Some Planet Saving Ideas


This sign hangs over my sink.



Let’s all try to reduce out carbon footprint!

Your carbon footprint is the amount of fossil fuel you use, and therefore the amount of greenhouse gases you create.  Not just directly, but indirectly such as when we buy items that were shipped long distances to reach us, or create waste, both which use fuel and create pollution.

Here is a link to a calculator that can tell you what your carbon footprint is:

If we all try to reduce our carbon footprints it will make a difference and we will be responsible stewards of our earth.  I don’t know about you but that makes me feel really good about myself.

I try to create a lifestyle in which taking care of the planet is second nature to me.  I hope I set a good example for the next generation as well.  While some of us would never consider littering and will always turn off lights when leaving a room, there are other ways to save energy.

Buying food from local sources or better yet, growing your own food helps to reduce your carbon footprint because you are not using products that were shipped from long distances using fuel and causing pollution.


Walking or biking to work or for shopping and errands helps save fuel and pollution from you car.  If you are in the market for a new car consider a hybrid.

Planting shade trees and wind breaks of evergreens around your property will help keep it cool in summer or warmer in winter so you will use less energy.  A simple thing like installing a screen door so you can catch breezes and go longer before needing to turn on your AC can help.


Many things can be reused or refashioned into useful things to save on the waste we produce.  Plastic grocery bags can be cut into strips and crocheted into tote bags, rugs and sleeping pads.


I made this!



bag mats

A local church makes these sleeping pads for homeless people.

Your sacks from chicken feed can be turned into cute tote bags.


feed bags

I recently saw a gadget that turns plastic bottles into plastic ‘rope’.


  If you buy Parmesan cheese in the cans with shaker tops you can fill the empty cans with baking soda and add  several drops of your favorite essential oil.  Sprinkle on your carpet before bed and let sit overnight.  Vacuum in the morning for a freshened carpet.  Did you know those green lids screw onto a mason jar?  Great for storing dried herbs from the garden or rice and other staples.


Better yet try to choose products that have the least packaging in the first place. Buy that parm as a big chunk and grate it yourself!  Buy one large container of ice cream, applesauce, yogurt or whatever and portion it out into your reusable containers rather than buying small individually packaged containers.  Make juice and ice tea in a pitcher (remember those?) instead of buying individually bottled drinks for you and your family. Buy coffee, tea, spices and grains in bulk.

And Puh-leeze never buy bottled water!

(Let me repeat that)

Puh-leeze never buy bottled water!

We recently switched to utility company that uses wind energy for our home. I have not noticed any difference in our bill yet but if they produce more wind energy than is used they sell it to the regular utility company and we get a reduced bill!  It is a great option since I can’t put up my own wind turbine or solar panels.  At least I know my home is powered by clean energy.  Check if they have this option where you live.

In Iowa the company is Alegient Energy.

Some other things that can help:

Read books instead of electronic devices or watching TV – I bet the library is in walking distance for some of you.

Let your hair dry naturally.

Shower less (it’s better for your skin).

Cook several things at once if using your oven.

Use a reusable sponge or dishtowel instead of paper towels.

Bring your lunch to work in reusable containers (and don’t forget reusable silverware).

Don’t use power lawn tools and get a better workout!

Share books and magazines with neighbors or coworkers.

Buy in bulk.

Try to have one day a week where you don’t use any prepackaged anything.  Once you can handle that try to go longer.

Compost anything you can.

Recycle anything recyclable – no excuses! (I can’t believe some people still don’t recycle at all).

Dry clothes on a clothesline.

Make your own non-polluting laundry soap and cleaning supplies – it’s easy!

Buy from thrift stores. salvage stores and the ReStore – great places!

If you are shopping for a new home, consider a smaller one.

Plant a tree. Plant anything except a lawn.

You have probably heard some or even all of these suggestions but are you implementing them?  The time is NOW and it starts with you.  Hopefully your example will inspire others.  Don’t put it off, we have a planet to save!


