terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Happy Holidays December 24, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — terra @ 1:08 pm

I’m relaxing with family and friends, and I hope you are too.

Enjoy the holidays!


Friday Recipe: Black Bean / Red Bean Chili December 21, 2007

Filed under: food — terra @ 7:00 am

Black Bean / Red Bean Chili

2 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
a dash of chili powder
a dash of cumin
28 oz. crushed tomato
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 TBS honey or maple syrup
1 1/2 cups water
14 oz can hominy, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup corn

1. Saute veggies. Add spices, tomatoes, beans, honey, water. Bring to boil. Reduce to low. Cook 45 minutes.

2. Garnish with corn and eat.

- Vegetarian Times

I haven’t tried this one, but it looks delicious. I think this will be a winter break meal for sure!


Sustainable Gingerbread Houses December 20, 2007

Filed under: education — terra @ 7:00 am

Here’s a fun project for the holiday break. Build a sustainable gingerbread house.

It’s a contest hosted by Bake for a Change (Terry*), and it’s all in fun. The idea is to build a gingerbread house that includes a door and at least two windows. Then comes the sustainability part… add at least 4 sustainability elements to the house. They could be chocolate solar panels, a candy cane windmill in the yard, etc.

Imagine the possibilities…


Helping People Help Themselves December 19, 2007

Filed under: conserve, energy, reduce, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

Many poor people find it difficult to survive the winter months because of high heating costs, and limited incomes that don’t cover the rise in energy prices. To combat this, Friends of the Earth and Enbridge in Canada have created “greenboxes” to distribute at food kitchens. The greenboxes contain:

  • foam draft sealers for light switches and electrical boxes
  • window film kits
  • foam window tape
  • two rolls of weatherstripping
  • two CFLs
  • applications for other programs that supply thermostats, aerators and showerheads.

This program helps people reduce their energy consumption AND helps them save money by reducing their energy waste. If they implement these improvements, they will see drastic reductions in their gas bills, and they’ll be warmer throughout the winter.
In Akron/Canton, we often read about house fires caused by candles. Most of these tragedies are due to the fact that people can’t afford to heat their homes because of the rising cost of gas, so they use candles, which lead to fires. I hope our region thinks outside the box and considers providing such a valuable service to people in need.

Enbridge, the founding sponsor of the greenboxes, is a gas company in Canada. Social responsibility benefits everyone.


Miscellaneous December 18, 2007

Filed under: energy, reduce, reuse, social consciousness, solar — terra @ 7:00 am

How to clean your reusable water bottles (or any small-necked bottle)
Pour about 20 grains of rice into the bottle. Add 2 TBS vinegar and a little water. Shake it up and swirl it around until the sides are clean. Rinse thoroughly. It works beautifully, and doesn’t leave a vinegar after-taste or smell.

Solar Holiday Lights
Check out the solar holiday lights at Target. I can’t afford to put lights up and keep them plugged in all the time, and it’s a poor use of electricity. Now, with solar lights, decorations will have little to no impact on energy costs or the environment. I can’t wait until these go on clearance!

We’re all looking for a little quiet
New Urban Mom writes about her holiday wishes. I think we can all agree. This year, dedicate some time to spend with the people you love.

Beautiful, easy-t0-make gifts
Green With Envy… has a great idea for some wonderful gifts. Find some old tea cups or pots, fill them with pebbles and marbles, add some flower bulbs like Narcissus or Paperwhites. Fill the pot with water and wait a few weeks for the bloom. (she writes a much better explanation)


Friday Recipe: Three-Bean Soup (bonus vegan waffles!) December 14, 2007

Filed under: food — terra @ 7:51 am

Three-Bean Soup

2 TBS vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1 can navy beans, rinsed
1 can black beans, rinsed
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, or water
1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed

1. Heat oil in a large pot and saute the onion 2-3 minutes, or until soft. Add navy beans, black beans, and garlic. Continue stirring 8-10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup broth.

2. Meanwhile, blend Great Northern beans and remaining 1 cup broth in a food processor or blender. Pour puree into soup. Thin with more broth or water, if necessary.

3. Eat.

-Vegetarian Times, Nov./Dec. 2005


Vegan Waffles

What makes them vegan? They use applesauce instead of eggs. Pretty simple.

1 3/4 cup flour (always get unbleached flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup applesauce
1 3/4 cup milk (soymilk, silknog, whatever)
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Mix dry ingredients.

