Archive for August, 2010

Ed Begley, Jr. at the 81st Academy Awards

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Ed Begley, Jr., is an actor and environmentalist.

Ed Jr. was inspired to act by his Academy Award-winning father, Ed Begley.

He is most known for playing Dr. Victor Ehrlich on “St. Elsewhere”, but he has most recently been seen in movies such as “Best in Show” and “Pineapple Express”.

His Home
He lives in Los Angeles, California, with his wife, actress Rachelle Carson, in a self-sufficient home powered by solar and wind energy.

Begley’s home features an electricity generating bicycle used to toast bread, he pays only $300 a year for electric bills, and he has converted his lawn to a drought-tolerant garden composed of native California plants.

In 2008, he published a book titled “Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life”. He is vegan and has been known to show up for movie premieres on his bicycle. He has also created a natural household cleaner called Begley’s Best.

Television Show
Currently Begley has a reality show about green living called “Living With Ed” which is on the cable channel Planet Green.

The show records the conflicts between Ed and Rachelle, who sometimes suffers due to her husband’s uncompromising beliefs. For example, on one episode you see Ed getting angry with Rachelle because while she is sunbathing she is blocking the solar panels.

On the show you often see Ed’s friend Bill Nye, a fellow environmental activist. Ed and Bill have a fierce competition to see who can have the lowest carbon footprint and you watch as they try to one up each other.

The show’s website is livingwithed.net. It has a tab called “Ask Ed” which features tips and tricks on food, energy, clothing, house, recycling, and transportation but you can also ask him a specific question and he will email you the answer.


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Music and Happiness

Music note E

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When I get home from work one of the first things I do is the dishes. It is one of my least favorite chores, but it does not seem as bad as long as I turn some music on first.

I have also noticed how music affects Sawyer, our six month old. As soon as a toy starts playing music he likes he whips his head around to find it and starts smiling.

Music is known to have the ability to change your mood, which makes it an excellent stress reliever. In fact, music has been used therapeutically in hospitals for pain management and emotional well-being. Research has also linked music with happiness, especially certain types of music. Researchers at Japan’s Osaks University studied salivary cortisol levels and other physiological responses and found that music, especially music with a major (rather than minor) tone, is correlated with lowered stress as well as feelings of happiness.

So what songs make you happy? Here are my top 5:

1. My Girl by the Temptations
(I chose this as my number one because I change the lyrics to My Guy and sing it to Sawyer to help him fall asleep)
2. Hey Ya! by Outkast
3. One Week by Bare Naked Ladies
4. Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf
5. All You Need Is Love by the Beatles

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Apple Tree

Image by Steffe via Flickr

A sign that fall is right around the corner, Colby is going apple picking with his grandparents this week.

It has been such a beautiful long summer so I am sad to see it go, but I also love fall. I really enjoy the leaves turning and all things pumpkin – muffins, bread, pie.

Fall means lots of work to do around the yard before winter comes. Last fall was the first year we planted a ton of bulbs. Unfortunately some sort of animal helped themselves to half of them. We have four huge hydrangea bushes in front of our house. Jay is hoping to transplant one or two of them, but I do not see how he will be able to do it without a backhoe.

Fall also means fair time. Most years past we have gone to the Fryeburg Fair, in Fryeburg, Maine (www.fryeburgfair.com) but I would like to try some different ones. There are so many good ones in our area. When we used to live in Connecticut, we used to always go to the Big E (www.thebige.com). Funny thing is our favorite part was the Maine house and eating the Maine baked potatoes. Go figure.

This is Colby’s last week at his old daycare. I am taking him out to pizza with his best friend and his Mom on his last day to celebrate. I am thankful that he has had such a great experience there. He is really going to miss all the great teachers he has had and all of the good friends that he has made. Sawyer will still go there so at least Colby will have opportunities to visit.

Next weekend is Labor Day. We have no real big plans. I think I will use the long weekend to try to get organized for the fall season and to get outside and enjoy the last of this beautiful summer.

