Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday morning: Mom's coming and making mesh pot scrubbers

Hello and happy Saturday.  Today I'm rushing about trying to get the house cleaned up in preparation for a visit with my mom.  You know how that goes ladies?  Mom's coming, quick, get the chores done!  LOL!  Just like when I was a kid.  I guess some things never change

Today's recycling and living green post is one I did as a guest post over at Going Green Crafters and Artists.  Hop on over there and learn how to make your own pot scrubbers from recycled/repurposed plastic mesh produce bags.  It's easy and 1 mesh bag makes 1 pot scrubber!

Or if you are not the crafty sort, keep you eye on the FatBottomBags STORE.  I'll be selling these along with some other fun and useful recycled items in the near future to go along with my recycled bags!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday -More Things I see

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The times they are a changing

And our island life may be about to change in a big way! 

I live in a small island community in Washington State.  I've been coming to this island my whole life, in fact, my mother went into labor with me here many years ago.  For my lifetime we've had a small 20 car ferry, the Whatcom Chief, that has run a short span from Gooseberry Point to Lummi Island. 

That may be all about to change.  The ferry landing on the mainland side is currently on Lummi Nation land, and there is a negotiation going on between the county and the tribe to determine if the ferry landing will stay on Lummi Tribal land or if it will move, possibly to Bellingham.  The current lease is expiring on February 14th and as of today there is still no public announcement of a resolution to the negotiations.  

So, today our ferry took a test run into Bellingham which may be our temporary solution if they haven't worked out a new lease.  I thought it might be fun to have some photos of the Whatcom Cheif on this new route. 

Going, going still going, she has to run a long way before making the turn into Bellinham Bay

Here she is heading to town.  They got lucky with a beautiful day for a test run, but this long trip could be scary on a stormy day. 

The county crew checking the dock fit for the Victoria Star

Here's the Victoria Star, a passenger only ferry, testing their fit on the dock.  I haven't heard anything official, but I assume there will be some supplimental passenger only runs to Bellingham.

That's Bellingham way off in the distance. 

That's Gooseberry point in the background

Here she is on her run back from town a couple hours later.  This is what we'll be seeing from the deck of the cabin if the route goes permanent to Bellingham.  You can see in the photos that Gooseberry point is a whole lot closer than Bellingham.  The run across to our current ferry dock is about 7 minutes.  The run to Bellingham is about an hour or more depending on the weather.

I'm not sure how this change will affect us.  We already try to limit our trips to town and we really love our life here on Lummi Island.  Hopefully we'll be able to adjust and adapt to whatever the final outcome of this ferry situation is.

No sense in worrying. We'll just have to go with the flow

Monday, January 25, 2010

Greener lawns cleaner waters.

Remember the workshop I was planning to attend last Saturday, Ways of Whales,  sponsered by the Orca Network?  Well my friend Victoria was able to attend and she kindly brought me back a folder of information from the seminar.

I've been going throught the information and learning so much.  Today I wanted to share with you some information I found on a handout regarding having a whale friendly lawn. 

You might ask, "What on earth does my lawn have to do with whales?".

Well when you think about it it does make perfect sense. Living here in the Puget Sound area, we get quite a bit of rain throughout the year.  The runoff from our yards makes it's way into the water table and down storm drains, creeks, streams and rivers eventually winding up in the Sound. If we're using harmful chemicals on our lawns and gardens, then these same chemicals will eventually make their way into the Puget Sound too. On the way they may also be polluting the many creeks and streams that are spawning beds for our wild salmon and steelhead.

