Category Archives: Recycle

Jars of Renewal — Limoncello

COAR 018

The first jars of renewal project requires a bit of time to prepare — hence its place in the lineup. The December 2007 issue of Sunset magazine featured a myriad of ideas on what to do with all those lemons us living in the southwestern US would soon be seeing. Sure enough, John’s tree was brimming. With a rosemary limoncello recipe in hand, I harvested dozens of lemons. I had to laugh out loud when later in the year he mentioned he thought the tree was sick because it didn’t produce as much fruit this year. I reassured him that in fact it produced more than ever. I was, um, just using them.
Hey! He’s a bachelor. It’s not like he was sort for a lemon meringue pie. Plus, I’m thinking he’d love what I turned those golden babies into.

COAR 022

Rosemary Limoncello
“Italy’s Amalfi Coast and adjoining Sorrento Peninsula are the regions most famous for this intensely lemony liqueur, traditionally served ice cold as an after-dinner drink.”

Prep and cook time: About 1 1/2 hours, plus at least 2 weeks and up to 80 days of infusing time.
Makes: 10 2/3 cups (ten 8.5 ounce bottles)

Notes: Either Meyer or Eureka lemons work in this recipe. To speed up the process, shorten the infusing time in steps 2 and 4 to 1 week each, and you’ll have a fine although less intense liqueur. Limoncello keeps indefinitely in the freezer.

18 lemons, washed and dried
One 4-inch rosemary sprig, washed and dried
2 bottles (750 ml each) 100-proof vodka
4 1/2 cups of sugar

Peel lemons with a sharp vegetable peeler, taking only the zest and avoiding any white pith. Put rosemary in a 1 gal glass or ceramic container with a tight seal. Add zest to jar. Pour 750 ml of vodka over rosemary and zest. Seal container. Let sit undisturbed in a cool, dark place for 40 days. (This is a great time to go to Africa, for example.) In a saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil and add sugar. Cook, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Leg sugar syrup cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Pour syrup and remaining 750 ml of vodka over lemon-vodka mixture. Stir and seal. Let sit in a cool, dark place for another 40 days.
Pour limoncello through cheesecloth into a large spouted pitcher and divide among gift bottles.

COAR 025

That’s Sunset’s way. My way includes using what you have — two sprigs of rosemary, a giant tupperware container for the mixing and leaving the lemons in the bottles at the end because I think they are pretty and add character. Oh, and I tried peeling them and it was a disaster including skinned knuckles. So the rind stayed on most of these suckers.

To fill and then jazz up the bottles, you’ll need a couple supplies:
Several wide-mouth jars with tight lids, tongs, a funnel, a ladle, fabric, cards, ribbon, pinking shears and rubber bands.

COAR 023
COAR 027
COAR 026
COAR 031
COAR 030
COAR 032
COAR 033

Voila — fancied up moonshine ready to go in recycled jars. If lemons aren’t in your pantry at the moment, I’m thinking this would also be great with oranges or even Mexican-style with limes. Spicy! If you try it out, let me know. I’d love to hear how you play with the recipe.

Official jar count: 7


Jars of Renewal

crafting la de dah 006
crafting la de dah 008
crafting la de dah 023

What to do with all those jars? Tempe doesn’t recycle glass in my neighborhood, so I’m often scratching my head in my kitchen trying to figure out how to put yet another perfectly good glass jar into use instead of into the trash. Let’s just say after several months of research, I’ve got a plan. If you are interested in a Fall craft and art series that will help tame the craziness that is holiday gift-giving, stay tuned. Start saving your jars and lids of all sizes. This week, wash them with hot water and rinsing them in a cold water and vinegar mixture will get them squeaky clean. Next week, we’ll get cooking.

“To cherish what remains of the earth and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.” — Wendell Berry


XOXO Pachamama

what are these tall green things

Pachamama is beloved in South America and I find the idea of an earth goddess looking over us endearing. Rather than bemoan all the recycling we should be doing for Earth Day (Soapbox tone noted, Erin), I’ll say:
Querida Pachamama,
Thanks for all the cool stuff here on this third planet from the sun that doesn’t cost a dime: dark African nights with the Milky Way strung across the sky in a tangle of cosmic creation; the first sight of an ocean or the Grand Canyon, sunsets in Phoenix in August when the sky seems to be on fire, butterflies swirling about when you are on a long hike, silky white saguaro blooms gathered in late Spring crowns, shocking peonies, forests of tall pine that smell like butterscotch, animals so pretty they make you blush in awe, the smell of the desert after a long rain, monsoon season, honey, coffee, grapefruit, wine and the humans who once upon a time came up with the bagel/tortilla/bakery.
Gracias Mama Earth!


