Friday, October 31, 2008

Voting Early On Halloween!

For Halloween I decided to take part in changing the future - and avoid long lines on election day. If you have an early voting station in your town, get over there right away and take advantage of the easiest voting of your life! Polls are predicted to be pretty crowded this year and Early Voting is a way to offset the crazy crowds that will show up to change the future with you... :)
PS- My costume is called "Hungry Like A Wolf" like the Duran Duran song and was made with 100% locally woven organic cotton, thrift shoes and a wolf hat I already had. Tomorrow I will post about how I made it!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Read a Paperless E Book

Even those of us who are the most astute environmentally conscious still love to read a good book - but dang, all that paper uses up a ton of trees and energy. I always buy my books used now but another really cool alternative is to read E Books! The one I currently love is free and called Denver Cereal at On A Limb With Claudia, which is a weekly release of serial fiction that you follow chapter by chapter. Much in the vein of a soap opera (which I was bottle fed Young & the Restless, Capitol and Guiding Light growing up) Denver Cereal never lacks for action and always leaves you hanging at some vital moment...until next week!

Do you know any good eco E Books online? Please share links to them!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Keeping House Plants Alive

I used to be one of those people who killed any plant I ever tried to grow, indoors and outdoors - I even killed mint which is almost unheard of! Over the years I have learned some simple guidelines to follow, mainly by watching nature and reading a few sustainable gardening books too. Now my plants are kickin' it!
Here's some tips that will help you keep your house plants alive!
1. Try and start with organic or ecologically grown plants. The ones purchased at the big box stores are like buying a heroine addict who's gonna get fast worn out and go into shock when the blast of unnatural fertilizers run out. It's near impossible to save these pesticide laden plants once death is near... but if you already have some re-pot them right away with some compost dirt & a non plastic container.

2. Build an Empire. Literally build a little eco world in your pot, with pine cones, leaves, cut grass, decaying sticks, rocks and dead flowers. You should get some little bugs living in there who come with the stuff listed above that will constantly be feeding on the decaying matter & turning into compost to slowly fertilize the plant. Adding worms is good too - but I once had a weird mass suicide of worms where they all jumped out the pots at the same time and dried up over night! Poor worms!

3. Good dirt! Mixing some yummy dirt is essential. Using some dark black mushroom compost, chicken poop and sandy soil to hold water is pretty ideal across the board, especially for most common house plants.

4. Don't water with chlorinated tap water. Potted plants do not have the filtering range of outdoor plants and all chemicals will eventually build up in the pot making it toxic to the plant. Use some sort of filtered water (which we all need to have for our health too!)

5. Use a healthy pot. Sometimes plastic is just not breathable for a plant, and likewise some decorative containers have paints or glazes that are hazardous to the plant. If you are growing indoor herbs to use in cooking, it is essential to not use a crappy possibly toxic pot! Go with Terra Cotta or some other natural element that gets good circulation.

Happy growing this winter season!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sustainable Pumpkin Carving

Here's some quick tips on how to keep your pumpkin carving festivities earth friendly!

1. Support your local farmers and buy pumpkins from the farmers market, fruit stand, or a place that supports local charities.

2. Buy a pumpkin pie breed of pumpkin and you can cook all the guts you scrape out. mmmmm.

3. Save the seeds! Then you can grow your own pumpkins next year...OR roast the seeds and eat them :)

4. Compost your pumpkin when it gets all shriveled, melty, moldy or bashed in by teenage boys.

xo- Enjoy your Green-O-Ween!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Humor: Voting Questions Answered

Another great giggle from the Asheville Disclaimer, putting your burning election questions at ease...

"Questions about voting?
We have the answers! The Disclaimer wants to help you answer any questions you have about the voting process!
Q: Can I vote in my underwear?
A: No, you need to vote in a voting booth. As of 1972, votes are no longer collected from individual undergarments.
Q: If I registered six times in three different counties, how many times can I vote?
A: You are guaranteed at least three votes, but you cannot vote for the same person twice.
Q: I don’t want to vote, but I want/need one of those stickers that says “I voted.” Can I buy one online somewhere?
A: Yes. Please visit for all your voting needs.
Q: I am an avid Obama campaign worker. I keep sleeping with guys and girls who promise me they will vote the Democratic ticket. How far from the voting booth will I need to be in order to exchange sexual favors for votes on election day?
A: The law dictates that you can remain in the voting booth for the entire day, but you cannot make eye contact with any voters."

