Friday, February 29, 2008

Those Brits

I have a great friend named Kim. Kim and I met back when we both had sweet baby girls and were living in the same Rhode Island neighborhood. Kim has always been a great resource when it comes to books, recipes and TV shows. We have similar taste.

Kim called me up this week and asked if I had heard about the BBC America Channel. I hadn't. With all of the endless reruns coinciding with my endless colds and flu's, I was willing to watch anything once.

I programmed my best friend, the DVR, and waited until I was stuck on the couch clinging to my tissues. Here are my two favorite shows;

How Clean Is Your House is a great show staring two thick-accented British women who find people who live in have dirty houses. Not just clutter, but actual flesh-eating, stomach-churning filth.

Aggie and Kim (the show's stars) arrive at the flats (that's British talk for apartment) complete with high heels and pink, feather rubber gloves. The ladies send samples from the bathrooms and kitchen to a lab. You should hear the gross bacteria that are found.

What I really like about this show is that the ladies use lots of natural cleaning solutions that really work. Meat tenderizer for nasty pots and pans. White toothpaste to wash silver. Washing soda in a tub for disgusting, old grime.

You Are What You Eat follows a no nonsense Holistic Nutritionist, Gillian McKeith. Gillian tracks down unhealthy couples and does things like look at their tongues for health clues (cracks in the tongue are bad) and she give the overweight guests colonics and diagnoses their poo. In either eight weeks or just one half hour in our time, guests are on the road to good health.

Gillian is hysterical and talks straight about s**t. (S**t must not be a swear in England) She advocates lots of fresh organic fruits, veggies and whole grains. She shuns proceed foods. She is a straight talker.

WARNING: Do not eat while you are watching either of these shows you will feel sick because the shows can be graphic and odds are, whatever you will be eating will not be included in Gillian's plan. My handful of chocolate chips were for medicinal purposes. Yeah, that's true.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Radio Update

After a few comments and quite a few emails I thought that I would update everyone on my radio debut.

Here it is;

Because I am such a worrywart/spaz, the kids and Hubby went out to my in-law's before the show started. The house was quiet. I even called the phone company to figure out how to suspend call waiting. I didn't need a beep right in the middle of my radio debut. (*70 if you were wondering) So I paced around the house trying not to think about the radio show. I succeeded in not thinking about what I was going to say, but my nerves failed miserably.

Greener living with Dr. G. premiered with a bang. It took me five minutes of hitting redial to get through for my chat. Gary wanted to talk about the time when my mummy sprayed furniture polish and Lysol and the carbon monoxide detector went off. I segwayed (because I am such an old pro. wink.) into talking about how my parents who rarely eat organic and use chemical-laden cleaners are probably greener then me. It's all about consumerism baby.

I was able to get through the hello fine. Hopefully the listeners couldn't hear the weird giggle/gasp right afterwards.

My time on the radio zoomed by. I maybe talked to five to seven minutes.

The show is online here. I am in the second hour about 20 minutes in counting commercials. I am not sure if the commercials were recorded too. Personally, I don't even like having my picture taken so I don't have plans on listening.

Thank you to everyone for their support! I will let you know if Dr. G. calls me for another Gruppie Girl segment.

Monday, February 25, 2008

They're Baaaacck!

It's Rectangle time at Girlie's school. Can you hear the disgust in my typing?

The Rectangle people have PTOs all over the country in the palm of their hands. "Buy our products and we will give money to your school." We need the money, so we buy their products. Oh the humanity!

The parents at this otherwise idyllic school still have not learned how to clip on the dotted lines. The picture of the scissors must not have been a big enough hint. Again, I lost feeling in my right arm while endlessly clipping.

I would like to send a big, sarcastic thank you to the parent who sent in a slimy hot dog wrapper in with their rectangles. I enjoyed having my stomach lurch. Another thank you to the family who sent their rectangles into school in a baggie that still contained snack. Yummy.

