“Are the trees part of Thanksgiving?,” my four-year-old asked from the backseat as we drove past a stand selling Christmas trees.
It was the day before Thanksgiving.
“No,” I started to answer, before the radio’s Christmas carols interrupted.
When did Christmas become a part of Thanksgiving?
Admittedly, Advent comes early this year – it starts tomorrow – but that’s clearly not the answer, since what I call “the commercial Christmas” bears no relation to the Christian practice of Advent, the period of waiting for Christ’s birth.
When I was a kid back in New Jersey, Thanksgiving traditions were a blur of football, parades, long walks through the fallen leaves, and of course, the feast we all still relish. In my memory, there was a long break between Christmas and Thanksgiving…..they didn’t seamlessly merge together as they do today.
But perhaps that depends where you live. I was relieved to find the site New Jersey football, which shows high school games still being played on Thanksgiving Day. Unfortunately, here in Bethesda and the surrounding DC area, the high school football season wraps up in early November.
Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday for three reasons:
2) unity and
I love the fact that Thanksgiving doesn’t require fancy gifts and over the top decorations. It’s a simple holiday – one anyone can celebrate just by making a lovely meal and giving thanks. It unifies us: all Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. No need to worry about one’s religious affiliation or fear offending anyone. And doesn’t it make sense for all of us to give thanks?
But now, Thanksgiving seems like a few hour weigh station on the eve of Black Friday.
How are you keeping your Thanksgiving traditions alive? Can we really counter the early onslaught of the overly commercialized holiday season?
Copyright 2010 OrganicManiaFiled under Biodynamic food, Holidays | Wordpress Comments (2) |
My Top 10 Tips for a “Green” Labor Day Weekend (And Don’t Forget the Laborers, esp. The Freelancers!)
Every year, my Labor Day post focuses on eco-friendly tips, but never before have I blogged about the real meaning of Labor Day. So this Labor Day, I’m adding a plea that you think about the many people – contract workers, freelancers, bloggers, writers, and others – who work hard but often don’t get paid for their labors. As Crain’s New York Business reported this week, “the seemingly simple process of getting paid has emerged as the No. 1 problem facing self-employed workers.” If you’re someone who works with self-employed people, or if you are one yourself, I urge you to read “Ugh: The Free in Freelance” and to check out the campaign run by the Freelancers Union.
So this post is a little late..because I made sure to pay the independent workers I employ before putting it up. Would be a little hypocritical otherwise, wouldn’t it?
And now…on to my top 10 Tips for a “Green” Labor Day weekend.
1. Just about the first thing people think about on Labor Day is firing up the grill. This year, skip the burgers and beef hot dogs . The production of beef is a major contributor to three of the four global warming gases — carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane.
2. What to grill instead? How about grilling up some wild caught salmon instead of the usual beef? If you’re at the beach, head to your local seafood shop. If you’re in my neck of the woods – MoCo near DC – check out Whole Foods fantastic saleon Marine Stewardship Council certified salmon, now $3.50 off per pound at $13.49 per pound at the Friendship Heights Whole Foods. (And if salmon isn’t your thing, how about pasta salad, potato salad, or organic soy-based corn dogs? Here are some other Labor Day recipe ideas).
3. Need a new grill? My favorite tips on solar-powered and other “green grills”are here at Diane MacEachern’s Big Green Purse blog. And here’s a another great grilling tip courtesy of homespace – when it’s time to clean up, use good ole baking soda, water and a wire brush. Skip the commercial cleaners with their decidely un-earthfriendly chemicals!
4. If you’re still using charcoal grills, reconsider. The prices of gas grills have dropped dramatically – I’ve seen them on sale for just $95 at KMart – and they’re a more Earth-friendly choice than charcoal.
5. If you must use charcoal, Diane MacEachern suggests using lump charcoal instead of briquettes, which may contain coal dust
and other additives. Diane says to look for hardwood briquettes from forests certified by the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program, or lumps made from coconut husks. Cow boy Charcoal, sold at Lowe’s, Trader Joe’s and under the Whole Foods 365 brand, makes chunk charcoal out of wood leftover from furniture making and construction.
Need to mow the lawn to make your yard look beautiful? Forget about conventional gas and electric mowers. Go retro with a good old fashioned push mower. Not only will you help to save the planet, you’ll get real exercise too! If you must use gas or electric, how about sharing a mower with your neighbors? (And if your little one wants to copy you, you can borrow the neighbors’ plastic mower. Yes, both mowers in this pic are borrowed! Talk about Reduce, Reuse, Refuse!)
To some folks, a party’s not a party is not a party without lights. Thankfully, there are more and more choices for LED lights, including these patriotic red, white and blue starred LEDs I found at Strosniders Hardware. (No, I didn’t buy them, but they’re cute, aren’t they?)