10 Tips For Greening Your Bedroom VIA Weather Channel!?!

I can't believe it but I found this cool list of ways to green up your bedroom on the Weather Channel website!!! I really get excited to know that being environmentally educated is going mainstream and has become the side-kick to important things such as the weekend weather forecast...
All of us environmentalists can give ourselves a quick pat on the back for making a difference, and then hurry up and get back to work! ;)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Organic Painting Part 5- Poke Berry & Turmeric Paint

Now that I am learning how to use the paint & hair brushes, I can get more detailed -
This is part 5 in the Poke Berry & Turmeric painting series - using 100% recycled paper sewn together to make the canvas & hung with scrap fabric on a red bud tree branch. The brushes are made of human & horse hair (both work really well but horse hair holds the paint longer), the hair is secured to a stick with a rubber band.
NO chemicals are used what-so-ever, the poke berries & turmeric are boiled down for about an hour with some kosher salt & filtered water. (note: no chemicals does not mean edible, poke berries are poisonous to eat!)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Animal Holes

As much as people would like to consider all the critters that visit our back yards pests, they are an integral part of our eco system and have every right to check out what you throw in your trash can and then dig a little happy home in the ground. I probably shouldn't tell this story because it is so awful, but when I was about 10 years old my very best friend called to tell me baby raccoons were born and living in a oak tree stump in her back yard.!!! YAY! A few days later she called crying, saying her dad filled the hole with CEMENT with the baby raccoons in there to kill them - snuff them out like they were an infestation of cockroaches. She invited me over to see for myself, which basically traumatized me upon sight and I tried digging my fingers into the concrete to free them. Environmental ignorance is long past due it's death, and it's time to nurture the importance of biodiversity & the creatures that make nature the place we seek when we want peace.
Check out these cute little animal holes behind my house (which will never be filled with cement)!

What do they do when it rains? Does anyone know?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Calling All Eco Artists!

After successfully making some chemical free paintings out of poke berries and turmeric, I decided it would be alot of fun and profitable to have an underground gallery show (in Asheville, NC) that is specifically for selling non toxic eco art.

What does this mean? The art you submit to the gallery will have to be something made from natural, non chemical, non off gassing materials- examples are mud or berry painting, things carved from reclaimed wood, upcycled found objects (not new), drawings with charcoal from your wood stove, and other natural elements that can be put together. Materials such as acrylics, oil paints and glues are prohibited (even if is says "non toxic" on the bottle), replacing them with string, honey, natural element installations and homemade paints is the idea! Be creative and think out the box!
You can sell your artwork for whatever price you want, and keep in mind the gallery will take 10% of the selling price as a fee for the space. We will be able to take cash and credit cards at the opening.
If you have questions about a specific material or concern email me at lesrichard {at} aol dot com :)
The "Correct Gallery" opening/selling night is NOVEMBER 28th at 7pm !!! Super exciting, please come, sell your art, and invite everyone you know to join us (pass this post along!).

Correct Gallery hosted by The Oko Box
Asheville, NC

Sunday, October 19, 2008

DIY: Halloween Hair With Eggs

Halloween is coming fast and I for one still have no costume. One of the cheap quick and easy ways to transform yourself into your Halloween alter ego is by doing something wild with your hair- but if like me you don't want to dowse your head down with toxic hair spray & gels, there is an eco alternative in your kitchen (unless you are vegan, then it's in your mama's kitchen.) Eggs. And if you need to make Liberty Spikes, you might want to throw in some honey.

Here is hair-do #1, the 80's rocker poof with bangs... just like in 8th grade I can never get my bangs to spike very high, sigh.

#2 is the general sculpting hair-do, where you can do model hair, hair of the decade, or something cute like Beyonce! ;)

#3 -Planning on bride of Frankenstein or some 18th century action? With some bobby pins and a friend you can get that egg to spike it pretty high!

Hair-do #4 is the crimp, which the process is shown below. Didn't save that hair crimper from 1985? No Prob, just put your hair in a bunch of braids for at least all day or overnight...

and if you get bored you can do things like this with it...