Another sign in my kitchen!

Do you have any more ideas for reducing your carbon footprint?


Some New Info Related To A Few Of My Posts:

In case you need some interesting reading on a cold winter day, I am posting some links with more information related to some of the things I wrote about in the past year.

Did my post from awhile back stir you interest in Paw Paws?  Here is some news on them:

good paw

One of my Paw Paws did not survive but the nursery is replacing it for me this spring.  The other one grew to about one and a half feet tall and looked very healthy by the end of summer.


I still am a fan of front yard gardens and now so is California!



Yep, I know I said I was cutting down the size of my garden this year.  However,  I have changed my mind (again) and am keeping it as is.  So far I have no plans for veggies out front.  Maybe someday though!

Monarchs are on everyone’s radar it seems!


  Have you planted your Milkweed yet?  If not be sure to order some for spring planting.

I am happy to say that many Home Centers are phasing out neonicotinoids.  It can’t happen fast enough!

On a more personal level, I am thrilled to say that I will have a new grandbaby this summer!

I’m counting the days until spring gardening.  It wont be too long before I am starting tomato and pepper seeds.  I need to decide on a vine to grow on the arbor we put by the coop.  I can’t wait to see what my Wisteria does this year!  Did my poppies survive?  Will my new weeping cherry tree bloom?  Will I get any pears or apricots on the trees this year?  Will the birds leave me any blueberries?  Who will win the bunny wars in ’16?  Can I resist baby chicks this spring?

Hang around, only time will tell!

What are your 2016 gardening plans?

I Am At It Again!

And you should be too.

I’m helping Monarch caterpillars hatch, grow, and become butterflies.

It is a very rewarding project.

Taking the eggs from the Milkweed plants and protecting them until they are butterflies increases the survival of this amazing species.

You may or may not know:

  • Monarch caterpillars ONLY eat milkweed which is less plentiful now due to herbicide use and loss of our prairie land due to construction and expansion.
  • The last generation of Monarchs to hatch each season do not die in a few weeks like previous generations, but live long enough to migrate to their winter homes – mostly in Mexico.

The trees are covered with the over-wintering Monarchs. I would love to see this someday!

  • Monarch numbers have decreased from a couple billion to only 50-some million!

You can read more about the remarkable Monarch here:

Simple things you can do to help Monarchs:

  • PLANT MILKWEED!  If you plant it they will come!  There are several varieties of Milkweed that will survive, multiply and beautiful your garden.  Monarchs will come and lay their eggs on your milkweed plants.

Milkweed blooming in my garden. The flowers smell amazing!

  • BEWARE to not get your milkweed from your local large garden center or home improvement store because they will most likely be treated with insecticides.  The caterpillars that hatch on this mildewed will DIE. Read about one person this happened to here:

  • Plant nectar flowers for the adult Monarchs.  Nectar flowers are the beautiful flowers you love anyway and the nectar provides nourishment for the adults. It is especially important to plant fall blooming nectar flowers such as asters, so the season’s last generation of  Monarchs will have food for their migration.
Monarch on zinnia 8 14 15

A beautiful Monarch nectaring on a zinnia in my garden,

  • Rescue or ‘adopt’ Monarch eggs or caterpillars and raise them in a protected environment and then release the adult butterflies.

It’s easy!

Here is what I did, you can do it too:

I ‘harvested’ Monarch eggs off my Milkweed plants. If you don’t grow Milkweed in your garden you can find it in fields or along the road in rural or even not so rural areas.  Make sure it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides.

The eggs are small whitish dots on the underside of your Milkweed leaves.

Monarch cat

See the egg – nearly in the center of the photo? A tiny caterpillar is on the edge of the same leaf, below and slightly to the left of the egg.

 I put the eggs, and one teeny tiny caterpillar I found in a opaque Rubbermaid tote.

