Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Little Gruppies

As a New Englander, I realize that change can be tough. Personally, I like my historic buildings and blue laws. I wonder if that same love for all things familiar is the reason why so many people are resistant to making changes to their environmental footprint?

The kids of today are different. So many of them have grown-up learning about ways to save the earth as part of their school's curriculum. Their morning cartoons present ways for kids to make a difference environmentally. Even the kid's menus at certain chain restaurants have an earth theme. Showing respect for the earth is simply how kids of today are growing up.

Litter rates could be proof that kids are making a difference. The Hartford Courant recently ran an article about America's dwindling litter rates. Two percent a year since 1970. Does anyone else remember the segment on Sesame Street back in the late 1970's/early1980's where a little cartoon boy talked about what would happen if everyone littered? For me, as a child, that short segment was powerful. Today's kids see those type of images and messages constantly.

One example of a kid who automatically thinks about his impact is my Little Guy with his Halloween candy. After he ate a box of Dots, he broke down the tiny box and placed it in our paper recycling bag. Little Guy thought that everyone automatically recycled their tiny boxes.

My Girlie once went diving into the trash during a play date to recover a diaper that another mummy was throwing out. She had never seen a disposable diaper and thought that a cloth diaper was being mistakenly trashed.

Another example is my son's friend, Laura. The two met back when Little Guy was two and Laura was eight. Laura was so sweet with Little Guy and would play endless games of cars and piggyback while waiting for their sisters in dance class.

This year Laura entered a new elementary school. This school has a ton of great after school activities like ropes course, violin and basketball. The school also offers a club called The Green Team.

Laura signed-up for the Green Team and luckily snagged a spot in the popular club. Now Laura and her friends are busy meeting once a week to devise ways to become little environmental activists! Their first goal is the school and then they want to move on to the community. Lofty goals for a group of ten and eleven year-olds.

What would our plant look like if say, my mummy had a Green Team at her school? What about if I had a Green team.

Best of luck to all of the little Gruppies out there! The rest of us are counting on you.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Get With Green Review

A few days ago the friendly guys at Get With Green asked me if I would review a zero VOC paint for their review blog. Since I recently repainted my bathroom a shade of friendly yellow, this was an easy one for me.

Get With Green is a great resource if you are planning on remodeling or building a home. Please take a minute to check out the blog and as a bonus you can see photographic evidence of just how messy of a painter I really am. Thank goodness that blogging doesn't require fine motor skills.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Today I Almost Saw Hilary Clinton

No matter where your political views lie you have to agree that Hilary Rodham Clinton is an extremely intelligent and well-spoken woman. That is the big reason that Girlie and I trucked into Hartford to attend Clinton's town meeting this morning. I want her to grow-up to be a strong woman who relies on her brain.

Girlie skipped school this morning to travel with me to the town meeting. As soon as we got off at the Capitol exit in Hartford the police presence was apparent. We slowly snaked though Hartford until we found a parking spot about a block away from the town meeting. Girlie and I hopped out of the car at just 9:30, when the doors were slated to open. I don't think that anyone in Clinton's camp expected the turnout that she got.

The line was thousands of people deep and moved ever so slowly. We, of course, stood in a cold shadow. After waiting forty-five minutes or so we were all told that the venue was at capacity. Girlie and I bucked the trend and got up as close to the doors as possible. Long story short, we waited in the overflow room for some time and eventually left.

My Girlie had a question to ask Hilary Clinton. Girlie wanted to know how Ms. Clinton was going to clean-up the earth. She was a little sad that she never got her chance to ask her question. Two nice college-aged women helped Girlie feel a little better when they offered her a Clinton sticker.

Today Girlie got to see politics in action. We chatted with others in line around us. Some Clinton supporters, some not, some one the fence. We saw a few protesters. Got interviewed by a Yale student and even saw someone in handcuffs. Girlie learned more this morning than she would have at second grade this morning.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lick Your Lips

I am a gruppie. That means that I like to look cute and wear lipstick while keeping my body and the earth healthy and safe.

Over the years I have worn tubes and tubes of lipstick. Finally it dawned on me this summer that I had no idea where the lipstick went went it disappeared. Does the worn lipstick fly in the air back to some unknown lipstick factory in the sky? I must have been eating all of my lipstick! Seriously gross.

So, I smartened up and tossed all of my fancy smanshy lipstick tubes and compacts. I performed my usual Google search and found the Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database. Basically you can type in any brand, name or category of a health or beauty product and they will rate it on a scale of 0 to 10. Then, Skin Deep will tell you about all of the horrible diseases and reactions that your product can cause.