The rectangles are due to corporate headquarters on Wednesday. The school is $50 short of our goal. Think that I can beg to make-up the $50 by tomorrow?

As much as the PTO does wonderful things for all of the children at the school, I can no longer abuse myself as the official rectangle clipper and counter. I have given my notice to the PTO Grand Po Ba. Some poor kindergarten parent is in for a real surprise when they step-up next year.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Made It Through

Just checking in to let you know that I have indeed (almost) made it through February school vacation. The kids are now taking out the trash and recycling to the curb. They still have to pick-out their clothes for the week and try to find their backpacks, then it is off to dream land. Ahhhhh.....

This week the family was supposed to be sitting in sunny, WARM Florida with my parents at their beach side timeshare. A few months ago we were uninvited and friends that my parents see twice a year were invited. I guess they are more fun than hubby and myself. Excuse me if I sound bitter, but my mother's repeated phone calls from the beach didn't help.

Over the week we have managed to keep ourselves busy. A trip to the food pantry to drop-off the food Girlie's Brownie troop collected. A just so-so movie with smuggled-in popcorn and Sigg bottles filled with water. OK, OK....So I also smuggled in a big bag of Reeses Pieces. (Don't tell the kids)

A trip to the local McDonald's with some friends before the building is bulldozed in the next few weeks. (Don't judge me. It's February in Connecticut...we were cold and bored) Two birthday parties at indoor gyms. A very bad library puppet show.

Lots of backyard sledding. Two trips to the food store. Cross country skiing. (twice!) Too many bad DVRed movies.

Here's to two months until April school vacation!

PS Spell check is back!!! I can spell again!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Olly, Olly Oxen Home and Free!

Apparently I have been tagged by one of my favorite bloggers. Erikka over at The Extra Ordinary has tagged me to write an archive meme. Basically, it sounds like I need to go through my old blogs and pull out five that fit into certain categories. What fun!

#1 Family
I Heart Squash Pie is a good example of a post about family.

#2 Friends
Field Trip talks about my friend Mary and how hard she is working to make green changes in her life.

UPDATE: Today Mary's youngest daughter had a birthday party. (Happy Birthday Sasha!) The favor was a pencil made from recycled newspapers. Who knew pencils could be made from newspapers? Mary has out-greened me.

#3 Me
This was a tough one. I haven't talked about too many personal details as of yet. I will have to work on that one.
September Resolutions did reveal that I was a teacher in my past life. About that resolution. It isn't going too well...

#5 Up For Grabs
Come Visit My Compost Bin is about my love for cheesy television. Remember when there were first-run television shows on?

Now, I get to tag five more bloggers that I am interested in learning more about.
Katis at Un-Named Blog
Michelle at This is Framingham
"Bean" at Green Bean Dreams
Dolphyn at Verbose Means I Ramble
and here is a blog that is different from the rest;
Michelle at Ghost Hunting Secrets

Here are your Archive Meme Instructions: Go back through your archives and post the links to your five favorite blog posts that you've written. ... but there is a catch: Link 1 must be about family. Link 2 must be about friends. Link 3 must be about yourself, who you are... what you're all about. Link 4 must be about something you love. Link 5 can be anything you choose. I think this is a great way to circulate some of the great older posts everyone had written, return to a few great places in our memories and also learn a little something about ourselves and each other that we may not know. Post your five links and then tag five other people. At least TWO of the people you tag must be newer acquaintances so that you get to know each other better....and don't forget to read the archive posts and leave comments!

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Smell Coming From The Backseat

Girlie is involved in a local Brownie Troop. They are a great group of girls who lately has been learning about helping others. This month, the Brownies orchestrated a personal care products drive at their school. Apparently, the local food pantry is completely out of products such as soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc.

Just two weeks ago Girlie and I printed fliers to distribute to the neighbors asking if they would help contribute to the food pantry. Pick-up was on the day that Girlie caught the flu bug, so Little Guy and I hoofed around the neighborhood with the old jog stroller collecting from our very generous neighbors.

