Category Archives: Eco-friendly living ideas

Bringing The Garden Indoors: White Hydrangea Flowers

Happenings At Our House: July

This morning when I was outside checking for squash and zucchini to harvest, I took time to cut some flowers off my hydrangea bush nearby. This hydrangea that I planted a year or so ago is looking great. No shortage of blooms on it. I can’t locate the tag I got with it but I think I’ve identified it as Hydrangea paniculata. It is so nice to gather a bouquet of flowers that are as clean and fresh as a summer’s day. Corny but true. When landscaping, don’t overlook white flowering plants or underestimate the beauty they add.

National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat Sign Proudly Displayed

Happenings At Our House: May

I have always tried to keep in mind the needs of the wildlife in my yard. I admit that it is for my enjoyment as much as it is for them. I plant flowers for the butterflies and hummingbirds because I love to see them fluttering about. I have also included plants in my landscaping that have berries that the birds eat during their migration. I feel good about that. Furthermore, I find it charming when I see a few deer cross through our property or a snapping turtle laying her eggs in a spot behind the Japanese maple tree in front of the house. We keep most of our land in its natural state, wooded, to maximize wildlife habitat.

Hence, my family decided to have our property certified by the National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife HabitatTM program just before Earthday 2008. We proudly display our NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat sign along the side of our long gravel driveway.
Interested in certifying your own backyard as a haven for wildlife? Here is the link. National Wildlife Federation website. They are the same people who make the award winning Ranger Rick magazine for kids.

Nature’s Treasures, Collect Responsibly

Collecting nature’s treasures such as wildflowers, butterflies, and seashells can be both fun and educational. However, sometimes collecting can hurt the very species that we admire most. Use good moral judgment when collecting. Being conservative may be sufficient, but in some cases it is better to take only pictures. A rare item can be more attractive, but if it is a living organism, removal can be environmentally harmful. Solution, take digital photos!

Wildflowers.
Do you love wildflowers? I do. But did you know that many species are threatened or endangered? If you don’t know which flowers are safe to take, better to collect photos not flora. Also, teach children not to pick any plant in public areas. Explain to them the cumulative effects of everyone picking just one flower at frequently visited places. Remember that these public spaces are something we all share. So every plant, flower, and butterfly is something that belongs to us all.


Photo of Trillium flower I took in Virginia.
Trillium flowers are unique. Picking the flower of a trillium plant removes its only leaves. The plant needs these leaves to make its food and it will be left seriously weakened. Collect photos not flora.

Seashells.
Collecting seashells at the seashore is a wonderful pastime. It never gets old. When collecting specimens remember to never take shells that belong to a living creature: obviously. In addition, never strip the area of shells as they are future homes for hermit crabs and other critters. Hermit crabs are part of the food chain. Having said that, enjoy gathering all the “treasures” you can find but when it is time to leave, pick only your favorites. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt, but let your conscience be your guide in choosing what to keep. And why not be the first to have a photo collection of shells?


Here is some of the “loot” we collected one day at the beach. When it was time to go home, we picked out our favorites and put the rest back.
Want to know how we made this fun collecting bucket? Fun In The Making shows you how. http://http://www.funinthemaking.net/2008/06/26/recycle-your-plastic-laundry-detergent-bottles-into-cool-beach-buckets-and-scoops/

Butterflies.
You could use a net to capture butterflies as they frequent the flowers around your yard, but the greatest care must be taken to prevent injury and they should be promptly released after a close-up look. Alternatively, photos are a harmless way of collecting. The challenge of photographing different butterflies may become a passion of yours resulting in many peaceful hours spent in lovely gardens. Sounds good to me!


My kids and I raised caterpillars and this is the butterfly that one transformed into. We kept this beautiful butterfly just long enough to snap a few pictures. Gather photos not fauna.

Recycle Your Plastic Laundry Detergent Bottles Into Cool Beach Buckets And Scoops.

Thinking about buying a bucket and shovel for the kids before your summer vacation to the beach? Why not make your own and save money while reducing waste. MYO bucket is a quick summer project.

Treasure collecting bucket with shoulder strap.

Treasure hunt.

Future marine biologists can use their buckets to study sea critters. Whether observing a jellyfish’s movements or learning how a crab walks, these recycled plastic buckets are perfect.

These scoops are great for making sandcastles. No need for a shovel.

Fun in the sun.

How-to:

  1. Do a little dumpster diving (look through your own or a friends recycle bin). Search for brightly colored plastic bottles of different sizes.
  2. Cut off the top of the bottle to make a bucket or the bottom to make a scoop. A box cutter works well but can be dangerous (adult use only). In most cases I found that scissors worked just as well.
  3. Find a piece of thin rope. I salvaged a piece of rope from an old tent that was destined for the dump.
  4. Make a hole (on the side opposite the handle) with a nail and thread the rope through it. Next use the bowline knot to secure it. Make another loop with the bowline knot attached to the existing handle of the bottle. Don’t know how to make a bowline knot? Fun In The Making shows you how. How-to: Bowline knot.
  5. Have a wonderful summer exploring at the beach!

Make It Convenient To Reuse Your Office Paper

Want to be less wasteful? If you have paper from your office or home office, save it for another use. Your kids might bring home a lot of one-sided papers from school and they can also be reused. This is especially good if you have kids who like to doodle. Grownups will find uses for it too (to-do lists or shopping lists).

How-to:

Provide a convenient place to keep your paper and scrap paper. I found this metal file holder at a thrift store. Print out a friendly reminder that says: Scrap Paper for Reuse -One blank side and New Paper-Use sparingly.