So what can we do to keep our lawns green while keeping our local marine life healthy?  Well here are some of the suggestions from the American Cetacean Society Puget Sound Chapter :
  1. Avoid using 'weed & feed' or other herbicide/pesticides.  Instead use an organic slow release fertilizer and fertilize in the spring and fall.  Better for you, your family, your marine mammal friends. 
  2. Avoid deadly chemicals like Diazinon at all costs!
  3. Mow high, mow often and leave your grass clippings on the lawn (mulching mowers are great for this).  Mulched grass clippings left on the lawn may provide up to 25% os your lawns nutrient needs!  Higher lawns hold more moisture, need less watering and create less run off.  Plus the higher grass will be less likely to sprout weeds because the grass creates less light for seeds to germinate on the soil surface.
  4. Aerate your lawn to help water penetrate to the roots where they can absorb the moisture and water less often but more deeply for a healthier lawn.
I've been chemical free in my yard and garden for a long time now and have no complaints.  My garden grows great, my lawn is lush and I feel good knowing I'm not putting harmful chemicals in my yard. 

I even joined up with another promoter of chemical free yards, the Washington Toxics Coalition and proudly dislay my Pesticide Free Zone sign in my yard!

Ok, so maybe your reading this blog from somewhere other than Western Washington and maybe whales aren't your backyard neighbors.  But the same principals apply to your eco system pollution from you yard is going somewhere and chances are it will disturb the delicate system of life around you. 

I hope you will consider going chemical free.  We've become so conditioned to use these chemicals on our yards that many times we don't even give it a second thought.  Or maybe you think that you can't have a green yard or good garden without them.  I'm living proof that you really can.  My garden is 100% chemical free and as you saw in my photo, I'm growing great veggies!  I use compost, worm castings and manure to ammend my soil.  It works!

Ok, so I'm off to watch a Video called Cry of The Bubble Warriors: The Story of the Alska Humpback and learn more about whales. 

Have a great green day!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Silent Sunday

Still on house arrest with my cold.  Don't want to spread it around.  Movies, tea and Theraflu - my company for today. Here's a few nice shots taken at the ferry landing, wish I could be out enjoying the day.  Sigh.

Looking north to Canada

A Lummi crabber pulling pots

Looking west toward Mt Baker

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Skipping Saturday

Today I was scheduled to attend the Ways of Whales  workshop given by the Orca Network   Instead I'm hugging my pillow and watching Netflix from bed.  Stupid cold! Why I get sick when I have plans is one of lifes great mysteries.  Oh well, what can you do?  Here's a shot of an orca I took this summer.

Naturalists can tell the one orca from another by
their unique saddle patch behind the dorsal fin

Interesting Orca fact:  Did you know Orcas, or killer whales aren't really whales at all? They are actually the largest of the dolphins. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Seed Starting in the recyclers garden

Winter is the time of year where all green gardeners spend a lot of time spent pouring over seed catalogs and day dreaming about how perfect next years garden can be.  New and interesting varieties of our favorite vegetables tempt us from the glossy pages.  As spring approaches, alot of us northern gardeners begin to calculate when to start our seedlings indoors to get some extra grow time in the garden.

I'm no exception.  I've been dreaming of rainbow colored swiss chard and white carrots along with purple tomatoes and basil (wouldn't that make an interesting pasta dish), but I may just go back to my tried, true and delicious varieties from years past.  Either way, I'm planning how to get some of these plants started early while still being friendly to the environment and my wallet.

Yesterday I was surfing around the internet and I found a great how to video to make your own seed starting pots from recycled newspaper.  Just be sure to use only the black and white section because the color printed papers can have heavy metals in the inks and you won't want that leaching into your food. 

You'll also want to use either a comercial organic potting soil, or your own mix.  I like to add some finished compost in just to give them a little kick start of nutrients.

Then once the first frost date has passed, harden off your little potted starts and just score the paper pot with a sharp knife to give the roots room to expand then plant pot and all into your organic garden.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Signs of Spring

I almost feel guilty writing this blog..... most of the country has been experiencing heavy snows this last month yet I'm out in my garden in a balmy 50 degree January heat wave finding signs of spring.

Usually I'm over joyed to see the end of winter heralded by the new growth around my yard, but this year I'm nervous. It's only January. There's a lot of winter left on the calendar, but don't tell my plants that. They're ready to grow!