All of our neighbor's contributions have been sitting in the back of my car for the last nine days. Imagine having the entire cleaning isle from Stop and Shop in the back of your station wagon? The donations are appreciated, but oh the chemical smell!

I haven't been in confined quarters with household cleaners in years. Are they supposed to smell like a secret scientific laboratory blew-up? After not using them for so long, my sense of smell has come back.

Now I can't seem to get rid of all of the personal care products. The food pantry is an elusive one. I have been calling them for over a week with no call back. Their hours are missing from the town website and from their voice mail message. Aren't food pantry's generally in great need of donations? Don't they want my donation of smelly soaps that is just sitting in the station wagon? Is there some sort of treasure hunt game to find the food pantry hours that I don't know about? ~ This is turning into a rant for another day.

Here is my question, why do most Americans think that our cleaning products, both for ourselves and our homes, have to be chemical laden and dangerous? Why do we think that they have to burn to work? Why do we think that they have to have a strong smell to signal that they are working?

Everyday items have antibacterial qualities without being dangerous. Baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice are amazing and safe to use around kids, pets and adults. The best part is that they will really clean your home.

I have a few cheap, easy and SAFE ways that I clean/chase the dust bunnies from my home without poisoning my family and our air;

Tub Cleaner: Mix baking soda and laundry detergent into a frosting-like consistency. (How I dream about frosting.) The scrub will gently clean your tub without scratching.

Better Than Dryer Sheets: Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to your rinse cycle and kiss that cling goodbye.

Window/Glass Cleaner: One part vinegar to three parts water. Mix in a spray bottle.

Dr. Bronner's Soap cleans everything. One little bottle can wash your floor, counters, hair and even teeth. I have heard about some people who only own a bottle of Dr. Bronner's and nothing else to clean their homes and bodies. Personally, I love to add one squirt of DB into a bucket of hot water to clean my floors.

Happy do I have to clean my house too?

Saturday, February 16, 2008


In honor of the beginning of February vacation and the kids having an entire week off from school, I thought that I would do a little show and tell. Thanks to Dolphyn for the great idea! Hopefully I will still be standing at the end of vacation week...a whole week in cold February.

I have been asked about how I pack Girlie's lunch for school. Is it green? Is it crunchy? Is it (gasp) prepackaged? Here it is;

My first goal is to pack a healthy lunch that fills Girlie up for the day. I want her to have the energy to learn and learn. (Do I sound like a commercial for breakfast cereal?)

Yesterday, I packed girlie a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on organic whole wheat bread (she is on a PB&J kick), organic apple juice with a splash of water, organic raisins, an organic apple and $1 to buy a snack from the cafeteria (a Friday treat).

Next, I try to be as trash-free as possible.

First, the lunch box itself wipes clean easily and can be reused. I am in love with Sigg water bottles so they always make a lunch box appearance. This bottle is their smallest model and fits perfectly in the lunch box. Then, I wrap the sandwich in waxed paper. Not perfect, but better than a plastic baggie. Then, the apple is easy. It comes in it's own edible container, so that one is a no-brainer. Next, I always pack a cloth napkin for Girlie to wipe her mouth and hands with. Her lunch neighbor once asked what that "cloth thing" was in Girlie's lunch. Finally, the raisins. Girlile is pretty good about bringing home the box so it can be recycled.

There you go. Lunch at the Gruppie house. When was the last time I had a PB&J?

Thursday, February 14, 2008


This weekend Girlie caught a nasty Flu. Little Guy caught the flu bug on Monday. For me, it was yesterday. This week is completely lost.

I'm not sure what day it is. I haven't spoken to any adults, except for Hubby. I have not done any cleaning or laundry. I have only worn sweat pants and comfy shirts. I haven't opened the makeup drawer.

A while ago I posted about why litigation is not green. That got me thinking about why being a sickie is not green.

