Wednesday, June 11, 2008

After the storm

Originally uploaded by John & Kacey
We had crazy storms yesterday which included a tornado watch. Tornado watch in VT? It was a bit scary. By early evening the storms had come to a calm point and the sun was setting before the next one came through. This was taken outside out front window.

VT - heaven on earth

VT - heaven on earth
Originally uploaded by John & Kacey
This is why I love Vermont so much. Taken from the top of Mt Philo.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Father's Day Eco-Green gifts from A-Z

Here is the ultimate list in eco and green gifts for father's day from

fathers-day--273px.jpgAn alphabet of gift ideas that include not only things to make and selections of home grown produce but also offers of your love, labour and energy to perform chores for Dad and Grandpa - a gift of precious time that will always be welcome.

Spending the day with Dad on Dad's Day is probably the best way to celebrate him. If you want to treat Dad to something extra special, search your soul, and ask yourself, what would he really like? Instead of supporting the overconsumerism, how about showing Dad you love him with a truly sustainable gift.

A APRONS are always handy for the busy grill / BBQ cook, or sew a serviceable one in strong calico or canvas for the gardener or handydad.

A whole case of your own grown fruit or vegies.

A family video or DVD of the children with Dad or Grandpa, wrapped with a packet of organic popcorn and seasoning mix 1/4 cup dried basil, 1/4 cup dried marjoram, 1/4 cup dried thyme,1/2 cup nutritional yeast powder, 1/4 cup garlic powder,1 /8 cup kelp powder. In a grinder, grind basil, marjoram and thyme and mix well with the rest of the ingredients. Store in an airtight glass container away from heat and light. Attach the following instructions on a homemade gift tag. Sprinkle on lightly buttered popcorn and enjoy! (add a small bottle of organic coconut oil - organic popcorn, popped in coconut oil is just delish! no need for butter).

A simply-framed photograph or child's painting.

ADOPTIONS For fathers who are as 'wise as an owl' as 'strong as a lion' or as 'lovable as a grizzly bear'.World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is making it easy for people to salute and celebrate the special men in their lives for Father's Day. Symbolic animal adoptions in support of a worthy cause are a great way to honor a great father while protecting the environment.

ALTERNATIVE material products: recycled, organic, heritage plants, do-it-yourself or handcrafted from local markets.

B BREAKFAST IN BED Pamper your husband, Dad, brother, or friend with a breakfast in bed on Father's Day!

BAKE something special, a pie with "We love Daddy" or using refrigerated organic bread dough, have your child make different shapes, such as braids, hearts, circles, maybe spell out "DAD", "#1 DAD". Bake according to the package instructions. These fresh-out-of-the-oven creations can be served to Dad as part of breakfast in bed on Father's Day. Bake a special cake, cookies, scones or whatever is your Dad's favourite treat.

Make a personalized BOOK. Children can cut pictures of things out of magazines and then glue into the book.Cut up some old photographs (or copy some photos or print from your computer) and glue their heads on other bodies, animals etc, and make a unique story book for Dad or Grandpa.

BIRD SEED (organic millet) for those Dad's who enjoy bird watching.

BOOKMARKS If Dad is fond of reading, then a personalized bookmark would just be apt for the occasion. There can be distinctive types of bookmarks like a bird bookmark, sporting bookmark. Add a gift voucher from Dad's favourite book store.Or a gently used book purchased from a charity store. Or a homemade voucher for a weekly library visit.

BASKETS Grapevine baskets made from own grapevine, and fill with Dad's favourite organic homemade and local treats.

BEER Home brew or local organic.

BICYCLE Sport-utility bikes with a tail for Dad's lugging a briefcase or groceries.

Team it up with a BPA-free reusable stainlees steel water bottle - the plastic alternative for Dad whilst running, on the bike etc.

BREAKFAST in bed every Sunday for a month.

C CELEBRATING Father's Day gives you a chance to celebrate all the important men in your life. Show each of them how much you care by surprising them with a unique and personal gift that will be remembered for years to come. Remember elderly neighbours, teachers, coaches and friends with a small homemade gift.

CHOCOLATES After-dinner treats such as chocolate-covered organic brazil nuts and organic strawberries – just melt some organic chocolate in a bowl over just-simmering water, skewer your nut, strawberry (or organic dried fruit), and dip into the melted chocolate. Then lay on greaseproof paper to set. Place in decorated jars, baskets or homemade boxes.

