Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring Craft Time

Bird is getting to the age where she has a bit more interest and patience for "real" crafts. Yesterday, a unique shop on State Street in Madison lured us in again. Anthology, a newer boutique near the Children's Museum end of State Street, combines unique handcrafted art for sale with a few do-it-yourself art projects. The window's bright colors, vintage fabrics, and creativity caught our eye. The shop was filled with bags, cards, magnets, colorful unique quilts, beautiful papers, books, handcrafted toys, jewelry, and other delights. I spotted many items made from salvaged fabrics and papers. I picked up a handmade fabric coffee cozy for when I forget my reusable mugs. A table near the back offered materials and instructions to make your own tissue paper flowers for an insanely reasonable fee. Sprout picked out a "wallet" (change purse) made of an old capri sun juice packet. Bird and I couldn't resist this cute kit from "Artgirlz". We've never been so quick to finish a project! We started on it shortly after getting home yesterday, and finished it up this morning. Bird was more than willing to attempt some sewing as we appliqued a big "E" on the front (yes it's true, "Bird" is not her given name); and happily strung beads despite a frustration here and there. I think the thought of the finished project made it worth it for her. I can't believe we didn't have a single meltdown, as she's been more prone to tantrums lately. There's a little flower garden started on the other side of the bag, but Bird was so overcome with the present success of the bag that she wanted to call it quits for now. I'm totally fine with that. It's nice to have a project that looks so great and was so easy to do. This allowed Bird to be creative and still have an incredible finished piece, so we'll be looking for similar projects. Overall, I think this was a big success, and I hope we'll be doing more crafting like it in the future. Anthology will be a good source. I highly recommend that you check it out if you're in the area!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring--I Believe!

Spring, it has sprung. There's no going back now! Every year, I try not to get my hopes up on this, one of my two favorite equinoxes. It's almost impossible though. The sun is shining brightly. I can go outside without a coat and not get frostbite on my way to the mailbox. Bird is bubbling over with enthusiasm and shouting: "Welcome, Spring!" out the window of the car. Now this--an actual flower peeking up out of the bleak gardens of winter, hinting at the transformations just around warmer corners. I am a purple woman at heart, but the radiant sunshine of these blooming bulbs seems simply perfect on a day like today. What's more, Beo and I celebrate our anniversary on March 20th, which adds to the feeling of overall happiness, joy, renewal--even after nine whole years. (Y'all are invited to our 10 year anniversary party next year. I can promise good music and good veggie lasagna!) It's all too much to ignore that the winter doldrums will soon be a thing of the past. So I'm jumping in. I believe! Spring is here! We even get to attend a party tomorrow where we're going to welcome in Spring with good food, drums, and loads of happy kids. Welcome, Spring! Now repeat after me dear readers: "The 7 inches of snow predicted for tomorrow will NOT come..."

Monday, March 17, 2008


My daughter, she is ebullient. Bird has always been a spirited child, but she just never ceases to amaze me. With the spring thaw, her spirits have been rising with each inch of grass that's revealed degree by degree. For days now, she'll point out the window saying "Look, look!" as if there was some incredible wonder out our own back door. When we ask what she sees, she says: "Grass!", and she's truly thrilled, just glowing.

The other day, she heard an NPR DJ say "Obama", and said: "Mommy, they said Obama!" and I said: "Who is Obama?" Bird started singing "Yes-we-can, Yes-we-can, oh Yes-we-can!" So I asked her, "We can what?" She stopped and said she didn't know, so I told her that that song about Obama was saying that Yes, we can make the world a better place. Well that just set her off into her own version:

Yes-we-can make the world a better place! Yes-we-can give food to puppies and kitties! Yes-we-can make the wars stop and the soldiers stop fighting! Yes-we-can see a robin because it's almost spring! Yes-we-can stop global warming! Yes-we-can turn off lights to help!

How can you not just adore this kid? You can't not adore her, that's all there is too it. She is just full of joy and love, and is all about spreading it around. You rarely see this kid without a smile on her face. Just now, I hear her saying: "Wow, this is so amazing! This is just SO beautiful..." so I peek in her room, and she's looking out the window. "What is it, Bird?", I asked. "The world." said she.

We could all learn a lesson from my Bird. I know I'm blessed to have the opportunity every day.

Friday, March 14, 2008


I am a reusable bag freak. I just love all of the different styles and options. I have to be careful not to undo the good of reusing bags by buying too many sustainable bags! We've all seen the string bags, recycled plastic bags, and insulated bags out there. But can reusing bags be chic? Oh yes, yes indeed. If you want to go a bit more chic with your reusable bags than the inside out plastic bag with "Reusable Bag" markered in (which I still love), ehere's another option. I came across these incredible bags at a great little shop in Madison on State Street: Pop Deluxe. These bags are theoretically easy to roll up (I confess, I haven't tried yet) ala those little umbrellas, and stow away in your purse/car/backpack. The material is very much like those lightweight umbrellas--a polyester fabric. Don't want to go polyester? Spend the money on their new Organic line, made from either a bamboo, linen, or hemp blend. The Envirosax Website explains that the company was started by a family in Australia, which lives sustainably on their bit of Queensland. Their green living includes use of a solar water heater, rainwater tanks for their garden and orchard, and recycling sewage system. While the bags are made in China, the company assures that fair trade standards are met at their factories. These little lightweight bags are designed to hold the same amount as two shopping bags. Checking out the site,I found that they have a new line for kids, to encourage them to get into the reusable bag habit as well. Yeah, I can support this company! Sprout would love these cool bags to tote his snowpants back and forth to school, stow his show-and-tell in, and Bird will sock away her many treasures. These are a great way to call attention to the fact that "Green is the new Black". Check them out! Choose your favorite one of save a bit of money and stock up by buying a series. Right now they're even offering a shower timer with full-series orders, so you can have some help saving water too. This is a super fun way to be green.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

March Just One Thing

If you can do Just One Thing to help sustainability efforts this month, try washing your clothes in cold water! According to TerraPass, the great majority of energy used in washing our clothes is in heating the water that the washing machine uses. Washing in cold water saves the average household $60 a year in electricity, and keeps 1,281 pounds of CO2 out of the environment each year! Here at the Mia-Beo household, we do virtually all our loads in cold water. I confess that once in a while I let the first run of water on towels or sheets run on warm, but then switch over to cold. I know logically that the heat of the water won't make a difference germ-wise, but it's a mental comfort I have nonetheless. It's silly because when I do use cold-water only, our clothes and linens come out perfectly clean! Plus, it helps keep our energy bill low. Running your wash cycles on cold is a simple thing you can do to make a difference. Thank you!