Monday, August 23, 2010

"America, the land of the free and home of the brave."


“America, the land of the free and home of the brave.”

What do you think about when you hear that? Do you think of Corporate America, do you think of Obama, George Bush, or even George Washington? Do you think of white America? Or do you see a diverse culture with a blend of races and religion?

What I see is a collaboration of people, not color or religion, I see free people exercising their rights to be free and pursue their dreams. Growing up I was taught that people are human beings, and nothing more. The one distinction between us all was our unique ability to form an opinion different than one another. There has never been any other difference; our opinions mold our beliefs and who we are as human beings. Not our race, our religion, or our sexual preference. Those things have only become an issue in today’s society because of what one person thought, and the others who agreed with them!

If you take a close look, we all look different, but we have many similarities. The same can be said of religion. No one religion is exactly like another, but there are many similarities. Recently, I have seen many of my peers, friends, and family justifying why it is okay to support the extreme, right-winged Sarah Palin and other radical conservative republican’s in suppressing a Muslim Mosque from being constructed 2-3 blocks away from Ground Zero.

Before I get head deep in discussion, I’d like to point out several statistics and facts.

Population of Muslim’s living in NYC: 650,000
Number of Mosque’s in NYC: 200 (roughly)

The reason for the Mosque to be built in the now, very controversial area of NYC, is because the other two Mosque’s in the area (one 5 blocks away and the other about a dozen) are overflowing with Muslim’s looking for a place pray and worship in an area where they work and live. “Muslims now represent one of the fastest growing religious communities in New York City.” Said Peter Awn, co-principal investigator and Columbia University Dean of the School of General Studies.

The death toll of the 9/11 attacks was 2,995, including the 19 hijackers. The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of over 70 countries. 2,669 were Americans of many races and religions. Here is a list of the names of the victims:


Now, if I wanted to find out who died in the year 2010 on the Internet, I could simply go to Wikipedia and search deaths in 2010. The information that I am able to view on that web page includes the persons name, their age, what they did for a living, the religion they practiced, and how they died. Now, not all entries are the same, of which a large majority shows the religion they practiced. But when I search the list of victims on 9/11, I am unable to view their religion, where they worked, or their age. This strikes me as odd only because of the 2,669 American’s that died, not all of them were white American’s. Many were Mexican, Australian, British, Canadian, and Islamic among many other nationalities who practiced many different types of religions. As do the 300,000,000 million American’s countrywide.

9/11 is a sensitive subject to talk about, but with the help of Sarah Palin, the hottest topic about 9/11 these days is about the Muslim Mosque looking to be built 2-3 blocks away from Ground Zero. What baffles me the most isn’t that some of the 650,000 Muslim’s living in NYC want to build a Mosque 2-3 blocks away from Ground Zero to meet the needs of Muslim’s who want to practice their religion, but rather our nations reaction to it!

Presidents like George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson defended the right to religious freedom. Jefferson wrote in his autobiography, “[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom… was finally passed,… a singular proposition proved that it is protection of opinion was meant to be universal.” However, not all politicians were pleased with the religious neutrality of the Constitution, which prohibited any religious test. Anti-Federalists in the 1788 North Carolina ratifying convention opposed the new constitution; one reason was the fear that some day Catholics or Muslims might be elected president. I wonder how they’d feel about Obama being our president today?

Out of that bill, came the 1st Amendment right to practice any religion we want, where we want, when we want. Without others telling us that we cannot, including our government. I’m sure many of the reader’s ancestors were trying to avoid political and religious oppression when they fled to N. America a few hundred years ago. Of that rebellion hundreds, thousands, hundred of thousands, and hundred of millions of people who now live in America practice whatever religion they please, except Muslim’s today in NYC. They’re being wrongly judged for their religion, linking them to the terrorist group who attacked on 9/11.

In a 2007 survey, 53% of American Muslims reported that it was more difficult to be a Muslim after the 9/11 attacks. Asked to name the most important problem facing them, the options named by more than ten percent of American Muslims were discrimination (19%), being viewed as a terrorist (15%), public's ignorance about Islam (13%), and stereotyping (12%). 54% believe that the U.S. government's anti-terrorism activities single out Muslims. 76% of surveyed Muslim Americans stated that they are very or somewhat concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism around the world, while 61% express a similar concern about the possibility of Islamic extremism in the United States.

What I am seeing today by many citizens of the “American” public is a discrimination against Muslim’s wishing to practice their religion, which reminds me of American’s believing that all Japanese people in America in 1941-42 were Japanese spies and held in Internment Camps. (Some 110,000 who resided on the Pacific coast and 150,000 who lived in Hawaii.) What happens if we (being the radical extremists against the Mosque) are successful in stopping it from being built? Are we going to ask that all Mosque’s in America be destroyed? Are we going to continue our hate crimes against Muslim’s because of an irrational and brainwashed fear from our government that all Muslim’s attacked us on 9/11?? Saying that this Mosque affects anyone is like saying that every Muslim was responsible for 9/11!