Chocolate DIY or organic fairtrade. A box of your chocolate creations makes a delicious personalised gift for the chocolate loving Dad.

CERTIFICATE "Cookie of the Month" certificate along with one dozen cookies. Come the beginning of each month, bake a different kind of cookie / chocolate etc.

CRAFT You can really make any craft eco-friendly by choosing papers and supplies that are environmentally friendly. Such as, use what you have! We all have bits of paper, odds and ends everywhere. Use recycled paper, ribbon, fabric etc bought from thrift shops, too. Source items found from nature.


Mix 1/2 cup salt, 1 tablespoon organic coconut oil, and 1/4 cup water in a large bowl; when mixed add 1 cup organic flour and knead well.

Form dough into a softball-sized shape and roll out with a rolling pin. Press your child's hand into the clay (with fingers spread).

Bake at 250 degrees F. for several hours. After it's cooled your child can paint the handprint using eco-friendly paint. Label the handprint with your child's name, age, year the handprint was created, etc. You can also etch into the clay before baking something like "Hands down best Dad" or "Handy Dad".

CARDS Make beautiful Father's Day cards from a brown paper bag / any old paper / recycled board / fabric and some ribbon.
Brown paper (from a grocery bag) or paper or card or fabric scraps etc.
Pinking shears or scissors
A hole punch, Ribbon (about 1/4 inch wide) or thick yarn
Markers or crayons
Cut a large shape from brown paper or fabric using pinking shears. Using a hole punch, make a series of holes around the edges of the card. Make an even number of holes. String ribbon or yarn through the holes. Tie the ends in a bow if desired (this is the hardest part of this project). If the bow doesn't look good, you can glue the ends of the ribbon to the back of the card instead. Write a message, paste a photo (or the children can draw a picture) on the card.

Glue pictures from old cards onto homemade or store-bought recycled paper to create new cards.
Glue paper on the inside of old cards to cover previous writing--and use them again.

Make a greeting card or gift tag from scrap paper, fabric or wallpaper. For short Dad quotes use a large leaf or flat stone. Make cards or gift tags from pieces of a food box.

COUPONS Make up coupons that Dad can redeem for everything from a hug to weeding the garden and taking out the trash, whatever comes from the heart. Use a hole punch and ribbon, a stapler, or paper brads to hold your coupons together. Breakfast in Bed Coupon, Walking the dog Coupon, An hour of silence Coupon, One hour control of the remote control, Big hug Coupon.

Ask Dad what he would like added to the coupons. Once you have Dad's requests, all you have to do is make them a reality!


Here's what you need:

Paper towels / newspaper
Old cotton towels to use as rags
Ingredients for homemade car shampoo (eco-friendly or DIY dishwashing liquid and powdered laundry detergent, and water), each should be chlorine- and phosphate-free and non-petroleum-based.
Spray bottle of eco window cleaner / (vinegar and water)
Homemade car air freshener (craft foam, cookie cutter, scissors, essential oil, hole puncher, string)
Make some vouhers for Dad to redeem when he is not using a commercial eco friendly car wash
Recycled bucket to display all the items

In a bucket, mix one-third cup (.16 pint) of dishwashing liquid, one-quarter cup (.12 pint) of powdered laundry detergent, and one gallon (eight pints) of water. This concentrate can then be used sparingly with water over exterior car surfaces.

Even when using green-friendly cleaners, it is better to avoid the driveway and instead wash Dad's car on the lawn or over dirt so that the toxic waste water can be absorbed and neutralized in soil instead of flowing directly into storm drains or open water bodies. Also, try to sop up or disperse those sudsy puddles that remain after you’re done. They contain toxic residues and can tempt thirsty animals.

Trace the shape of a cookie cutter onto craft foam, then cut out the shape.
With an adult's permission, spray the foam with essential oil and water several times. Let dry.
Punch a hole at the top and tie a string through the hole.
Hang the air freshener from the car's rearview mirror.

CAR WASH Vouchers from an eco-friendly car wash, will give Dad and the environment a rest.

