17 September 2008

paint your porch ceiling blue

Everyday, as they say, you learn something new. Today for me, it was this: people paint their porch ceilings blue to keep bugs away. Maybe I never noticed or never thought about it, but as my dear friend Anne was talking about this, we happened upon a porch with a blue ceiling.

Blue porch ceiling in Sea Cliff, NY

I did a little search to find out more about this tradition and it turns out there are other reasons people choose pale blue for their porch ceilings. Some do it to keep wasps from nesting and some to create the illusion of blue sky above. Still others do it to ward off evil spirits.

In the South, there's a name for this special hue, it's called haint blue. A haint is a spirit or ghost and some people even paint the trim on their house haint blue to keep the scaries away.

No matter the reason, it can be a soothing color to choose for your porch. Just be sure to opt for a zero- or low-VOC (volatile organic compound) exterior paint like those from Mythic Paint or Best Paint Company.

[Sources: My friend Anne and NPR]

park(ing) day this friday!

What the heck is Park(ing) Day?

Park(ing) Day is an international event that reclaims over 200 parking spots in 50 cities around the world and transforms them into engaging public spaces for one day a year.

Park(ing) Day NYC is an effort of the New York City Streets Renaissance which offers individuals and groups small grants to turn more than 50 parking spots throughout New York City's 5 boroughs into human-friendly places for a single day. These small, temporary public spaces provide a breath of relief from the auto-clogged reality of New York City, and aim to spark a dialogue about our valuable public space and how we choose to use it.

There's a spot not too far from me on the other side of the park at Cortelyou Ave and Argyle Rd. This particular park is hosted by Sustainable Flatbush blogger Anne Pope.

Sound like a good idea to you? Join the fun and find a spot in 4 out of the 5 boroughs.

[Image: Keka Marzag√£o]

[Park(ing) Day via Brooklyn Based]

this one's for the ladies

My friend Alison swears by this book. She says every woman of childbearing age should own it. That it tells you things that no one has ever told you about your health but that you need to know.

Here's the book:
Taking Charge of Your Fertility, 10th Anniversary Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health by Toni Weschler

The Amazon review:

This comprehensive book explains in lucid, assured terms how to practice the fertility awareness method (FAM), a natural, scientifically proven but little-known form of birth control (which is not to be confused with the woefully ineffective "rhythm" method). Author Toni Weschler has been teaching fertility awareness for almost 20 years, and it's only just now gaining in popularity. As the book explains, by using simple fertility signs including peaks in morning body temperature and changes in cervical position and cervical mucus, it's possible to determine when ovulation is taking place. Fertility awareness is therefore useful for not only couples who are trying to conceive, but for those who are aiming to avoid pregnancy without the use of chemical contraceptives. It will be of special interest to those women who have suffered from infertility; many FAM practitioners have told the author that by filling in the detailed charts in the book, they've realized that they were chronically miscarrying, even when their doctors told them they weren't conceiving at all. As the book explains, by charting body temperature, it's simple to tell when pregnancy has occurred--and when there's danger of miscarriage. Taking Charge of Your Fertility also explains how to choose the sex of your baby by timing intercourse according to certain fertility signs. It also features thorough, easy-to-understand explanations of hormones, the menstrual cycle, and menopause, along with fertility tests and treatments and their long- and short-term side effects, plus a topnotch resource section. Recommended for any woman who wants to better understand her body.
--Erica Jorgensen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. (Though I'd think it's not far off.)

While some of the customer reviews (8 out of 1,065) say this book is not helpful, or not appropriate for women with fertility issues, 981 reviewers gave the book 5 stars (that's a 92% approval rating). If you're thinking about pregnancy, how to conceive or how to prevent it, this book may be for you!

5 actions you can take right now


You can also pledge to help stop mountaintop removal by clicking and signing on my iLoveMountains link to the right!

dust bunnies, beware!

I've been rearranging some things in our apartment, finding new uses for existing furniture. But I've discovered something in the process -- man, this place is dusty! I'd like to chase away the dust bunnies, but I don't want to grab chemically fresh Pledge or any of its kin -- that stuff gives me a headache. So I'm whipping up some natural furniture cleaner.

[Image: Lisa Martin, Dust Bunny Challenge]

I did a little research and all it takes is a simple salad dressing. Really. All you need is some vinegar (distilled white works just fine, apple cider works but might stain) and a touch of olive oil or jojoba oil (it keeps longer 'cause it doesn't go rancid). Or some lemon juice and a bit of olive oil if you prefer the lemony fresh scent. Just dip a soft cloth (I used a thick cotton t-shirt rag) in the mixture and wipe on wood furniture. Works like a charm.

Here's a simple recipe using lemon oil, courtesy Annie Bond of Care2:

Lemon Oil Duster
Make sure the lemon oil is pure essential oil and doesn't contain petroleum distillates.

10 drops lemon oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
A few drops olive oil or jojoba

Dip a soft recycled cloth, such as one of flannel, in the lemon oil mixture, and wipe furniture.