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Own Photograph

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“A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.”
~ Arnold Glasow

So true. There is nothing like good friends to pick you up when you are feeling down.

Tonight after work I am going to happy hour with a group of friends I have not done anything with in a long time, since I have had Sawyer I think. Jay has Colby and Sawyer at home all day today but said he did not mind if I stay out late. I will be raising a toast tonight to great friends AND a great husband.

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Sunflower (Sunfola variety) against a blue sky...

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Wanda is the host of PBS’s Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska and has been called the Martha Stewart of the voluntary simplicity movement. She says that the lifestyle is gaining mainstream appeal and claims that at least 10 percent of the population have embraced simple living.

“This isn’t a fringe thing anymore,” Urbanska says from her home in North Carolina. “There is a shift going on. When I first started talking about this in 1992, I was seen as a wacko zealot. Now simple living is fashionable.”

Urbanska’s ratings have gone up each of the show’s four seasons, and PBS estimates her viewership range to be 75 percent of the country. “People keep telling me this is just what we need at this time,” she says. “They want to get back to basics, assume financial independence and environmental stewardship. For the first time, the culture is saying bigger isn’t better. When you are in debt, it’s hard to live with any pleasure. People are starting to feel there is so much more to life. Everything you bring into your house becomes a responsibility. You have to care for it, clean it, and ultimately, dispose of it.”

For more information about Urbaska visit her website at http://www.simplelivingtv.net/. The quotes in this post are from an article titled Back to Basics: Living with “Voluntary Simplicity” by Allison Glock and it can be found on Oprah.com.

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Compost Pile

A handful of compost

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Compost encourages earthworms and other critters. It provides nutrients and improves the soil. Starting a compost pile in your yard is convenient and it keeps lawn clippings and food scraps from filling up landfills.

How to Make Compost

  • Start with a layer of leaves, grass clippings and kitchen waste like banana peels, eggshells, old lettuce leaves, apple cores and coffee grounds.
  • Keep adding materials until you have a six-inch layer, then cover it with three to six inches of soil, manure, or finished compost.
  • Alternate layers of organic matter and layers of soil or manure until the pile is about three feet tall. A pile that is three feet tall by three feet square will generate enough heat during decomposition to sterilize the compost.
  • Your compost pile may benefit from a compost activator. Activators get the pile working, and speed the process.
  • Keep the pile in a semi-shaded area to keep it from drying out too much. If your pile is near a tree, turn it frequently to make sure the tree roots do not grow into it.
  • If your compost pile has a strong odor, try turning it more often. Odors are often caused by poor air circulation or a pile that is too tightly packed.

Jay has started a compost pile in our yard. It is way in the back just in case it starts to stink and so it is out of sight. They say the process should take about two months, but our pile is not big enough so we have not made any successfully yet.

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Budgeting Website

I am working on a budget for our family and yesterday I discovered a website called Mint.

It is a free and simple way to electronically manage, save and grow your money. You can quickly see how you are spending your money, how your investments are doing, and set up a budget. It also has a goals feature where you can set and track your progress towards goals like paying off a credit card or saving for retirement, or you can create your own.

Here is some information from my experiences with the site so far:

  • For each of your transactions it shows the date, a description, the amount and a category. For example, if you spent $3 at Dunkin Donuts it automatically categorizes it as “coffee shops”.
  • If you click on the budget tab it shows you your income and you can create a budget by adding any monthly expenses that you have. Then it will show you if you have gone over budget on any category, and if you have by how much.
  • My favorite part is that you can go to Trends and it shows you a graph of your spending by category. For example, last month I spent $40 on gas. It calculates and creates a pie chart of all my spending so I can see a little sliver that says I spent 1% on “Auto & Transport” last month.

Mint was named best online personal finance tool by Money Magazine and PC Magazine. It offers bank-level data security and you are anonymous – you do not share your name, address, social security number or account numbers.

I have just begun to use this site, but from what I have seen so far I would definitely recommend it.

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