"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud." ~ Emile Zola

29 April 2011

Tips for Earth Month and My New Upcycled Fabric Acessories!

April is not only Earth Day, but Earth Month, a great time to learn more about how to live a life that is kinder to the planet and minimizes our consumption of resources and impact on the environment.

Choosing to DIY is a terrific way to reduce personal impact. Make your own whenever possible! :) A little resourcefulness and research will allow you to create your own unique version of pretty much anything, and doing so reduces consumption from manufacturing and waste through using recycled, repurposed, upcycled, or reclaimed materials! Do-it-yourself when designing, creating, building, and crafting!

This leads me to talk up my latest creations on the handmade front. I've been spending time designing cuff bracelets using lovely old buttons and pieces, scraps, and remnants of vintage & antique fabrics, laces and trim, and ribbons. Old feed sack, pieces of crazy quilt, dress remnants, old linens, scraps of lace and trim- all of it is lots of fun to create with. It's been fun to dig into the collection of pretty lace and linens I've been building. Vintage pretties are a huge weakness.

Here's a photo with some examples. Come and see more this Saturday, April 30th, at my table at Mt Lebanon's Earth Day Celebration!

Here are a few other tips I personally use to live sustainably. We have reduced our household waste to one kitchen trash bag per week since adopting some of these practices!

Choose just one or two to start with, or a few that make the most sense to you. And although making them a regular habit is best, doing them just whenever when you can is still awesome!

* Recycle everything!
Recycle everything possible in your area: glass & plastic, aluminum and tin, corrugated cardboard, paper board, newspaper, office paper, magazines, junk mail, phone books, electronics, batteries, cork, ink cartridges (most office supply stores), and more. Not every area has curbside recycling, and curbside recycling doesn't always pick up all of these things. But most areas have recycling centers where much of the above can be taken.
Earth 911 is an excellent website that allows you to find your local recycling center and look up where to recycle anything you can imagine. Also, be sure to purchase products only in containers that are recyclable in your region.

* Compost.
Composting reduces solid waste being added to landfills and sent to incinerators & makes that waste a useful product while rebuilding the soil and enriching the earth, our gardens, and landscapes. Create compost from yard trimmings and household food waste (plant-based only). There are loads of
how-to guides out there. :)

* Reuse shipping supplies.
Save bubble wrap, boxes, and envelopes from your own packages to send your new mail, both personal and business. Remove or cover old postage and postal markings and tape or stick on a new label. Cover any commercial markings on cardboard boxes. Use brown paper bags inside out to wrap boxes or black out writing. Make your own boxes with old cereal boxes!

* Purchase groceries with very little or no packaging.
When buying food, go for as little packaging and wrapping as possible. Buy fresh produce singly rather than in pre-wrapped multiples. Buy the largest container of an item that you can carry and afford, such as the jumbo-size laundry detergent rather than the smaller bottles. Buy in bulk at local grocery stores (may take some research to find one), and if possible, take your own recycled and reusable containers in which to carry the bulk items.

* When possible, walk, bike, or use public transportation instead of driving.
Bike to work, take the bus to an appointment, walk to the movies or the grocery store. Besides reducing energy consumption, walking and biking are great exercise!

* Garbage responsibly.
Many things we throw away can be harmful to wildlife or the environment. Use care when throwing away to
minimize danger to animals, and make sure chemicals and other potentially hazardous household waste items are taken to proper sites for discarding.

* Eat organic and local.
There are countless reasons to choose
organic and local as often as possible. The Eat Well Guide offers a great resource for finding sustainable food sources near you.

* Go veg!
Going vegan is one of the most important and influential actions a person can take to reduce their impact on the planet. Going vegetarian also has an enormous positive effect on the environment. Eating a meatless, plant-based diet even one meal or day per week can reduce environmental degradation in countless ways.
Read about why going vegetarian is the easiest and quickest way to lower your carbon footprint, reduce pollution, and save energy and water. And see why the United Nations report agrees.

* Grow an organic garden.
Commercial farming creates large amounts of industrial pollution, and non-organic farming degrades the soil, water supply, and land. According to
eHow Home, growing your own food reduces pollution, adds biodiversity and improves air quality, and is more nutritious! Making your garden organic makes food safer and healthier for humans and other living beings and the planet.

* Pick up litter.
If you go for walks, take along a bag and a pair of puncture- and water-resistant gloves to pick up recyclables and trash you pass along the way. Make the environment safer and prettier!

* Use a dishwasher.
According to
Treehugger, using dishwasher uses only half the energy and one-sixth of the water than does hand washing dishes, and also uses less soap. Using the "light" cycle uses even less water, and letting dishes air dry rather than heat dry uses less energy. Also try to wait until the dishwasher is full before running a cycle to wash less often.

* Use cold water for laundry and dishes.
Both use less energy then using hot water, which requires heating. Line drying over using a dryer when washing clothes is another way to use less energy.

* Give away or repurpose unwanted possessions rather than tossing them.
Reduce landfill waste, consume less, and lessen the environmental impact of manufacturing new goods. Instead of throwing away what you no longer want or need, donate to charity thrift stores, give away items on
Freecycle.com, sell used belongings in your local paper or on craigslist, or find a friend or family member who may want what you don't.

27 April 2011

Quote of the Week- "One" is Still One Who Can Take Action

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do."

~Edward Everett Hale

26 April 2011

Backyard Visitors- Spring Arrivals!

The past couple of weeks and the warmer weather has brought out all sorts of furry and feathered visitors to our yard. :)

The first bunny sighting of the year happened yesterday(we told her she was a day late, but she didn't seem very concerned).