2. Combine applesauce and milk. Stir into dry mix. Stir in oil. Pour into wafflemaker. You know what to do from here. :)

-adapted recipe from internet


Recycline – Kitchen and Toothbrush Products December 12, 2007

Filed under: recycle — terra @ 7:00 am

starRecycline was created to effectively recycle plastic products into reusable goods that are recyclable themselves. You can buy a Preserve toothbrush, use it, and return it to Recycline to be recycled again. They began with toothbrushes, and have expanded into kitchenware. The prices are the same you would find for other products, but the high-quality and ability to recycle provides an added benefit to the consumer and the planet. All Recycline products are made in the USA.

You can find Recycline/Preserve products at Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Trader Joe’s, and online.


Double Function Stairs December 11, 2007

Filed under: reduce — terra @ 7:00 am

stairsAn Australian designer has created stairs that double as drawers. That’s 2 in 1 function, and an excellent way to save space in a small home or apartment. For safety, they should have a springback system, or some way to make sure the drawer stays closed when not in use.

It’s always a great idea to utilize all possible space for the most efficiency. Here are the design plans for this staircase storage.

Check out Planet Green.com, and coming soon, the Planet Green Channel, part of the Discovery Channel.


Scrapile December 10, 2007

Filed under: alternative, conserve — terra @ 7:00 am

Scrapile is a small business in New York City, and they’re an example of “entrepreneurs for sustainability.” From their site:

SCRAPILE is the collaborative work of designers Bart Bettencourt and Carlos Salgado. Seeking to create a positive environmental impact with their work, these two have developed a unique method of collecting and repurposing discarded scraps of wood from New York’s woodworking industry. Since it’s conception in Fall 2003, this project has continued to yield an ever-evolving line of furniture and product which by its very nature insists each piece be one of a kind.

They collect wood scraps and refurnish them into beautiful pieces of furniture. Each piece has character and quality.

Check out videos of Scrapile and other sustainable furnishings at Sundance Channel – The Green: Furnish.


Friday Recipe: Polenta Lasagna December 7, 2007

Filed under: food — terra @ 7:00 am

Polenta Lasagna

2 cups tomato sauce
precooked polenta (in a tube), cut into 16 slices
1/2 cup cottage cheese
2 TBSP pesto
mozzarella cheese

1. Assemble the lasagna. Preheat oven to 375F. Oil a 9-inch square baking dish. In a small bowl, stir together the cottage cheese and pesto. Season to taste with salt and pepper (or none). Layer the polenta slices and pesto mixture in the baking dish (the polenta pieces are kind of laying on each other like dominoes). Top with the remaining tomato sauce and mozzarella.

2. Bake the lasagna. Bake until cheese is melted and the lasagna is heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 4

- Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Vegetarian

This dish can be preheated, because it doesn’t take much time to assemble. I’ve read lately that there is no need to preheat the oven. You can just turn it on so it will be the right temperature, but don’t preheat for the entire time it takes to prepare a meal.

In the spring and summer, use fresh basil, pinenuts, garlic, and parmesean cheese to make fresh pesto. You can’t beat it!


Try a Tankless Water Heater December 6, 2007

Filed under: alternative, conserve, energy, reduce, water — terra @ 7:00 am

hot waterDid you know that your water heater tank uses at least 15% of your home’s energy? That’s because the water is heated throughout the day and night, whether you’re using the water or not.

Hot water is probably essential for 2 hours in the morning, and 4 hours in the evening. Not 24 hours a day. And, with a tank, it is possible to run out of hot water if you have a lot of guests.

There are many options for reducing the energy needed to provide your home with hot water, and make your system more efficient, while providing all the hot water you need. If your water tank is more than 12 years old, you may consider replacing it with a new tank, or look into some of this new technology. (You can tell the year by looking at the last 2 digits of the serial #)

Storage Tank
This is the conventional method. Most homes have a water tank. This is the least efficient and practical way to store/generate hot water. The hot water tank requires the water to be constantly heated and stored, whether used or not. Newer models are slightly better at holding heat. If you have a storage tank, consider using low-flow faucets and showers to conserve your water, and wrap your tank and pipes in insulation to preserve as much of the heat as possible.

Demand or Instantaneous Water Heater
Water is heated on demand, reducing the need for a tank, and reducing energy consumption by 20-30%. This system is ideal for a natural gas-heated system. Choose one with an electronic ignition, so you don’t need a continuously burning gas pilot light. Home Depot has these starting at $600. That’s a little pricey, but the savings will add up and it will pay for itself over time.

Heat-pump Water Heater
Uses the surrounding air to heat the water. It offers savings of up to $200 per year, but with a high initial cost. This system has the added benefit of dehumidifying humid areas, and keeping the air cool, because it is consuming warm air.