Now, in the aftermath of a tragic event that occurred 9 years ago, we are continuing the hate and discrimination of Muslim’s by telling them where they can practice their religion, or better stated, where they cannot practice.

The Islamic Extremist Group, Al-Qaeda, that attacked NYC, the Pentagon, and aimed at Washington D.C. were just that, an extremist group of individuals from a particular country and religion. They are an extreme group, just as the KKK and Nazi’s were an extreme group, just as Sarah Palin is an extreme Republican.

A peer of mine stated that, “How would the Japanese feel if we put up a Harry S. Truman statue in Hiroshima?” I believe that her comparison is like comparing apples to oranges. A Mosque isn’t a memorial to the 9/11 attacks, it is not a statue of Osama Bin Laden. It is nothing more than a place of worship, just like the many other churches, temples, and synagogues in the surrounding area of Ground Zero. It is ignorance and fear that breeds this type of thinking, just as comparing this Mosque to a Nazi memorial in Israel. It is embarrassing that fellow American’s believe that they are even remotely related.

It wasn’t Muslim’s that attacked America that day. Many Muslim’s live and work in America, many of them died in the 9/11 attacks as well. For instance, take Salman Hamdani. The 23-year-old New York City police cadet was a part-time ambulance driver, incoming medical student, and devout Muslim. When he disappeared on September 11, law enforcement officials came to his family, seeking him for questioning in relation to the terrorist attacks. They allegedly believed he was somehow involved. His whereabouts were undetermined for over six months, until his remains were finally identified. He was found near the North Tower, with his EMT medical bag beside him, presumably doing everything he could to help those in need. His family could finally rest, knowing that he died the hero they always knew him to be.

He worked alongside the total of 411 emergency workers who responded to the scene died as they attempted to rescue people and fight fires. The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) lost 341 firefighters and 2 FDNY paramedics. The New York City Police Department lost 23 officers. The Port Authority Police Department lost 37 officers, and 8 additional EMTs and paramedics from private EMS units were killed.

20% of American’s knew someone who died in the 9/11 attacks, so I understand the pain that they feel for their lost loved ones, friends, and co-workers. But I also feel as if part of our healing process is learning to accept and love our fellow citizens and unite our differences instead of dividing by race and religion.

Just to clarify, no mosque is going up at ground zero. The Mosque would be established at 45-51 Park Place, just over two blocks from the northern edge of the sprawling, 16-acre World Trade Center site. Its location is roughly half a dozen normal lower Manhattan blocks from the site of the North Tower, the nearer of the two destroyed in the attacks.

The center's location, in a former Burlington Coat Factory store, is already used by the cleric for worship, drawing a spillover from the imam's former main place for prayers, the al-Farah mosque. That mosque, at 245 West Broadway, is about a dozen blocks north of the World Trade Center grounds.

Another interesting aspect of the Mosque being built 2-3 blocks away from Ground Zero is the Non-denominational facility that is built within the Pentagon over the rubble left behind when the American Airlines Flight slammed into the Pentagon. “The men pushed back the altar for Christian services to make room for their large green prayer rugs’ then they moved the podium from one side of the room to the other so that the congregation would be facing Mecca. And it is impossible not to think of the terrorist attack in the chapel, as there is a memorial leading to it with a list of names of the victims. “United in memory, September 11, 2001.” Muslim’s, along with Christians, Jews, and Hindu’s have been praying at the chapel since 2002.

There has never been a debate about Muslim’s praying in the Pentagon as there is in NYC. No Muslim’s were killed at the Pentagon, but at least 27 Muslim’s were killed in NYC. According to Army statistics, of the more than 1 million serving in the Army, there are 1,977 active-duty Muslims, 603 Muslim reservists and 464 National Guardsmen who are Muslim. Six Muslim chaplains serve them.

I found an article about the construction of the Mosque, and I fondly appreciate the quotes from a potential 2012 presidential candidate and former House Speaker New Gingrich. To me, this just goes to show how na├»ve people are about Muslim’s, about 9/11, and how people like Newt use their power of influence over the general public of America to sway our thoughts to those of radical extremists, just like the Nazi’s, KKK, and Al-Qaeda.

“The folks who want to build this mosque — who are really radical Islamists who want to triumphally prove that they can build a mosque right next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists — those folks don't have any interest in reaching out to the community. They're trying to make a case about supremacy." — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a potential 2012 presidential candidate.

(Hey Newt, triumphally is not a word, maybe you meant triumphantly! Don’t go all Bush Jr. on me!)

"Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There's no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center." — Gingrich.

"There should be no mosque near ground zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. ... America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization." — Gingrich.

And the very lovely, Ron McNeil, a House GOP candidate had this to say,

"This religion's plan is to destroy our way of life. ... If we have to let them build it, make them build it nine stories underground, so we can walk above it as citizens and Christians." — Ron McNeil

I’m pretty sure that our forefathers are rolling in their graves at the disgusting acts of our political ignorance, our misuse of power, and misguided information.  As a U.S. Citizen, it is embarrassing for me to learn what some of our leaders have to say about this issue. Not to mention that my fellow peers share these opinions!!

