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Envy Me My Earth Day Hat


Today at school, in honor of Earth Week, the kids donned hats made of reused/recycled materials/trash and had a full-school parade. Well, I just had to have one for the occasion, too. Meet my flowered pillbox hat.


Here are the supplies I used:

  • Newspaper
  • Milk jug
  • Aluminum can
  • Paints (I happened to have acrylic on hand for another project we're working on)
  • Paintbrush (I found a use for a foam brush that we've had in our garage for 10+ years)
  • Scissors
  • Glue (I used hot glue to speed up the process)
  • Items to use as circle templates

First, I painted the newspaper and let it dry. I painted the papers pretty thin to conserve paint and because I wanted to show the newspaper print underneath -- this aided in a nice, quick drying time.

earthdayhatb04-20-2011.jpgWhile the paint was drying, I washed the milk jug and cut the lower part off for the hat base (in fact, my son used the upper part for his hat, which I should point out was NOT flowered).


Then I grabbed nearby glasses and paint bottles of various sizes to use as circle templates. I opted for three sizes of circles, the smallest being about the size of a half-dollar coin.

Once I had lots of circles cut out, I arranged them into groups of three, varying the color combinations but always having a large, medium, and small circle in a set.

earthdayhatd04-20-2011.jpgNext, I crumpled up each set of circles into balls then opened them back up. This gave them the flower effect. I stacked and hot-glued each set, then immediately glued each flower to the milk jug. In all, I made 28 flowers, which might sound like a lot but it went fairly quickly.

Finally, I decided to give each flower a center -- my son cut little circles out of an aluminum can for me, then I glued them onto the flowers. And that was that!

earthdayhatf04-20-2011.jpgAnd there's my Earth Day hat. You, too, can have one for the low, low, price of nothing! I wish I could show you all the amazing hats the kids wore at school -- everything from decorated lamp shades to piñata heads to incredible contraptions of aluminum cans, plastic bottles, cereal boxes, plastic grocery bags, and more. So creative!

Love Your Mother... Earth


That was a saying on one of the Earth Day posters at my son's school. Loved it.

Today was a very special Earth Day, marking the official dedication of our new butterfly-hummingbird garden at school. We were proud to be officially recognized by National Wildlife Federation as a certified habitat and by Texas Parks and Wildlife as a Texas Wildscapes Schoolyard Habitat Demonstration Site. It rained, but it was a perfect gift for Earth on Earth Day (here in Austin, rain is always precious), so we didn't mind having to move the ceremony indoors.

  txwildscapessign3.jpg txwildscapessign.jpg nwfsign.jpgAnd our students presented community and organization representatives with fantastic 3-D murals that teach about creating wildlife habitats at home.

Oh yeah, I got to be on the news. I even managed to speak coherently. 

It was a good day. Happy Earth Day, everyone.

Sustainable -- Loving and Living It


"Sustainable" -- it's the new catchword and the new black. It's a word I'm trying to reiterate over and over again with my family, and now that I'm leading a big habitat project at our elementary school, it's a term I'm making sure our students know, as well.

Doves, mind you, don't seem to understand the word "sustainable" nor the word "reduce," the little wasteful gluttons. But on occasion, they do lend themselves out for a nice winter picture, so for the moment I'll forgive them.

dove02-10-10.jpgIt warms my heart to see how many bloggers are spreading the word about environmental care by encouraging fellow bloggers to think, act, and make lifestyle changes in regard to taking care of Earth. Suzy at HipMountainMama is leading One Small Change, Dee at RedDirt Ramblings recently hosted a reel mower giveaway, and Jan at Thanks for Today has established the Garden Bloggers Sustainable Living Project.

sustainableliving.jpgThis post is multi-purpose. One, I need to report on my One Small Change progress for January and February. Two, I want to partake in Jan's Sustainable Living Project, and three, I want to share all these bird photos I just got this morning! I've been trying to find woodpeckers in the trees for months, and I was shocked to finally see one -- at our birdfeeder!

rbwoodpkr02-10-10.jpgTaking all these shots, I was reminded that our kitchen window could really stand a good vinegar wash. 

 In my own garden, as many know, I'm dedicated to planting as many drought-hardy Texas native plants with organic methods as I can. My plants are like my children -- I want to nurture them when they are young, help them grow up big and strong, and guide them to being able to make it on their own. Someday, we might move away from this house, and if my plants aren't able to survive without care, they might not make it. I also long to be lazy -- the better my plants can establish, the less I'll have to do... one day.

My biggest project at the moment is guiding our elementary school to become a Certified Schoolyard Habitat. We're putting in a new butterfly-hummingbird garden as Phase 1, and the list of Phase 2 environmental projects is growing -- we'll be putting a water collection system and more. Co-existing with this habitat project is another project for the 3rd- and 4th-graders -- learning about wildlife habitats and then teaching the community about them through 3-D murals. The excitement over habitats is spreading fast, and I feel so good helping our students become environmental stewards.

rbwoodpkrb02-10-10.jpgOn my sidebar, I call myself green-blooded. While my blood might *look* red, especially when I cut myself on a thorny spine or do some other clumsy thing in the garden, my heart and soul are always thinking about ways to protect the environment, and so my blood really runs green. If you put on your special Super-Enviro-Power goggles, you'll be able to see it. If you don't have any, then I'll just raise my hand in a Vulcan greeting. 

