Ice Ice Baby

Recently, I had the opportunity to try out a stainless steel ice cube tray from The Tickle Trunk. With the move away from plastics, I was excited about an ice cube tray made out of metal.

Stainless Steel Ice Cube tray: 2 partsNow this is not your ordinary plain-o looking tray. It is the fanciest ice cube tray I’ve ever seen: with it’s ultra-chic design and sleek metallic look. Even my hubby, who’s not interested in any type of gadgetry especially kitchen stuff, was amazed and remarked that it was impressively made. Built to last and yet recyclable, it is made of 18/8 stainless steel (18% chromium and 8% nickel). It comes in 2 parts: the actual tray and the divider.

Stainless Steel Ice Cube tray: handle upMaking ice cubes is as easy as putting the divider into the tray, filling it, and then freezing it. Within a few hours I’ve got myself 18 little cubes. Initially when I tried to remove the cubes, I had taken it out of the freezer and immediately tried to pull the handle up. I ended up with shattered pieces of ice. I learned from my little mistake and found that if I left it on the counter for a few minutes to melt a bit, I would end up with cute little cubes. Alternately, you could run the bottom of the tray under some warm water too.

I did a quick little search for stainless steel ice cube trays on the internet. They’re not that easy to come by. So I’m thankful that it’s available locally from Carolyn at The Tickle Trunk (though she ships internationally too). Besides this funky ice cube tray, she’s got a vast array of stainless steel products (like stainless steel straws!). And yes, $30 seems a bit steep for an ice cube tray, as compared to a plastic one from a dollar store. But if looking beyond that, this tray will outlast all the plastic ones, is better for our health and for the environment and therefore makes it money well spent.

My only disappointment is that I really wish I had this tray when I was making baby food for my kids when they were babies. Besides the non-leaching benefits of stainless steel, I wouldn’t have ended up with plastic ice cube trays stained with mashed blueberries or carrots and the sorts.

grape juice cubesOh well, there are other uses now: pesto cubes, chicken stock cubes, popsicle cubes, spice cubes, gravy cubes, lemon/lime juice cubes, leftover sauce cubes,…..oh the list could be endless……

Let us know what clever things you’ve frozen in your ice cube trays.

≡mar

July 10, 2009 at 7:00 am 1 comment

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

Handprints on mirror…..who’s the dirtiest of them all?

We have this huge mirror in our bathroom that covers 3/4 of  one side of the wall.  It was a great idea when we first installed it because it opened and brightened up our modest-sized bathroom.  However, that was all before we had kids.

Now we’ve got 6 little hands that seem to have a high affinity for shiny, clean surfaces and keeping that mirror finger-print, hand-print and toothpaste-splatter free seems like a never ending task.  I had given up on the “blue” stuff long ago.  Ammonia just didn’t sound pleasant at all since I probably could go through an entire bottle fairly quickly.

I discovered plain, old water plus this great little blue cloth I bought at Loonie Town (a local dollar store) was all I needed.  I can’t remember the exact brand of the cloth but I think it is a microfibre material similar to the kind of cloth used for cleaning your eyeglasses, but a tad thicker.

I just wet the cloth with a small amount of water and rub/wipe away (depending on how dirty it is)  until you have a streak free mirror again.  The trick is the right amount of water.  If you don’t use enough, you won’t be able to get off those prints or splatters.  If you use too much, you’ll be rubbing/wiping away until it all dries up before you get your clear reflection back.  It also works well on chrome bathroom fixtures to remove those darn water spots.  I’ve tried using any lint-free cloth that I have lying around and it seems to do the trick too, though it takes a bit more work.  Of course, you need to keep on top of it so the task is not too daunting.  I keep my cloth under the bathroom sink and anytime I see a mark on the mirror, I take it out and give the mirror a quick wipe.

Who knew that plain H-2-O could solve my “mirror on the wall” dilemma?

I’ve also have heard about using vinegar and crumbled up newspaper on mirrors and windows.  What are your thoughts?

≡mar

May 14, 2009 at 3:33 pm Leave a comment

It Began At EPIC

EPICIt was about a year ago that we attended EPIC, Vancouver’s own sustainable living expo.  It was our first time attending and we really didn’t know what to expect.  We were pleasantly surprised by the vast variety of green products, services, and information.  It really sparked my motivation to be a more informed and educated consumer when it came to greening our lives.  It was also a great opportunity to try some great products, this means lots of sampling, and find some great deals as well.  Shopping…what’s not to love!

This year it being held on May 8 – 11, at the new Vancouver Convention Centre.  The ticket prices are $15 at the door or $10 online (adults).  You can get more information about EPIC at their website.  If you get a chance check out the expo!  If anything you can use their website as a great directory of  resource for green companies and services.

If you make it to EPIC 2009 share something that you found interesting there!

§CC

April 30, 2009 at 10:45 pm 1 comment

Chicken A La Carte

I was forwarded this from a friend. Though it’s not directly linked to greener living, I think it’s still worth sharing here. What a humbling wake-up call. I’m reminded to count my blessings daily, to not be wasteful, and to keep in mind the many out there that have so much less than we have.

View this movie at cultureunplugged.com
Did it tug at your heart as much as it did mine?
≡mar

April 20, 2009 at 8:53 pm 2 comments

What To Do In The Dark

img_4618So did you participate in Earth Hour this past Saturday? We did. Actually it was not difficult and it was not out of our way. What made it easier was that our 3 little kiddies were all tugged into bed by 8pm, though it would have been fun if they were able to stay up.