8. Consider recycled paper plates. I found the ones pictured above at my local Giant grocery store in Bethesda, Maryland, and I’ve also seen them at “Party City” stores. They’re priced comparable to regular paper plates. They’re cute and an eco-friendlier choice!
9. When dusk comes, and you head inside, open the windows instead of turning on the air conditioner. You’ll save money and the environment!
10. If you’re heading back home to the big city after enjoying time at the beach, you may want to check out the local farmers markets and grocers. We pick up organic and local fruits when we are in smaller towns that enjoy a lower cost of living than our big city home town.
Have a great holiday weekend!
LynnFiled under Bethesda, Easy Green Weekend Projects, Food, Holidays | Wordpress Comment (0) |
For years now, I’ve been blogging about my wonderful CSA. I love it. I love everything about it. The biodynamic food, of course, is delicious – out of this world good. The atmosphere is more Berkeley than Bethesda. It’s like a mini-vacation into another world every time I head over there, a few short blocks from my home.
That’s what my husband does. I really don’t know how to cook.
Now I have a wonderful surprise for you: each week this summer I’ll be featuring a recipe and post from guest blogger Mattie Kahn. A green teen and foodie, she’s also, as you’ll see, a wonderful writer. And she knows how to cook! She’ll be at culinary school in the fall, but for now, we get to enjoy her explorations with my weekly CSA share.
Think summer picnic. Go ahead. Picture it, you can close your eyes if you need to. If you’re like me, you’re probably envisioning a rolling, green lawn, a checked blanket, friends, family, kids–company of some kind, anyway, maybe, if you’re feeling optimistic, a warm mid-summer breeze, and definitely a picnic basket. The picnic baskets that dot my childhood memories were always filled with some variation on sandwiches, salad, brownies, and watermelon. My siblings and I munched on PB&J in Central Park, tuna-cucumber along the pier on the Hudson River, even an adventurous spread of hummus and veggies on a pebbly Cape Cod beach.
But my most persistent summer picnic memory is the sweet, salty taste of the perfect, cold potato salad, carted along in some container to satisfy every picnic participant, every time. My family’s trademark German-style potato salad–meaning, a mustard-based dressing–was so pervasive, that it wasn’t until I was ten or eleven that I’d ever tasted a potato salad made with mayonnaise. Since then, I’ve been to many more picnics, with families other than my own, and sometimes just with friends. I’ve tasted a LOT of potato salads.
With fourth of July around the corner, and this week’s CSA share list boasting delicious, flavor-packed new potatoes, and brimming with other potato salad ingredients, I thought I’d introduce you all to a potato salad that’s a little more adventurous than your average picnic side-dish fare. This one’s lightly adapted from the geniuses over at Food and Wine magazine, and it’s been a staff favorite over there for ages. Embrace the vibrant flavor of salsa verde as a delicious and unexpected dressing for this salad. In it’s original Food and Wine incarnation, the recipe is made with green beans, but being a green peas lover as I am, and because peas appeared on the CSA sharelist this week, I decided to sub out the beans for peas. Enjoy!
Potato Salad with Green Beans and Salsa Verde:
1. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2. 1/4 cup minced chives
3. 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (another CSA sharelist goody!)
4. 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint or cilantro, or a mix of both, depending on your taste preferences
5. 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
6. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
7. 1 large garlic clove, minced
9. 1 1/4 pounds new red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
10. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
11. 1 1/2 pounds green peas, fresh if you can find them! They’re in season.
- In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil with the chives, parsley, mint or cilantro, lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic and season with salt. Let the salsa verde stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water, add a large pinch of salt (Kosher salt, if you have it on hand) and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes over moderately high heat until just tender, about 8 minutes; drain and return them to the saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the peas and cook until tender, but not mushy, 3-4 minutes; drain. Return the beans to the pot and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Season with salt.
- Add half of the salsa verde to the potatoes and half to the peas, stirring to coat. Transfer the peas to a serving bowl. Top with the potatoes, and serve. Keeping this potato salad warm lends the potatoes and added velvety texture, but from my trial experience, it’s just as delicious after being cooled in the fridge!
Enjoy your holiday weekend!
Copyright 2010 OrganicManiaFiled under Bethesda, CSAs, Food, Holidays, Recipes | Wordpress Comment (1) |
“Just look at this!” DH exclaimed, gazing at the selection of grilling guides artfully arranged in the bookstore in anticipation of Father’s Day .
“You Moms get spa outings and retreats on Mother’s Day! Us Dads? We’re expected to fire up the grill. And now, we can’t even do that right! You Green Moms are telling us we have to learn how to grill green!”
