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Monthly Archives: May 2014

This blog is a Kitsap Sun reader blog. The Kitsap Sun neither edits nor previews reader blog posts. Their content is the sole creation and responsibility of the readers who produce them. Reader bloggers are asked to adhere to our reader blog agreement. If you have a concern or would like to start a reader blog of your own, please contact

EcoFest this Saturday in Kingston 11-3:00


Woohoooo for EcoFest! This is an event all outdoor-nature-sustainability-fun lovers on or around the Kitsap Peninsula should check out. Especially when the weather forecast is this:




The 15th annual EcoFest is this Saturday, May 31 from 11 am – 3 pm at the wonderful Stillwater’s Environmental Education Center in Kingston (26059 Barber Cutoff Road, Kingston 98346).

There will be booths all ages will love, with everything from Backyard Farm Animals to the Institute for Responsible Technology. Stillwaters will have native plants for sale at great prices (LOVE THEM!), as well as a kids open mic and other activities on their stage. There are food booths and fun booths and information booths…so much fun!!

For a complete list of booths and other information, click here to see the PDF flier, or visit the Stillwaters Environmental Education Center website at



“Stillwaters Environmental Center is dedicated to informing and empowering our community to make ecologically responsible decisions. We assist people to achieve sustainability of Earth’s resources  – including both humans and our natural environment.  We use our Carpenter Creek watershed  to teach  about the many interactions  between the plants, animals and humans that inhabit any ecosystem. We foster action  by being a model of sustainability. We teach citizens practical, everyday changes  to improve the ecosystems in which they live.”

Need I say more? I absolutely love this organization and the two ladies who founded it are local heroes for me – Joleen Palmer and Naomi Maasburg. I’ll share more about their amazing efforts another time, but for now, know that you should pack up and get on over to their wonderful EcoFest event!

Happy Festivaling,


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Party Hosting with Sustainable Style

bday2I’ve missed writing the last couple weeks! It was my birthday last weekend and there’s always a fluster of activity around my house, with friends and family coming to stay for the entire weekend. We call it the Gemini Party because we celebrate at least three May birthdays, but I consider it my annual thank you party – I celebrate friends, family and just being alive.

As I was cleaning up after it was all over, first I realized there were many simple things I and others did that helped keep the waste down from the two-day party.

According to the Clean Air Council, “every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times.” 

Isn’t that just crazy?! I like to do my part in stemming the tide of garbage, no matter how strong that tide is. I imagine you feel the same way if you’re reading this, so…

Here are six things to keep a house party green, whether it’s a work potluck, children’s birthday party or another kind of gathering:

1. Use reusable plates, cups and utensils. Yes, it takes water to wash them, but to me being able to use them year after year is the most important thing. Second hand stores have amazing selections of both plastic and other options.


2. If you’re doing a potluck, let guests know ahead of time that you’re into organic, home made and fresh garden items. Don’t be shy – you never know when your honesty will help influence someone else’s life choices…

3. Use reusable cloth napkins. I know, it take water to wash them, but again, it’s less materials shipped around the world to wipe your dirty hands, and less waste in the landfills.

4. Collect interesting fabric to use for table cloths and decorations. Rather than use disposable plastic or other decorations, keep colorful fabric swatches around and lay them out on tables for color and fun. I love finding cool fabric swatches at second hand stores – I have a drawer full of large fabric pieces to choose from, with everything from plain colors to flowers to sheer materials. After the party I just I toss them in the washing machine with my fabric napkins, and on sunny days I hang dry them.


5. Bake your own cake or ask someone to bring it as a potluck item. Home made cakes always taste better than store bought ones, especially when they’re baked with love! I have two friends who love to bake and who make DELICIOUS treats, so I ask them each year to bring whatever cake-like item they want to make.

6. Give sustainable gifts. Whether in a gift bag for each guest or for a special birthday guest, a small thoughtful, sustainable gift can carry more meaning than a fancy, unsustainable item. For example, my friend always gives me a fair trade, organic chocolate bar – I love these not only because they’re chocolate (duh), but because she knows my desire to have a positive impact with purchases.


fair trade






Anyone who knows me knows I love to throw a party, and with these simple steps I can feel good about doing so as many times a year as I please.

One more thing I do for my smaller parties is to ask guests to scour their closets and cupboards for clothes and other items they don’t wear or use, then bring them to the party. When the time feels right, we have “naked lady party” time where we pile everything on my bed, then dig through and try things on. Everyone goes home with something! I’ll write more about naked lady parties later…

For more green party ideas, visit Green Planet Parties

Visit the Clean Air Council for more garbage and recycling facts.