Check out Flex Your Power for more options, including a Solar Water Heater, and tips about choosing an energy-efficient water heater.


De-ice with beet juice December 4, 2007

Filed under: alternative, environment, local — terra @ 7:00 am

Several cities in Ohio, including Akron, have found a more natural solution to icy roads: beet juice. Summit County will begin de-icing roads using a beet juice-brine concoction. It doesn’t corrode the streets, and won’t cause the same damage that calcium-chloride causes. The beet mixture is more economical than the calcium-chloride alone because it only requires one application, not three. We may also see less rust on cars.

Beet juice can also be added to calcium-chloride to increase the effectiveness of calcium-chloride. The beet de-icer, called Geomelt, has been used in several Midwest states, saving money and providing a “green” solution. Columbus is trying it too.

Don’t worry about the animals … the sugar has been extracted from the beet juice, so it won’t attract animals. Maybe this winter my dog won’t get so many hot spots! Last winter was rough on her feet because of all the chemicals dumped on the roads. I hope this will be better for the environment, our roads, and our cars (this beet juice doesn’t stain). Amazing things can be achieved by looking to nature for solutions.


One of a Kind Pets December 3, 2007

Filed under: local, pets, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

One of a Kind Pets in Akron is a rescue group for homeless pets. They are located at 1699 W Market St in the same building as the gas station at the Market-Exchange 5-point intersection. As a rescue organization, they have saved over 600 homeless pets and placed over 400 into loving homes. Their extensive network of foster families takes care of the animals until they are able to find a home.

One of a Kind Pets rescues pets from the Animal Control facility, which euthanizes dogs and cats after just three days. Akron’s catch and kill policy is ineffective at controlling the cat population because cat lovers would never call them, knowing that the cat will be killed. A spay and neuter program would be much more effective at saving animals.

To Akron’s fortune, One of a Kind Pets has just opened their One of a Kind Pet Spay and Neuter Clinic at 1700 W Exchange in Akron. It’s a low-cost clinic, offering spay and neuter services starting at just $30. Their Feral Cat Spay and Neuter Package includes the operation, plus vaccinations and a flea treatment for just $45. Here are a few facts, which point out why a low cost clinic is so vital to our community:


  • 4-6 million adoptable pets are euthanized each year because they don’t find homes
  • 70,000 puppies and kittens are born each day (compared to 10,000 humans)
  • only 1 out of 12 cats will find safe haven in a loving home
  • only 1 out of 10 dogs will be nurtured and loved for its lifetime
  • a female cat that has not been spayed, and her offspring, will produce 370,000 kittens in just 7 years

(the above facts taken from One of a Kind Pets’ newsletter)

The Spay & Neuter Clinic would appreciate donations, which can be directed to animal care, spay and neuter services, or their Pit Bull Fund, the FREE Pit Bull Spay and Neuter program. Many communities have a pit bull overpopulation because the people who have pit bulls often don’t alter them, believing that it emasculates them. It is critical for pit bulls (and all dogs) to be spayed or neutered, for the dog’s health and the community’s safety.

Please keep One of a Kind Pets in mind this holiday season. If you’re able, consider a donation. Check out their wish list before hauling stuff to the curb or dumpster. Or, offer your services as a volunteer. The store on W Market St sells food and toys, with profits benefiting the rescue organization. My dog loves to get her nails clipped there, and I like knowing that the cost helps pets like her find a good home.


Google is becoming a Green Leader December 1, 2007

Filed under: education, energy, environment, social consciousness — terra @ 8:10 am

googleGoogle has announced its plan to make renewable energy that’s cheaper than coal with their new project, RE>C. They will invest in solar thermal power, wind power, and geothermal plants. This is very exciting, as Google could end up investing more money than our federal government on renewable energy. They’ve proven to have a successful business model, and it’s nice to see them using their resources for the greater good. Check out Google.org for more of their good deeds.

Their plan for renewable energy also promises to create more jobs, as technology is developed and implemented. They will hire engineers, researchers, and energy experts to develop power from natural, renewable sources.

They will do this in years, not decades.

Coal is the primary power source for many around the world, supplying 40% of the world’s electricity. The greenhouse gases it produces are one of our greatest environmental challenges. Making electricity produced from renewable energy cheaper than coal would be a key part of reducing global greenhouse-gas emissions.

“Cheap renewable energy is not only critical for the environment but also vital for economic development in many places where there is limited affordable energy of any kind,” added Sergey Brin, Google Co-founder and President of Technology.

This is an example of corporate social responsibility at its best.

Google Earth can now show you air pollution in 3-D. You can also see Fair Trade farms/regions, and many other “Global Awareness” factors.