I laughed, but then I reconsidered. Gee, I realized, school’s even out for Father’s Day. No artfully decorated gifts from the kiddos, carefully project-managed by the kids’ teachers. No, it’s all up to the kiddos and/or Mom to figure out how to commemorate Father’s Day.
What do you think? Do we need to reinvent how we celebrate Father’s Day? What are your traditions? And what are your favorite “green gifts” for a green Dad?
I may also update this old post about what Green Dads want for Father’s Day! If you want to be included, leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter @organicmania!
(Note: This is a reprint of a blog post from 2008. Figured it stood the test of time, so I’d re-spin it! What do you think?)Filed under Holidays | Wordpress Comments (6) |
Thought you’d find another “keep it green” post here, huh? I’ve done that before.
But what I hadn’t done until recently is realize how few people actually take the time to truly commemorate Memorial Day.
Of course, every holiday is a bit like that. The religious complain that Christ has been left out of Christmas. Thanksgiving, for some, is just a prelude to “Black Friday.” And Memorial Day…well, it’s the official launch of summer.
The beach beckons.
Coolers must be filled.
Grills must be fired up.
But it’s also a time when veterans, and those who love and respect them, come together to honor the ultimate sacrifice – laying their lives on the line for this country.
Today, just steps from a busy boardwalk, I observed a sparsely attended ceremony honoring those who fought battles long ago…and the battles of today.
I wasn’t surprised to hear the Master Sargeant from Dover Air Force Base talking about receiving fallen soldiers from overseas, but I was a bit surprised to hear him talk about a time in the future, a time “when our youth are no longer asked to make the ultimate sacrifice.”
Too late to visit a wreath laying in your community? If you do nothing else, consider donating to the Memorial Day Donation Challenge from Paralyzed Veterans of America (donations are doubled up through today). And be sure to head on over to Twilight Earth to read this poignant post from DC green guy Adam Shake, a veteran of the war in Bosnia.
Copyright OrganicMania 2010
Filed under Holidays | Wordpress Comments (6) |
For a green blogger, what one chooses to post on Earth Day carries quite some significance.
I thought about adding my voice to those expressing disgust at the commercialization of Earth Day. But I tried that two years ago.
And this year?
The same company that I took to task on Earth Day 2008 had their PR firm approach me about publicizing their tactless displays…
I thought about writing an update about “A Travesty on Earth Day.” It was two years ago Earth Day when a Bethesda developer chose to chop down eight beautiful, healthy, four-story high, towering trees in the heart of downtown to make way for a condo building….
Two years later…and those trees are gone forever, with no luxury building in sight.
I thought about writing an update post on the launch of my client, Green My Parents.
But heck, I spent the better part of the day tweeting about Green My Parents anyway!
Instead, I decided the best thing I could do for Earth Day was to get outside.
Watched as my eldest boy admired a tree branch.
Let my younger son think that leaves were a type of “toy” from the Earth.
And me? There’s nothing like lying in the soft, sunlit grass – enjoying Mother Earth. (Even when reminders of the constant pull of our commercial culture are literally right at hand).
And your Earth Day?
Copyright OrganicMania 2010
Filed under Bethesda, Consulting Business, Green Kids, Holidays | Wordpress Comments (3) |
I had to share this pic of Boo, because it just encapsulates the joy of a little one, doesn’t it?
Of course, as per usual, I had great plans to write well researched posts about the dearth of fair trade chocolate, easy tips for an eco-friendly Easter, and more.
But at the end of the day, as we all know, you can’t do it all. Face in front of the computer, or face in front of your loved ones?
I opted for love.
Hope you did too. Enjoy the day!
(Now my DH’s cheese souffle beckons…)
Copyright 2010 OrganicManiaFiled under Holidays | Wordpress Comment (0) |
Note: This is a lightly updated post I run every year at this time. I guess every year I hope the Giants and Safeways and other grocery stores and mass merchandisers will stop hawking so much crap on Saint Patrick’s Day. But as this picture I snapped yesterday attests, they’re still at it….
Flowers are great….green plastic hats and plastic wrapped flowers – not so much!
The “green” holiday is becoming anything but green. Back when I was a kid, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day was simple. You put on some green clothing, perhaps a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” button, and made sure to down some beer that night. If you truly had the Luck of the Irish, you got to watch or march in a St. Patrick’s Day parade.
But like everything else in our consumerist society, we’re being prompted to buy more “stuff” to celebrate properly. I’ve admitted to loving the tacky, tacky side of Christmas, replete with blow-up inflatables and lighting, but decorating for the holidays is a longstanding tradition. Do we really need more inflatables barely three months later? This year, St. Patrick’s Day inflatables have popped up on suburban lawns, biding their time till they end up in our landfills. (Check it out here). And more and more, the retailers are offering special Cheap Plastic Crap for St. Patrick’s Day. Cheap Plastic Crap is bad enough in kid’s goody bags. Do we really want to encourage it on St. Patrick’s Day too?
