Sustainable Saturday

Sustainable Saturday is dedicated to all things green - from quick tips for around the home to answers to questions that I am commonly asked.

This week's Sustainable Saturday post is being dedicated to Children's Furniture, mattresses and bedding:

The percentage of furniture made in China is staggering. We determined while looking for a new "big girl bed" for our daughter, that we wanted to find furniture and a mattress that met the following criteria:

1. Furniture made of solid wood.
2. Furniture made in the United States.
3. A mattress that was not treated with flame retardant chemicals.

This was quite a difficult task. As with all major purchases, we establish a budget number that we want to spend. We visited a local mattress store and while the mattress was made locally using organic cotton, the mattress alone was more than we wanted to spend total on furniture for our daughter's room. After searching for several month's, we walked into our local Unfinished Wood Furniture store and made an interesting discovery. They carried a line of furniture made in our region, in the great state of Michigan! With a little research we quickly discovered that not only was this furniture made nearby, but it was also made of fsc-certified wood.

Another requirement was to find a more eco-friendly mattress option without breaking the bank. We decided to purchase from keetsa in San Francisco. Now, this mattress and box springs (or foundation as they call it) had to be shipped across the United States, we did purchase a more eco-friendly mattress at a reasonable price.

For her bedding I have purchased Organic Cotton sheets on clearance from Target. The rest of her bedding is from Pottery Barn Kids. The wall composition was designed by myself and painted by my husband using Duration Home by Sherwin Williams, a low VOC paint.

We are very happy with the end result . . . from many standpoints . . . and so is our daughter!

Buying Local - A series on purchasing and preparing local foods for your family - Symhome mom's take on Menu Planning

Symhome mom's take on Menu Planning:

Each day of the week has a specifically assigned type of food that will be served for supper:

Monday: Chicken or Vegetarian
Tuesday: Pork or Beef
Wednesday: Mexican
Thursday: Leftovers or misc recipes
Friday: Italian
Saturday & Sunday: Anything goes - These meals generally require either more time in the kitchen or involve grilling.

Buying Local - A series on purchasing and preparing local foods for your family - Symhome mom's take on Menu Planning

At our local Farmer's Market we can purchase eggs, meat, vegetables and fruits. We do still have to rely on the local grocery store to purchase those other filler items. Every week we need bread and milk along with other grocery store staples.

Symhome mom's take on Menu Planning -

I begin by shopping on Saturday morning at my local Farmer's Market. I purchase in season fruits, vegetables and meat to last thru at least one week. Then when I get home, I think of all the meals I can make with these foods and determine what items may be needed either from my freezer, pantry and from the grocery store.

At the grocery store I do try to buy thing on sale, clip coupons and in general watch how much I spend. I can guarantee you that a lot of my food savings comes from buying local. I can purchase a green pepper, a medium sized eggplant and a zucchini for example for $1 at my local Farmer's Market. My new goal for this year is to purchase vegetables and fruits at the local Farmer's Market when they are in season and freeze some to enjoy later in the year.

For example last week I purchase a large bag of apples. I made two large pots of applesauce and froze portions large enough for my family for one meal.

Amy's Applesauce:
Apples (your choice of type)

Wash and peel apples (if desired)
Core and slice apples
Place apples in a pan
Fill with water to almost cover apples
Cook apples and water on medium heat until apples breakdown
Add sugar and cinnamon (if desired) to taste

I freeze meal size portions in freezer bags, laying them flat in my freezer. I can just take one out when ready and let it thaw in the fridge. For an extra treat, you can warm the sauce in a pan before serving.

I have also made sauce leaving the skins on. This will give a pinkish tint to your sauce.


Buying Local - A series on purchasing and preparing local foods for your family - Where to buy

Buying local is not just about supporting local farmers and supporting the local economy, but about knowing where your food comes from. To find local CSA's, farmers markets, restaurants among other information on purchasing locally produced food:

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association also has info on locally produced food:

Buying Local - A series on purchasing and preparing local foods for your family - Where food comes from

We are surrounded by the idea of buying Organic . . . but it's not often that we hear about Buying Local . . . at a time when gas prices are soaring, we should be supporting our local farmers and ecomony. I know where my meat comes from do you?

Green remodeling . . .granite countertops oh my . . . .

So as I have indicated in the About Me section of my blog, my husband and I are in the midst of renovating our 1960s ranch in a very "Green" way. One of the very first things we did when bought our home was have a radon test. Radon is a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. I was pregnant at the time we purchased our home and we were especially concerned because children and developing fetuses are vulnerable to radiation, which can cause other forms of cancer. The E.P.A. recommends taking action if radon gas levels in your home exceed 4 picocuries. Now I would have to go back and look at our actual test, but our radon levels were quite high . . . I want to say well over 100 picocuries. So as a result we had a radon mitigation system placed in our home. This system consists of two pvc pipes which are located in our concrete slab . . . there is pvc pipe which runs across our basement ceiling along the floor joists . . . to a fan which is located on the outside of the house. This system keeps our radon levels at our below the recommended maximum of 4 picocuries. It is also recommended that once a system is in place it be inspected every 2 years.

One of the spaces in our home that we would like to someday renovate is our kitchen. I have always loved granite countertops and have always thought that one day I would like to replace our countertops with granite. Now I am thinking twice because of an article I read recently in the New York Times recently entitled What's Lurking in Your Countertop?

The article gives an example of a homeowner who after a routine inspection learned that her newly purchased home had elevated levels of radon. The source, her granite countertops! Radiation experts agree that most granite countertops emit radiation and radon at extremely low levels. This particular granite had high levels of uranium, which is not only radioactive but releases radon gas as it decays.

Now that we've worked so hard to improve our indoor air quality and install a radon mitigation I will definitely be rethinking my countertop choices when the day finally comes to remodel the kitchen. PaperStone is a product that we will definitely be looking into at our house in lieu of the ever so popular granite. As with a lot of things we've done . . . . it's not always popular to be green . . . but we are certainly enjoying the benefits so far! Check out

Information on radon and certified technicians as well as DIY test kits are available at as well as at hardware stores and online if you want to see what the radon levels may be like in your home or place of employment before you call in the professionals.

Organized house . . . organized mind . . . like a breath of fresh air

As I mentioned in my previous post, I do better when things are organized. So, I have attached my cleaning schedule to share how I have organized our household cleaning tasks. Now this may seem ridiculous, but with two parents who work it is essential. I have thought about hiring a cleaning service, but the cost seems to always deter me from looking for someone.
I have broken down all the cleaning tasks into manageable pieces to be accomplished mostly in the evenings during the work week after the children are in bed. While there are occassional nights where the task listed may take 2 hours, that usually only occurs once per month and that makes it manageable. My ultimate goal with this schedule is to keep my cleaning mostly to during the week so that the weekends can be spent spending time with my family.
I am not totally rigid with this schedule. If I miss a few days here or there, no big deal. I find that having a schedule with all the cleaning tasks broken down into manageable pieces makes keeping the house clean and organized from being a completely overwhelming task!

Blogging Schedule

Okay so this may sound a little crazy, but just like everything else in my life, I think I will do better with a schedule. Moneysavingmom has been posting about blogging and how to get started. She suggests blogging 3 times a week. So, that is going to be my new goal. I have a slew of articles that I've either read or have set aside to read so that should provide some good blogging content over the coming weeks. Since I do work and have two kids, my blogging is limited to the evenings . . . if I get to it at all. Establishing a schedule with hopefully regulate my blogging time.