WARNING: This site is addicting. You will put in every health and beauty product that you or anyone in your family has ever used. You will be horrified. You will call your Mummy and beg her to toss her bar of Lever 2000 soap. It has a seven rating and can cause endocrine disruption and cancer. My new soap, made by Kiss My Face has a zero rating. Beautiful.

After the soap, I started by looking for a lipstick with the lowest possible number I could find. Most of the lipsticks with ratings of one were only available in the UK and Australia. Damn you UK and all of your wonderful products!

Finally, I found a company out of California. Afterglow Cosmetics lipstick rates a measly one. A huge improvement. The brand I was using before has a sky high rating. I was practically insured that it will cause some horrible disease in my future.

Remember when we used to chose makeup brands because they didn't test on animals? Then it we had to worry about foreskin testing? Now it is dangerous chemicals and additives. What is a busy gruppie to do?

Verbose Giveaway

Dolphyngyrl over at Verbose Means I Ramble is giving away two sets of wonderful, handmade beauty products. Take a second to check out Dolphyn's funny and edgy blog and maybe you will win some carrot cake soap for yourself.

Black honey soap, peppermint foot cream, carrot cake soap....Is it lunch time yet? I'm getting hungry.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Popcorn Lung

A few months ago I heard about this new ailment called Popcorn Lung. Basically it occurs when workers in the microwave popcorn plants breathe in all of the chemicals that line the microwave popcorn bags. Funny that the companies publicly stated that the chemicals that line the microwave popcorn bags are safe for consumers. Does that sound right to anyone else?

The whole thing sounds nasty. It made me think twice about microwave popcorn. But it didn't scare me enough to stop eating it.

My Little Guy is really sensitive to food additives and food dyes. He can't eat conventional salad dressing, cream cheese and surprise...microwave popcorn. So lazy me started buying the organic brands. Little Guy seemed fine with the organic brands.

Then I got popcorn lung.

On a recent afternoon, when the entire neighborhood was playing at my house, I popped-up some microwave popcorn. It's an easy and cheap way to feed a ton of kids. I leaned over the bag to pull it open....Breathed in....and the popcorn lung hit.

Coughing. Hacking. Tight chest. I completely talked myself into believing that I caught the popcorn lung.

After the popcorn lung incident decided to buy a jar unpopped popcorn kernels. Supposedly, they can be cooked in a large pan on the stove top. Lies again I tell you. I got burned, crunchy, kernels.

Next, I bought an air popper. It is my new best friend. Basically you put in a half of a cup of kernels. Plug in the machine. And out pops a huge bowl of perfectly popped popcorn. No popcorn lung inducing chemicals. Feeds six neighbor kids snack in under five minutes. Amazing.

With all of the renewed talk of clones and genetically modified vegetables, I'm now wondering if I'm somehow modifying the DNA of all of the neighbor kids with my most-likely genitally modified corn. Children of the corn. (groan here)

I can't win.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

And The After

A few readers said they were interested in seeing the after of my guest bathroom redo. Well here it is...

I used a zero VOC paint. Reused old paint brushes. Added a live plant. Freecycled the old mirror.

Now I am trying to sell my old light fixture and drawer pulls on Craig's List. The problem with the Hartford Craig's List is that it is really underused. If the light and pulls sit for too long, then I will eventually donate them.

Overall, this redo was a good balance between my yuppie and granola self.

If you are interested in reading about how this supposedly easy bathroom makeover was anything but, you can check out the original post here. How come home improvement projects are never as easy as Ty Pennington leads us to believe?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Grab Your Snorkel

Last night I went out with a group of friends for drinks and food. Even though we are all well past the baby stage, talk turned to births. In relation to these friends I am definitely the most granola of the crew, so I was surprised to hear that these other woman preferred midwives over OBs. Even the doctor and nurse in the crew said that they would trust a midwife over a doctor for their pregnancy.

That got me thinking about something that changed my life for the better. Something that I wish was available to every pregnant woman out there.

During the birth of my Girlie I craved to be in the water. Water is healing. My instincts told me to find water. The only water that I could get into at the hospital was the shower. I stayed in that shower until way after my skin pruned. I stayed in that shower until the mean nurse pulled me out. That water was the only thing that calmed me down and took away the pain.

When planning my little guy's birth I remembered just how much that shower stream healed me. I dreamed of laboring and delivering in a warm birthing tub with a midwife in attendance.