In the last two days I have completely blown (pun intended) a box of Puffs Plus making lots of trash. I have stood in the shower on three occasions completely emptying the hot water tank. Wasting tons of water and energy just so I could breathe. After running out of books and magazines, I have watched hours of endless reruns of Will and Grace, Kate and Allie and other television pairs that are now are blurr. Think of my electricity use. Oh my. To top off all of the un-green-ness, I have only fed myself and the kids foods that are premade or microwavable.

Here is to spring. Wherever you are.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Big Reveal

Does anyone else have a bunch of random skills that they have accumulated over the years and probably will never get to use? One of my random skills comes from my high school days as a radio DJ on WHHB. That experience has been completely useless....until now.

I'm going to be on the radio this week!

Dr. Gary Ginsberg, author of What's Toxic, What's Not called me a few weeks ago to talk about his new radio show. The show talk about a few different green topics each week. The new show is promised to be quick paced and interesting.

Gary's radio show will be on Saturdays from 4:00 to 6:00 on WTIC 1080. For those in the Hartford area, you can listen on your radio. For those who don't live in the Nutmeg State, you can listen online.

If all goes well, fingers crossed, Gary has asked me to come back as a regular guest.

Now, what to chat about? I haven't carried on a conversation for more than a minute at a time sine my Girlie was born. Will I remember how? Will I forget the mechanics of the English language? What if I talk so fast that I finish in 37 seconds? What if no one calls in?

If you are looking for something to do on Saturday afternoon, please tune in between 5:00 and 6:00 to hear me, Gruppie Girl, stutter, forget how to speak English, say inappropriate things and possibly get heckled. Hey, it's all fun and games until someone forgets to recycle.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Is There A Vampire In The House?

Did anyone else have that game "I Vant To Bite Your Finger" when they were a kid? Maybe not a good name choice for a kid's game in 2008, but it sure was fun in 1982. I think of that game and the two little "blood" dots on the loser's finger when I think of vampires.

What do you think of when I add the word "energy?" Vampire energy.

Recently Good Magazine published an article about vampire energy. Basically vampire energy is a cute phrase describing what happens when we are not using electrical appliances and they are still plugged in. Lots of energy us still "sucked" up by the appliances. Who knew?

After reading this article I started unplugging more around the house. Not just the toaster and cell phone, but the TV and lamps too. I started unplugging appliances at other people's houses. I even started showering with the lights off...if I don't know where all of the equipment is by now, I'm in serious trouble.

The kids must have picked-up on my new hobby because they gave me a cute "unplug" tee shirt for Christmas. I wear it proudly. One of Little Guy's playmates Grandmother, Grandma Margie saw the shirt and inquired. I gave her my little spiel. "Up to 40% of our electricity is consumed by appliances that are not in use. Unplug!" So she did.

Just this week Grandma Margie and I met for lunch with the kids. $40! Grandma Margie saved $40 on her electricity bill last month!

Grandma Margie has told everyone she knows about her money savings tip. Now it's my turn to tell everyone I know about this money savings and earth saving tip.

Just in case you aren't quite sure of where all of your equipment is located yet, turn on the bathroom light. Then you can UNPLUG everything else.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Show and Tell

Plastic freaks me out. I don't like what happens when it's being manufactured. I don't like keeping it in my house. I don't like the fact that it is going to outlive a lot. One of my earliest stands against plastic was the plastic bag. A few readers have asked about my personal stash of bags...

Back maybe six or so years ago I started bringing my own bags to the food store. Huge, bulky canvas bags that I collected in my travels. The bags took up half of the cart. It took me a few months to start remembering to bring them regularly. Now, the bags are second nature.

Last year I found a great bag company called Envirosax. They bundle five large bags into one small pouch. Much easier to tote around than my old bags. The cashiers watch me like I'm performing a magic trick when I pull them out.

The old bags went to Freecycle and two were slated to be snow pants bags for those snowy days when the kids have to bring their snow gear to school for recess.