D DONATE to a charity in Dad’s name. Help non-profits that are helping the planet, and keep stuff Dad doesn’t need from clogging his closets, or worse, landfills. Because the earth needs a good lawyer.

DOLLARS $ Buy a subscription to an organisation working to make the world a better place such as the RSPB, RSPCA or Oxfam. Buy a homemade or fairtrade present. A bird table, compost bin, worm farm etc.

If you do not have time and inspiration for homemade gifts ... Support LOCAL and sustainable businesses.

E ENERGY (in the form of Eco job vouchers), ie. 'I promise to mow the lawn for one month' or 'I promise to tend the compost heap for one month' or 'I promise to rake the leaves for one month'.

F FRAMING that “great photo of you and Dad,” or “Dad and the fish,” and top if off with a handwritten, heartfelt message, either in a corner of the photo, or on the back of the frame.

FRESH-PRODUCE subscription from a local organic farm.

Many farms offer produce subscriptions, where buyers receive a weekly or monthly basket of produce, flowers, fruits, eggs, milk, coffee, or any sort of different farm products.

G GIFT WRAPPING IDEAS Use your imagination to present your homemade gifts in reusable materials that Dad can re-use.

Consider using used products from around the home -- blueprints, wallpaper and fabric scraps, brown paper, newspaper, butchers paper (that the children can help decorate), graph paper, rice paper, children's drawings, old maps, old sheet music, A3 or A4 paper (cut out the used print or paint or glue pictures if printed both sides, children can draw on one side) for attractive effects. Use ribbon, string, rope, wool, instead of stickey tape.

Make your own gift boxes from cereal and tissue boxes. Juice cartons (in quart or half-gallon size or juice boxes). These make interesting containers if you're giving small size gifts (vouchers or eco promises in the juice boxes) or bigger gifts. Have children take any recycled board or paper and glue to decorate the cartons with a solid colour and then they can cut out shapes. Or they can glue on buttons or glitter or anything you have around the house to personalize it for that special Dad or Grandpa.

GIFT BAGS For some really fun bags, start cutting up some of that worn out clothing and sewing together into rectangular pieces. You choose the size bags you want and then sew up the fabric on three sides like a pillowcase. I've found a bag that is 18 inches by 24 inches is the most useful for giving everything from clothing to books. Turn right side out put in a gift and tie at the top with some ribbon or yarn. After you give the gift, Dad can return the bag and you wash, fold and put away until the next ocassion.

GIFT BOX filled with hand-written letters of all your favourite memories.

GIFT CERTIFICATES to an organic restaurant, movie tickets, Dad's favourite sporting team tickets.

GRILL AND CHILL prepare Dad's favourite meal and kick back with an organic cool one on the deck. Pump up the Rat Pack tunes, and reminisce about a few of your favourite times spent together.

Give a unique experience. GIFT BOX of Dad's favourite foods / drinks / photo album of past memories /memory jar, write notes of all your favourite memories.

Green Dads often have GREEN THUMBS. Help Dad start or maintain a garden. Buy his favourite organic seedlings (whether it's fruits, vegies, herbs, or even flowers) and help plant them. Flowers like nasturtium do triple duty as a beautiful and colourful garden decoration.Nasturtiums attract aphids and can also be added to salads and stir fry.

GREEN book for Father's day and plant a tree from
If Dad collects books, we know that they're made of paper, and that paper comes from trees. Raz Godelnik noticed - he thinks green - and he wanted to balance his books with new trees. So he started the website Eco-Libris, anyone can donate money to plant trees to offset book purchases.

H HANDMADE GIFTS Many ideas for things start from items you might see at Ecobites, in magazines or elsewhere, add your own touch, and you have an original gift.

Perfect for small children, a homemade gift is sure to warm a Daddy's heart and the energy saved by not buying a manufactured item will ease any eco-friendly conscious.

HOMEMADE CARDS Cut out suitable pictures from old cards, or use an old photograph of yourself (baby pictures are good to use, if you have some) and stick onto recycled paper to make a card. Or else make a home-made card using your very own artwork (and verse, or quote).


It is hard to find herbal gifts for men that are not flowery and overperfumed but this recipe imparts drawers a fresh outdoor scent that is guaranteed to cheer up even the most disreputable socks and jocks collection. All ingredients must be dried first, including the lemon peel.

