Previously, this was a blog mostly to harass my poor friends and family with the details of my life. Don't worry-- that will continue. However, I'm also going to use this as a terrible forum for dialogue about green tips and eco-revolutions. Hopefully it will be helpful and entertaining...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Hey all,

The last few months have been more than a bit crazy but also more than a bit fantastic. I will now describe in succinct detail my life and adventures since the end of June...


For the fourth of July, I volunteered at and extremely enjoyed the Festival for the Eno, a local festival whose proceeds go towards the Eno River Association. In exchange for a few hours of selling soda and juice to the wonderful attendees, I got free entry to an excellent day. They have vendors, SUCH good food, a ton of music, and lots of hands-on activities and informational booths. Plus I got to see one of my favorite local bands, Lost in the Trees, play a great set:

I also moved to a brand new, gorgeous house with my BFF Katie. I have no pictures of the house. Why? I don't know. They will come sometime soon, including at least one picture of Katie's insanely lovable dog, Foxy.

In the middle of July, I met my Girl Scout troop! I'm co-leading a group of about 13 or 14 twelve-year-olds. They are a group of smart, independent, individual, wonderful human beings who I absolutely love. For the sake of not being creepy, I'm not going to post pictures of them on the web. Just imagine awesome girls. That is what they look like. I'm helping out with running meetings, planning events, and lots of fun little stuff. We're going to do a FANTASTIC Earth Day event this year that the girls are going to be in charge of. The ideas they've had so far are amazing! A large number of them are also thinking about getting the Silver Awards, so I get to help advise them on that. It's like a PhD but... fun...

The next big thing was my BFF Viki's stunningly beautiful wedding. Behold the gorgeous bride:
Hahaha jk that's a horse. But Vik's in the background. Here she is for reals, with two fine ladies:
It was beautiful, I got an awesome brunch, and family drama was kept to a minimum. Viki was a fantastic bride and wedding planner :)


I got to spend an awesome day with my girl scouts at the beach. We swam a ton, saw an aquarium, and ate some mighty fine pizza. Success.

Then, KAPOW! I went to Angleterre with my beau-friend, Matthew.

We went to Dorchester, Dorset, Lyme Regis, Chesil Beach, Exmoor, York (where Matt lived), LONDON! Oh and... ROME!!! Matt totally surprised me with the awesomest graduation (his graduation from his Master's that is) present ever from his parents: a trip for two to Rome! For some reason he chose me rather than his graceful, well-behaved girlfriend. For that I will always be thankful.

Altogether, we saw a gajillion gobsmacking things... The highlights were Thomas Hardy's cottage and grave (both of them-- one in Dorchester and one in Westminster), Cerne Abbas (heh... look at the picture), Roman ruins, older ruins, lots and lots of farm animals (weeee!), the Cobb (go read Persuasion or The French Lieutenant's Woman if you don't know why that is so exciting), amazing museums, all the big sites in London, ALL THE BIG SITES in Rome, and the Royal Albert Hall. I could keep gushing, but really I am only making you jealous.

One of my favorite-est things, though, was the Roman Cats... There is a little park of ruins where people used to just dumb stray cats :( And then these awesome ladies came together to take care of them! So now the ladies seem to be taking care of most of the stray cats in Rome. There are stray cats EVERYWHERE, and people are always feeding them. These ladies were AMAZING and the cats were so adorable. It was sad because many of the cats had been injured when they were literally thrown into this pit of ruins, but the ladies get a lot of donations and are able to really take care of them. If we had been there longer, I would have volunteered. As it was, I donated a ton of money. The picture below is me with this one really sweet old cat-- they were basically making her as comfortable as possible until she dies. I went over to pet her and she jumped up on my shoulder for about 5 minutes, and then ran over to eat some food. The lady said she barely ever ate, so I definitely teared up a little. I'm amazed we didn't come home with a cat!

It was the best trip ever with one of my most favorite people in the entire world. And we ate caprese almost everyday. It is what makes life worth living, friends.

The start of a new school year! But first, JETS: we went to the preseason Ravens-Jets game... The Jets lost, the Ravens fans were buttmunchers. Nuff said... Also, how about Mark Sanchez? I am in love with him and planning to be married by the end of the year... We'll be heading to the Jets-Jags game in November, and I simply cannot wait. JETS!!!


