Thursday, May 22, 2008

Quick Bites: Thursday, May 22nd

This weekend, Katie and I went on the Putney Solar & Green Energy Home Tour. We visited an incredible owner built home on Putney Mountain that Katie said was "inspirational." It had a home made solar array supplying only 600 watts to the battery bank, but it was no small house. Everything was well thought out from the siting to the appliances: the fridge was gas, the stove which also supplied the hot water was wood, and they had a masonry stove for heating during the winter. They even had a washer and dryer.

Like pollinators, but don't want to keep honeybees? Why not get a native bee nesting block?

Or perhaps bats are more your style. Most bats in the U.S. are insectivores so keeping bats around is a great way to keep your garden healthy. Sadly bats in the Northeast have succumbed to an illness (currently called white nose syndrome) that uses up their fat stores for hibernation this winter. The bat houses that you can make or buy may not be occupied year round, because many species of bats are migratory, but they can hold hundreds at a time when they are occupied.

If you're thinking of replacing your consumer electronics (i.e. iPods, cell phones, etc) you might be interested in the CExchange. They help you appriase your product, then you mail it to them where they refurbish or recycle it, and send you money. Like Craigslist or eBay without the hassle.

My mom has been happily using a Sun Oven instead of her own indoor stove for the last couple of months and she swears that she'll write a review for me soon. But to tide myself over I found this review of solar ovens by Cooks Illustrated. It turns out that you can even use them as far north as Boston.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oh Green Consumer, Where Art Thou?

My Glidden Collection

I am a collector. I particularly love collecting tableware. China, glasses, silverware, it's all so wonderful. But I've run out of space and I have everything I need. Katie and I have a full service for 16 even though we only have room enough for four in our cabinet or at our table. When we move, that will change of course. We also have Fabulous menagerie desert plates by Glidden, a company from Alfred, NY in the 1950s. I have a set of eleven red with white polka dot Fitz and Floyd dinner plates with a variety of cups, saucers and accessories to match. And I have a tea service for four. But the desire to find new and exciting vintage tableware and kitchen goods continues.

Fitz and Floyd dots

I hope that my desire can be helpful to some of you. Collecting and using vintage ceramics is great for the environment. Ceramics have a high embodied energy, which means that a lot more energy is used to produce a ceramic plate than a paper or plastic plate. To make them a truly environmentally sensitive option ceramics have to be used over and over again. Except for some glazes or decorations, ceramics are usually chemically inert. All the harm that they caused to the environment was just in making them unlike in plastics where production is just the beginning of the trouble it causes.

My favorite china from childhood

So here's the deal: I want to connect you to the vintage tableware of your dreams. I've categorized a lot of great dinnerware from formal to casual, from rare to common, from cheap to expensive . I hope that I can help those of you that want and need dinnerware to select and acquire vintage pieces or a collection that you feel both fits you better than any other dinnerware and eliminates the waste of excess production. I'll help you find what you didn't even know existed and then I'll help you collect it. With so much wonderful design already in the world, everyone deserves to have tableware that makes them happy to eat off it. The fact that it can be had without manufacturing anything new is truly great.

Georges Briard's Fancy Free tea service

As I was researching this project, I actually fell off the wagon myself and bought a wonderful tea set by my new favorite mid-century designer Georges Briard. Please help me help you to some other excellent tableware, flatware, glasses, and cookware before I have to help myself to it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Getting your money

Source: Creative Commons image on Flickr by Sabine01

People are receiving their rebates from the IRS now. If you chose to receive your refund through direct deposit, you will be getting your rebate in the next two weeks depending on the last two digits of your social security number. If you are receiving a check, you may have to wait until July.

To see when you will get your rebate by, these handy tables created by the IRS will tell you.

Also, check out my poll about what you will be doing with your rebate check in the sidebar. The poll closes at midnight on May 8th.