Here are 10 tips for celebrating a truly green, eco-friendly St. Patrick’s Day. Have fun! Luck o’ the Irish to you!
1. Wear Green
2. March in or Watch a St. Patrick’s Day Parade
3. Enjoy Some Irish Spirits (and if it’s beer you’re drinking, opt for organic!)
4. Sing Irish Songs
5. Visit an Irish Pub or Restaurant (Walk or take public transit if you can!)
6. Bake and Decorate Some Green Cookies or Cupcakes
7. Skip the Corned Beef, Go for the Cabbage (Why? Cattle farming is a contributor to global warming).
8. Say No to Cheap Plastic Crap for St. Patty’s Day
9. Say No to St. Patty’s Lawn Decorations and Inflatables
10. Smile and Say Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Copyright 2010 OrganicMania
Filed under Holidays | Wordpress Comment (1) |
With all the focus on “Snowmageddon” “Snowzilla” or whatever you decided to call the two storms that hit the DC area this week, I actually forgot Valentine’s Day is coming up…!
Heck, between snow days (6), illness (2 days) and holidays (2), my kids will have missed 10 out of 11 consecutive school days! So I think I can be forgiven for forgetting that those darling little Valentines need to be dutifully addressed to each classmate and brought into school next week!
But when I checked the school listserv today, I realized apparently I was the only one who had forgotten…a bunch of other parents had actually spent constructive time during the snow storms making Valentines cards with their kids!
What a great idea….and it’s not too late…
You can get fancy if you want, but in earlier years, when I’ve had my act together (no snow), I got rave reviews from the preschool teachers with just the simplest of Valentines. Before my son could even cut out a heart shaped valentine, he cut circles, squares, oblong odd shapes – whatever he could muster – from red construction paper. Then I either wrote his name on each one or he stuck a sticker with his name on each Valentine.
The teachers and kids loved the home made Valentines. I loved doing a simple, easy craft with my child from materials that we already had at home. What’s more, I didn’t waste gas, consume unnecessary plastic, or have to spend bucks on silly Valentine’s cards.
C’mon…join me – it’s not too late – we can still get those Valentines cards made! And making – rather than buying – is just one simple way to show love to Mother Earth this Valentine’s Day!
Does your family have a Valentines tradition? Leave a comment and share!
Copyright OrganicMania 2010Filed under Holidays | Wordpress Comment (0) |
Here in the DC region, people are counting on being snowed in tomorrow as we wake to more than two feet of snow. But if you’ve got any ice cream in your freezer, you can call over to your closest neighbors (who are sure to be home!) and throw an Ice Cream for Breakfast Day party!
Held the first Saturday in February, Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is exactly what it sounds like. A great excuse for a party! What began as a small gathering in upstate New York is now a worldwide event, but still very much under-the-radar!
Here’s more on the story from the “official” Ice Cream for Breakfast Day website.
Once upon a time there was a little girl named Ruth and a little boy named Joe. Ruth and Joe grew up in the
back of beyond in New York state where it was very very cold. Every winter between New Year’s Eve and
Passover, life in up-state New York got extremely boring, so their parents invented a holiday to brighten
up the dreary days of winter. It was called Ice Cream For Breakfast Day. This was a wonderful holiday for
children and parents alike because to celebrate you had to eat ice cream for breakfast on the first Saturday in
Well, Ruth and Joe grew up and went away to a university. They made many friends and taught them all
about Ice Cream For Breakfast Day. After college Ruth had a roommate named Barry to whom she also told
about this tradition. Many years later, Barry met Itzah C. Kret in Washington, D.C. and converted him into an
Ice Cream For Breakfast Day observer.
Nobody has kept precise track but through word of mouth ICFBD has been celebrated in many homes, states
and countries all over the world. Some people give parties with musical instruments, others simply
celebrate with family members. There is no right or wrong so long as you follow the 3 plus 1 simple Ice
Cream for Breakfast Day Rules
(1) Eat ice cream
(2) for breakfast
(3) on the first Saturday in February
(4) spread the word
The rest is up to you!
As for me, I’m fortunate to be invited to the famous Barry’s party! But I’ve got to trek through all the snow, which may come up to Boo’s shoulders….so we’ll see if we make it. Actually, nothing keeps me from my ice cream, diet or not (at least not on Ice Cream for Breakfast Day).
Let me know if you spring for Ice Cream for Breakfast Day! (And yes, make it organic!)
Copyright OrganicMania 2010Filed under Bethesda, Food, Holidays | Wordpress Comments (3) |