My wish came true and my sweet Little Guy was born in a birthing tub with myself and my hubby. My mummy was there to see him first. Everything was exactly as I wanted it to be.

Waterbirth International is a wonderful site filled with birth stories, videos and information. Check out the "I was born in water" registry too.

As for the "Snorkel", my extended family is very into nicknames. Snorkel is my Little Guy's name because he was born in the water.

Are you wondering what my nickname is? Coo Nana Bandanna. I have no idea what my family was thinking...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

History Lesson with Abby

Now that my Gilrlie has grown out of little girlie sizes, it has been tough finding cute and appropriate clothing for her. It is almost like clothing retailers think that after kids pass that size 5 mark they should be dressing like teenagers. Even the organic tee companies with the great sayings have forgotten the elementary school set.

One day I was surfing around when I found the cutest screeenprinted Abigail Adams shirt. Just like the rest of the retailers, this etsy artist only advertised the shirt in sizes 2 through 6. My Girlie usually wears a 10 in tee shirts. I emailed the artist and she agreed to make a size 10 Abigail Adams shirt for girlie.

When the shirt arrived, Girlie and I sat down together to find out more about old Abby Adams. Turns out she grew-up near where I grew-up. She wasn't formally educated, but was very smart. Abby was very outspoken when it came to woman's rights. Particularly for more opportunities for women in education. Abby spoke out against slavery. Pretty cool for the late 1700's!

Just as many of us wives realize to be true today, it is believed that Abigail had a lot of influence over her husband's decisions during his presidency.

My Gilrie proudly wears her Abigail Adams shirt often. Take that Barbie and Bratz! Take that Hannah and Zach!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Would You Eat A Clone?

The FDA in all of their wisdom has publicly declared that eating food from cloned animals and their offspring is safe. cloned meat

Does this news make anyone else’s head start to spin? What are the implications? We modify the genes of animals then we eat their meat or drink their milk. What happens to our genes? Our bodies?

I don’t have a ton of scientific facts and figures yet. I do have this feeling in my mummy gut that consuming cloned animals is wrong for our bodies.

Back in middle school I read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. The Jungle is a graphic book about the slaughterhouses in Chicago. Ever since that book, meat has always made me more than a little queasy.

Presently my meat consumption is relatively low. This may be the news that pushes me over the edge to vegetarianism.

So how do I get unlazy and do this for my family? Maybe I can set a goal of preparing three meatless dinners per week for the family? That seems doable. Then I can gradually step-up as I become more educated.

Recently I did find a blog with vegetarian recipes. That should help. If there was a vegetarian restaurant close by that would be a huge help in introducing me to new foods. No such luck there.

All of this talk about cloning makes me wonder if this will also open eyes on just how much of our food supply is now genetically modified. Will others start to ask questions and begin to refuse to buy?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Keywords Make Me Laugh

A few months ago I learned about this stalker software that you can attach to your blog. "Stalker software" isn't the real name of the software, but that's what it feels like.

Anyway, I can't really figure out how to use most of this software. When I click on my blog it sometimes shows up like I live in Massachusetts. Sometimes nothing shows up.

I can create a map of where my readers may or may not live. That is pretty cool. It's been a great geography lesson for me. Can anyone else point to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia?

This software also displays the key word searches that allow new people to find Gruppie Girl. The key word searches can be both hysterical and disturbing. Here are a few of the recent keywords;

"i heart pie" The person who searched this one must really love pie. Maybe they made a squash pie after reading my post?

"big girlies" is an example of the disturbing. I don't want to know what they were looking for with this one.

"how to fix a stuck pull chain" Sorry, but no advice here. I pull on the ceiling fan chain once in the fall to make the ceiling fan travel clockwise and once in the summer to change the direction to counterclockwise.

"recycline toothbrushes" this search may be one of the only searches that brought the googler to any real information on my blog.

"free compost bins Connecticut" I wish. If this reader find out that they are giving away free compost bins, please let me know. I could use another one.

"smooze" I'm really not good at this one. What's you sign baby?

"green parents" Mine are trying. Mummy brought her handmade pear bag to Target last week.

"gruppie" Maybe I'm not alone out there. Could there be other gruppies?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Recycle Thy Neighbor

My family of four has worked hard to get down to one trash barrel each week. We were just over the one barrel until our town started recycling cereal and granola bar boxes. Trying to make more homemade whole foods instead of buying prepackaged foods is a goal for...ummm...later in the year.