In January, for One Small Change, I did three primary acts for the environment: I removed all remaining nandinas from my property, sending the bushes to city mulch and throwing away the berries. I also took all our old leftover chemical products, bleach, and paint from our past to the Austin Hazardous Waste Facility, and some from two of our neighbors. We've been using natural cleansers for a long while now, and finally the evidence from our former lifestyle is gone, gone, gone. And finally, I've been learning many different organic products to help gardeners stay green. I feel more knowledgable about offering green solutions to problems in the yard. Understanding the soil food web was a big part of this. It all begins in the earth, and truly everyday is Earth Day in my book. (Officially, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22).


This month, my son asked us to make something for the wildlife for our February change. We are going to make a bee box or two and a screech owl house. Looking ahead to March, I think I want to train my family to open blinds daily to let the light shine in, and I want to strategically place mirrors to help get more natural light across our house without having to turn on artificial lights. There's a tendency in this family to become inert in regard to opening/closing the blinds, and the result is way more "turning on the lights" than should be necessary. Right now my study blinds are open, and the cats are on my desk watching the birds outside, and the puppy is occasionally growling and barking at the hanging plant hovering outside. No, pup, it's not an evil threat, but it would look nicer if the plant in it hadn't died this winter.

I feel so hopeful this year that Earth is finally getting the kind of attention it so needs and deserves.

Take care of yourselves and our wonderful Earth this spring, and always. And live long and prosper. 




Happy Earth Day!

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Though I've truly been going green for some time now, today being Earth Day made me really want to focus on doing as much as I could. Our family decided to go vegan for a day, and we really enjoyed it. Aside from the horrors of slaughterhouses and living conditions for livestock and poultry, livestock are responsible for a huge percentage of greenhouse-gas emissions, and add to it that the acreage required for livestock has contributed to the mass deforestation of rain forests. So... we went vegan today. I can't say we're ready to not eat meat at all, but I know that we'll have more all veggie days in our future (to this plan a friend called out, "Plant killer!"). I also have been trying to purchase more local and humanely raised meat in the meantime. I'm there in principle, just not yet there in financial commitment, since we live on a budget and price often dictates what we can do. So far we're there in... eggs.

Back to Earth Day. This morning, Nolan was particular wonderful about making sure no unnecessary light was left on, and if natural light sufficed, he wanted everyone to not turn on a light at all. I made sure to not waste any water, and though I had to water my baby plants in my garden, I did so in the early morning hours to minimize immediate evaporation.

My neighbor Jan and I visited a plant nursery, and I picked out two Crossvines, Texas native plants with tubular flowers that provide food for hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. They are now happily twining up our cedar posts by our back porch. I think that they will really be spectacular when they take off. I also managed to get more plants planted from the stock of baby plants that have been waiting for me to prepare the next bed. This includes herbs, which means that not only will I have fewer herbs to purchase (ouch, expensive), but I won't be contributing to excess packaging cluttering our landfills.

From the nursery, we headed down to Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake) to participate in a lake clean-up with Keep Austin Beautiful and the National Wildlife Federation. We even made it on News 8 Austin -- yep, that was me in pigtails, a garden hat, and gloves pulling trash from among the shore plants. It was fun, and we rewarded ourselves with a bubble drink from Coco's.

Earth Day 2009 Austin 1

Earth Day 2009 Austin 2Earth Day 2009I would have been happy to have been able to ride my bike or a bus to where I needed to go today, but we did have to travel across town. At least Jan and I went in the hybrid!

Back at home, we made progress on the pond, too. We had to hire some men to help us dig our trench, as Michael's knee has been really bad with all digging through rock, and today the trench was completed. So Michael's now working on the next step for the pond. The men also dug out big roots from our tree stump, and so this evening we were able to rip the stump out of the ground via our mini-van and a long rope. It turns out the old hackberry has become a haven for all sorts of bugs, including this strange, large creature, an Eyed Click Beetle.

Strange bug in tree stumpWe plan to move the stump to our bird habitat in the backyard (or at least the stump in parts for easier moving). Also, I already have a tree to plant in its place (one that also provides berries for the birdies).

The rest of the day was spent getting plants planted. The only thing that I didn't get to do was order my composter, but that was due to money. I hope to get it soon. We have to get a tumbler-kind because there's no way we'd be able to keep the dogs out of any homemade composter. They at least help us mulch by chewing up any stick or root lying around the yard.

Meredith O'Reilly happily
gardens for wildlife in
Austin, TX. She enjoys
educating people of all ages
about native flora, fauna,
and healthy environments.

Nature Blog Network


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