Since when are we to judge another person because of their religion? Should I judge all Christian’s based off of Ron McNeil’s quote? I could take the stance that all Christian’s believe Muslim’s are destroying our way of life. It would be absurd to do such a thing, if you ask me!

I recently posted a link to an article that showed different businesses the same distance away from Ground Zero as the Mosque would be, which included places like strip clubs, off-track betting, and bars. But what it didn’t list was the “other” places of worship in the Ground Zero area:

Less than 1 block away or sharing the street with Ground Zero:
-St. Peters Roman Catholic Church
-St. Paul’s Chapel
-St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church

Let’s move to 1-2 blocks away:
-Battery Park Synagogue
-Trinity Church

2-3 blocks away:
-St. Joseph’s Church
AND
-The possible Mosque on 45-51 Park Place.

(I’m going to go ahead and guess that I’ve missed a few churches, temples, and synagogues and I apologize ahead of time. I was using google maps of the Ground Zero area to find the local worship centres.)

I will end with a few questions, which I’d like you to ask yourself and truly allow yourself to view this subject from all angles.

What if you were Muslim, a hard-working, honest, loyal Muslim? What if the attackers from 9/11 were radical Christian’s, Catholics, Baptists, Lutherians, Jews, Hindu’s, Atheists, Pagans, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, or Unitarians? Would you want to be discriminated against? Would you want to be accused of terrorism? Would you want hate crimes against you or in your neighborhood because you were a certain religion? Would you want to be told that you cannot build a place of worship because it means you are radical extremists who are rubbing your triumph of the deaths of American’s in America’s face?

Muslim’s didn’t ask to be racially profiled, they didn’t ask Al-Qaeda to attack America and NYC where they lived and worked, they didn’t ask to be discriminated against, and they sure as hell don’t deserve the treatment our country is giving them for the actions of few radical extremists.

Part of our Constitution allows us to be free. We’re the one of the only countries that has that kind of freedom, and we can’t let terrorists make us give that up! We aren’t really the home of the brave if we allow fear to guide our actions, be brave and unite as one country, one land of the free.

"The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war." –George Bush Jr., stated after 9/11 at a Mosque in Washington D.C.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why I HATE Plastic...

I'll get right to the point, here several reasons why I HATE plastic:

Reason #1: Since the 1950's, one billion tons of plastic has been discarded and may persist for hundreds or even thousands of years. Much is floating around in our oceans, last I heard it was twice the size of Texas floating around in the Pacific.



Reason #2: Unfortunately, recycling of plastics has proven to be a difficult process. Under 7% of discarded plastic is currently recycled in the U.S.

Reason #3: Plastic is resistant to biodegradation, thus it will remain on the Earth long enough to become my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren's problem to solve.

Plastic is in every aspect of our lives at home, at work, at hospitals, at school, and the list goes on and on. What frightens me is that there are chemicals that leach from the plastic that can be potentially harmful to our health, such as Bisphenol-A (which is found in water bottles and baby bottles) as well as Polystyrene (PS or Styrofoam.) 

As a society, we don't question the products put on shelves for us to purchase. Instead, we put trust into companies in hopes that our best interests are being looked after, such as our health and well-being, though many of the chemicals used in making plastic are suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) or suspected carcinogens. Though most of us are blindly faithful to plastic and all that it has to offer, convenience and easy accessibility. 

Here are a few alternative products that will reduce or eliminate plastic from your life.

Reusable Water Container: Sigg reusable containers are also recyclable, as they are made from 100% pure aluminum. Does aluminum scare you away because of the suspected link to Alzheimer's? Don't be, the interior coating is unbreakable, even if the exterior is dented... it will not break the coating, nor will your liquids touch the aluminum.

"About 1.5 million tons of plastic are used in the bottling of 89 billion litres of drinking water each year." -The Green Book

Another alternative to water bottles is a water filter. By utilizing the water from your tap, which has higher standards for clean water than bottled, you are saving not only plastic waste from our planet but you're saving the use of millions of barrels of petroleum from being used AND keeping toxins out of your body!

Un-plastic Your Kitchen: I have long loved Evelyn Fields and her passion to keep plastic out of her kitchen. Evelyn also has an Etsy store where she sells reusable eco-bags for snacks and sandwiches, as well as napkins, bread bags, and coffee filters!! Not only will you eliminate plastic from your kitchen by using reusable bags, you'll save money too!


Another way to dispose of unnecessary plastic is to use glass straws instead of plastic ones. Straws are as useless as chop sticks, we use them once and throw them away, wasting plastic that will take hundreds or thousands of years to biodegrade. 

Straws by Carli are lifetime guaranteed, which means if it breaks she'll send you a new one. They're made out of Pyrex, which means they are microwave and dishwasher safe but can break if dropped. (Just like any glass.)

I love that she puts bends in some of them!!


