Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Invite the Natives to Return to Your Garden

Posted in gardening, sustainability, useful information tagged , , , , , , at 7:58 pm by Elaine Petrowski

The hummingbirds, and I, love cardinal flowers (lobelia cardinalis) .

The hummingbirds, and I, love cardinal flowers (lobelia cardinalis) .

The native plants, that is.

” Invite nature and beauty into your landscape with native plants. Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve Fall Native Plant Sale is filled with a premier selection of over 200 species of nursery-propagated native trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, vines and ferns native to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the Delaware Valley Region. The Fall Native Plant Sale will be held at the Visitor Center area of the Preserve on Saturdays and Sundays, September 12 and 13, and September 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.”

Natives, which here in the Northeast include azalea, viburnum, redbud, holly, river birch, dogwood, clethera, bearberry, pasture roses, honeysuckle, clematis, iris, bee balm, cardinal flower, black-eyed Susans and many, many more:

  1. are beautiful.
  2. survive on available water, once they are established.
  3. don’t usually run rampant.
  4. invite indigenous wildlife to your yard.
  5. nurture  the native birds, butterflies, moths and bees.

Talk about sustainability.

FYI: Bowman’s Hill runs this fundraiser twice a year, to support their efforts at education and propagation.  So if you live in the area, plan a trip for this weekend or next.

Black-eyes Susans are native to much of the United States.

Sunny and indomitable, Black-eyes Susans are native to much of the United States.

If you don’t live nearby, why not look up native plant sources for your area?  Here are a few I found:

Agrecol in the Midwest, sells $2 packets of native flowers and grasses.

There’s a big list of suppliers for a big state like Texas native plants.

Michigan natives abound.

Don’t be shy. Leave a note (see “comments”) or email a photo to write4@att.net  about a favorite native that grows in your garden. If you don’t have a garden, just tell us about a favorite native from your home state or country.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Recycle Your Old Shoes-Unless They Add Chocolate, This Can’t Get Any Better

Posted in Liberty, Life, Pursuit of Happiness, sustainability, useful information tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:30 am by Elaine Petrowski

Here’s a great way to clear out some closet space with a clear conscience, do a good deed and get a receipt for your income taxes in the process.

You all have them. Those several pairs of  shoes you never wear… but can’t bring yourself to throw out?

The fashion faux pas shoes. The  gee-when-did-my-feet-grow shoes? And those cool cross-trainers that gave you dime-sized blisters both times you wore them.

New shoes. (Courtesy of soles4souls.org)

New shoes. (Courtesy of soles4souls.org)

Some of the shoes Soles4Souls.org has collected went to tsunami survivors and to those who lost everything to Hurricane Katrina. Others go to the homeless, or to shelters for battered women, or to hospitals. Way better then going to waste in the landfill.

And Soles4Souls will happily accept not just your shoes, but the gently-used shoes and boots your toddlers have outgrown, your teenager will no longer leave the house in, or that just plain hurt your  husband’s feet.

Click here for your closest Soles4Souls drop-box location.

Quick, easy, painless sustainability and recycling. By my reckoning, unless you add chocolate to this deal, it just doesn’t get any better.

See an earlier, related post on sustainability.

And then do a good deed for your shoe-aholic friends by passing this post onto them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Last FREE Weekend at National Parks This Summer

Posted in fun, Life, Pursuit of Happiness, useful information tagged , , , , at 10:30 am by Elaine Petrowski

Looking for something family and budget-friendly to do this weekend? National Parks across the nation are  once again offering FREE  admission on August 15 and 16. This is your last chance to take advantage of the fee-free weekend program this summer.

“The entrance fees being waived at the 147 sites that usually charge for admission range from $3 to $25.( The 244 other parks do not charge entrance fees.) The waiver does not include other fees collected in advance or by contractors—such as fees charged for camping, reservations, tours and use of concessions.”

For full story click HERE.

Look for a park HERE.  If you drill down on this page, you can find specials that save even more money at some of the parks.

Amtrak makes the point that some of the parks ( in NYC, D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, Arlington, VA) are even accessible by train.  Click here for a list of the parks you can reach via train.

morr-ImageF.00003

Morristown National Park

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Raise Your Hand if You Need a Federal Law to Tell You Not to Text While Driving

Posted in Liberty, Life, Pursuit of Happiness, useful information tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:16 pm by Elaine Petrowski

While I applaud the intent of the good Senators Menendez, Schumer, Landrieu and Hagan, and I do firmly believe the findings of the many researchers on distracted driving, do we REALLY  need a law to keep us all  from texting while driving?

Well now, we do seem to need laws to keep from us shooting each other, from sticking each other with knives, abandoning our spouses and children at the mall, and driving through red lights, not to mention about six zillion other potentially stupid human tricks.

Hmmm… come to think of it,  maybe we really do need the proposed ALERT (Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers) Act (or possibly we could just call it American Lawyers Easy Revenue Trail Act? )

Or, is it that we need an effective tool to punish those who text while driving?

My suggestion: forget the fine. A driving-texting offender will be prohibited from owning a cell phone, crackberry or  any other form of PED, existing or to be invented, for up to ten years, until his/her brain finishes maturing sufficiently to realize TEXTING AND DRIVING DON’T EVER MIX. (This applies if the driver is 16 or 96.)

Please …tell me that you DON’T EVER TEXT WHILE DRIVING? (Reported stats say 20% of drivers DO!)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Calling all NJ, NY, PA Area Gardeners For a Fun Event This Sunday

Posted in fun, gardening, Life, Pursuit of Happiness, useful information tagged at 5:19 pm by Elaine Petrowski

oakleaf hydrangea

Here’s a link to a nearly free fun event for local gardeners –a garden art swap at The Frelinghuysen Aboretum. Click here for details.

