Monday, December 6, 2010

be outrageously responsible this holiday


Every year that you rent a Christmas tree 
you will offset around 10% of your annual carbon footprint!!

Start a new tradition, RENT a LIVING Christmas tree this year! Google "Christmas tree hire"  or "rent a living Christmas tree" or visit Living Christmas Tree rental to find a rental provider near you!
I for one, am looking into this as a Christmas gift for those hard to buy for people in my life (ahem Dads and brothers - you guys are hard to buy for!)

Maybe you already bought your tree for the year, consider trying it out next year. It will be your gift to the planet!


You don't have to rent, you can buy a tree with roots and plant the tree on your property. The benefits for you are too many to list!! 

Buy from a local farmer who practices responsible farming - no pesticides needed in your home! You are investing in your own health, don't skimp! You'll pay for it eventually. 

Remember to properly recycle your cut tree this year - don't leave it out for the trash. It takes up space in the landfull (yes, landFULL, that's what they are) and incineration pollutes the air.
Trees can be ground up and used in mulch in your garden, on trails or in animal stalls (if you live on a farm and not in NYC). The wood chips can be used as sand or erosion barriers on beaches, in streambeds and in lakes. 

Burning your tree causes air pollution and creosote buildup (creosote is a flammable substance, the soot in your fireplace, and it's NASTY to the max.)

Please let me know if you do this, I want to post pictures!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

if you read one book this year...

...make it this book.

I've been waiting to blog about this book by Michael Pollan -- The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.

Seriously. I'll buy you a copy just so you will read it.

Until I have some time to sit down and blog about my thoughts on this book, visit Pollan's website for more info

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I ate the most delicious appley-apple tonight. I picked it out from Dean & Delucas in SoHo. As I rifled through the baskets of organic apples, it struck me how our perception of "produce beauty" makes us believe we can predict how something will taste, like an apple.

I was eating on the go so I didn't want big bruised soft spots therefore, I fussed. Apples dappled with spots and imperfections, soft cratered edges and beautifully crafted blemishes. So why didn't it look appetizing?

I picked a nice looking apple with a name I didn't recognize touting a mouth-watering description.

I bit into my nameless apple. My mouth was literally shocked with the sweet tartness that radiated from the crisp, juicy flay of apple.

Which brings me to my issue with "apples". You know, the rosy, monotone "apples" soldiered up side-by-side and stacked pyramid-style at your local grocer. It's beautiful, yes. I admit nothing makes me happier than a visit to whole foods with neatly stacked produce and spotlessly clean isles. But even a Whole Foods apple just tastes like... flavorless, watery "apple".

Much like my farmers market sweet potato tastes richer and slightly nutty. It might not be as polished and uniform, but it is healthy and you can actually eat the skin because you're not ingesting pesticides.

So leave my apple rippled with yellow, rose, burgundy and pea. Show me where the vine attached to the tree and where it nestled against another, brother apple, vine-ripening to the point of a bruised side where the two hung touching, rib-to-rib.

Spare me the poisonous pesticides and tasteless fruits humorously called "apple". It tastes better and it's saving our earth, our oceans and our bodies.

Monday, September 27, 2010

no impact man

It's been 28 days since I left the urban garden. I want to ride my bike over to check on the progress -- see how the garden has grown with the abundance of sun and rain New York has been experiencing. 

Ethan and I watched an AMAZING documentary a few nights ago that I want to share. It was recommended to us by his Aunt Rachel who is an environmentalist extraordinaire. If you have a Netflix account, you can watch No Impact Man instantly. No Impact Man, or more appropriately No Impact Family, is a documentary that follows a family who live in New York City as they embark on a year with no negative environmental impact. They make no garbage, buy only local food, don't use any form of transportation that isn't self-propelled... it's inspiring. They go as far as not using toilet paper and getting rid of electricity!

I love that I could identify with some of the things that Colin and his family set about doing. I was inspired to be conscious of everything that I do and take my "green" further. Where can I make improvements in my life to help the earth a little bit more? It's so easy to become complacent and make excuses that become your new 'norm'. 

"Oh, I have to use the to-go cup because I always forget my refillable mug..." Or getting your lunch bagged everyday when buying lunch... I often reuse the bags or bring my own when I'm buying lunch; bring reusable grocery bags to fill with fresh produce; simply turning the lights off or turning off the water when brushing my teeth. It all makes a difference! 

What can you do this week to make a difference? You could start by watching this movie and being inspired!! I'm going to bring utensils to work for reusing rather that plastic-consuming!!

Check out No Impact Man's blog here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

the big day

Tomorrow is a big day.

It's my last official day of The Unusual Urban Garden as I know it today. SAD!! I'm still going to come back and harvest some things via my wonderful neighbors. The new tenants are excited about gardening, so that makes me really happy! 

Mica's peeking around the soy beans up top, then my massive mess of cherry tomat's and my wonderfully lopsided growing cucumber! My FIRST cucumber!!

the take over

The vines are taking over! The morning glories have completely consumed my planter bed... that's the first picture -- you can't even tell what that is!! Look closely,  you'll see some collard greens!