Here's a sedum already popping up with new growth

My biggest concern is that all this tender new growth is going to get hit by a freeze later in the season.  Where I live March can be a deep freeze some years.  Will this be one of those years?  It's hard to say, but if that does happen I'll be kissing all my spring flowers on my shrubs goodbye.  Like this azalea, it's ready to pop right now! 

Azelea buds ready to bloom.  Apparently no one told them this is winter!

This salal may bloom before the bees get here :(
As I was strolling about the yard looking for these buds and signs of growth, I was overcome with a heavenly scent.  What is that?  Oh it's this mystery plant I have out there in the back garden.  It's fragrance is so sweet, like a hybiscus.  This little shrub always blooms first in my yard in the earliest spring.  Usually that's happened at the end of February to beginning of March.  Not this year!  This unassuming burst of sweetness is in full bloom right now! 

Can you identify my mystery shrub?

Well, even if it's too early, I am enjoying these glimpses of spring to come in my garden.  It may even be a good time to plant peas?

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Whale found washed up in Washington still a mystery

If you are a local you may have heard about this on the news already, if not, watch this video from King 5 news..... ( there is some footage from the WMMSN response to a dead Gray Whale from last year)

I'm keeping up with this story on Orca Network and very curious to find out what species this animal is

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Are you guys tired of hearing about my favorite volunteer organization, Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network?  I hope not!  If you're an avid reader of my blog, facebook or twitter page, you already know that I am a volunteer responder for WMMSN.  What you may not already know is that I also volunteer as the webmaster for the site.  It gives me one more way that I can help to spread the word about helping distressed and stranded marine mammals in my local area.

The springtime is historically a busy time for stranding calls.  This is the time of year when our local harbor seals bring their young pups ashore while momma seal goes fishing durring the day.  Typically the mother seal will come back in the night and feed her pup, but sometimes mother is unable to return and little seal pups quickly become dehydrated without intervention.  That's where our group comes into the picture.  We receive calls from all over the county about stranded pups and we respond and assess the situation.   We also respond for other marine mammal calls such as porpoises that may have injuries, or even deceased mammals like the dead Gray Whale we responded to last year.

You may already know, but the little seal pup in my banner atop this page is a response we were called to last summer.  This little pup was stranded for several days on a beach here on Lummi Island.  After we realized that the mother was not returning to feed him at night, we were able to take him to Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation one of the rehab centers that we work with and he was nursed back to health and then released back into the wild to live out his life

Winter time is a slower time for calls, although dead animals can wash ashore at any time of year, and our responders will go out on calls occasionally throughout the winter.   But being a slower season, we are using this time to put our focus on fundraising.  As a non-profit and all volunteer organization, we are in need of financial support to help us help the marine mammals.  Money we raise now will provide the neccessary supplies when we are called out to respond throughout the year.

I've just updated our home page with an option to donate and help our cause.  It's a secure donation through paypal.  You might notice I've added it on the sidebar of this blog as well.  If you are a supporter of this great effort, please consider making a donation large or small.  Every bit helps us to do our job and respond to marine mammals throughout our county.

You may also like to support us by becoming a facebook fan.  We send out periodic updates to your wall and the show of support is encouraging to all of our volunteer members.

Thank you all for your support!

Oh Joy!

I held her until my arm hurt then switched arms!

I enjoyed my time away and visiting with Rhonie and the girls, Daniel and Sydney too, but this precious little bundle in my arms was the reason for my trip off the island.  I love being a grandma and am looking forward to watching little CC grow and become a wonderful human being!  This is the reason to love the earth.  For the future!  For our children and their children too!   xoxoxoxo

Here's the kids.  I remember them when they were tiny babies themselves

GraNana & CC - another generation of love

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Silent Sunday

Thinking of spring :0)

Happy Birthday Emily!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Networking, friends and going green together

Happy Saturday!  Today I want to put out a call for a project I'm working on. is my baby.  It's my small scale plastic bag recycling project and we're looking for green friends who want to be a part of our network.