I’d love to hear what you do to keep waste down at parties!

Happy Partying!


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Spring Cleaning Tip #1: Vinegar All Purpose Cleaners

My camera isn’t working and I’m just dying to get this out to you, so no pretty pictures for this one…you’ll just have to imagine them!

My Dad had me cleaning the house almost every weekend throughout my teenage years, then I cleaned houses during my first two years in college. Dad leaned towards less toxic cleaning supplies, but in college I used more toxic ones because that’s what people had on hand and I didn’t know how cheap and effective the alternatives were. I hated the smell, the way the vapors burned my nose and the back of my throat, and disposing of the containers always made me feel terribly guilty.

Since then, I’ve learned that vinegar and baking soda can take care of all of my cleaning needs, so I don’t have any other cleaning products in the house. I even started a little business, Spring Cleaning, where I organize peoples’ most feared rooms, then wipe everything down with the cleaners listed below. I get comments all the time on how delicious the rooms smell when I’m done.

In this post I’ll focus on the mild and tough all purpose cleaners I use, as well as the other cleaning supplies I keep handy.

Vinegar is about 5% acetic acid, which kills bacteria and viruses. With a little elbow grease, the dynamic duo of vinegar and baking soda gets things sparkly clean while saving a lot of money. They also save the waterways and your body from harmful chemicals many cleaning supplies contain. If it has a skull and crossbones, why even have it in the house?

There are about a bajillion uses for vinegar around the house, so I decided to start with these simple get ‘er done recipes:

Mild All Purpose Cleaner – in a spray bottle:

  • half vinegar, half water
  • 3-4 drops of lavendar essential oil (optional as an extra antiseptic)
  • lemon juice (optional as an extra antimicrobial)
  • 2-3 drops of lemongrass essential oil (optional for pleasant smell – use the essential oil of your choice)

Uses: Almost any surface!

  • For everything but wood and laminated surfaces – spray on and wipe clean
  • For floors – make mixture in a bucket and use for mopping
  • For wood and laminated floors – add ½-cup vinegar to a gallon of water
  • For other wood surfaces: spray on cloth, wipe clean, then use a dry cloth to wipe off all excess moisture

Tough All Purpose Cleaner – in a spray bottle:

  • full strength vinegar
  • 4-5 drops of lavendar essential oil (optional as an extra antiseptic)
  • lemon juice (optional as an extra antimicrobial)
  • 2-3 drops of lemongrass essential oil (optional for pleasant smell – use the essential oil of your choice)


  • Disinfect cutting boards and counters: spray, then let soak, then scrub with a stiff brush and hot, soapy water to clean and disinfect
  • Sparkly-clean shower:
    • spray from top to bottom (including chrome)
    • let soak in
    • keep spraying occasionally for 30 minutes or so to keep damp
    • scrub with a microfiber cloth, then spray down.
    • FOR TOUGHER STAINS and SOAP SCUM: after soaking with vinegar, sprinkle with BAKING SODA, then scrub with a stiff brush
  • Tough spots on floor, in fridge and in sinks:
    • spray on stains
    • let soak in for a few minutes
    • wipe clean
    • for tougher spots: after soaking with vinegar, sprinkle with BAKING SODA, then scrub.

In addition to vinegar, I keep these cleaning supplies handy:

  • stiff scrub brush
  • a pile of old towels and torn up t-shirts of various sizes
  • spray bottles with the above mixtures – one under the kitchen sink and the other under the bathroom sink
  • box of baking soda – they’re everywhere so I can just grab and use them any time!
  • microfiber cloths
  • old sponges with a scrubby side

A note about cloths:

I like to use old hand towels, t-shirts and sponges and find that they last for a very long time, but I also have some microfiber cloths I use occasionally. I’ve had one of them for at least five years and it looks barely used!

According to ERC Wiping Products, “microfiber products have a longer life span than traditional cloths and mops, and they have “tiny hooks that attract, absorb and remove dirt, dust and bacteria.” They should last a very, very long time since “they should be washed in ONLY cool water and tumble dried or hang dried.” 

Do you or a loved one have one of “those” rooms – full of clutter and things you just can’t seem to get organized? I LOVE these rooms and can whip them into shape in no time! 🙂 Contact me for help at

More cleaning tips will be coming soon. Until then, I’d love to hear about your favorite green cleaning tips!