1 cup lemon verbena leaves or eau de cologne mint

1/2 cup pine wood shavings

1/2 cup African marigold petals

2 tablespoons lemon peel

2 tablspoons rock salt

2 tablspoons ground ginger (optional)

Break lemon peel up into small pieces. Tear wood shavings into small pieces.

Mix all ingredients together and store in a covered container for 10 days.

Make up one or two square sachets from fine, closely woven cotton, ladle in herbal mix, sew end firmly.

If you do not sew, cut out several 15 cm (6 in) squares of material, trim edges with pinking shears and tie together with braid, yarn or ribbon.

HEALING MASSAGE OIL Great for the athletic Dad, excellent for muscle aches and stiff joints.

2-inch piece fresh ginger
1/2 cup almond oil

Grate ginger and combine with oil in a small, nonmetallic saucepan. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Remove from heat and steep for another hour. Strain oil to remove bits of ginger. Using a nonmetallic funnel, pour liniment into a four-ounce glass bottle with a tight-fitting screw top. Attach the following instructions on a gift tag: To use, gently massage the oil into affected area twice a day until symptoms have disappeared.

I Write out IOUs on recycled paper or card. Offer gardening, seasonal meal prepared, day out at the library, museum, art exhibition, whatever takes Dad's fancy.

Download ITUNES

J JUMPERS hand knitted with love.

K KNITTED slippers or socks.

Make a KITE with Dad and go have some fun!

L LIQUEUR in fancy bottles - homemade. Add damsons or other fruit to organic gin, vodka or organic spirit of your Dad's choice.

LONGLASTING, recycled and recyclable "ANYTHING".

M MEMBERSHIPS in green causes.

MASSAGE neck and shoulders, head, feet or more.

N NATURAL, organic, seasonal or local foods cookbook for the gourmet loving Dad.

NO COST GIFTS lovingly crafted from homemade or recycled materials.

O ORGANIC Heirloom seedlings. Organic gardening supplies.

Organic gardening kit with organic seeds, tools and a book about companion planting, composting, or native plants for the new green thumb Dad.

ONLINE gift vouchers are always a safe bet, and you’ll save wrapping paper to boot.

Would Dad prefer another silk tie or a ORANGUTAN? The ideal gift where we can make a difference, for example, support the wonderful work being done to protect and preserve the remaining orangutan population and the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra visit any of the following websites:

Orangutan Foundation International

Orangutan Foundation UK

Boneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation

Australian Orangutan Project

P PARK and museum passes (waste-free gifts).

PEN OR PENCIL HOLDER Rinse an empty can out and smooth away any sharp edges around the top. Let the children decorate with cut out motifs or left over scraps of material or found items from nature.

PEN STAND Sand the edges of a piece of scrap pine ( 14 x 6 cm is a handy size). Rule a line down the centre and mark off the holes. Carefully drill holes wide enough for pencils or pens to fit it. Paint with eco-friendly paints or decorate with the children's help!

PLANT a tree for Dad that will last a lifetime.

PICNIC BASKET fully stocked and head for your nearest picnic or fishing spot and enjoy the day with Dad! For the fishing Dad add fishing LURES made from old bottle caps. The Bottle Cap Lure Company helps promote a clean environment while creating championship fishing lures

PHOTO FRAME insert a favourite photo and decorate the frame.Write a message on the back of the frame.

PLACEMATS Have your child draw a picture, colour a design, or write a poem to Dad on a heavy piece of 8 x 1/2" x 11" cardboard. Place the finished product between two sheets of clear contact paper. Use the placemat to serve Dad his next meal, maybe Father's Day breakfast in bed.

PHOTO CUBE Take 6 x 3 1/2" floppy disks. Lay one disk face down and glue four disks (one disk to each side) and glue the last disk on the top to make a box. Cut 5 pieces of construction paper so they fit on the floppy disk, leaving the metal at the bottom exposed. Cut out 5 photographs of family members so they are the same size as the construction paper. Use double-stick tape to attach one picture to each piece of construction paper and then use the double-stick tape to tape one picutre onto each side and onto the top floppy. This makes a nice gift for Dad to have on his desk at work.

Q QUICHE baked to your favourite recipe, to pack in the Father's Day picnic hamper.