I recently added a page on the website for Friends of FatBottomBags.  I'm looking for other green folks with sites related to being green who would like to network.  So if you have a green craft site, recycle blog, eco site or some other earth friendly presence on the internet and you're looking to network, please email me with your site address and a graphic (banner, button, logo whatever) and let's link together to get the word out.

Friday, January 15, 2010

More problems with plastic bags

I'm sorry and saddened to be writing this post today. About a month ago a group of 7 sperm whales stranded on the shores of Foggia, Italy where they died. After being examined by the scientists there, it was determined that all 7 died from ingesting plastic bags. Here's a link to the article from United Press International UPI

Sperm whales are majestic creatures.  They normally grow to 50-60 feet and weigh in at 40-50 tons! But sadly plastic bags do not make size discriminations.  Plastic bags floating in the ocean are mistaken for food by many sea creatures.  They can resemble squid and jellyfish and they are consumed by wildlife.  Once consumed they can become entangled in the digestive tract of the animal and the animal dies as was the case with this group of sperm whales.

Here's a short video from the National Geographic chanel on YouTube

People we've got to realize that our oceans are not dumping grounds!  We need to become more aware of these plastic bags and where they are winding up.  I've read estimates that 80% of the plastic debris in our oceans has washed out from land through storm drains, creeks, streams and rivers.   They seem harmless enough lying about on land, but once these plastic bags make their way into our oceans, they become the right hand of death!

I fully support ideas like plastic bag bans and taxes to help us all reduce our use of plastic bags and help prevent further tragedies from taking place like these poor sperm whales.  The beautiful diversity of wildlife on our planet should not suffer for our convenience!

Plastic is not fantastic!
Ban the Bag!
Bring your own bag!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Respect the Earth!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Let's send help to Haiti

This morning Ben came down from the bedroom to find me hard at work on some new bags.  Unusual, he said, the one morning I  didn't find you on the computer with your coffee and I need you to get on there right away and make a donation for us to the Red Cross!

He's a good man, my honey!  So I quickly set aside my recycle work and jumped over to the Red Cross website and made a donation to help the victims of the Hatian earthquake.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not telling this story to toot our horn, or rub it in what a great man I have.  No, my real purpose is to spread the word about how we can all help those who are suffering from this disaster.

The Red Cross has a great secure website donation page where you can make a donation from $10 up and all the money raised is used to help internationally.

Wordless Wednesday


Don't forget to enter the drawing for a free Mini-bag by FatBottomBags.  Will be drawing the winner on Friday 1/15/10.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Break over and back to work

It was lovely to take a break from bags for a couple weeks.  That's the thing when you work for yourself, seems like you never take time off.  I know that's true for me.  But this year I decided it was important to give myself a break, a Christmas vacation of sorts.  It was nice, but now that we're into the second week of the new year I knew it was time to refocus on my crafting for a greener planet.

So if you are a new reader and don't know about my FatBottomBags,  they are all made from recycled plastic shopping bags that I collect from friends and family. My goal is to save as many of those rotten plastic bags from going into the waste stream as possible.  I cut them all up and sort them by color and then crochet them into one of a kind purses, backpacks and totebags.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours sorting and cutting 500 newly contributed plastic bags.  Then I went on to start on some new bags and purses for the store.  I worked on a new purse all evening and finished it off this morning. So here's what I've been up to:

This is one of my totes.  They're a great size for reusable shopping bags

This cute little purse is the latest Bee bag I've made.

Ok, so now it's on to some more domestic chores like finish the laundry and grocery shopping! 

Have a great GREEN day!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Facebook Fan Appreciation Giveaway!

So much for silence this Sunday.  I tried to make it a photo only blog day and take a blogging break..... but when I went over to post the link on our Facebook fan page I was plesantly suprised to see over 600 smiling faces of fans staring back at me.  600 + fans of recycling and recycled bags!  Yay!  This seems like a cause for celebration!  What better way to celebrate than a GIVEAWAY!

