With Earth Day just behind us, are you being eco friendly?  I don't want to go back to the dark ages, or give up modern appliances but I'm sure I could do more.  We try our bit and live a very simple life, heating with sustainable wood only, growing our own vegetables, recycling and using rain water where possible.

One of the things that constantly takes me by surprise is that once I find out where things come from, how they are made and what the cost is in terms of the planet or people, I start making much more informed decisions.  For example, we live next to a beef farmer and have seen first hand how the veal industry operates.  We have since become vegetarians as we don't want any part in the process.  It's a decision we made based on knowledge we have gleaned and this can be applied to almost everything. Educating ourselves is a very important first step all of us can make.

The way I think we could all become greener is just to take it step by step.  Trying to do too many things all at once can seem overwhelming and just too much change all at once.  Here's a list of a few things that you could start with in and around your home. 

1. Buy Eco or organic if you can afford it. Sadly many of these products are still very expensive.  I have recently started to purchase Eco washing liquid, doing away with the softener and the price works out about the same and my clothes are lovely and soft.
2. Recycle your household waste. We only have 1 rubbish bag once a month. Everything else is recycled.
3. Buy groceries in bulk- This not only will save you on petrol going to the shops several times but buying in bulk can save on packaging as well. Also take reusable bags to the supermarket.
4. Use recycled content copy paper for your home and office. If paper has only been printed on one side, use the other side to make scribbling pads. 
5. Unplug electronics when they are not in use, you'll be amazed that this actually will save you on your ectricity
bills.  Those little standby buttons use quite a bit.
6. Use a dry erase board instead of paper, this works great for messages and make for great homework helpers.

7. Use energy conserving light bulbs. Mostly we are obliged to use these now anyway. I can no longer find the old style bulbs in the shops.




8. Build a backyard habitat, this can be as simple as putting up some birdhouses, bird feeders or even a decorative
pond can become a habitat.


9. Donate or recycle cell phones or sell them on eBay. This will keep them from leaking possibly dangerous chemicals from their batteries and plastic is hard on the environment.
10. Reduce your junk mail by adding a note on your mail box to say you don't want it.
11. Compost all of your kitchen waste (except anything cooked as it attracts rodents).
12. Grow a few vegetables. Planting a courgette plant in amongst the flowers is easy and won't spoil the look of your garden.  You don't have to have a huge patch to produce food. You can even plant things in containers, like potatoes.

13. Shower instead of bathing and use a small shower head. If you do bath, share it with your loved one ;-)
14. Make your own cleaners with vinegar, soda, lemon juice etc.  They all clean brilliantly well. 

Basic All Purpose Cleaner Formula

This makes about 2 cups of formula, and it works really well cleaning dirt and grime.

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda or washing soda
  • 2 teaspoons borax
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
  • 2 cups hot water

Combine all the ingredients and the water into a spray bottle. Shake well. The washing soda or baking soda makes this formula a great grease cutter.

15. Collect rain water from the roof. We have 4 x 300L butts, this gives us more than enough water for our large garden.

I think these are all relatively easy things to do and may get you on the way to being a little more eco friendly without feeling you have to change your entire lives. 

If you do some other things or have other ideas, please share them. I'm always eager to learn more and try new things.  







It's with much pleasure I write this feature. Jan is a very cheerful and upbeat creative soul and has been a real asset to this site.

She is recently retired from her job so that now she can play all the time. Her problem is that she has four very clear areas of interest and they are all tugging at her. She is a fiber artist turned beading artist, then onto polymer clay artist and finally lampwork artist. Each area of interest lead to the next. She calls it her "fiber journey".

She wanted to add beads first to her fiber arts so she started playing with small beading. This lead to the need for more interesting beads so she started playing with polymer clay and really fell in love with the tactile part of playing with clay and in all the wonderful colors that she could create with it. After playing with the clay and creating beads she moved onto pendants and jewelry, which was fun but it wasn't what she had set out to do.

She really fell in love with the look of lamp work beads and was trying to create them with polymer clay. She was never really successful and eventually moved onto lamp work. In learning the craft she was mesmerized by melting something solid into a fluid state where she could manipulate it into something completely different. She's gotten totally side tracked with the original purpose of all of this and hasn't touched her fiber arts in over two years. She knows that she'll go back to it eventually, she goes into the studio and strokes the fabric from time to time but so far nothing has caused me to start a fiber project. In the meantime she's really enjoying playing with the glass, there is something so seductive about it that when she can't be at the torch she is searching the web for photos of glass to quieten the call.

I can really see why she is so passionate about this art form as I too am fascinated by it. You can find more of Jan's creations


where they are available to purchase.

One of the very first paintings I ever did was of the Venice Carnival.  French people seem fascinated by it and frankly, I didn't know much about it at the time. Doing research on the subject meant looking at the most amazing costumes. Such drama, color and creativity all in one place was a sight for sore eyes.  I enjoyed doing this painting very much and I later sold it to a restaurant owner in Vienna, Austria. At the time I could never understand why the Austrians seemed so fascinated by this event.  This lead me to start searching for more information.

The Venice Carnival is the most internationally known festival celebrated in Venice, Italy, as well as being one of the oldest.  The oldest document pertaining to the use of masks in Venice dates back to 2nd May 1268. Finally the rise of the French and later the Austrians curbed the celebrations, but they effectively ended when Napoleon invaded Venice. After an interruption lasting almost two centuries, the Carnival was resurrected in 1979 and today the masked revelers are an icon of Venice tourism. For a very long time it became prohibited to wear masks in public but during the second Austrian government it was once again permitted to wear masks. This explains the French and Austrian interest and why my painting was sought after there.





The Carnival starts around two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras), the day before Ash Wednesday. Carnevale is derived from the Latin and means to give up meat and implies a farewell dinner of steaks and stews that the Catholics would later refrain from during the weeks before Easter. The masked pageant harks back to the Roman tradition of a fertility festival where the aristocracy and the slaves wore masks.

Today it's an appreciated cocktail of tradition, entertainment, history and transgression in a unique city, a festival that attracts thousands of people from around the world each year. It is a festival that celebrates the passage from winter into spring, a time when seemingly anything is possible, including the illusion where the most humble of classes become the most powerful by wearing masks on their faces.

One day I hope to be able to visit during the time of the Carnival. With all that color and vibrancy, how could you not feel inspired.



Mooaany, aka Carmen Trueheart (love that name) is a valued member of this site. She takes a very active part in the forum discussions and understands the spirit of the site.

After leaving Corporate work Carmen resorted to some of her hippy ways. One being beaded jewelry. As her interest progressed with silversmithing, PMC certification, collecting massive amounts of vintage beads and gemstones, classes and destroying metal, she finally has some jewelry of which she is proud. Carmen's main artistic jewelry work is now with Precious Metal Clay and the embellishment of such.

I love that many of her designs are nature inspired and find the little paw prints particularly cute. Here are some of my favorites.

As an advocate for the welfare of animals, she contributes 20% of all proceeds to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. You can visit


to see what we can all do to help love the Animals.

You can find Carmen's jewelry


to purchase. She's very approachable and open to custom requests.