R RECIPE BOX filled with your favourite organic, seasonal, local food recipes, for the gourmet chef Dad.

REDUCE – for children - maybe a promise not to pester for toys, trainers or clothes for the next three months and to make use of what’s in the household already?

RECYCLE – maybe a promise to sort out cans, bottles or newspapers for refuse collections or for taking to a recycling centre for the next three months?

Check with local government for recycling programs and sign Dad up for one.

REUSE - a reusable cotton carrier bag.

REPLACE - replace incandescent light bulbs with eco friendly options.

S SEND an email greeting and invitation to spend the day together.

SUBSCRIPTIONS to green publications.

SEEDS Selection of seeds saved from the garden, in marked packets with comical sketch on packet.

SOLAR POWERED GADGETS. SOLAR RAIN GUARD. The Orbit Solar Powered Rain Sensor will switch off Dad's lawn sprinklers when it rains. Yep, no longer will Dad have to dash outside in his coat and slippers with a newspaper over his head to struggle furiously with a tap, this puppy will do it all for him. Automagically.

Stop wasting water during unexpected rainstorms. By connecting a rain sensor to your irrigation system, sprinklers can shut off automatically when it starts raining, so you won’t be watering your lawn unnecessarily. Best of all, the Solar Wireless Rain/Freeze Sensor requires no electricity or connection wires, so it sets up in minutes and won’t add to monthly utility bills.

STATIONERY Tree free stationery and soy based ink pens.

T TIME just spend the afternoon chatting and sharing time together.

For the golfing enthusiast Dad, have a bonding day on the course . . . as said in an article in Golf Digest, “In an era in which the family unit is being kidnapped by forces ranging from the 60-hour work week to the PlayStation, it is the golfer who still has the greatest capacity to celebrate Father’s Day.” Give recycled or Eco golf balls with a homemade voucher "Afternoon spent on the golf course". For RECYCLED GOLF BALL...

ECO GOLF BALL ....the Water-Soluble polymer used to make up the Eco Golf Ball is verified by microorganism testing to be non-toxic and does not restrain from the growth of microorganism and can be degraded totally.The Eco Golf Ball has no bad effects on the environment. Once the ball is dessolved in water, specific microorganism will cause it turn into carbon dioxide and water.The Eco Golf Ball is 100% safe to marine life.

TOILETRIES Eco-friendly, Keep Dad looking good and feeling good with no man-made nasties! Make your own or check out

U UNUSUAL potted plant, bromeliad, venus fly- trap, or a pitcher plant.

UNDERWEAR If Dad needs some new duds, give sustainable. Organic -

100% Hemp Boxers

Organic Cotton and Bamboo Underwear

V VINEGARS AND OILS Make up herbal vinegars and organic salad oils in glass jars with sprigs of rosemary, tarragon, parsley, etc and season with garlic and peppercorns for the gourmet loving Dad.

W WINE Home-brewed, in fancy bottle and personalized labels. Local organic wine.

WIND CHIMES made from pottery discs or anything recycled that takes your fancy, or a wind sock.

X X-TRAORDINARY Homemade Gifts are also extremely appreciated by their recipients because of the time, care and love taken in the making.

Y YOURSELF There's some of you in every homemade gift, because of the pleasure in the making and the giving.

YOUR undivided attention for a whole hour to do anything Dad wishes!!

Z ZANY hand printed organic T shirt.

ZESTY HERBS hand picked from the garden and turned into culinary delights - pesto, to accompany a fresh home baked herb loaf for Father's Day on the grill BBQ lunch.

The nicest gifts are always those that have been handmade, fashioned by the hands of the giver and full of warm vibrations. Making your own need not be expensive or difficult. It just requires imagination and a little skill. The varied homemade ideas we have included here should start you on the absorbing and productive path. Traditionally, gifts are given by children to their fathers, but does Dad really need another silk tie? According to The Green Guide, more than half of Dads say they have never received a "good" gift, and the average cost of a Father's Day gift is $89.00. Running out of time or inspiration to create a homemade gift for Dad, spend the dollars with a waste-free gift that Dad or an Eco organization will appreciate.

Don't sweat the gift-aspect just let Dad know that you’re thinking of him, and you love him. Enjoy the day, and celebrate Dad with your heart, however you know best.

Happy Father's Day!