Ok so I have to admitt, I've been slacking a little on bags since Christmas.  I took a little bag break to work on some crochet projects for my new *beautiful* granddaughter.   This means the store front is still currently empty (shame on me) and I don't have any large bags completed for a giveaway right now.  What I do have is one very cute Mini-bag.  Mini-bags are great as a small handbag or even a lunch tote.

This cutie was made from 30+ recycled plastic bags!

It's all in the details and this one has a cute little flower!

  If you would like to win this cute little bag here's the details:
  • You must be a Facebook Fan
  • Then just leave a comment on this blog posting and tell me what you are doing to make a greener earth for the future (examples:  I recycle regularly, I ride my bike to work, I changed my bulbs to CFLs.  Or any other things you do to help)
I'll draw a random winner from the comments on Friday, January 15th and announce it on the Facebook page and here on the blog. Good luck and thank you again for being a fan, a follower and an inspiration!
This contest is now CLOSED!

Silent for Sunday

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Yay for baby orcas!

So those of you who know me, know that marine mammals are an important part of my life.  My uncle John and my good friend Victoria both work on the Island Caper, an orca watch boat out of Bellingham, WA. I've had the pleasure of taking the trip out 3 times and each time have been brought to tears by the majestic beauty of our backyard neigbors.

Island Mariner Cruises has their own spotter plane to find the orcas!

I also volunteer with a group of wonderful dedicated folks with the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network, I subscribe to several orca newsletters including my favorite Orca Network and I cruise the internet regularly looking for marine mammal news! 

One of my shots from the whale watch.  For better photos visit the Orca Network
One interesting thing about our resident orcas is that they are distinctly different from the transient orcas, or killer whales, that feed on other marine mammals. Our local pods feed on a diet of salmon, they have their own distinct language and do not inter-breed with the transients. The orcas that you see in aquariums like SeaWorld, were captured and taken from our local waters. For more information on Orcas in captivity and other orca knowledge, check out the American Cetacean Society (ACS) webpage.

This year there's been a baby boom amongst the resident pods!  Here's an article in our local paper, The Bellingham Herald, discussing the theories as to why the increase in population may be occurring.  Whatever the reason I say, "YAY for baby orcas!".

On 2 of my 3 trips out orca watching, we had baby orcas that approached the boat.  They are so curious about the world around them!  I wish I had some better photos to share, but I was so enthralled when this happened that I just set the camera down and enjoyed the show. 

So happy after seeing the orcas!

I've said it before and I'll say it again because it is true......... I am truely blessed to live in the beautiful pacific northwest where the beauty of nature and wildlife is so close at hand.  For that I can live with the rain and many days of grey.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Color me Happy!

First off, my sincere thanks to Julia over at Easy Eco To Go for nominating me for the Happy 101 Award! Be sure to check out her great blog! 

So here's how it works:

If you've been listed in the 10 bloggers that make me happy and you want to participate simply blog your own list of 10 things that make you happy. Try to do at least one of them today.  Then you can tag 10 other bloggers that brighten your day. If you choose to participate, please link back to my blog!

So here are my 10 things that make me happy!

1.  My Honey:  The best thing about our relationship is we make each other laugh a lot and that makes me happy.  Ben is my buddy and best friend and I enjoy hanging out together being dorks and having fun whatever we're up to.  This photo was us at the fruit stand this October.  As you can see, even something simple like buying produce can turn into a goof fest!!!

Yes, he's a goof ball, but he's MY goofball!

2.  My Family And Wonderful Friends:  Scattered up and down the West Coast, we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like.  Even still,  we remain close,  loving and supporting each other and they make me happy!

3.  Echo the Eco dog:  Echo is my 4 legged best friend and constant companion.  I can't imagine life without him.  He's a hoot to hang out with and a source of many smiles and lots of laughter.  Even on a bad day, Echo somehow coaxes a giggle out of me.