Just over a year ago another light bulb went off in my head. Even though I wasn't using plastic bags at the food store, I was still grabbing bags at the hardware store, pharmacy, etc. So I found the cutest bag made of mattress ticking on etsy. I keep it in my car for those quick run-in trips that I don't plan for.

Finally, my bag dreams were fulfilled this Christmas when hubby gave me lightweight, mesh produce bags. No more plastic bags for my grapefruit.

Here is the "show" of the show and tell post.

Congrats to all of those readers who remember to bring their bags to the store! Congrats to all of those who are planning to remember in the near future!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Monkey Sea

My kids have some really green pets. The eat a drop of food every week. Their waste is so small that is is invisible to the naked eye.

As a kid I had sea monkeys. My mummy claims that they ate each other. I think that she forgot to feed them and they were just hungry.

In college I had sea monkeys. I went away for my month and a half on my winter break and my roommate forgot to add water. They evaporated.

This year Santa gave my kids a tiny, dried packet of their own sea monkeys. I think that Santa was probably thinking more of me. Those little monkeys are so darned cute.

Basically we started with what looked like one monkey. defying all laws of nature, two more monkeys appeared. Then ten tiny monkeys. Lately two of the monkeys have been, umm, attached to each other constantly. We are expecting new monkeys any day now.

The family also has a cat that we got from a no-kill shelter. Quinny the cat bathes herself. Therefore she uses little water. She has eaten organic food since our neighbor lost their cat to tainted food. Quinny has recently started using a no-clay litter. Is it strange that we are trying to green-up our cat too?

With all of the talk of green pets, how are your pets going green?

Monday, February 4, 2008


I have an exciting announcement coming soon!

Here is a hint!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Organizational Specialist?

This week a local group invited me to attend their organizational seminar. A real, live organizational specialist was going to speak. Having a good friend in this group, I thought that I would go to do a little socializing and maybe pick-up a tip or two.

I enjoy organizing closets, drawers and the such. Do not confuse organizing with cleaning. Cleaning is not my thing. My home is pretty well organized except for occasional spruce-ups. I enjoy organizing so much that I have offered, even pleaded, for the chance to help a friend who is planning on organizing her basement. I hope she takes me seriously.

This organizational expert displayed all of the wonderful things that we could buy to organize our homes. Plastic buns, plastic totes, plastic envelopes. Plastic, plastic, plastic crap! The entire seminar seemed like a big infomercial. "Buy this and you too can be organized." The women attending furiously scribbled notes looking for a way to simplify their busy lives.

After the seminar I raised my hand to suggest that maybe people should stop bringing more stuff into their homes as a way to get organized and make life easier. I even suggested ways to cut back on catalogs and financial offers. The pens were flying. The speaker was scowling. The idea of making our lives more simple could put her out of business.

If you too are interested in cutting down on the stuff that comes into your home, check out these two great website. Visit Catalog Choice and those unwanted catalogs will stop arriving in your mailbox ASAP. OptOut Prescreen is another free website. Just register all of the adults in your home and kiss those annoying mortgage and credit card approvals goodbye.

For anyone out there looking to get and stay organized, my not-so-expert advice would be to keep it simple. Your clutter will expand to your area. So lots of bookshelves or plastic totes may not be the answer.

In my house we have a few organizational tricks that are working great!
  • Keep a few vertical folders in the kitchen for all of those papers that come into the house. Each person/action gets their own color.
  • We have four small drawers near the back door where each person can fill their own drawer up with all of the mittens and hats that will fit.
  • In the basement each person gets two memory totes for yearbooks, baby shoes, report cards, art, etc. When your totes are full then it's time to purge.
  • There is a donation bin in the basement. Just one bin. When you outgrow something, toss it in. When the tote is full it's time to take a trip to the Salvation Army.

So, we're not perfect. Things get cluttered and messy. For the most part I'm happy when we can all get out the door remembering backpacks, mitten, dance shoes and coupons. Every day remind me self to KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid!