Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Plastic: The Scourge of My Front Yard

"Rose, do you have a plan?" Average asked, as I began aggressively yanking sheets up plastic up out of our front flower bed. No, I didn't. All I knew was that I didn't want plastic in my way anymore as I tried to plant my three new flowers, and I didn't want to see it poking up out of the ground, or pull chunks of it up as I was trying to weed, as I had been doing all afternoon. I can accept that plastic has many uses, but I don't want my garden to be one of them. Over time it loses its functionality as a weed deterrent, and slowly breaks down but never goes away. I have ranted about this before. By the end, I had filled half of our garbage can with plastic, unearthed a broken section of drainpipe for our gutters, and turned over all of the bark mulch (apparently barkamulch is not a real word) in the area next to our house so it looks like new again! Luckily I married a man who can make a plan, and he brought out a rake and a shovel and helped me move around the bark, so I didn't injure myself trying to pull up the plastic sheets. He also repaired the pipe. Thank you, husband!

We bought our house a little over two years ago, and according to our neighbor, the owners put plastic on all the beds that border our front lawn before covering them with bark chips, in an attempt to "beautify" the yard. The people didn't really know what they were doing, as evidenced by the fact that the geraniums that were lining the front walk the first time we looked at the house were dead by the time we closed and moved in. They planted them under the overhang then never watered.

If you want to eliminate weeds from your flower beds, there are many other options besides burying plastic in the ground, such as:
  • lay plastic down on a hot day and it will cook everything underneath. Remove it after a few days or weeks.
  • cover the area with newspapers, which will eventually compost
  • cover the area with leaves or straw, which will eventually compost
  • fill the area with plants that you want!
  • let the weeds live. Dandelions have many uses, and can be pretty if you look at them the right way. Read about the positive side of the dandelion here. (I do dig up dandelions myself.)
Plastic is a fascinating material. I heard parts of an interview on Fresh Air yesterday with a woman who wrote an entire novel about plastic. You can listen to the interview here. According to Susan Freinkel, author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, it is both a blessing and a curse. She tried to go one day without touching plastic, and didn't make it any farther than the first moments of the day (her toilet seat is plastic) before realizing she'd be better off just recording a list of everything plastic that she DID touch. I am trying to use less plastic in my life, particularly in meal preparation and food storage, but it is pretty difficult to find alternatives at times. Plastic can be a very useful material, which saves lives, as the commercials say. It also leaches chemicals, and never goes away. The Pacific Gyre is a testament to that. I recommend that website if you want to learn more.

Enough complaining, though. Here are some flower photos from my front yard! It is finally spring!
One of the new flowers


One of the tulips I planted last year
This bush is by our front door. I bought it years ago and kept it potted until last year.

This is actually my neighbor's tree. So pretty!

Happy Earth Day on Friday!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Worst New Product

I saw a commercial for an absolutely idiotic product the other day. Sorry to the people who invented these, but seriously?

Disposable paper towels for your home bathroom?

Don't we already use too much paper with our kitchen paper towels, our toilet paper, and our paper napkins? I have been trying to get away from using disposable products, not trying to find ways to bring more into my life. We do still have paper towels in our kitchen, and I use them occasionally for greasy or dirt messes in the kitchen, but I mostly try to use cloth towels, napkins, and cleaning rags. They do just as good or better of a job, don't fall apart in your hands, and don't need to be constantly replaced (costing money and natural resources). Why in the world would you want to add ANOTHER costly disposable product to your bathroom, when most people already have plenty of good hand towels? The commercial shows many people using the towels after not thoroughly washing their hands. OK, that is kind of gross, but shouldn't you only be drying your hands after you've actually cleaned them?

Perhaps there are too many questions in this post, but I really don't get it.

Even in public restrooms, I've found that I can often skip using a paper towel. I am the kind of person who usually just shakes my hands dry and/or wipes them on my jeans to dry them after using a public restroom. I did a highly professional, laboratory controlled (not really) experiment one time and found that my hands dried nearly as quickly from just rubbing them together as they did from rubbing them together under one of those air blower things. Try it out sometime and let me know what you think. I do use a paper towel on Sweet Pea's hands when she uses a public bathroom.

The other day I cut up some of Average's old holey boxer briefs to use as cleaning rags. I do the same with his and my old t-shirts as well. They work great, and when I use something like this I don't care if it gets stained in the cleaning process, because I'm not leaving it hanging up in my kitchen, the way I do with dish towels. I am kind of picky about my dish towels.

What do you think -- would you ever buy disposable paper towels for your bathroom? What disposable products have you found you can replace with re-usable?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Toddler Photographer

A few years ago Average bought a digital camera. He searched for a while to find the most indestructible (least destructible?) one out there. He ended up with an Olympus Stylus 770 SW that is shock and waterproof. It quickly became the main camera we used, even though I already had a nice Nikon film camera, as well as a digital camera. This one was indestructible! And it fit in our pockets! Why would we use something else?! An added, fun benefit of this camera is that Sweet Pea can use it without scaring us too much -- except that one time she started swinging it around her head...

So, for your entertainment, here are the artistic photographs of two-year-old

self-portrait
portrait of mommy
portrait of dada
Ok, she didn't take this one, obviously, but isn't she cute?



That last photo is watching Saturday morning TV, while I do the dishes from the night before that I was too tired to do at the time.

Do you ever let your kids use the camera? Interesting results?