Glass containers: This is a no-brainer for me, as chemicals will likely leach from the container into the food and where do you think the chemicals go once they're in our food?? If the product suggests not to microwave food in a plastic container... it's likely that it isn't safe to store your food in a plastic container as well. 

Take out containers: When you eat out at a restaurant, other than asking for TAP water instead of bottled water, ask for minimal containers to take your leftovers home in. (If possible, request that your container not be stored in styrofoam.) This is the fastest growing cause of plastic waste currently in the U.S. and if you're not going to eat the leftover food, instead of having the restaurant throw it away, ask for it all to be put in a cardboard container and take the food home to dump in your compost pile!! (You have compost piles, right?) ;)

Reusable shopping bags: This has become increasingly popular in the last couple of years, and throughout Ontario it costs you money if you forget your reusable bags and have to resort to plastic. I'm hoping that plastic bags become obsolete and a thing of the past as fast as they came into our lives, but if you do use plastic bags, I highly urge you to recycle them!

Product Packaging: Next to take out containers, product packaging is the 2nd fastest growing cause of plastic waste. Just think about how much plastic wraps your child's action figure! (With no good reason too!) Unfortunately, many of us do not have the power to make a company reduce the amount of plastic used, but we can purchase goods from eco-minded companies, which essentially makes the bad company use less plastic. (Because when we make a purchase we're voting on what we believe is acceptable and what is not, and hopefully they'll start to change their horrible packaging ways.)

One of my favourite places to search for children's toys is Etsy. Aside from the recycled, upcycled, and eco-friendly products, these sellers are mindful of how they package their item by keeping it minimal and plastic free! 

So, let's detach ourselves from the chemical filled and petroleum eating plastic monster and think simple, think of how your parents and their parents bought groceries, stored food, and drank water. Simple and without the ease of plastic. 

North American's are not only addicted to oil, they're addicted to plastic as well! We've become lazy and rely on the ease of plastic encompassing our lives with convenience. It is time to break that addiction and start cleaning up our Earth through recycling and using reusable products!

Until next time... think and be green.

Love,
Katie

"Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we've been ignorant of their value." -Richard Buckminster Fuller

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

There's Always A GREENER Way!

"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." -Ansel Adams

How does one become "green." Is it an unconscious decision or conscious one? Is it born into us to be aware of how we affect our environment or do we eventually take notice of our actions and what consequences sprout from them? I believe it is different for everyone, depending on our up bringing, the immediate environment we live in, and the schools we attend. But I will not accept that we are too far out of the loop to understand that what we do has a consequence, which means we have a choice!

For me, going green was a conscious decision after many years of living with parents who do what they can with what they have, from recycling, reusing, and growing their own veggies and fruits. Before that, I was a typical American who wanted everything and was spoiled by our detached sense of reality that our actions have no detrimental consequences. The truth is that our actions do indeed have detrimental consequences on the environment and I want to do what I can to eliminate my contribution to those negative affects on our Earth.

So, I wanted to educate myself as much as possible about what I could do at home, at work, at the grocery store and how I could teach others. If that makes me part of the movement, than count me in, because I will do everything I can to keep our Earth happy, healthy, and hopeful for a cleaner future. Technology has come a long way, but it has taken us away from simple living that kept a balance between us and Earth.

"We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children." -Native American Quote

I recently came across the book, The Green Book by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen. Forwards are written by Cameron Diaz and William McDonough. My attention was brought to this book because of Cameron Diaz's connection to it. I heard she was a green, hippie gal and I was interested in hearing how she became affiliated with this book. I finished the book two days ago and decided I wanted to share these tips with as many people I could reach. The book is filled with hundreds of ways we can improve our life in simple, inexpensive ways that help us and the environment we love without dramatically changing our lives. Yeah, it's that good!

So, for the next little while, all of my blogs will be about how to be green-er. I will be posting links to eco-friendly products, give you tips of how to recycle and reuse items in your home, and how some of the things we use can have negative affects on not only the environment, but our health and the health of our children.

"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." -Joanne Kathleen Rowling

I'll start in the easiest place to create change, our home. This is the place we spend most of our time and because of this, it is where we create the most waste and waste the most. Aside from the amount of trash we accumulate in our lifetime, which I will hit on in another blog, we waste the most water at home. (On an individual level.)

"By 2025, the world must increase its water supply by 22 percent in order to meet its needs. Meanwhile, 40 percent of the drinking water supplied to homes is flushed down the toilet." -The Green Book, pg. 2

Not only is that quote eye opening, it begs to question why we use drinking water to flush human waste. Not to mention that 40 percent of household water bills in the summer are attributed to watering our lawn, with clean drinking water!! This baffles me, especially since millions and millions of people around the world have little to no clean drinking water in their daily lives. We use clean drinking water so frivolously, while others around the world walk hours in search of clean drinking water for a single days use.

There has to be a breaking point in N. America where we say, "That's Enough!" Instead of continuing our selfish behaviour and throwing perfectly clean drinking water down the toilet and on our lawns, we need to evolve and find a better way to conserve the little clean drinking water we have left!