We've said good-bye to the darling Dark-eyed Junco that spet the winter with us. But the Cardinal pair that returns to us every year is back and we have new residents! A sweet pair of Titmice returns each evening, as does a pair of Nuthatch (I'm pretty sure) who has moved into our pine tree. :) And several types of woodpeckers have made an appearance. I love spring!

Bye little Juncos!

These Titmice photos are kinda crappy, but its so hard to get pics of them- they flit around so fast! Plus I always seem to get to my camera too late! :/ Look in the tippy top upper left corner of this one to see this little one...

Another Titmouse! So cute. I love their little plumes!

Our newest residents- I am pretty certain they are Nuthatch!

21 April 2011

World Week for Animals in Laboratories 2011- What You Don't Know Will Hurt Them

Every day, millions of animals are tortured in research labs, enduring painful tests that cause intense physical, mental, and emotional pain. During World Week for Animals in Laboratories Week 2011 (WWAIL), please take time to honor the lives of these animals and consider ways that you can play a part in reducing their needless suffering.

Tens of millions of animals like primates, bunnies and other rodents, cats, and dogs are dissected, infected, injected, gassed, burned and blinded in the name of science. Completely against their will, they are forced to suffer unspeakable experiments. In the US alone, 28 million lab animals suffer each year; 18 million of those are killed. But those are just the ones we know about, as federal law does not require the reporting of such numbers. Add in Canada, England, and the Netherlands, and nearly 5 million more endure the same horrid existence.

Given recent growth in awareness of the plight of animals at the hands of humans, it's shameful and surprising that there are no laws in place to prevent cruel testing on live beings. The laws that are in place (like the Animal Welfare Act) set guidelines merely for how animals are treated before and after the actual testing. Animal testing is not required by law, yet companies persist in the immorality of it despite
viable alternatives to it that reduce suffering, reduce the number of animals "needed" for testing, or eliminate using animals as subjects altogether.

Please learn the truth about animal testing and choose to support only companies that do not test. Shop and support cruelty-free.

Leaping Bunny Compassionate Shopping Guide

Directory of Cruelty-Free Companies

Other ways you can fight animal cruelty in the form of animal testing:

* Learn about it and stay informed. Visit these websites for more information about animal testing (all were sources for the info in this post):
The Truth About Vivisection
Vivisection Information network
National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS)

* Spread awareness at every opportunity to friends, family, etc. via Facebook and Twitter, blogging, and emails.

* Take action politically- contact
your officials through letters encouraging them to support legislation against testing and for improvement of animal welfare legislation. Know your candidates' views on the issues and vote for those who are on the side of the animal welfare and advocacy.

* Join
and/or follow the activities of animal advocacy groups.

* Sign petitions online, an increasingly powerful tool in the fight against animal cruelty and other issues. Good places to start: Care2's
Petition Site has a comprehensive list, as does Change.org.

* Write to companies, universities, and other entities that emply animal testing to encourage them to stop testing. Let them know that you won't support or patronize them unless they stop. You can start with
this list of major companies that test.

20 April 2011

Quote of the Week: To Act or not to Act?

‎"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little."

~Edmund Burke

19 April 2011

Peace in an Unexpected Place

I've always associated cemeteries with sadness and grief, with creepy noises and spirits at unrest, with darkness and fear. I've had friends who loved to do rubbings of gravestone inscriptions in very old grave yards, but I never understood the appeal until last year when T and I ventured off of our hiking trail into Homewood Cemetery near Frick Park in Pittsburgh.

So anyway, on to our walk...

We discovered a quiet, serene world where birds sing, deer and groundhogs play, and squirrels chase one another. Beautiful trees and flowers, rolling landscape and lots of green. A gothic beauty and sense of history and mystery. Refuge. Walking there, unexpectedly, is peaceful. There, I feel connected to the earth, the cycle of life, a universal spirit, and to myself. It's become a favorite place.

Home to 600 trees and a lily pond, Homewood cemetery is unique in that buried there are people of all religions and ethnicities and social classes. There is a Chinese section, and Jewish, Muslim, Quaker, Greek Orthodox and Indian sections. Military veterans, members of law enforcement, fire protection and emergency rescue are recognized for their contribution to society in a special dedicated section, the “Garden of Honor.” Founded in 1878, people are still being buried there even today. It makes for a kind of history book.

14 April 2011

Earth Day Sale!

Friday, April 22nd is Earth Day 2011! In honor of our majestic planet, SilentLotus Creations is having sale!

Sunday, April 17th- through Sunday, April 24th, save 20% off your entire purchase when you use the coupon code EARTHLOVE. When you check out, there is a place to type in the code for instant savings! All purchases made during the sale will also receive a free gift of an upcycled fabric brooch! :)

P.S. This blog post was featured in EBSQ Friday Five (news from the EBSQ artist blogosphere)! :D Please stop by and comment! :)

05 April 2011

An Amazing Visitor!

We were thrilled a couple of days ago when we noticed a female Cooper's Hawk dining on a fresh meal in our backyard! :D She was absolutely beautiful, and transfixing to watch despite the fact that she was tearing apart her prey. :/ Have a look at both the picture and video (kind of long, but at least watch a few seconds)!

Please Vote for My Bunny Locket!

My new bunny locket is entered in the latest EtsyVeg creative challenge! Yay! :) The locket is called, "Hush Little Bunny" and is near the bottom of the poll on the EtsyVeg blog. Please vote for me!

THANK YOU for your support!