are many ways to decrease our daily waste, so I've compiled a list of baby steps to take on your journey toward zero waste:
  • Compost - According to the EPA, 14.1% of municipal solid waste (MSW) is food scraps. Composting is an easy way to dispose of this waste as well as generate nutrient rich soil for gardening.
  • Recycle - I know, sounds obvious, but there are so many items that get thrown away because people are unaware that a recycling solution exists. It takes some online sleuthing but there are resources for recycling things that can't be tossed into the green bin. Items include: electronics, textiles (even underwear and dust rags), scrap metals (anyone else ruin cast iron?), household chemicals and other hazardous materials, used makeup containers, paint cans, plastic gift cards, batteries, medications, old household fixtures, even styrofoam.
  • Donate - It's heartbreaking to see people throw away perfectly good furniture or clothing because they either don't know how, or don't want to bother donating it. Goodwill and The Salvation Army are good places to start, but there are also homeless shelters that accept things like unused cosmetics, beauty care and hygiene products.
  • Give it Away - I gave 30 plastic hangers to a a friend of mine when she reorganized her closet. I offered extra skeins of yarn to a friend who worked at a day care. Resources such as Freecycle and Craigslist "free" section are great places to unload items that are still in good condition, may not be "donateable", but no longer needed. I got rid of an old satellite dish using the craigslist free section.
  • Buy reusable - Don't get the spray mop that requires you to purchase multiple refills to keep using the product, switch to a reusable and refillable variety, or better yet, a regular broom or mop. Many products come in reusable varieties from coffee filters (even the Keurig) to diapers.
  • Make it from scratch - All bread products from tortillas to pizza dough to pita bread can be made at home with a few ingredients, no packaging, and no preservatives or additives. Salad dressings are quick and easy from scratch. Other from scratch foods include tomato sauce, pickles, mayonnaise, tarter sauce, aioli, ketchup, mustard, cookies and granola bars. I'm not saying you should harvest and mill your own flour, but if you starting taking little steps toward making things at home, you'll find they are often easier than you think, more nutritious and even more delicious.
  • Choose your packaging - Plastic is forever. Sure it may be downcycled into another product, but eventually, it all becomes trash. So when choosing packaging, try looking for things that are in paper or glass. For example, choose dried pasta found in a paper box instead of a plastic bag. The box can be recycled or composted. Glass containers can be recycled indefinitely.
  • Buy in bulk - In certain states bulk stores are not hard to come by and hopefully people don't give you a dirty look when you use your own container (I'm talking to you lady at Whole Foods). However, in many places, bulk stores are not available, so what do you do? For one, I have a Costco membership where I'm able to buy larger quantities of certain foods we eat a lot of, especially cheese. Large containers of feta cheese, tubs of mozzarella and huge wedges of Parmesan are some of our staples. Yes they still come in plastic, but by buying one large wedge of Parm instead of 4 small wedges, we've decreased the packaging by at least half, not to mention saved some cash. Beware of bulk convenience foods however, especially individually packaged snacks that come in a box with four boxes in one larger box (I'm not exaggerating). Stick to the big bag and divide it up into glass storage containers instead. 
There you have it. It's not hard to start taking these baby steps to lead you to a more earth friendly lifestyle.

More ways to reduce waste here and here.


One Room, Two Ways

So. I've been thinking about updating the living room. I'm over the damask print and the shitty shedding rug, and the pillows have seen better days. So I started looking around for inspiration. First, I found this black and white striped rug (P.S. it's more of an off white) Then, I perused Pinterest and Etsy for additional accessories. Ikat is huge right now, so I found two black and white coordinating pillows. Then, I remembered the lovely moon print that I pinned awhile back. Through in a vintage butterfly poster and some vases and I'm done. 
But wait. 

One of the other things I found on Pinterest was this image from Domino magazine.
Domino's Mini Guide: Twin Beds (June/July 2008 issue), photo by Justin Bernhaut via Little Green Notebook
Can I go for something like this? If you've spent any time here you know that this color combo is way out of my norm. But. I like it. I like the bright, happy contrast of the red and blue. Plus just like the first option, I would just have to add some accessories: beautiful aqua and tan ikat pillows, La Terre instead of La Lune, some bright butterflies to replace the more subdued print, some teal vases and maybe a throw. There's no way I'm going to touch the two story walls so the linen colored paint (Behr Gobi Desert) would stay, but I think it would tie in nicely to the tans in the ikat.

So. I'm putting it out there. What do you think? Family, friends, anonymous; which way should I go? Leave a comment below and let me know your favorite.


Max: Our Experience with Canine Epilepsy

I wanted to write this post for those people scouring the internet late into the night after their dog starts having seizures. I sat many a night with tears in my eyes reading message boards about success stories and comforted by the fact that it gets better.