Hello Handsome!

4.  The beach:  I don't care if it's gravel, sand or cliff side... I LOVE the beach!  There's something about sitting on the shore, smelling the salty air and listening to the lap of the waves that washes away any worries of the day and takes me back to the basics of just being.  So you can see why I live on an island.  That makes me happy!

5.  Recycling:  It might be a chore for some, but for me it's a lifestyle,  a purpose and a calling and that makes me happy!  With I've recycled over 4500 plastic bags!

6.  Gardening!  It's in my blood.  My mother is a gardener and my Grandpa Ken was a gardener too.  I can't not garden.  Even when I was traveling, I was gardening.  Yep, I was that backpacking lady you saw pulling weeds at the local park and in those parking lot beds around the trees.  LOL!  Now days I have my own beautiful organic veggie garden and an herb and flower patch too!  I love it!

My best tomato of the year was over 1 pound and 100% organic!

7.  Volunteering!  My best advice to anyone who wants to improve their life is just find something you love, then look for a group working in that area and volunteer to help!  Believe me, this will really improve your quality of life.  For me it's this fine group of volunteers at the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network  Volunteering to help with something I care about and interacting with others who have similar concerns has given me "porpoise" in life!

Chitenango the harbor seal after rehabilitation! 
Here's his first swim after returning to his natural habitat.

8.  Being creative and being around others who are creative.  It's just who I am.  I have to be creative in some way, whether it's drawing, photography, craft, crochet, goofing with song lyrics or cooking I can't be happy until I'm releasing some form of my creativity.  Being around others who are creative is inspiring for me too!

Making art with abandon! Anything can be a canvas for creativity.

9.  Nature:  I'm lucky to live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where interacting with nature and wildlife is a part of daily life.  We get deer, birds, chipmunks and racoons right in my backyard.  I've seen seals and orcas on the other side of the island, and a walk on the beach could have a suprise glimpse of a river otter or bald eagle like this one that we saw at church beach this spring.

This bald eagle allowed us to approach it up to about 20 feet.
Nature and wildlife make me happy!

10.   Being a grandma!  My life changed this year on 1/1/10.   I watched as my son transitioned from my baby to a having his own baby.  Wow!  What an experience.  Now I'm someones grandma!  I have such wonderful memories of my grandparents and the special relationship we had and now I get to be CC's grandma.  What a gift.  Welcome to the world Cielo.  I'm looking so forward to getting to watch you grow up!  You make me happy!

Love at first sight!

I nominate these bloggers for the happy award because reading their blogs makes me happy!

1.   Maggie at Square Pennies:  She's always blogging with interesting links, recipes and how tos.    
2.   Krista at Look Ma No Patterns:  She's so creative and it makes me happy to see others creating on the fly
3.   Disney at ~Ruffles and Stuff~:  She's so cute and creative too!  Somehow she can turn a dollarstore purchase into a million dollar craft!
4.   Rose at Really RoseA friend, fellow blogger and volunteer with WMMSN  She's blogging about her garden, her love of nature, local events, great recipes and all kinds of interesting things.
5.   Vicki at Runway Crochet:  She is not blogging often, but she's active on her facebook page everyday and always there to help new crafters to network with other creative people!
6.   Kristy at Textiles 4 youKristy is so awesome!  She's working through her blog and her youtube channel to promote recycle crafting and sustainable living!
7.   Jan at Create It-GREEN:  She's another recycle crafter being creative for a greener planet!
8.   Compost Woman at The Compost Bin:  She's keeping the garden spirit alive even in the dreary winter months!
9.   Shannon at The Stay At Home Girlfriend:  Shannon blogs about her life in general.  She has a great attitude and gives me a laugh when I read her fun and honest blog!
10.  Elz at Elz Comyns' DIY:  Elz is blogging about her green life and crafts along with really helpful photography tips.


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