Some people I know use a clear cup or jar but I wanted mine to have more room.

The small caterpillars will not leave their food source of Milkweed leaves but when they get larger and ready to form a chrysalis they will become more mobile and you will want to fasten a net or screen over your habitat.

My husband ordered me a super-cool habitat off Amazon.  I can’t wait!

Give your Monarch caterpillar(s) a daily (later even more than daily) supply of Milkweed leaves to munch on.


(I can’t say it enough)

Put newspaper or paper towels on the bottom of your habitat bercause the caterpillars poop A LOT and you want to keep them clean and healthy.

Your caterpillar(s) will EAT and EAT and GROW and GROW!


They remind me of the caterpillar in my grandson Carter’s favorite book.

Finally they will slow their movements and form a ‘J’ shape and then soon after form a beautiful chrysalis.  When the chrysalis becomes clear and you can see Monarch orange and black markings through it the butterfly will soon emerge.  It’s wings will be shriveled at first but they will soon unfurl and grow strong.

Now you can release your adult Monarch into your garden and pat yourself on the back because you just did a wonderful and important thing and helped make the world a better place!

 I will share the progress and photos of my caterpillars in future posts.

I hope I have encouraged you to give it a try.  If you are not up to ‘rescuing’ eggs and caterpillars perhaps you will at least consider planting Milkweed and nectar plants in your garden.

I would love you to share what you are doing to help the Monarchs!

Spring Is Busy In The Garden!

There are always a million things to do and I have been too busy – aka having too much fun-  to write much.

Not sorry.

We got 6 fruit trees planted – 2 Paw Paws, 2 apricot and 2 pears. One of the Paw Paws and one apricot are still dormant but alive.( I did the ‘scratch’ test)  but the others are leafing out nicely.


We splurged on a larger apricot tree from the garden center.


The trees from Stark Bros were smaller and dormant when they arrived but they soon leafed out,


This is one of the pears


The Paw Paw!


We planted a weeping cherry tree for decoration.

I splurged and got a Wisteria.  I have always wanted one and the type I got, Amethyst Falls, is an American variety, less invasive and it blooms when only 2 years old!

I am in love. 


Blooming already!

The tomato,  pepper,, broccoli and cabbage seedlings are in.  Snap peas, beans, cucumber, zucchini, lettuce, radishes and carrots are up and the bunnies are even leaving me some!


This was earlier this spring. There are now also pepper, cabbage and broccoli plants here.

The milkweed I moved last fall survived and is popping up with a vengeance.


Milkweed and other perennials in the Butterfly garden.

I planted more native plants that I received from Prairie Nursery.  I was happy with their fast shipping, great packing and the quality of the plants.


My baby Queen of the Prairie…..


One day it will look like this!

We put the littles out to the ‘transition’ coop a few weeks ago and today we opened up the gate between their and the older gals’ pens.

I am happy to say there was no bloodshed!


Nothing beats getting acquainted over a yummy meal of weeds!

I hope you are having as much fun this spring!

I Am So Pissed Off About Neonicotinoids!

Hard to spell, hard to pronounce, even harder to stomach!


Have you heard of them?

  Neonicotinoids are a type of insecticide that works SYSTEMICALLY which means it makes all parts of the plant poisonous to insects.  The leaves, roots. pollen and nectar are poisonous!


You would never knowingly purchase poisonous plants would you?  Especially if you were trying to plant a bee or butterfly garden.  But that is exactly what you are doing if you have bought your plants at a large garden center.


From a report published by Friends of The Earth:

Unfortunately, home gardeners have no idea they may actually be poisoning pollinators through their efforts to plant bee-friendly gardens. The plants included in this new study were purchased from major nursery outlets and garden centers, including Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart in 18 cities throughout all four official geographic regions of the U.S., as well as three provinces of Canada…

I am so angry that I just want to SCREAM!  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Is there no end to corporate greed and irresponsibility toward the planet?

