Monday, April 30, 2007

sitting outside, thankful for the wireless

it is breezy, but warm enough to forgo the jacket. i've been stuck in the house for a few days, told by the midwife to "take it easy", which is hard because i have so much to do. but it feels good right now, just sitting in our glorious backyard, watching the dogs lick the patio*. the grass is coming back nicely (should you want to visit and take a nap, brother dear). the hydrangea bush that we planted with such hope last summer, and took for dead earlier this spring, is showing signs of life, tiny, green-speckled signs of life. the pond is nice and clean, and running smoothly, as kpr has been on an outdoor spring cleaning binge and everything is in tip-top shape. bonnie takes a righteous poo to my left, and i am undisturbed, making a mental note to pick it up before i go inside.

there is a blue jay that has discovered our backyard and I AM IN LOVE WITH IT! it seems so strange to say, because usually blue jays are noisy little pests, but this one fascinates me. we get mainly mourning doves and chick-a-dees in our backyard here (the pigeons, thankfully, have yet to discover our little oasis), so a jay is a welcome stranger. i look for him everyday through the window and am drawn to his flights from branch to branch and it thrills me when he drinks from the pond. he isn't very noisy and has yet to dive bomb the dogs, so i hope he'll be sticking around for a while. kpr knows he is getting some sort of bird feeder for his birthday in the next few weeks, so i hope we attract even more birds to the yard. when all of the flowers start blooming, i hope it will encourage them to stick around a while. how cool is it to live in manhattan and have your own flock of birds? we wake up each morning to them chirping around.

i had to collect my pee for the last 24 hours and now that i'm done, it feels strange to be able to just sit on the toilet and not worry about having to pissing into a container and pouring it into the other container stored in the fridge. here's hoping my kidneys are doing just fine.

*the dogs are licking the patio because our brilliant neighbors from the third floor- the ones i refer to as eurotrash (hey, i live in new york, we're allowed to refer to people as eurotrash), decided to have a barbecue on their balcony last weekend (they finally removed the plywood floor a few weeks ago). that is all fine and good, except, they decided to use a grill with no catch underneath to catch the drippings. which meant we come home from a weekend in jersey to find grease spattered all over the patio, the wall of the building, our air conditioner (can't wait to smell that when we turn it on), and our adirondack chair (thank god no one was sitting underneath at the time- although, had it been me, i would have called the cops because hot grease + a pregnant lady = assault, sucker). thank you, eurotrash from the third floor, for reminding me what assholes you truly are (oh, and we know it's you blocking our driveway, dumbass).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

being green

let's say, hypothetically, you were considering renovating your kitchen and you wanted to be as environmentally friendly as possible- this is an email that i would, hypothetically, write to you.

I've been thinking about your kitchen remodel and thought I'd pass along some info that was helpful to us when we remodeled. A good place to start is with The Green Guide, they are an excellent resource for all things environmentally friendly.

Ikea Kitchens are great, although, if you are looking to do the whole "green" thing, its not the best option as the cabinets and counters are made from compressed particle board, which is a big green no no because of off gassing VOCs. But if you do go Ikea, I've heard good things about them and Ken's cousin has had one for the last ten years and has no complaints. They tend to use wood that is from managed forests, which is a plus. For example:

For an extra food-prep surface and storage, try Ikea's kitchen carts made of solid birch from well-managed forests. The Bekvam ($49.99) is unfinished; the Forhoja ($79.99) is finished with a clear nitrocellulose lacquer and larger, with drawers that pull out from two directions and two shelves, each with space for nine bottles.
(From The Green Guide)

This is a great article from the Washington Post about a Green Kitchen Renovation

A Recent Article from NYTimes about being and building green: Great news from Home Depot- makes building a green kitchen even easier!

I love Treehugger!
We checked out Valcucine (mentioned at TreeHugger), but they were SUPER EXPENSIVE, but exactly what we were looking for- but we kept looking.

will probably be the hardest thing to be green about. Our cabinets were manufactured at a local cabinet maker, all hardwood bamboo, with interior shelves made out of Dow's Fiberboard- made completely of compressed wheat and sunflower stalks (stuff that would be burned in a landfill), with no harmful chemical binders or adhesives. I found our dealer by calling Prime Board in North Dakota (another manufacturer of the compressed wheat board) and asking them who used their products in the Northeast- they gave me Frank, our cabinet guy's number. If I hadn't done that, I don't know what we would have done.

The leader in environmentally friendly cabinetry is Neil Kelly- the only problem is they are on the West Coast....

I know that you guys have to replace your base cabinets in order to install your dishwasher, but you might want to consider keeping your wall cabinets if they are in decent condition and refacing them (new doors), sanding and painting them to match the new base cabinets. You would save a ton of money and save trees too.