So here are some tips to how we can conserve the water we have.

1. Take shorter showers. "Every two minutes you save on your shower can conserve more than ten gallons of water. And that can add up: If everyone in the country saved just one gallon from their daily shower, over the course of a year it would equal twice the amount of freshwater withdrawn from the Great Lakes every day. The Great Lakes are the world's largest source of fresh water."

"I found out that every two minutes in the shower uses as much water as a person in Africa uses for everything in their life for a whole day - drinking, bathing, cooking, and cleaning... everything!" - Jennifer Aniston

Another thing you could do to prevent gallons to be dumped down the drain is to install a low-flow shower head. There are many different brands and styles, but I've found Ecoflo to have several style shower heads to fit the needs of any style bathroom. A family of four could save up to 42,200 gallons of water in a year with a low-flow shower head, and it's as simple as changing old, energy eating incandescent light bulbs to the energy efficient CFL bulbs!

2. Turn the tap off. "Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth. You'll conserve up to 5 gallons of water per day. Throughout the entire United States, the daily savings could add up to 1.5 billion gallons - more water than is consumed per day across all of New York City."

3. Flush once less per day. The average toilet in North American households flushes down 3 gallons of water with each flush. Flush when you need to, and adapt the selective flush, "When it's yellow, let it mellow. When it's brown, flush it down." Though, I'm not too keen on this idea, as I don't like my waste mellowing in my toilet. Instead, I prefer the dual-flush toilet. The first (for #1) uses only .8 gallons of water and the second (for #2) uses 1.6 gallons of water. There are also dry flush toilets as well, for those who don't want to waste any clean drinking water for their waste to be flushed.

4. Rain Barrels. Since so much of our water is used on our lawns in the summer, a simple solution is to resort to our free source of water... RAIN! Rain barrels are simple and relatively inexpensive, and can be used for flower beds, gardens, and lawns if set up appropriately. By elevating your rain barrel, the free use of gravity will have enough force to push water out of a hose to water anything and everything outside.

Another way rain could be used to replace clean drinking water is through a rain catch for your toilet water, utility sink, and showers. (If you're okay with rain water for your shower, if not you could put a filter on it to make it cleaner.) Ask your plumber about rain catches and if they're legal in your area. Unfortunately, some regions of N. America don't allow rain water to be directed into our homes, though it makes perfect sense to use rain water instead of clean, drinking water to flush our waste down the toilet.

I hope this helps everyone find simple steps around the home to conserve water. And until next time... think and be green!

Love,
Katie


"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." -Ansel Adams

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Jump Start On Summer

April Showers Bring May Flowers... err, April Sun Brought May Showers?

This year has been surprisingly warm and then shockingly cold, but this gardening season has me excited for the summer long rewards of all my hard work, and into the fall and winter if I'm lucky!

Now if I can just shoo away the bugs, bees, grubs, slugs, and my friend Peter Cottontail. Then I'd feel 100% comfortable that my garden will grow beautiful vegetables that I can eat, without my friends eating them all first! I'm not a fan (at all) of any insecticides or pesticides, but I also don't want the bugs in my garden. So, I went online and looked for various natural home remedies to lure my friends away. I wish that I didn't have to actually kill any of my nature friends, but when push comes to shove, I don't mind seeing the grubs go to the other side.

First thing first, I had grubs in my garden. Being that this is my first year as a gardener, I thought those gross little grubs were maggots. Equally as gross, but I was incorrect. I researched many different methods on how to get rid of these little white worms, but would only decide to do two things: dig them up and toss them in a can to die and set beer traps over night. I didn't like the idea of putting nematodes in my garden, since they too can be troublesome. And I didn't want to try milky spores, well because I prefer a more natural method.

Beer Trapping Bugs: First, I'd recommend you not use a beer that you like, and since it has been so delightfully warm outside, I choose to use a can of Bud whilst I sipped on my ice cold Corona with a lime.

In order to set the traps correctly, you must choose the areas of your garden where you saw the most grubs, and if you dug up part of your lawn like I did, you'll find them near the edges of the grass. They like to snuggle up in the roots where the soft, nutrient soil is. Dig a hole deep enough to put your can in so that the top is level with the ground. Don't pack the soil tight around the can, let it lay loose so the grubs can crawl freely to the pool of beer. Fill beer 1" from the top of the can, so that the grubs will reach down for the yummy drink, fall in, and drown.

I didn't have much success with my beer traps with the grubs, but I did manage to attract other bugs.

Sugar Bee: My neighbour so kindly burnt a bees nest out of a tree in his yard, leaving hundreds of bees homeless, and searching for a new place to live in my yard. (So thoughtful of him!) Though I am a HUGE bee fan and know that our plants need them for pollination each year, I'm not so much a fan of bee stings. The bees were swarming my family members in the front yard, in the backyard, and we found a nest in our BBQ! This new bee living arrangement wasn't going to work out, and I had to find a way to detour them from building their new bee hive in my backyard.

