Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Carbon Footprint

20 Things I'm doing to reduce my carbon footprint:

  1. growing my own vegetables in a small organic garden plot

  2. replacing any light bulbs that burn out with compact fluorescent lightbulbs

  3. recycle - paper, plastic, newspapers, glass, aluminum, metals

  4. pick my own fruit at local orchards and hydroponic vegetable stands instead of buying food that has traveled across the country in a gas-guzzling tractor trailer

  5. recycle paper at work

  6. print double sided reports at work

  7. read documents on the computer rather than print them out

  8. use refillable water bottles

  9. bring my own lunch in a reusable paper bag

  10. B.Y.O.M - use a mug at work rather than throw-away cups

  11. use phosphate free soap for washing the dishes and phosphate/petroleum free soap for laundry

  12. use rechargeable batteries

  13. run the dishwasher only when it is 100% full

  14. turn off the computer monitor if I have to leave it on for other reasons

  15. use unbleached flour and coffee filters

  16. wash my clothes in cold/luke-warm water

  17. compost kitchen and yard waste - this is naturally converted into an organic fertilizer for the garden!

  18. buy food in bulk and repackage in reusable containers

  19. buy recycled clothing (aka. fun thrift store finds)

  20. keep my car tuned up (sure, this inside isn't very clean but at least the emissions are cleaner!)

Sure, these may sound like small, often commen sense, things that wouldn't really help fix what's going on in the environment. And they won't. Not if there's not more people doing these things and many more.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mushroom twins

Tiny pine woods mushrooms twins popping out of the dense oak leaf cover.

Blue Heron

Blue Heron footprints in the wet sand along Deer Creek.

Shrooms on a log

These adorable mushrooms were growing during a very cold time of the winter on a moist log along with moss (left).

Cyperus spp.

This is a sedge (Cyperus spp.) found in Charlotte County, Florida along the edges of a wetland. I'm not quite sure which species it is, so if anyone knows for sure, I'd love to be able to identify it correctly!


Kudzu (Pueraria montana) is a non-native, invasive vine in Florida and as far north as Massachusetts. It grows so fast that it also goes by the common names "foot-a-night vine" and "vine-that-ate-the-South"! It's origins are in Eastern Asia, but it was originally introduced to the United States as an ornamental in 1876. Then it was used as a forage plant in Florida in the 1920s. AND, hard to believe, but our own U.S. Soil Conservation Service actually promoted it's use in the 1930s as an erosion control plant. It has the ability to grow so densely over a tree that it will kill it simply by shutting out the sunlight.
So, even though they are little talked about, there are some edible and medicinal uses for Kudzu.
  • Roots - The roots, which are rich in starch, can be cooked. The starch can then be extracted and used as a coating for deep fried foods, as a way to thicken soups, or even made into a noodle. The root is a staple food in Japan.
  • Flowers - The flowers can be cooked or pickled
  • Stems and young leaves - can be eaten raw or cooked. The young shoots taste like a cross between a pea and a bean.
  • Medicinal - parts of the Kudzu vine are commonly used in China to treat alcohol abuse by suppressing the appetite for alcohol. Modern day medicines used to treat alcholol abuse change the way your body metabolizes alcohol, but wouldn't it be better if you just didn't crave it anymore?

Good morning snowshine!

A snowy morning in December. This beautiful spectacle, with every fresh snowflake gleaming in the crisp morning air, was seen on my walk out our extremely long driveway. There's nothing more breathtaking than fresh snow!

Rye (Secale cereale)

Common rye (Secale cereale) found in southern Maryland along the Potomac River shoreline. The grain from this grass, in the wheat tribe (Triticeae), can be used to make flour, rye bread, rye beer, whiskies, vodkas and animal fodder. It can also be eaten whole (rye berries). A rye extract known as Oralmat is also now being marketed as an alternative cancer treatment.