Now, what did I do with that flock of  pink flamingos?

See you there?

(And if you do go, take a picture of your trade to post here.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

National Parks are FREE This Weekend 6/20 and 6/21

Posted in fun, Life, Pursuit of Happiness, useful information tagged , at 3:22 pm by Elaine Petrowski

Just in time to celebrate the summer solstice and the longest day of the year, and in an effort to provide an affordable getaway for families, the National Park Service is offering fee-free access to

See the wild ponies that roam Assateague Island for FREE this weekend.

See the wild ponies that roam Assateague Island for FREE this weekend.

parks across the nation,  from Hyde Park and Sagamore Hill in the New York area, to Assateague Island in Maryland, Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, Fort McHenry (of Star Spangled Banner fame) in Baltimore,  Big Bend in Texas, and Shenandoah, about 75 miles from DC. And even more than that:

“The entrance fees being waived at the 147 sites that usually charge for admission range from $3 to $25. The 244 other parks do not charge entrance fees. The waiver does not include other fees collected in advance or by contractors—such as fees charged for camping, reservations, tours and use of concessions.”

This is the first of three fee-free weekends this summer. The others are July 18-19 and August 15-16.

For full story click HERE.

Hey, who can complain about that?

Look for a park HERE.  If you drill down on this page, you can find specials that save even more money at some of the parks.

Do come back and comment if you go.

Let’s see… how long does it take to get to … and where did I put those watercolors?

Monday, June 8, 2009

There’s No Such Thing as “Free Mulch”

Posted in gardening, Humor, Laughs, Life, Pursuit of Happiness, sustainability, useful information tagged , , at 7:28 pm by Elaine Petrowski

sunflower from www.freedigitalphoto.netToday I got to tallying the hours we’ve put into our community garden plot and realized that we are at about 14-person hours so far.

And that’s not even counting the time spent curing our collective poison ivy.

To date, we’ve

  1. Bought, designed and installed  rabbit/deer/woodchuck fence.
  2. Shopped for, and planted, four kinds of tomatoes — some to eat fresh, one that’s supposed to keep for a few extra weeks to extend the season into October, and still others, bred to make a thicker sauce for the freezer — always a heartwarming, soul-satisfying find on, say January 23.
  3. Bought seedlings (Is that cheating?) for basil, rosemary,  green beans, peppers and tomatillos. And actually put them in the ground too.
  4. Sowed two kinds of  lettuce, arugula and mache, at the very edges. And planted sunflower seeds in the very middle– for beauty, for the birds and because I never can grow them in my cool, shady backyard.
  5. Tucked nasturtium seedlings (Okay, it is cheating.) into the corners and adopted several orphaned marigold plants, proffered by one of the other gardeners, who seriously overbought. I did this simply and only because I LOVE the festive look and peppery taste of edible flowers in my  summer salads.
  6. Spread out a thick layer of newspaper and then covered that with “free mulch” to keep the weeds at bay.

It’s only conjecture that the patches of poison ivy we both sprouted a few days later actually DID come from the “free mulch”  pile. But the raw materials  for that mulch originate from the town’s curbside collection of garden debris. So there’s no telling what’s in there, along with the collective Christmas trees, snippets of verboten black plastic bags and mangled toy car wheels.

Note to self:  wear gloves when working in the garden. And stock up on that great, cheap  CVS poison ivy scrub, which will irradicate the scourge quickly, so long as  you don’t wait too long and use it as soon as the infernal itch begins.

Anyone got a better, faster cure?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

“Playing for Change” Releases CD/DVD

Posted in fun, Life, Pursuit of Happiness, useful information tagged , , , , , , , , , at 3:39 pm by Elaine Petrowski

I was first moved to write about Playing for Change, Mark Johnson’s peace-through-music organization, last year.

Today, Playing for Change, “a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music” released a CD/DVD, “Songs Around the World”.

“The album demonstrates that regardless of our religion, race, gender, or political views we can unite through music.”

And despite the fact that I am on self-imposed knitting supplies- shoe- handbag etc.- purchasing  probation,  I am planning to purchase a CD for myself and  a few more for gifts so I can support this international peace work of building schools to teach music.

(Click here to listen to preview.)

Let me know what you think, and if you decide to buy one,  via the comments below.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Who Has the Oldest Spices Out There?

Posted in Life, useful information tagged , , , , , , at 1:21 am by Elaine Petrowski

Baking up some gingerbread cookies? Mixing up some eggnog? Here’s some useful info to potentially improve the results.

A friend recently sent a link to McCormick spices,  where you can find out exactly when the spices in your cabinet were minted.  At the risk of having everyone I know afraid to eat at my house, I’ll  admit I possess – I kid you not – spices that  predate …  um … let’s see … the Millennium?  The Lewinsky Affair?  My  nephew Paul, who is currently in his second year of law school?

Before you get all smug on me, go find out how old the spices in your cabinet are (at least for McCormick spices) when you have an idle moment or two. Then post your oldest spice date in the comments section below.  Shortly after the  New Year, I’ll post my codes and the dates and we’ll see who wins. ( And no cheating. You may be asked to verify with the code.)

A treasure trove of antique spices. Are yours even older?

A treasure trove of antique spices. Are yours even older?

FYI: I’ve always  HATED  the taste of cloves. So could someone please explain why I am harboring , not one, but two, “tins” (hint)  that will soon qualify as archeological finds or at least tickets of entry to “Antiques Roadshow” ?

Oh, and happy holiday baking.  With all new spices, I hope.