Happy Cleaning,

Sustainable Spring

Cricket Love

OK, so this has nothing to do with sustainability. But it would be my Dad’s birthday if he were alive, and, well, I felt like doing something a little different today…

Look away if you’re allergic to cuteness.

I just went into my bedroom for a moment and found this:


I don’t have kids. Instead, I have a dog named Cricket. She is definitely treated like a hairy little child, and I swear she can talk and understands almost everything I say.

I’m sure no one finds her nearly as cute as I do, but really, how adorable is this little mug and curled toes, eh?!


She goes with me on many of my shorter kayak and standup paddleboard trips, she runs along side my mountain bike and cross country skies, she hikes, she gets me out walking in the woods in front of my house every day, and she, well, she just makes me happy.

So I thought I’d share the happiness.


Happy Birthday, Dad, and Happy Adventuring to You and Yours!


Spring and Cricket

Have pets you love? I’d love to see photos and their names on my Facebook Page!

Easy Herb Drying for Homemade Tea


I have to admit that I’m a bit of an herb fiend. I love so many things about them! Their strong scent when I crush their leaves in my fingers, their aroma when heated to make a meal, their fullness and vibrancy in the garden, their medicinal values…I could go on and on.

Home grown tea is an incredibly easy but wonderful gift, both for yourself and others. Last year I started drying peppermint and spearmint and making tea from them. Now I’m absolutely hooked on this tea!

Because I loved my tea so much last year, I’ve taken many cuttings and put them in various pots to grow more. Mints are known for taking over gardens, so I mostly keep them contained. They’re incredible easy to establish, but that’s another post…

Rosemary and Lemon Thyme were the only herbs I had through the winter, so I used them in my cooking and face steaming (that’s another post). I nearly picked them to death while waiting for my other herbs to pop up.

The week I fought a cold and cough, I put Peppermint, Spearmint, Lemon Balm, Rosemary and Lemon Thyme to work in teas with dandelion greens. The cold barely lasted three days.

I plan to try some new blends this year – lemongrass with mint, lavender with mint, rosemary with lemon verbena, and whatever else comes together. Any ideas?

A couple months ago, in my Tips for Tea Drinkers post, I promised to share how I dry my herbs, so here it is.

Spring’s Herb Drying Method:

Tools needed:
Rubber bands
Scissors or small pruners
Push pins or small, out of the way, small bar 


  1. Cut at least three inches off the tops of herb plants
    1. make sure to leave some leaves so they’ll keep growing
    2. keep the thickest part of the stems together as you cut them
    3. keep different herbs separate as they may have different drying times
  2. Gather small bunches
  3. Tightly bundle bunches so the stems are even (keep bundles less than an inch thick to keep inner leaves from molding)
  4. Wrap the rubber band around the bundled stems over and over until it’s tight
  5. Hang – put one section of the rubber band either over a bar or the head of a push pin on a wall (I’m sure there are other places to hang herbs, these are just what I’ve used)
    1. make sure it’s out of the way so you won’t bump it
    2. make sure it’s in a dry place – I find outside in Western Washington is too damp, so I hang them inside
  6. Leave alone until completely dry – when you touch it the leaves should rattle and easily fall off
  7. Separate leaves and stems over a large plate
  8. Put leaves in dry glass jars – mix them for tea blends, or keep separate to keep the flavors strong.
Freshly cut peppermint and spearmint hanging from rubber bands
Dried peppermint and spearmint

For teas I try to keep the leaves somewhat whole, rather than crush them, as I’m not a fan of the bits floating around in my tea water. Those little bits like to find the crevices between teeth!

For cooking, I like to crumble leaves into smaller pieces. However, I prefer fresh herbs so I often don’t dry them until in the fall.

Dried tea leaves separated from stems

I try to use glass for storing all of my food so as to avoid the nasty chemicals and tastes in plastics. Plus, they look so nice in jars!


Voila! There you have it. You’ll never have to buy herb tea again, which is good considering all the things I wrote about in my Tips for Tea Drinkers post.

Here are the herbs I’ll be growing, eating and drinking this summer:  Lavender, Spearmint, Peppermint, Chocolate Mint, Lemon Balm, Mexican Oregano, Chives, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Lemon Thyme, Thyme, Pineapple Sage, culinary Sage, German Chamomile, Fennel, Comfrey, Greek Oregano, Cilantro, a couple types of parsley, and various types of basil (mostly Sweet Basil).

What herbs do you grow? Do you have tea blend ideas? I’d love to see your thoughts and comments in the comments section.

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Happy Herbing!