I guess this short cartoon sums it up:

By the way – seeds are also treated with neonicotinoids.

All of our corn, most of our soy and other grains are treated.


Several European countries have banned these chemicals, but a bill to suspend their use in the US went to congress and never left committee – do you wonder why?  Neonicotinoids are produced by Shell and Bayer, right here in the Good Ole USA.

neon protest

I hope you would never find a reason to use an insecticide but if you do, please check your labels and know if you are using neonicotinoids.

This link contains names of products containing them.

It is recommended that if you must poison a pest, use a product that is specific, that targets the pest you want to kill instead of EVERY insect in the garden.

A recent report from the Xerces Society states that ornamental plants treated with a soil drench of imidacloprid (a neonicotinoid) have concentrations of imidacloprid high enough to kill bees in the blossoms for months to years following treatment.  Imidacloprid lasts longer than a year and using it annually on plants may increase the amounts found in pollen and nectar.


Imidacloprid is sold under a variety of brand names (Merit; Bayer Advanced 12 Month Tree and Shrub Insect Control; Bayer Advanced 3-in-1 Insect, Disease and Mite Control; Bonide Annual Grub Beater; Ortho Max Tree & Shrub Insect Control; Premise and others).  It is used to control a variety of insect pests including cockroaches and bed bugs in homes, white grubs in the lawn, and tree-feeding pests like Japanese beetle.


If you are as concerned as I am, please check if your local garden center sells Neonicotinoid treated plants.  If they do please refuse to buy from them.

I just ordered some plants from this place which does not use neonicotinoids:

Contact Congress and let them know you want a ban on neonicotinoid use:

Support groups like Friends of the Earth and Xerces Society:

Petition Lowes, Home Depot and Wal Mart to not use neonicotinoids.

I have included the links to make it easy for you to get educated and speak out.

We have got to do something!

What A Wonderful Organization!

They have been around for over 35 years but I just recently heard of them.  They are called The Wild Ones and they want to eliminate lawns in favor of native plants.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE, LOVE their mission:

Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities. Wild Ones is a not-for-profit environmental education and advocacy organization.

 You can read about them here:

If you read my post about Front Yard Gardens, You know how I feel about the care and feeding of useless, bland lawns.

If your missed it you can read it here:

I think using the space to grow food is much more practical.  However, many people don’t have the time to tend a front yard (or any) vegetable garden.

There are even some people – gasp – who don’t like gardening at all!

A ‘lawn’ of native plants, unmowed and seeding themselves year after year is NO WORK AT ALL!

wild 3

  No chemicals, no wasted water, no noisy mowing or trimming!




Imagine if EVERYONE had native landscapes instead of lawns.  Can you imagine walking down a city or suburban street with tall prairie grasses and wildflowers on both sides of  you?  There would be butterflies, bees and birds busily doing their thing, being happy and healthy, enjoying the shelter these plants provide.  The roots of these plants go deep and filter storm run off, which means cleaner water again.

wild 1

We have to stop thinking of these plants as weeds. 


My favorite flower!

We have to stop thinking of weeds as bad.


When I lived in IL, I used to take long walks through the neighborhood.  There was one very interesting house that was on a corner.  Almost every inch of the yard was native plants, except for a path or two mowed through the tall wildflowers and grass, and a small clearing for a table and chairs.  The yard had towering plants on each side of the sidewalk.  It was so different from the surrounding yards, startling at first but not ugly.  I am convinced after reading the Wild Ones website and list of members, that this house was owned by one of their members.

Something interesting would happen when I walked by this house.  It was alsmost like walking in a tunnel with the tall plants on both sides.  I am sure that if you were to blindfold me and lead me down the street, I would still know the exact moment I entered this space.

wild with path


It felt PEACEFUL.  It was quieter,  had a different ‘vibe’.  I swear to you, there was an energy I could FEEL.  I know it sounds like some crazy talk but insist it is TRUE.

We need these gardens.  We don’t need lawns.  We can do it!  Just start with a small patch of native plants and then take it from there. Every little bit will help heal the earth.

small weed garden


I Want To Plant a Paw Paw Tree!

aka Asimona Triloba ……. aka I Never Heard of It!

wild paw

Have you heard of this variety of fruit tree?  The fruit is not available commercially and unless they grow in your area you may not have heard of them.

Even if they do grow wild in your area you may not have heard of them because they are unreliable pollinators and may not bear fruit.

The trees grow to about 20 feet, have a pyramidal shape and long, oval, drooping leaves that give them a tropical look.  In spring they get lovely maroon upside down flowers.

paw flower

Then in fall clusters of paw paw fruit develop and ripen.

good paw

Or so I’ve heard, I have never even seen a Paw Paw tree!

But I have read that the fruit is delicious.  It reportedly tastes like a cross between a mango and a banana and has a custard like consistency.  Someone described it as tasting like banana cream pie!


It has more Vitamin C, protein and antioxidants than other native fruits.

Enough said!  I MUST have one!

Or actually I must have two if I want proper pollination.

Next spring I am ordering myself 2 Paw Paw trees to plant in my garden!

When the fruit finally appears and ripens it will be  ……..



Oh the anticipation!

I can hardly stand it and I haven’t even planted them yet!

Some facts about the Paw Paw tree:

It has few insect pests because of  something in the leaves and twigs which are being studied for use as insecticides.

The Zebra Swallowtail caterpillar subsists on the leaves – Yay!  Another addition to my butterfly garden!

It has cancer fighting properties and is being studied for this.

A scientist in Kentucky is trying to get it cultivated as a commercial crop.  So is one in Ohio.

Many towns are named after it throughout the Midwest.

Although the Paw Paw tree has male and female parts it can’t pollinate itself, the female parts become non-receptive just as the male parts make pollen.  You need another unrelated Paw Paw tree to achieve pollination.  (you didn’t know this post was going to discuss sex did you?!)


Bees do not pollinate the flowers, flies and beetles do.  Some gardeners hang rotten meat in the branches during bloom time to attract flies.  I read that the blooms themselves smell like rotting meat!

I LOVE a challenge and I love something unusual, uncommon and out of the ordinary.  A couple of Paw Paw trees will be the perfect first fruit tree additions to our garden.

If you are inspired to grow a couple of your own be sure to buy container plants.  Grafted varieties will bear fruit sooner.  Plant in slightly acidic soil and add compost.  Plant in an area that gets full sun but protect the young trees from full sun the first couple of years.  Be sure to get two genetically unrelated trees and help pollinate using an artists brush to collect and deposit pollen.

Do a bit of reading up on this interesting tree and you will be hooked like I am.

Here are two articles to get you started:


Have you ever seen a Paw Paw tree or eaten it’s fruit?  Do you think it is something you might want to add to your garden?

My Butterfly Garden, Supporting the Monarch Butterfly!

When I lived in Illinois two of my granddaughters came for the summer.  We did a lot of fun things but one thing that I really enjoyed was gathering Monarch butterfly eggs and bringing them home to watch them hatch,monarch eggs

grow into big fat and beautiful caterpillars,


form a chrysalis


and emerge as the lovely butterfly.


This pic shows the different stages of chrysalis formation.

monarch3 monarch-on-milkweed-500x357

So awesome!

 I read up on  the amazing life cycle and the even more amazing fall migration of the Monarch butterfly.  Nature is so very AWESOME and one place this is very evident is in how the Monarchs migrate to Mexico each winter.


I URGE you to become familiar with this!

I was saddened to learn that this wonderful species is in danger because the Milkweed plants that they lay their eggs on and on which the caterpillars feed, are being wiped out.

You may notice tall lovely milkweed plants along the roadside.