P.S. I’m sporting my Chacos and birdie messenger bag today and trying yet again to make sense of the public transportation available to East Valley residents who work downtown. Carpooled in, bussing/walking home. I’ve got my camera ready for another fun urban adventure.

Chevroleg, 2.0

once filled with junk in my trunk (ha! no really, a tire iron and the such)

Take one $.99 Ikea bag, a bit of canvas for the lining, a square of cotton for the front key pocket, some yellow thread and voila: le Chevroleg, 2.0.

My new signature pose, apparently
inside pocket and velcro goodness
inside pocket
Wrapped up with leftover handle

For Salty. Next sewing project: girl’s dresses made from pillowcases. Have you heard of this?


P.S. I’m doing my first Splash and Dash tonight. I’m a bit nervous. You’d think by now I’d be comfortable swimming in Tempe Town Lake, but it still panics me a little. I did a 2.4 mile open water a couple weeks ago and once again I was one of two idiots without a wetsuit. I was so cold, I couldn’t get my breath under control for 1000 meters. Thankfully, tonight the race is just 1000 meters and then some running (hence the dash). And no, this idiot still doesn’t have a wetsuit. Oy. Full algae and hyperventilation report tomorrow.

National Public Health Week: Craftiness

April, week one, 2008 009

A stack of vintage linens found at a Boy Scout garage sale this weekend, including those flags I turned into bags.

This is where everything comes full circle. So, how can craftiness improve the public’s health? Well, a bit of creativity always helps when trying to use, eat, drive and waste less. Crafty — in a Beastie Boy use of the word — is a compliment to all folk who use their creativity for the betterment of humanity, not just to fulfill their own desires. They thrift to find materials instead of heading off to yet another big box store. They spend the extra 20 minutes waiting around the bus stop to use public transportation in lieu of driving their own car. They move closer to work to minimize the commute. They bring cloth bags to the market. They wear hand-me-down clothing with pride.

Boy Scout Garage Sale finds

These could have easily been thrown away, but thankfully they were at the sale. I used the disposible casserole to deliver that chicken pot pie. The jars I filled with sun tea and lemons and delivered to friends. The paper bags I’ll use for wrapping during the next year.

If we in the “developed” world use, eat, drive and waste less instead of looking at what we have and really need, we’ll improve our community’s health locally, nationally, and globally. We’ll let less go into landfills. We’ll have less of a disposable culture. We’ll respect well-made products instead of cheap consumables. We’ll have cleaner air and rely less on oil from any country. We’ll eat until we’re satisfied instead of until we’re stuffed, know that taking food home in a doggie bag means spending less on food (and a bigger belt) tomorrow. We’ll have more money for organizations that matter to us. We’ll live simply so others can simply live. We might even live a more orderly and healthy life if we were to hire skip bins online to ensure that the majority of our rubbish is collected and recycled.

April, week one, 2008 007

An Army bag that I’m going to use this summer, when — fingers crossed — I’ll be traveling through Africa. A new trip is brewing… All these items cost $4. I gave them $7 because that’s what I had in my wallet. I would have spent that on the jars and dish alone at the market!

Imagine if the United States was once again known for our philanthropy, geneorosity and creativity? That’s that land (and people) I love.


Sixth Day of Christmas

cloth napkins, folded: Sixth day of Christmas

I wish for “green” gifts.
Cloth napkins anyone? How easy are these to put together! Just grab any heavy-weight fabric, such as decor, and cut rectangles of the size of your liking. Double fold the hem and stitch away, or single fold the hem and zigzag/serge stitch along the edge. Bundle with a pretty ribbon and voila — and end to the purchasing of paper napkins.

napkin fabric: Sixth day of Christmas
stack of napkins ready to be hemmed: Sixth day of Christmas
napkin tags: Sixth day of Christmas
six more gifts, sewn and ready to be delivered: Sixth day of Christmas

When I received a set of fabulous cloth napkins from Meg this year, I knew what I was going to do with that stack of toile fabric that had been gathering dust in my studio. Three hours later, I’ve got six more gifts wrapped and under the tree.
{Technically, my tree is fake and 2 feet tall, also a nod to the green movement. So, they are on the mantel.}

How are you being green this holiday season?

P.S. Anyone in Phoenix know where I can buy fresh cranberries? I’d even take frozen over the canned/jelled variety. They are the last remaining ingredient on my Christmas dinner menu and I am kicking myself for not picking up a couple bags two weeks ago when I saw them at the market. You find them and I’ll trade you baked goods of your choice!
*UPDATE* I found them! Thank you Tambra and Erin!

SSS, or better yet, SOS

secret santa, the beginning

Brown bag to be reused in the spirit of being green + international posting box. $37 for all countries, up to 20 pounds.