The end result is way cheese munchin' 80's-fied awesomeness!!!

Now that is sooooooo 8th grade! Yay baby!

You can use just egg whites, and for heavier and stickier hair add in the egg yellow - for hard core sculpting add some honey too! And send me pics of your eco-do!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Organic Painting Part 3

This is part 3 in my organic painting series- Using paints made from Poke Berries (magenta) and Turmeric (yellow), which mixed together to make a variety of reds, oranges, and dusty yellows. The brushes are made from human hair tied to a stick with a rubber band and the canvas is paper sewn together and hung with organic cotton on a tree branch.

This is a totally non toxic way to do art, which is much more aligned with today's political and social change then store bought chemical paints which are dangerous to even dispose of. The organic paints are made by boiling the natural substance down for at least 45 minutes with some kosher salt. It needs to be really concentrated with hardly any liquid to get the brightest long lasting hues. Check it out! :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Organic Painting With Poke Berries and Turmeric

These videos are of the paintings I did with self made organic paints using poke berries (magenta) and turmeric (yellow), a paint brush made with a stick and human hair, paper sewn together for a canvas, and hung with organic cotton from a Red Bud branch. I am super de duper excited about it, check it out!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Low Impact Living: Green-O-Ween

Haven't made your Halloween costume yet? Scoot over to Low Impact Living to find out eco safe ways to celebrate Halloween, that won't harm the earth or your bank account! Make sure to check the comments section where many readers give their own Halloween tips too &
'Make Halloween Less Scary' for the planet!

Sustainable Candy Wrapper Dress

What would you sew together if you were asked to create something to wear using candy wrappers headed for the landfill? This is the super fun challenge designer Melissa of Mountains Of The Moon took on, when she was asked to participate in Chicago's Fashion Week "Sweet Chic" exhibit. Here is her experience in her words...
"Charleston Chew is recognized as a favorite vintage candy, my design was also created with a vintage feel, evocative of late 1950’s Audrey Hepburn chic (with a modern twist). Finally, sustainability was an important part of the design process (I am an eco-fashion designer), and I was thrilled to able to recycle wrappers into our creations."
"We were given excess wrappers and candies that would have otherwise ended up in landfills to work with. Because we had to make these designs 100% wearable, we were also able to incorporate fabrics, and I chose a gorgeous vintage silk dupioni that featured the same tones seen in the wrappers. Despite the sketch I designed (I knew from the moment I was assigned my candy the exact look I was going for), the dress really changed and evolved with every hour I put into it. This project was a major challenge - the wrappers wouldn't sew without ripping, for instance - but it was proof that you really can make something new and unique out of materials that most would consider useless trash. "
Pictured here is Designer Melissa of MOTM (isn't she so cute!) with her fantastic creative design being displayed at the Chicago Modern Museum Of Art.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Laundry Alternatives: The Wonder Wash!

I never use a traditional washer or dryer - yes, it's true. I wash all my clothing, sheets, towels, etc by hand and hang them up outside to dry (or over a heat source in the winter). A few years ago a neighbor let me borrow a 'washer' she said was for camping, that you could stick a 5 pound load in & then spin the crank by hand- pressure cleaning your laundry. This thing was not only bad ass, easy to use, and cleaned the ba-jeezus out of my clothes - but it uses no electricity, saves water, and builds really good arm muscle! There are several levels to sustainable living, and besides wanting to wear eco friendly clothing I also want my clothes to get clean enough so they will last longer - but don't want to waste so many resources achieving this. So I got myself a new Wonder Wash of my very own...a fabulous washer that will never need to be plugged in, can travel anywhere, saves resources and costs under $50 !!!
GO here to read more about how it works!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Humor: Ways To Save Gasoline

Because I can not get enough giggles off of environmental potty humor... Here is another silly list from the Asheville Disclaimer (the pun section of the local paper) :

"Ways to conserve gasoline
• Ride the bus, even if you don’t have to go anywhere, to show your support for fuel conservation.

• Instead of getting drunk and driving your riding lawn mower to the ABC store, take your electric weed eater instead.

• If you’re going to run someone out of town by burning their house down in a “lightning strike,” use wind energy instead of gas-soaked rags to start the lightning.

• When trolling for hookers, carpool with other Johns and share the first hooker you find.