Although once plentiful, these plants are dwindling in numbers  because of urban sprawl and from the use of herbicides.  Monarch numbers are dwindling and it is a shame to think that one day we may never see these lovely creatures.

Because I have such love and admiration for the Monarchs I decided to plant a butterfly garden and hope to one day soon have it certified as a Monarch Way-Station.

I hope that I may convince you to do the same.

Last year I searched until I found a garden store that sold Milkweed plants.  I was lucky and scored plants of 3 different milkweed varieties.milkweed2milkweed


If you are not able to find plants in your local plant store you can order seeds online.

Milkweed is the host plant which means it is food for the catterpillars.  You will also need nectar plants in a butterfly garden which provide food for the butterflies themselves.  Lucky for me and you – these nectar plants are beautiful and fragrant additions to your garden.


A few varieties of nectar plants are:  Coneflowers, Asters, Black Eyed Susans, Monarda, Liatris, Joe Pye Weed, and Zinnia.

 Many cities have butterfly houses connected with their botanical centers – Here in Iowa we have a wonderful one in Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University in Ames Iowa.

If you have a butterfly house near you I urge you to visit it.  Once you visit a butterfly house you will be inspired to attract these wonderful creatures to your garden.

The links below are great sources to learn about the Monarch butterfly, how to attract it to your garden and help it to survive.


This is one of the Monarch butterflies I hatched and released


Are you inspired to create a butterfly garden and plant milkweed plants to help the Monarch butterfly?

  I want to become a ‘garden guerrilla’ and plant milkweed EVERYWHERE!

(Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh – don’t tattle on me)

 If you have a butterfly garden I would love to hear about it!







Seriously People?

I recently shared this article (below) on Facebook and got 3 likes and only TWO COMMENTS!  (one of which was not supportive)


I have to wonder what is the matter with everyone?  Are people not even bothered by any of the images and words in this article?

Would people rather see things like this:

poll poll1 poll2

And don’t care if things like this disappear forever?

GOOD good1 good2

“Oh but it is all so far away and removed from me”

Uh, no.

 Mountaintop Removal Mining (MTR) is going on right here in the USA , in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

 You can read about it here:

And here:

Do you think Appalachia needs the mining business for jobs and their economy?

MTR is done because it REQUIRES FEWER WORKERS.


There are also more cancers, birth defects and other health problems among people who live in areas where MTR is done.

What price coal?



Good thing we Midwesterners aren’t doing such bad things to the environment and to the Appalachian people.

Uh, no again.

The electricity USED BY YOU AND I  is most likely fueled by coal that was obtained by MTR.

Here is a page where you can type in your zip code and see just where your power company gets their coal.

I typed in my Iowa zip and found out my energy company uses coal obtained from blowing the top off of a beautiful Appalachian mountain!

It makes me want to vomit!


Why the heck are we using filthy, inefficient, coal anyway?  Oh, ya, I almost forgot, it is our patriotic duty since the big corporations that sell us gas and oil have convinced us that Fracking, off shore drilling, and MTR are the ONLY ways to ‘weaken our dependence on foreign oil’.

They would like us to forget how other industrialized nations are using wind, solar and hydro power.


Yes, I know, there are lots of much worse things to be worried about in the world right now.


But if you can get upset over a cute kitty or puppy getting mistreated, or all worked up over a football game, or if you can even get all excited about what some reality star said, wore, bought or did…………. That’s just fine.

 But I think  you really should be getting SUPER ANGRY ABOUT THIS!

This is our planet and things are being lost that can never be replaced.


Get angry.  Be moved to action.  Write congress.  Buy a bumper sticker.  Post something on your social media of choice, use a bit less electricity. Do something, ANYTHING! 

 Just don’t be apathetic.

adjective: apathetic
  1. showing or feeling no interest, enthusiasm, or concern.
    “apathetic slackers who don’t vote”

I hope you will have a comment, suggestion, or at least FEEL something about this.


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