A tip- if you have cabinetry above your refrigerator, I would have it be flush to the front of your fridge- it creates a huge storage space- we keep all of our small appliances there and the space would be wasted otherwise. And you can pretend you have a built in!

I highly suggest having a pullout cabinet for trash and recyclables. We would die without ours... I wish we had the space for all of those neat cabinet/drawer organizers that are available today. Big, pull-out drawers (the really deep ones) are great for storing pans, cookies sheets, etc....

We went with Ice Stone which I LOVE. However, they require a little maintenece- they have to be resealed every year (common in stone/concrete counters) and we have to be careful about lemons/acidics (slight bleaching spots that only I notice) and red wine (possible staining). They are beautiful and compared to granite, affordable. Granite, while adding to the value of your kitchen, is a big no no when it comes to green/sustainability.

Another granite alternative is:
CeasarStone or SileStone which are basically the same thing (silestone is available at Home Depot) and made up of quartz scraps and compressed into a beautiful slab countertop. Our friends used Sile Stone in their new kitchen and it is sparkly and fabulous.

Afm safecoat is a low voc/no voc paint that can be used indoor and out. Baby's room will be coated with this stuff.
If you go to Home Depot/Lowes and find a color that you like you can go online and find the matching color thru AMF Safecoat.

Benjamin Moore also has a low/no VOC option They have primer too.

While bamboo flooring is more prevailent than bamboo cabinetry, it is not a choice I would go with because bamboo can be very soft (even though they claim it is as hard as a hardwood) and from what I've read, doesn't stand up very well in high traffic areas (especially if you wear heels, drop heavy things on the floor etc...)

I like Marmoleum. This stuff is beautiful and used in schools, hospitals, offices and homes.

I know a lot of people use cork, and there is always poured concrete, which can be stained and I think looks great (it's cheap to do too, and you can install a radiant floor underneath).

I like the Aquasana water filter and use it everyday. I highly recommend installing a water filter- it filters better than a Brita and less waste than buying bottled. Filters need to be replace every 6-8 months. They always have great sales. You will need to buy a sink with an extra faucet hole.

We accesorized with Bamboo cutlery holders from Bed Bath and Beyond. I wash and reuse our ziploc bags to death and I'm going to get a bag dryer one of these days. I also reuse aluminum foil too.

We use a lot of Seventh Generation Products, we also like Citrisolve, Ecover (Ken LOVES their floor cleaner), and any other cleaners you can get at Whole Foods. We've eliminated all chemical cleaners all over the house.

We installed lighting from Ikea and Home Depot (under cabinet lighting), both are energy efficient.

Of course, any demo-ing/finishing you can do yourselves will save you big bucks and time, but I suggest having the contractor install your hardware to your cabinetry, it is really time consuming and if you mess it up, you can't go back....

Hope this helps! Happy planning!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Days of our Lives- now with more GREEN!

so i haven't watched days in ages- ok, like a few months, but yesterday i was home and decided i should tune in to catch up with all the folks in salem (i was suffering from a severe case of i-don't-feel-like-getting-up-off-the-couch-itis).
sammy and lucas are finally getting married (again?, i'm not sure, it feels like sammy has been married about 13 times now) and had carley from meet them to help discuss their green wedding. how convenient that she too lives in salem! which is located somewhere, ummmm, i'm not exactly sure where, but chicago seems to be the nearest major city....

anywho- they were planning a 'green' wedding, which was so exciting to me. when planning our wedding, i wanted to go as 'green' as we could. all of our paper goods (invites, seating chart, menus, etc) were made from recycled paper, including our programs and the paper we had our vows written on. no trees were killed so we could get married (well, except for toilet paper at the venue, but that i couldn't control). we used postcard rsvps, to eliminate envelopes and cut down on paper needed.

when choosing flowers, it was important to me to use locally grown, in season blooms. i knew organic would cost an arm and a leg, so we didn't go that far, but i took comfort in knowing that my flowers weren't shipped or flown in using a lot of fossil fuels and in season blooms usually require less effort and chemicals to grow.

we cut down on waste by eliminating favors- who wants those candy covered almonds anyway? instead we made a donation to the new york restoration project (go divine miss m!) which creates community gardens all over new york city. we also had a small wedding party- just immediate family- which cut down on the need for special dresses, flowers, gifts and all the waste associated with these things. my sister's dress was made in nyc by a friend, no shipping there. my dress was shipped in from overseas- so you can't win them all.

we had all of our family from the philadelphia area bused in- keeping around 50 cars off the road and keeping our families from stressing out trying to find brooklyn. most of our new york friends took public transportation to the garden or shared cars. our one friend walked from his apartment!

we stressed to the caterer that it was very important to us that no food go to waste, any leftovers should be donated to city harvest or a similar program. being the professionals that they are, they were able to prepare exactly enough food and nothing was leftover.