I went about shutting off all the house lights, except for the kids’ night lights in their rooms. However, I didn’t go as far as unplugging our appliances or TV/VCR. I pulled out our solar-&-crank powered flashlights. I left one by the door for my hubby when he got off of work at 8:30 and I took one with me. I decided to do some writing in bed (something in preparation for Father’s Day). It was amazingly calm in the dark and I was able to think so clearly. When my hubby came home we spent the rest of the time catching up with each other and doing our devotions — it was kind of romantic.

While across the world, I was amazed that even major landmarks went dark: the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, Sidney Opera House in Australia. You can check out the flickr photos and YouTube videos from the Earth Hour website. I know there’s lots of skepticism out there about how 1 hour can make really any difference at all, but I think it still makes a stand no matter how minuscule it seems.

Closer to home, electricity consumption dropped by 1.1% overall in our province that Saturday evening; with the highest drop in Pemberton at 4.5%. If you’re interested how your community stacked up, check out BC Hydro’s site.

Back at the home front, since March 28th I’m trying to be even more conscientious about my use of unnecessary electricity. Do I really need to turn on all the lights while doing dishes or brushing my teeth? I should really think about what I need to get out of the fridge before I open the fridge door. How about remembering to open up the blinds and curtains in the morning to allow all that natural light in?

So what did you do last Saturday evening?  Share with us how you spent the hour?

≡mar

March 30, 2009 at 2:31 pm 2 comments

The Hour With No Power

LightswitchRecently, we unexpectedly lost our power for a couple hours.  Of course it was timely and happened just as we started making dinner.  We managed to make dinner on a portable gas burner and actually had some fun with the kids without any electricity.  We opened up the blinds and let in the natural light, played with a wind-up radio and had a blast brushing our teeth with flashlights.  It really got me thinking about how wasteful we often are with our power.  We turn on lights and leave them on even when no one is in the room.  Devices are plugged in when we aren’t really using them.  Do we really need to use all that electricity?

We recently received an email about a world-wide event to collectively reduce our carbon footprint, Earth Hour.  Basically, you sign-up and at 8:30pm, Saturday March 28, 2008 , turn off your lights for one hour.  According to the website, there are no hard and fast rules.  You can do anything you want in that hour just as long as the lights are off.  Currently, 1760 cities and towns in 80 countries have already signed up to participate.   Need a reason to participate, here it is right from the organization:

Why Participate?

Earth Hour is a symbolic event. Turning off our lights for an hour won’t stop climate change but it does demonstrate that our individual action is important and adds up to make a big difference. More importantly, it sends a very powerful message to government and world leaders that people want policies and regulations put in place that can achieve meaningful emission reduction to help fight climate change.

We hope you will have an hour to spare to make a global stand to help fight climate change.

§CC

March 19, 2009 at 9:00 am 1 comment

Birthday Moolah

img_4426When my son turned 5 this year, I wanted to do something different when it came to birthday gifts. We really have very generous friends and family and they all really spoil him like crazy with more gifts than he can really process and way more than he really needs (trust me, our house is a toy store in itself!). In the previous years, we’ve asked for donations to various charities in lieu of gifts. That was fine, but I found that it took the fun and joy out of opening presents for him. We are really blessed with so much and there are so many others out there that cannot afford the simplest things. After much thought my husband and I decided this year was the year to start teaching our son a bit about the stewardship of money and about the world around him.

This is what we decided:

  • we asked family and invitees to give $5 instead of a gift ($5 because he was turning 5)
  • half of all the money given to him for his birthday was set aside for him to spend, save, and/or invest in whatever manner he chooses
  • the other half, which my husband and I would match dollar to dollar amount, would be donated to a charity or organization of his choosing

We started telling him of the birthday gift plan a couple of months in advance to prepare him and to get him excited and thinking about the important decisions that need to be made with regards to his birthday money. And though he didn’t understand fully or clearly the entire process, he couldn’t wait to turn 5.

It’s been about a month since his birthday and he still hasn’t decided on what he wants to do with his portion of the birthday money, though we’ve made several trips to Toys-R-Us already. He’s also grasping the concept that things cost money and he can’t just have whatever he sees he likes on the toy shelf (like that $100 Lego set he keeps eyeing). I am amazed at his patience and his ability in not making a rash decision and buy impulsively the first thing he sees.

As for the other portion of the money, we’ve had to help narrow down the donation choices for him. We’ve talked to him about a few different options and it looks like we’re thinking about the Kiva organization (which allows you to loan money to entrepreneurs in developing countries and when the loan is repaid back to you, you can re-loan that money out again to another entrepreneur). Kiva is not like your typical charity, it’s lend-and-payback philosophy allows the giving to continue indefinitely. In this process of deciding how to spend the giving portion of the birthday money, it’s truly fulfilling to see my 5 year old show empathy to those in need as he, and we, become more conscious of the world around us.

I recently ran across a website called DreamBank with sort of the same concept. It’s a more refined structure than our little birthday moolah thing. You post a dream gift (a specific item or goal) and than people/family/friends can contribute money towards it, in lieu of an assortment of gifts that you may not need or want, via PayPal. Environmentally it helps cut down on the accumulation of unnecessary stuff. In addition, DreamBank will donate 10% of its revenues to selected charities. The only drawback is the fees involved: a cost of $2.25 per contribution and a 2.5% fee of your total dream fund when you cash out. I have yet to try out DreamBank  and I don’t know the ins-and-outs of it, but the concept is intriguing.

What do you think about this concept of people contributing to one item/goal in lieu of presents? Are there other organizations or websites out there like DreamBank that you know of?

≡mar

March 4, 2009 at 10:34 pm 4 comments

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