So I have a neighbor family on my street who creates five barrels of trash each week. Two adults and two little ones live there. Not a football team like a passerby might guess.

Not surprisingly, this family does not recycle. Ever.

Each Sunday night as I take my trash and recyclables to the curb I take a minute to gaze upon the neighbor's pile of trash and think about how to approach the situation.

Last week I made my move. Together we were walking around the block with the kids and I mentioned that I noticed that she hasn't recycled and I was wondering if I could pick-up a recycling bin for her if she was interested.

Knock me over with a feather. This friendly neighbor was so responsive. She said that she was just too busy to find out how to obtain a bin (I believe it!) and didn't know what could be recycled. This neighbor even confessed that my 4 year old Little Guy once pulled some trash out of her barrel and told her that it was recyclable.

A few days later I grabbed a brown paper bag and wrote a list of what paper products can be recycled right on it. Tomorrow I am going to head over to the town garage and pick-up a recycling bin. I'm trying not to move to fast so as not to out too much pressure on her.

Now I'm not advocating guerrilla tactics on unsuspecting neighbors who need a recycling lesson. But in my case a non-judgemental conversation worked wonders.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The easy home improvement project

I had this nice little Saturday morning plan to spruce up my home. I was going to paint the bathroom a nice shade of yellow using zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint and change the mirror.

Pop goes my bubble.

My house was built two years ago. The entire interior of the house was painted with one thin coat of flat paint. I'm guessing that my builder had forgotten what it is like to live with kids. Every surface looked dirty and chipped almost immediately. Fast forward two years and the guest bathroom looks absolutely gross.

So I did my research online. I knew that I wanted to go with a zero VOC paint. The EPA has stated that indoor air quality is three times more polluted than indoor air. Conventional paints give off harmful fumes while they are wet and then they continue to release harmful toxins when dry. Conventional paint has been linked to a host of lung problems including asthma. No thank you.

I settled on Sherwin Williams Zero VOC paint because they have a location close to me. The friendly paint store man even carried the paint out to my car. (I did look rather cute that day) Friendly Yellow is a mellow shade of yellow. Neutral with just enough yellow.

The first step was to remove the plain mirror. Only it wasn't just screwed to the wall. I was glued to the wall too. Pulling the mirror off the wall was more about pulling off the wall. In thick strips.

Now we are $30 more dollars into the project and anticipate 48 hours of applying, sanding and drying mud before painting.

Does anyone else watch those DIY house flipping and home improvement shows just to get a good laugh? That karma is now biting me in the butt. Feel free to laugh at my disaster...but watch out. Karma may be waiting for you too.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Downward Facing Elf

Today Girlie started a yoga class at her public school. A certain friend of mine thinks this is completely hysterical. This friend also gasped when I told her about my 4 year old Little guy and what a great rock climber he is. "Shouldn't kids just play in the sandbox?" she asked. To which I mumbled, "The wall is only forty feet high".

Back when I was a naive, skinny and judgemental elementary school teacher I had a ton of views on the over scheduling children and their parents. I would have not approved of my present day self. Is there a way to go back in time and slap that old judgemental me?

My kids like scheduled activities. They beg for classes of every variety. Little Guy recently asked for a "using tools like Santa's elves class." Unfortunately they don't offer that one in my town.

As a family we try to be active. Hike, swim, golf, play basketball and just play outside. The kids also have a lot of time on their own just to run and explore in the backyard. We are happy.

For now I'm going to let the kids try violin, skiing, hip hop or whatever we can comfortably manage. And just as importantly, I'm going to work on being so judgemental of other parents.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

And The Winners Are...

Thank you to all of my wonderful readers who entered the Recycline toothbrush giveaway!

The kids and I chose five names out of a cooking pot earlier today. And the winners are....

Ruth over at

Diane over at

Annette over at

Dolphyn over at

Erikka over at

What a wonderful, diverse group of bloggers! Congrats to all of the winners!

A BIG thank you to Recycline for donating their wonderful toothbrushes!! You have a customer for life.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Calling All Freegans

Have you heard about the people who are calling themselves "freegans?" Freegans are people who choose to scavenge for food in cities. They refuse to pay for food. They live off of our perfectly good food that we cast away.

My hat is off the freegans. It is a lifestyle that I could never follow, but certainly admire. Maybe I could support a freegan or two?

My cabinets are dark and deep. My fridge is tangled with baking soda, lettuce and too many bottled drinks. I loose food all of the time.