When Donna emailed in August asking if I’d be interested in a Secret Santa Swap, I thought, “Sure!” I didn’t have to mail anything until December and that seemed so far away. October was kinda busy. And then November rolled around and I got wrapped up in Urban Dares and ditching Ruby for a kayak. Even though Donna has got this international swap exceptionally organized and even kept us all up to date with postal delivery times around the world, I started sewing yesterday. It needed to be in the mail tomorrow.
Procrastination is how I roll.

pink and orange and happy all over
bag, after being jazzed up
secret santa pouch
secret santa swamp bag and zippered pouch

I wanted this gift to be artsy, but also earthy. I took a well-loved handbag I had and added some pink and orange love, paired it with a sweet zippered pouch and stuffed that international postage box nearly to my 20 pound limit. My recipient will receive chocolate, yarn, a design book, a journal, an ink pen, a quilted pillow case and a lucky giraffe in addition to the purse.

secret santa swap ready for the mail

Now, on to that holiday sewing I’ve been thinking about…

Rock the Race

still trying to get the hang of fusing plastic

Ann of Tasterspoon fame was so incredibly sweet to me during my race training. She would send me these thoughtful emails about her experience training and right before the race sent me a giant box of race foods to try out before competing. She is an amazing athlete and really just a cool girl.

A peek inside the plastic-lined tri bag

To show my appreciation for the dozens of emails she sent, answering my every question about training, the race, the food, the clothes (oh my GOD — some people pee in their shorts during the race?!), etc… I made her a bag I thought was appropriate to her northern California athletic sensibilities.
Using this plastic fusing tutorial and a bit of canvas, twill and some alphabet stamps, I created my first tri tote:

top of tri bag

Swim. Bike. Run. Rock the race.

simple tri-bag

Now she can load up her wet swimming suit, dirty cycling cleats or sweaty running clothing and wipe out the interior of the bag afterward. Woo hoo! I finally figured out what to do with those stupid plastic bags in my junk drawer. Sewing, recycling and triathlons. I swear I think I just went to hobby Nirvana.
Thanks again Ann!


Taking Action

Enviro tools of the trade

Today is Blog Action Day where bloggers around the world are encouraged to post about the environment — one of my favorite topics to discuss. There are many ways I’ve modified my behavior in the last few years to be more green — like bringing my own grocery sacks to the store and my own cup to the coffee shop — and a few other changes I’ve only recently noticed that could be considered environmental.
Yesterday I met some friends for breakfast at a bagel shop 20 miles from my house. By riding my bike, I saved a gallon of gas round trip. I washed my car yesterday at the $.25 coin operated spot and literally ran like mad to make it happen within the initial 4-minute $1.25 time slot. I am also trying to consume and eat less, recognizing every little bit adds up.
Ultimately, what I think we need to remember is that we cannot shop ourselves green with new light bulbs or hybrid cars. We cannot eat ourselves thin with 100-calorie packs of crackers. We cannot pull ourselves out of financial ruin by shopping sales that “save.” Nice marketing ploys! If we make these choices because they fit in our budgeting, nutrition, environmental plans — that is another story. Simply, I think we can focus on using less and walking more — those two things alone will make us all healthier.
Crafting, the do-it-yourself movement, cooking at home and gardening are forms of domestic sustainability that work toward these two goals. One day, I will grow much of my own food, live on solar power, trade my car in for a mountain bike and live with the seasons.


Green Week Day 5: A Promise

Falling in love with Mama Earth

Dear Mama Earth,
I know I’m one of the 6 billion humans you are trying to support on limited resources at the moment, and I also know I’m not any more deserving of your attention than the rest. But if I could just get your ear for a second, I’d appreciate it.
Here’s the thing — I live in the country that consumes the most, with the least thought. However! We once were great stewards of the land and we can be again. We are getting much smarter about this, even if we were the last to RSVP to the Kyoto party. I’m certain our next president will make sure we show up early to such affairs in the future. With an appetizer.
I’m sorry I haven’t been more mindful of you. I’m sorry I’ve neglected to recycle at every opportunity and that I’ve consumed out of boredom and not need. I’m sorry that I haven’t done more to change policies to be kinder to you, and in turn, my neighbors.
So, here’s my vow to you, Mama Earth:
{Raise your left hand and say it with me!}

As your friend, I promise to consume (eat, drive, etc…) only when necessary. I promise to stop and actually smell the roses, notice the sunrise and be thankful for all of the natural beauty that surrounds my daily routine. I promise to vote for leaders who are thoughtful of you. I promise to shop locally and support small business. I promise to plant indigenous species. I promise to go to the pound when I want a pet and not a designer puppy warehouse. I promise to always work for peace first. I promise to use what I have, be thrifty, walk whenever possible, and scream from the mountaintops that we can change the tide. I promise to tread as lightly as possible.

Thank you Mama Earth, for your abundance and patience. I don’t want to see other people; I’m thoroughly in love with you.