We adopted Max at the beginning of the year, and although we were told "he has seizures, but they're controlled with medication" that was not the case.

Max has idiopathic canine epilepsy with grand mal seizures. Idiopathic: no known cause, grand mal: AKA Tonic Clonic seizures, are the seizures you see in movies; the full on crazy foaming at the mouth seizures. Max's start only during sleep. He will wake suddenly with his eyes open as wide as they go and it looks like he's looking at a bug flying around his head, he may also sniff uncontrollably. Shortly after he will go into the Tonic phase starting with his mouth which will rhythmically open and shut until his whole body goes rigid. He then starts the clonic phase and his limbs join into the rhythmic movements. He foams at the mouth and looses bowel and bladder control. This lasts about 20 seconds, then he lays rigidly with his eyes open, usually for another 20 seconds. Although his eyes are open, he is unconscious during the entire seizure. Upon regaining consciousness, he starts the post seizure or "post-ictal" phase. He "wakes" from the seizure confused and disoriented. He cannot see for a few minutes and walks around aimlessly while running into everything. This is the hardest thing to see. He can however, smell immediately and this is when we give him his valium in a pill pocket (more on that later). He's also ravenously hungry which is a result of the intensity of the seizures which are akin to running a marathon.

He was on the first line canine epilepsy drug phenobarbital or "pheno" when we adopted him. However the dose was "subtherapeutic" or ineffective for his size. When the foster said he hadn't had a seizure the entire time he's had him, he lied. I felt angry that we were taken advantage of, and had many a pity party that we adopted a dog with epilepsy. I'm not proud of it, but I thought about giving him back to the rescue. Fortunately, after many discussions with Mike we decided that Max was worth it, that he was such a sweet loving boy, that just needed someone to love him and who better than us. He's surprisingly well trained, he comes when he's called and can be off leash, without fear of him taking off. I believe the only reason he was let go from his family were the seizures, which had probably just started. When he brought him home, he seizured 4 times over 3 days before we could bring him to the vet and get his dosage corrected. This incorrect dose coupled with the stress of a new home was enough to cause those 4 seizures. Once we got the dose corrected the seizures started to decrease in frequency.


He started to cluster.

A cluster seizure is when a dog has multiple seizures over a short period of time, in Max's case it was 6 in a hour. It tore us up to see him like this, and the ER vet was horrible to us. (I still have an indent in my steering wheel from where Mike punched it). But the next day we contacted our regular vet and things started to turn around.

Max was put on another medication that's given to dogs who cluster called Potassium Bromide or KBr. KBr takes 2-3 months to build up in their system but should allow for a decrease in the dosage of pheno. Although the vet wanted to attempt to decrease his pheno dose shortly after starting the KBr, I didn't do it. I knew he wasn't ready. He also gave us good ol valium to give to Max after a seizure to prevent him from clustering, which has helped tremendously.

He takes medications twice a day. The pheno is given twice a day and it works for 12 hours and needs to be given again. It needs to be given exactly on time. The KBr is given once a day and the timing is much more relaxed since it builds up to a steady blood level in their system over the course of those 2-3 months. The only problem with these medications is that they can be extremely hard on the liver. So we are required to get blood levels checked to make sure they stay in a therapeutic range. We are currently getting them checked about every two months, but once we are certain his dose is correct, we'll only have to do this once a year. Actually, while writing this, I received a call from our vet stating that his levels are looking great. That they are actually both on the low end of the therapeutic range. This means that the KBr has not reached it's full effect yet and that it would be safe to increase his dose of pheno if we need to. Which we might have to because although the frequency has decreased dramatically (3 weeks, then a month), he is still clustering.  The clusters are so problematic because they have the potential to cause extreme increases in blood pressure which can cause a stroke, as well as extremely high temperatures. Although it's been stressful, Max has brought so much love into our lives. We got him for Olive. We thought she would love a buddy to play with and to provide her with the companionship she could only get from another dog. When I see them laying together, I know it was the right choice.

If you're dog has been diagnosed with epilepsy, here are a few things to remember:

  • There are treatments - It is important to find a good doctor who has worked with dogs with epilepsy is is will to work with you and your dog. However, just as a person on medication for epilepsy, your dog may still have seizures occasionally.
  • It doesn't hurt them. The seizures may look scary, but they are unconscious. They need you to be there for them.
  • Be patient. It may take some time to get the seizures under control and the correct treatment. It may sound silly, but remember that your dog has NO control over their seizures
  • It gets better.


This Week in Photos 3.19 - 4.1

Sun Tea

French 75




 Not a textbook


 Earth Hour


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