Enter Bee Solution: Mix 1 c Sugar with 1 c Vinegar, pour in a 2l bottle, add water until 2" from top. Also, cut up a banana peel (slice thin strips) and insert into bottle, and mix well. (Again, be sure to keep liquid 2" from top.) Tie string around the neck of the bottle and hang from a tree.

This nifty bee solution will attract the bees into the bottle and drown them. The website I found this on said this mixture will not only attract bees, but all bugs. Something about the mixture will attract them to the bottle before anything else. We'll see how it works. I put it up about 30 minutes ago.

Pesky Peter Cottontail: I love Mr. Peter Cottontail and I'd love to keep him in my yard. But he's already beed digging up my garden, before I planted my potatoes and onions, and I started to scratch my head, why? Now that I know Mr. Peter Cottontail knows of my grand plans to have a lush, beautiful garden, I must give him something better or keep him out.

I have two solutions that I will try before I build a 2' fence to keep him out.

#1. Plant two rows of onions around the edges of my garden. Rabbits don't like onions, so it's an option. But I have limited space for growing and I don't need bushels of onions the entire year, as I'd like kale, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, lettuce, peas, and beans, among many other plants. So, I'm not too excited about this plan. Maybe when I have a large garden.

#2. Sow clover around my entire garden. They say rabbits like clover more than any other plant and they will stop to eat the clover before entering my garden. I'm hoping that is true because this is the option that I am going to try first. If this one doesn't work, I'll move on to #3.

#3. Build a 2' fence around my garden. I don't really want to do this, but if Mr. Peter Cottontail doesn't understand that it's my garden and not his, I'm going to have to put my foot down and build a fence.

SLUGS: I don't really mind slugs, but when it comes to my tomatoes... I mind slugs. I've looked up several different solutions to the slug problem, and most of them involve completely natural ways of detouring these little pests, but almost all of them injure or kill the slug. I guess I'm going to have to accept that I can't keep everything alive AND have my veggies too!

Options: Eggshells, coffee grinds, or fireplace/bonfire ash. All of these things, when you circle your garden or the base of your plants, will detour the slugs from climbing all over your veggies and eating them. The eggshells, when broken up and scattered, have rough edges and will slice into the slugs exterior and they won't tread there any longer. The same goes for the ash. The coffee grinds have some sort of chemical reaction with the slugs exterior, and again, will keep the slugs away.

I haven't tried any of these methods yet, but I have a slew of eggshells waiting, as I don't drink coffee.

Well, now that I have soaked up some sun, taught you a few natural methods about bugs and pests, and successfully caught 2 bees in my trap. I'm going to go check on my baby veggies and snap a few pictures for my next post.

Happy May!

Love,
Katie

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!"

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sharing Knowledge About Women's Health

Before reading on, this is a blog about my experience on Mirena IUD. I want to share this information with other women who are considering getting an IUD or have an IUD and want to know if other people are experiencing the same symptoms and side effects of Mirena. This is not my typical blog, but rather one that I feel is important information for women in regards to our health. 

I had a difficult time deciding whether or not I should post a blog about my personal health. The truths, the vulnerability, and the intimacy of it all. It certainly scares me, but on the other hand, I wish someone would have put the information out there for me to read before making a decision that has taken a toll on my body for the last four months. 

On December 10th, I decided to get the Mirena IUD, the inter-uterine device that releases Levonorgestrel, a hormone commonly used in combination with oral contraceptives (the "pill") and is similar to progesterone, as well as the main ingredient in the Plan B contraceptive. Levonorgestrel prevents pregnancy, which to me was easier than taking a pill every day and more cost efficient over five years time, which is the elapsed time that Mirena is good for. What I didn't expect was what my body went through in the four months time I had it.

But, before I get ahead of myself, let's go back to the decision of getting an IUD. I had been on the pill for about ten years, had a wonderful track record, and never had any problems remembering to take it every morning. That being said, it costs roughly $20 a pack per month. I knew several people who had the IUD and loved it, so I figured... why not? It saves me roughly $800 over the next five years. 

Quick Math:

$20 a pak x 12 months = $240/yr = $1,200/5yrs. 

OR

$380 for one IUD for 5 years.

That's $820 in savings. This, of course, backfired!

Prior to having the IUD inserted, I was advised to take several Advil (to "help" with the pain of the insertion) and told to administer two pills of Cytotec to dilate my cervix to make the insertion less "painful." The reason I put quotes around "help" and "painful" is because nothing could have "helped" with the pain that I felt because of the Cytotec pills. Read up on the side effects of Cytotec before using!! I experienced severe contraction pains in my abdomen. I was told by the nurse (and my mother) that the cramps and contraction like feelings are equal to, if not greater, than actual labour contractions. 

LOVELY!

I forgot to mention that I had to insert these pills, I was directed not to take them orally, but rather inserting them is more effective. What my doctor failed to mention is the cramping would start at 3:30am the morning prior to my 10am appointment, and they lasted until 8pm that day. Basically, I had a 12.5hr labour minus the 9 months of being pregnant and wonderful little baby at the end of it to make it all worth while. Instead, I suffered through the next two weeks of on and off cramping. The type of cramping that you experience with a rather heavier than normal period, but I wasn't on my period. I wasn't even spotting. I would get very nauseous when I was experiencing cramps in the abdomen or lower back.