• Put gasoline barrels beneath your home’s gutter spouts, so you’ll be ready when we start drilling offshore and cheap gasoline starts magically falling from the sky.

• Instead of gasoline, huff clean, green paint thinner. "

The Asheville Disclaimer (© 2007) is parody/entertainment-

Humor: Pony Tail Man

This humorous article is from the always hysterical and nutty Asheville Disclaimer, the local Onion type paper. Click on the article above to view larger and read! :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Beautiful Cocoon Webbing

I found this on the underside of my sage and thought it was so graceful and perfect...I wish I could make myself a webby cocoon. :)

A Must Read: Learning From Disabilities

This post I am linking to here by blogger Lou Cheese of Living With Multiple Chemical Sensitivities is an absolutely amazing heartfelt story in what one learns when walking on a different side of life then you had before. I believe this is a must read because each of us encounters people with varying disabilities each day and it's time we all take a step back and realize a smile or look in the eye can make all the difference to someone we pass on the street.
Make the world a better place to live...
Check it out here~!

Organic Panties Make the Perfect Gift

I used to think possibly I was the only one who wanted panties for every single holiday, but Christmas at The Oko Box last year told me different. Giving the gift of undies is the perfect holiday present, that can be given with multiple meanings - I mean, how many gifts can be given by your mom or boyfriend and take on such a different feeling! Thus making it an incredible and usually affordable holiday gift!
You can get dye free organic cotton basics starting at under $20, Ecoland and The Organic Cotton Company provide luxuriously clean & pristine panties, bra and undershirts perfect for those avoiding chemicals & frilly stuff.
One step above basics, are the comfy skivvies that come with adorable and sexy flare - cute lace & deep beautiful colors - the price tag for the set is a little higher at approximately $60, but stays in an affordable range. The hottest part of these (pictured above and below) is they are made locally with locally woven organic cotton and each piece is made to order, cutting out manufacturing waste!
Now we've moved into a level I would call eco lingerie - best given as a gift to your lover or to yourself (maybe not so good to get from a relative! ew!) There are several designs of Clare Bare eco lingerie that are the MOST affordable sets on the market! These beauties have retro flare, artistic quality, ruffles, frills and the kind of cuteness that makes it a top seller to many male customers for their special lady love. Prices start as low as $24 !!!
Enamore eco luxury lingerie - this is the highest level of sinfully sexy gift giving, and will top out as the highest priced starting at $64 for a pair of the luscious knickers. Personally, it doesn't matter who gives this to you, just take it and love the hell out of it (and vice versa, give it to anyone and everyone)! They are beautiful, flawlessly made, fabulous eco fabrics, and designed to last year after year - the fun never runs out. Enamore makes investment pieces that retain a classic pin up style that will never be outdated in your lifetime. So do indulge.
Find these styles and much more at The Oko Box!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Goat Patrol, How To Clean Up Your Yard

What better way to clean up your yard, produce fertilizer, cut pollution and have a fun time, then to call the Goat Patrol! Started in the flatlands of North Carolina, Ms. Alix Bowman decided the best solution to overgrowth such as poison ivy, english ivy, honeysuckles and some other invasive plants was a natural solution. Goats. They will eat the hell out of your brush, weeded area, unwanted plants, and your lawn too! This is the most simple yet brilliant idea I have come across in a while, and would love to see this happening in every city.
"Goat Patrol offers an environmentally friendly solution to your weed and brush problems. Unlike noisy machines and toxic sprays, our goats remove problem plants quietly and safely. Our herd will happily devour poison ivy, honeysuckle, wild rose, blackberry, kudzu, privet, chinese wisteria, and more!
We supply the fencing, the goats, and the watchful eye of a knowledgeable goat herd. You supply the jungle in your backyard.
" To contact Alix about hiring her herd in the North Carolina area or for questions about how Goat Patrol works, go here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Simple DIY: Natural Skin Care

I am not one who has the patience to sit around with cucumbers over my eyes but I am not into smelly lotions bought in a plastic bottle either. I love to come up with my own instant potions for my skin care- especially since I have chemical sensitivities & gluten allergies, making it nearly impossible to find pre-made products I can tolerate.
1. A great way to cheaply and easily exfoliate is with coarse kosher or sea salt. You know how whenever you go to the beach the salt water makes your skin so nice- this does the same thing too but with extra scrubbing power! It's the perfect facial scrub.