Sitting in the front of my pantry are the easy to grab kids snacks like brown rice cakes, sunflower seeds and FruitaBu to name a few. Behind the healthy/easy kids snacks hides the rest of the dry goods type of food. The rice, muffin mix, bread crumbs and raisins may never see daylight. I need to find a way not to let this food spoil and be wasted.

The fridge situation is even more dire than the pantry. If I could come up with a creative way to use 1/4 of a can of whipped cream leftover from Christmas, a cup of chicken stock, lettuce, two eggs and whatever else is growing in there then I would be a total Martha. Don't even mention the leftovers. Why can't I get anyone in this house, including me, to eat the leftovers? All of that food will go to waste. Every time I make a trip to the compost bin with wilted veggies I feel a pang of guilt.

Please help me get the word out to all of the freegans in Connecticut. Feel free to come raid my fridge. I'm trying my best. I know that you can be more creative than me.

You have already seen a photo of my freezer. Why not the pantry too.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Oprah Effect

Friday is Lumpy Day for Little Guy and myself. After running all week to school, activities and errands, we try to just stay home to play. I savor our Lumpy Days together because when September rolls around Little Guy will be in Kindergarten and we won't have as much alone time together.

This morning we were flipping through the TV listings and today's Oprah episode caught my eye. "Going Green 101" is a repeat, but I have yet to see it. I will be DVRing it so I don't miss a minute while I'm at Brownie pick-up.

It got me thinking about what I have heard called "the Oprah effect." Basically, when Oprah endorses something everyone (like all of America everyone) listens.

Take last night's Iowa Causes. Oprah said "Obama" and Iowa voted for Obama. Even I have succumbed to the Oprah effect during a sports bra shopping trip. Oprah endorsed a specific bra, so I did what any American woman would do and bought that sports bra.

If Oprah gets behind the idea that every one of us can make a difference to the earth and then takes it a step further to show America how to make changes for the better...can you imagine?

I predict that if Oprah keeps the environment in the forefront of America's consciousness then she may be what saves us from ourselves.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Cut The Cord

Sometimes having a blog is like putting yourself out there, naked, for all of the world to see. I have confessed to all types of sorted and gossipy details about myself. Here comes my newest little secret.

I have cords. I have a lot of cords in my house. So many that I had to designate a drawer in the kitchen just to hold the cords for our portable devices.

What is a gruppie to do with all of those cords?

A bunch of these cords belong to two old cell phones. Power cords, car chargers, hands-free ear pieces. You get the idea. Each of the phones can hold a charge for maybe two hours at best. That doesn't work for me, so the phones had to be replaced.

Now the offending cell phones are sitting in the drawer, tangled in their cords with little hope for the future.

I have spent lots of time online searching for what to do with these phones and cords and there is no easy solution. One company will "recycle" the cell phones but not the cords. I put recycle in quotes because there is not really way to recycle the phones in the sense that they are "squished up and made into new phones" as my Little Guy likes to believe. Most "recycled" phones will likely end-up in an underdeveloped nation polluting their land.

Then there is the idea of donating the phones to the military stationed abroad or a women's shelter. What good would cell phones that have to live attached to a cord do?

In the deep, dark, cobwebby back of my mind I remember hearing about groups that refurbish old cell phones. Where are they?

My cell phone was less than five years old, rarely used and had blown through two batteries. I didn't want a new shiny model. In fact, I could care less. I felt pressured by shoddy manufacturing practices to create more trash and become more of a consumer.

Any suggestions about what to do with my old cell phones and cords would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Recycline Toothbrush Giveaway

Recently I posted about discovering that my son's character toothbrush contained lead and how sick I felt over possibly harming Little Guy. Brushing With Poison

I was completely horrified that a major company would paint a product that goes into the mouth with lead. So I headed out into the world searching for a safe solution.

What I found was the Preserve toothbrush made by Recycline. The brush is made out of recycled yogurt cups. The other big bonus with this toothbrush company is that when you are done with the brush and case the company will send you a mailing pouch to return the them. Your old brush will be recycled into a new plastic products. Everybody wins!

The friendly people at Recycline agreed to mail 10 brushes out to me to give away to my loyal readers for FREE! That's right. Free!

Each winner will receive one child's toothbrush and one adult's toothbrush.

Here is the skinny;

1. Post a comment "anonymously" with your email address if you are not a blogger.

2. OR post a comment if you are a blogger

3. OR send me an email in my "complete profile" section.

4. US residents only please.

5. I will chose the winners on Tuesday, January 8th

Thank you to the friendly people at Recycline and to my readers!