My body went through what I refer to as a shock period. It was adjusting to a foreign object in my body and deploying any means necessary to attack this evil thing that was altering my body system. Over the next four months I would experience side effects that scare the living hell out of most people. The types of side effects that you do not want to experience, the ones that make you question why you would put something in your body that you didn't know that much about to begin with. 

Why did I get the Mirena IUD?
Because I trusted my doctor's medical opinion. Because my doctor said that every woman he has inserted the Mirena IUD in has had wonderful results. Because the little research that I did online on google showed that the side effects were minimal if any at all. Because I thought saving money was a good idea.

What side effects did I experience while on Mirena?
I'll give you my laundry list of side-effects:
-Headaches (migraines, where sleep was the only cure)
-Nausea (accompanied with my abdo and back pain)
-SEVERE abdominal pain
-SEVERE lower back pain
-SEVERE breast pain (to the point where wearing my bra was too much to handle)
-Dyspareunia (pain during intercourse)
-Acne (I felt like a 15yr old in high school, while I'm 29yrs old with little to no acne on a regular basis.)
-Decreased libido 
-Irregular bleeding (this is to be assumed with Mirena, as your periods usually go away, but I'd have bleeding that would last up to three weeks at a time)

The scariest of all for me:
-In three months time I found three lumps in my breast!

After writing down all of the symptoms/side effects I had been having ever since inserting the IUD, I grabbed the handy pamphlet that my doctor gave me and read up on the side effects more carefully.

Risks of Mirena (In order from my handy pamphlet:)
-Circulatory Disorder (blood clots)
-Breast Cancer
-Irregular Bleeding
-Other drugs that interfere with Mirena (general information)
-Increased risk of a serious pelvic infection called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

The following side effects have been commonly observed in studies of women taking Mirena:
-Irregular Bleeding*
-Urinary tract infection
-Abdominal pain
-Pain in the muscles or joints
-Depression
-Headache
-Breast pain
-Genital discharge
-Ovarian cyst
-Vaginal infection
-Fibroadenoma of breast (benign breast lump)
-Acne

*A side effect that goes away as your body adjusts to Mirena.

After reading all of the above information, I called my doctor and made an appointment to consult him about the side effects I had been experiencing. Once I spoke with him and told him about my side effects, I was shocked at his answer, "Wow, you've experienced ALL of these? When did we insert this, oh December 10th. Wow! Well, all I can say is that some of these could be related to Mirena, but we can't say for sure. The only thing we can do is take it out and see if your symptoms go away. I'm just so surprised, all of my other patients on Mirena love it. You know some of these side effects will go away over time?"

I told him, "I just want it out!" 

I was scared enough that my left breast had two lumps in it and the right had one. Not to mention that the handy pamphlet that my doctor gave me about Mirena says this about Breast Cancer in the side effects section:

"The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are increasing age and a strong history of breast cancer in the family (mother or sister). Other established risk factors include onset of menstrual periods before age 12, never having children, having your first full-term pregnancy after the age of 30 years, never having breast-fed a child, and daily alcohol consumption.

Some studies have shown that the risk of developing breast cancer does not appear to be increased by using progestogen-only forms of birth control like Mirena. However, more thorough studies are needed to confirm that there is no increased risk. You should notify your doctor if you notice any breast lumps. You should also discuss breast self-examination with your doctor. A yearly breast examination by a health care professional is recommended for all women."

The lines:

"More thorough studies are needed to confirm that there is no increased risk."

And,

Common Side Effects: Fibroadenoma of breast

Sort of stuck out in my mind as things that shouldn't occur because of birth control methods. 

I actually had the IUD removed earlier today. I will be following up with the symptoms that I have been having and keeping an eye on those lumps in my breast. I am praying that they were caused by the Levonorgestrel and will subside once it is completely out of my system. 

I had a strong urge to share this information for quite some time. I had been researching other women's side effects for some time now and found that I'm not the only one who has had a horrible experience on Mirena. Some women will be perfectly fine on Mirena, while others will not. What I'm trying to do is create an awareness about what could possibly happen and encourage more women to ask more questions to their doctor's about Mirena. Remember that doctor's promote the use of birth control methods, why else would pharmaceutical companies pay sales reps to visit doctors offices and try to get them to push the newest form of whatever cutting edge drug is available?

Do the research, ask questions, talk with your friends, family, and other women online who have used or are using Mirena. Remember that every woman is different and will have a different experience than the next, but take into account the risk factors when using Mirena IUD. 

Love,
Katie

"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver." -Gandhi

Saturday, March 13, 2010

There's No Where Left To Hide

I may have this habit of constantly being on the lookout for something different, something unique, or something no one else has. I have always enjoyed making gifts for friends and family, but when I cannot think of something to make or if what I want to make is beyond my own capabilities, I search the ends of the Earth for the perfect gift. I have favourite shops in different cities and towns in different states and countries, but best of all... I can search the internet like it was on the main drag in my hometown.