2. For a full body scrub, get a body brush - they last for many years and do an awesome job making skin baby smooth.

3. I moisturize my skin with a mixture of olive oil and fresh lavender leaves - any herb you like the smell of will be good, but lavender has special healing properties for the skin. I rub the oil around my eyes, on my body and even gloss my lips with it too! xoxo

Do you have any skin care secrets that are simple too?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me

Because fun is what you make of it... the art of a birthday is to make something out of nothing. (This is also the art of cooking & living!)

Ball Of Ants

These beautiful little tiny ants were all sharing this moldy piece of fig. I love how they make colored food confetti all around where they dismantle their prize, then carry it off in perfect lines. The other day I accidentally sat on a gathering like this and had about 100 ants inside my boot! Ah!

Did anyone ever see the giant ants from outer space movie? :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hornets Nest

Check out this glob of danger! All these hornets were sitting calmly on the nest vibrating their wings, and tucking in for the evening. There were two separate nests -the large one and the smaller new one right next door (guess there was a break in the community?) These guys are always on my porch pollinating all my plants but their nest is out back under the eaves of the shed. We are very good friends. :) Do you feel maybe I got too close? I probably did.

Nasty Things I Do That Probably Help The Environment

We all have some habits that are less then acceptable by society, especially if you are single and don't have anyone to compromise with. This morning I was reviewing a few of mine and thinking- are some of our nasty less acceptable habits good for the environment? Like my X boyfriend who didn't like to bathe or wash clothes, it could be said that even though his hygiene was off he probably saved shit tons of water and energy. It's debatable but I will throw a few out there, and then hope to hear some of your dark secrets that make a low impact.

1. When crunched on time and all my undies are dirty, you better believe I just turn them inside out.
2. I do not use any care products, such as shampoo, conditioner or soap - when I want my hair to have a good rinse I wash it with boiled lavender & lemons, and I use a body brush for my skin.
3. I wear my clothes several times (basically till stretched out and saggy) & use towels for a while before washing.

Here is a true story: A lady who used to live next to me a few years back was very obsessive about saving every little bit of food. She would come over and be horrified by my compost pile which had food in it that had either spoiled or I just couldn't eat...she would say "wow, your compost is so very beautiful, it looks yummy". Finally one day this lady straight up asked "Can I take some food from your compost home to eat"..............uh.........she starts digging in the rotten pile, mixed with big pieces of cow manure, worms, and various dripping compost slime! She pulls out half rotten dripping lettuce and puts it in her bag, with some other things and thanks me.

Time to confess your nasty planet saving habits.....

Friday, October 3, 2008

Harvest & Dry Your Herbs

There is nothing better then growing your own fresh herbs, but with winter approaching we know these guys have to go into hibernation too. When herbs are flowering they are at the peek of their flavor and perfectly 'ripe' for the pickin' and dryin'. This is the easiest and tastiest DIY ever- all you have to do is cut the herbs (like mint, rosemary, sage etc...) in small bunches, hang them upside down in small brown paper bags, place in a dark cabinet (with some air circulation) or dark room and within a few crisp fall days your herbs are ready to be bottled for the winter. Keep them in a opaque bottle or dark cabinet so the sunlight doesn't ruin their color. This is 100 times cheaper and more delicious then buying store bought & packaged herbs.
YAY! Go Organic!

Photo: Jeffery McCullough Photography

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Name This Bug (because I can't)

Meet "Little Head", a bug I have no clue what the hell it is - except it resembles a stink bug, but do stink bugs have micro sized heads with one big tooth? Little Head is not so tiny him/herself, it's body is quite large and far outweighs it's brains, it can move very fast and reacts to humans in a skiddish paranoid way. (This trait makes me wonder if Little Head is distant ancestor of mine? Looks prehistoric, check out that fabulous dino power back!!!)
Little Head also has wings & I am really glad LH chose not to fly around while I was taking pics, because it was a little scary thinking it may be an aggressive stink bug hybrid.
The last two pictures are for scaling, to show LH's size - riding a rusty horse and sitting on a bike seat.
Can anyone name this bug? The person who can guess the true scientific name of Little Head will get a 20% discount at The Oko Box!