Then you have the vines pulling the tomato plant away, all my tomatoes!!

boys and girls get your raffle tickets ready


"One of the most satisfying aspects of growing plants, including cacti and other succulents, is propagation of your plants to share with others, as raffle prizes and for the sales table. "

And there you have it, what more could you really want? Propogate something today for your raffle prize!! Duh!!

I actually haven't officially tried to propogate anything, I just saw off-shoots from the aloe and the spiny thing and put in in this pot from Viv. She thought the middle guy was dead, but really he revived and planted himself sideways... roots just grew right out of his side. I have no idea why he is a he... 

The succulents that I have the most trouble with are the donkey tail. So cool, but they always shed the little bubble leaves. If you look closely, you can see the bubble leaf is bubbling up with tiny little buds. We'll see if they take. Succulents are so easy when you can leave them outside, it's the time indoors that freaks me out because my thumb isn't so green when it comes to winter plant-care. 

Check out tips at

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

pickled piper peppered pickler

The urban garden is really kickin' right now. Check out the curled cucumber! It's really spiky and the spikes are sharp!
The cherry tomatoes are going crazy! I've had 1-3 at a time and it looks like we'll be able to harvest 10 at a time!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, August 14, 2010

cool as a cucumber

Growing food is so cool! Look at these little cukes!! I love how the flowers become a little trumpet announcing the arrival of prickly baby cukers. I am fascinated everyday by the things growing in my urban garden. I love that bees, butterflies and birds find refuge in the mini eco-system that grows back here.

Doesn't the last photo look like it could be a Tim Burton drawing? Maybe he was inspired by gardening!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

complimentary colors

Try this refreshing drink on a hot day - it's delightful. Crushed basil (from the garden), muddled mint and one steeped teabag (I used Mighty Tea, citrus chamomile) in a pitcher of ice. Fill glasses with ice add pomegranate seeds for color. Serve and be cooled.

I have to share complete complimentary colored meal - spinach, baby beets, pom seeds and pine nuts drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Friday, August 6, 2010

one little tomater

My friends Lauren and Viv were the first to try a cherry tomato from the garden. It was wonderfully sweet and juicy. 

As pictured above, the garden is doing well. The morning glories are taking over from the rope trellis I put around the raised garden bed. I blogged about how to diy here. Can you believe the difference?! The white container hanging off the side is filled with bee-friendly plants (more about that here) and I am happy to relay the success of the bee mix - the bees and butterflies love it! The pak choy is exploding, a few cherry tomatoes are ready to be plucked from the vine, cucumber flowers promise some yummy cukes and then a pic of me (courtesy of Viv) cutting the first cherry tomato to share the first taste. Yum! 

Saturday, July 31, 2010

56 hours

Hands That Feed is a documentary film exploring the agricultural collapse in Haiti, its role in the post-earthquake food crisis, and the emerging grassroots development models that seek to restore Haiti's food supply and environment.

If you'd like to understand how your donation will make an impact, here's what the film's Producer has to say:
Why? Because the future of Haiti is still to-be-determined, and billions of dollars of promised funds are yet to be allocated.  YOU can decide how that money is used.  Hands That Feed is a leveraged investment in using media to influence the course of the massive, tax-funded international aid industry toward sustainable agriculture, self-reliance, and ecologically sound rural development.
More Why? Remember in 2007, when food prices spiked, and there were 60 demonstrations and riots around the world, and one government fell? We are heading into a very unstable global situation as the population rockets toward 9 billion, urban centers mushroom, and regional food systems collapse.  This is a simple assessment of the facts.  Haiti was an extreme test-case of these failures right in our backyard.  We need to learn now how to do things better, or else, like it or not, we'll be watching the same footage on repeat as we spend billions to prop up more and more failed states.  
Thank you,

"It was a mistake. I have to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti. The country has the best chance in my lifetime to achieve this objective: to build a modern self-sustaining state. But what it means is that we have to think about our roles in a different way, and how we will play them in this reconstruction process.”
Bill Clinton testifying to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 10, 2010.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

dragon in the sky

I went outside into the garden at dusk to water the plants and hang out in the garden a couple nights ago. What I thought were giant hummingbirds immediately started buzzing past my head. I sat on the porch and watched 5 of the biggest dragonflies I have ever seen fly around the yard for a good 25 minutes. They were still spiraling around when I went in to start dinner. There were some fireflies and a bright red cardinal hanging with us for a bit... who would guess this is Crown Heights Brooklyn? Loving nature in the city. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Progress is being made, even though I thought I lost the bok choy, collards and kale, all are coming back nicely!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

sage bouquet

I made this little bouquet last week when I needed to keep the bad energy out of the house.  Also, these daisies and little yellow flowers are the only flowering plants I have in the yard. It's pretty and fragrant. Plus, I can dry the sage and burn it to stave off bad vibes.

two smoking barrels

Gardening is a little like a Guy Richie film...
Just kidding. But seriously, you've got to fight to keep your plants. Rose and Erin were in Brooklyn this weekend and Rose told me to spread ash around the base of my plants to keep the slugs and snails out. Good thing we have a double barrel smoker in the yard! I also made a perimeter around the base of the containers.... double security system. As you can see from the bottom picture, the collards were destroyed (again) recently.