my ring is made with certified non conflict diamonds.

we had leftover flower containers which i advertised on craig's list and gave to a mom to use for her daughter's sweet sixteen party.

i wish:
we had used soy candles
we had more organic food offerings
my dress was made from local, sustainable materials

but other than that, i was pretty happy with the way things turned out and all of the above took minimal extra effort.

i'm glad that 'green' weddings are becoming more and more popular and happy that the knot and nbc are promoting this idea to the public at large. every little bit helps, right?

cracking up and sonogram

i saw blades of glory last night with m and a few of her friends and i didn't stop laughing the whole movie! we were all giggling at the opening music and if you've seen it, you know why. it was fantastic- so hilarious- one of will ferrel's best! i will definitely own this dvd in hopes that they will have out takes. i can't imagine shooting some of the scenes without crack ups. i can't wait to see it again with kpr!

yesterday we had our second sonogram and all is well. 13oz ten fingers, ten toes, all the anatomy is on track. it was so neat to see the baby on the screen and we have some great pictures to share with the family now.

there is a taco bell in the lobby of my hospital, i am both disturbed and elated by this fact. i know i will need a seven layer burrito stat after giving birth.

Monday, April 02, 2007

don't get fat or your kid will be fat and resent you for it for the rest of their life

so this is the dumbest study ever. as if a pregnant woman wasn't confused enough about what is healthy and what isn't healthy.

let me summarize for you:

hmmmmm, if you gain the recommended weight during pregnancy, you probably will have an overweight toddler. if you gain more than the recommended weight you will most likely have an overweight toddler. BUT don't not gain the recommended weight because being underweight is bad for the baby. either way, the choices you make now will affect your baby's future no matter what so you might as well worry about it and feel guilty about it for the rest of your life. why don't you go sit in a corner and cry about it? but don't comfort yourself with food, because that is a bad habit you will pass along to your baby and they will resent you for it for the rest of their life. BUT don't not eat because your baby is hungry and needs nourishment- here, here is a nice head of lettuce, knaw on that for a while, okay? but eat some of this genetically modified tomato while you're at it because the baby needs folate, and if the baby is born with any kindof defect or disorder, it's because you didn't consume enough folate and they will resent you for it for the rest of their life.
so pretty much, this study was an important study to perform but we have no conclusive results other than you should worry and feel guilty and that we need to study this some more in order to give you more information that you should worry and feel guilty about.
the end.

i have developed a new vice, one that i have been fighting for years, but have recently succumbed to.

decaf iced coffee with milk and two sugars.

oh god how i crave it on my way to work in the morning! during the first four months of pregnancy when i was barfing all the time, the smell of coffee would sooth my reeling head and stomach. but i didn't dare drink any coffee because the child! think about the child! and the growth defects and the chance of developing two heads!

i have never been a coffee drinker, because frankly, caffeine can kill me. well maybe not kill me, but make me feel like i want to jump off a bridge just to get rid of the shakes, racing mind and heart palpitations. i worked at several different coffee shops through high school and college and i loved the smell of coffee, but never drank it.

when i moved to new york, i discovered the joy that is iced coffee. i would have a decaf iced about once a week as a treat, always making it nice and creamy and sweet. my favorite part is crunching on the sugar at the bottom of the cup. i would only allow myself to partake during the summer, when it was really hot outside, thinking i deserved this coffee, for surviving the summer in manhattan.

for the record, yes, i do know that decaf coffee does have caffeine in it. and yes it does affect me slightly.

now that i'm pregnant, i'm craving sweet things all the time. last weekend we went to my nephew's seventh birthday party and my sister in law sent us home with about a third of the birthday cake (homemade by her sister who is a professional baker, so it was some pretty damn good cake). the cake lasted about 1.5 days in our fridge before i demolished it on monday night and had the sugar shakes for most of the evening. ooooohhhhh but it was good! and sweet! and awesomely delicious! and studies have shown that babies react positively to sweet amniotic fluid, so really, i was thinking of the child! i want my baby to like me and if that means i'm going to have to consume a lot of sugary nonsense, well then, i accept that challenge.

i had two iced coffees last week and this morning i broke down while walking by amy's bread in the village. i've been working in the west village for the last week and have been going to amy's almost everyday for lunch because they have awesome (healthy) sandwiches. they also have amazing cheese biscuits (more carbs that turn into sugar!) that somehow end up in my purse, i'm not sure how that happens. but cheese! has calcium and protein- so i'm doing it for the child!

i'm planning out my next iced coffee and i think i can make it till thursday. wednesday is our next ultrasound, so i want to remain 'clean' for the next few days, just in case the technician can see the ice coffee on the sonogram and feels like she needs to tsk tsk me for it. so, thursday it is- my reward for staying clean for two days. friday is a reward in itself, so i won't have one friday- unless it's really hot out.