I recently started up my own shop on Etsy about two months ago. I'm finding my footing with which items are going to be my bread and butter, but for now I'm trying a bit of everything to see what buyers are interested in purchasing. That being said, I've found there are several shops on Etsy that I continually go back to time and time again. They make up my list of favourite sellers, and their items take up the majority of the 20 pages of favourite items I have. I guess I drift towards a particular style, or I'm really good at hunting through 8,000 pages of items for roughly five shops that are already saved in my favourites!

I'm going to list out several of my favourite finds. These are items that I cannot live without, and if I don't already have them, they're on my wish list. The first item isn't really "one" item. It's more like one item at the beginning of the month, for a year, type of item. Underwear of the Month is a club run by Recession, which was started by Avery and Leah (and friends) after the downturn of the economy in 2007. They've kept fashion, comfort, and affordability alive in West Oakland. This is one of my favourite finds and a must have. Who doesn't like getting a new pair of designer undies each month?? (For both women AND men!)

The next gem I've found is Cocoricooo, and it is as unique as the name itself. I cannot pick a favourite item of theirs, as I practially want the entire shop!

Cocoricooo is a group of four lovely ladies in Thailand. All of their clothing is handmade, hand embroidered, and hand dyed (if applicable.) They are passionate about their work and it shows in each and every one of their items.

This is definitely at the top of my list of favourites!! Much love for Cocoricooo!

I am not much of a shoe girl. I know, how could I not be, right? I design and sew and would rather go barefoot than wear a pair of styling shoes. That was until I stumbled upon these beauties. Hydra Heart is a shop run by Molly, and boy do I love her! Each of the 100% vegan and earth friendly shoes are constructed after being hand drafted by Molly.

I fell in love with this pair of shoes, which I am getting in the ballet flat and heavy tread, so that I can wear them EVERYWHERE! Each set of shoes is custom designed to fit your feet. She takes exact measurements in inches or regular shoe sizes. Give them a try!

It may appear to you that I spend way to much time on Etsy and other people's blogs, if you came to that conclusion, you are right!

I have found a whole new world of shopping, in which I can limit my shopping to local Etsy shops, Eco-friendly shops, or shops halfway around the world. Like Cocoricooo!

And every now and again, I stumble upon shops that incorporate my own passions. Pretty Birdie, by Stephanie Teague, shares the same passion for upcycling and recycling materials for her handmade clothing. I have been a fan of hers since I started on Etsy, and will continue to be a fan for many years to come.

Stephanie uses vintage, organic, cotton and hemp fabrics. She has a fabulous eye for stylish design, and I'm in love with many of her items!

And lastly, Miss Unplastic herself, Evelyn Fields. I have worked for people who were on the radical end of environmentalism. From hang drying clothes, using cloth diapers, reusable wipes (I kid you not), cloth napkins, you name it... they were on it. Plastic bottles had no place in their house, but where they lacked, and Evelyn soars, is in UN-plastic snack baggies.

Evelyn shows us that there was indeed life before the birth of plastic. I hate plastic, and am thankful that there are people out there who agree with me. (You can also follow Evelyn's blog for more wonderful ideas.)

From unpaper napkins, snack sacks, bread bags, and rising cloths to sandwich bags, napkin rings, and reusable coffee filters. YES! Reusable coffee filters!! Evelyn does it all.

She brings a whole new life to unplastic, unpaper, reusable, and washable everyday kitchen necessities!

Thank you, Evelyn!

There are many more items, more favourites, more MUST HAVE's, but for now I'll leave you with a brilliant idea to help keep our earth happy and healthy.

Reusable dryer sheets.

Love,
Katie

"I'm not an environmentalist. I'm an Earth warrior." -Darryl Cherney

A Giant Thank You!

I owe two huge thank you's to fellow blogger and Etsy comrades.

The first is One Crafty Fox, you can find her Etsy shop at SizeMedium. I got to know Diana through e-mail on Etsy. We both use the Etsy forum to help other Etsy-ians, as well as look for help and critiques of our shops. Diana gave me a great idea for one of my blogs, a tutorial on how to colour highlight in photoshop. In return, Diana wrote a blog that featured my tutorial. I was very flattered and thankful. I owe a great deal of gratitude to Diana, as her blog inspired another blogger to feature my tutorial as well. Thanks so very much, Diana.

The second thank you is for Elizabeth Barret. She is an amazing blogger, and fellow Etsy seller as well, and she stumbled upon One Crafy Fox's blog about colour highlighting. She loved my tutorial and added it to her blog. (Scroll down to the Colour Highlighting blog) Again, flattered and thankful that I had made an impression on these two lovely ladies.

It is very special, for me, to be featured on someone else's blog. So thank you Diana and Elizabeth for creating a blog that included me in it. I am forever grateful.

Love,
Katie