Rather than doing any work, I just kept driving back and forth between Durham and Baltimore. My darling boyfriend was living in Cumberland with his parents for a few weeks to finish up his Masters thesis, so we met in Baltimore for another marvelous wedding-- his cousin Dan and his (now) wife, Elise. They were beautiful. But more importantly, despite a middle of the night fire alarm at our hotel followed by 3 hours of waiting in the lobby, Matt and I looked good...

Matt and his SUPER FANTASTIC WONDERFUL mom, Lisa, forced me to buy a real girl dress and real pretty pretty princess shoes. I was glad I cleaned up so well and had such good people to help me do so.

Then it was my birthday!!! I spent the night with a few close friends and some champagne. It was nice and low key, which might be a first for my birthday.

In other September news, I got to lead my first Girl Scout meeting. It was hectic, but enjoyable. OH and the girls made me birthday cards!!! It was soooo sweet.

Then I was sick for about two and a half weeks and was extremely unproductive.


I got myself fully trained as a cat volunteer at the Animal Protection Society of Durham. It's a fantastic organization that not only provides shelter to animals and tries to get them adopted, but also does a huge amount of outreach. On that note, GET YOUR ANIMALS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. NOW. If you are not doing it because it is expensive, there are often low-cost, subsidized options available. Contact me and I will look them up for you. If you are planning to breed your animal, please consider the HUGE number of homeless pets that are euthanized EVERY DAY before you add to the number of pets in the world-- and take potential homes away from those in shelters. Finally, if you're thinking about getting a pet PLEASE at least consider a shelter animal. Those are pets that need loving and a good forever home.

I adopted my cat, Annabel, from APS almost exactly a year ago, and I'm so happy to be giving back to that shelter. Especially because I basically get to play with cats whenever I'm there!

THEN MATT MOVED DOWN HERE. He is still getting all his furniture settled, but the living in sin is going extremely well. He's looking for a job, so if any of you have leads for Durham jobs... you let me know ;) Again, pics of the house to come...

The busy beehive of the Girl Scouts participated in a local Diwali fest-- four of them danced in a show-- and the Buddy Walk, a great event put on by the National Down Syndrome Society. It was fun and the girls got to help out a good cause.

I also got to see (and host) one of the best bands in the entire world, Wye Oak. If you like music, listen to them and see what you think. If you don't like music, THEY WILL CONVERT YOU. Andy and Jen were great, even though poor Jen was a bit sick. Also, in case I didn't mention it, AN AWESOME BAND SLEPT IN MY HOUSE. I felt like a patron of the arts. It was neat.

And that about catches us up on the major events of my life! Coming soon, the awesome environmental stuff I've been up to!!! You can't wait and I know it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Save the Waters!

On a more general note, let's talk about water consumption practices!

Some of the best tips I've found are:

In the kitchen:
  • Save water from rinsing vegetables for house plants
  • Use the two sink method of dish washing (one with soap and water and one with clean water for rinsing) -- or use a dish washer, which has generally been proven to be more efficient if it's been made in the last 10 years or so.
  • Keep cold water in fridge, so you don't run it to wait for it to get cold
  • If you have extra ice cubes (like in drinks or that fall on the floor), put them in plants
In the bathroom:
  • Get a water efficient toilet, or put a brick or a bottle of water into the toilet to decrease the amount of water used per flush
  • Get a water efficient shower head
  • Turn off the water in the shower when you're not actually using it. Many times people say to me "oh but that's not that much time"... Really? Try it. I was amazed at how much time in the shower I was sudsing up, shaving, or just putzing... I think about half the time I'm "showering" I'm actually not using the water. I don't ALWAYS do this, but I try to almost all the time. Sometimes I really need some hot water to sooth muscles or after a long day in creeks of doom, but generally I turn of that water when I'm not using it. It makes a pretty amazing difference, and, hey, you can confuse your friends and pets with your constant starting and stopping.
  • I've also heard that "if it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down" adage. However, I am a semi-germ-a-phobe, and although I know that urine is sterile, I still don't like the idea of it. If you aren't lame like me, though, this is a great way to cut back your water consumption.
In the backyard:
  • Use a rain barrel to collect water for the yard or plants (often local governments have programs to provide cheap ones, so see if yours does)
  • Get plants that are water efficient-- especially for the grass in your lawn, so that you don't have to water it as much. Further, get over your visions of suburban green lawns. They typically cost a TON of chemicals and water (the top water usage in the USA for households is watering lawns-- and most of that water just runs straight off your lawn). Instead, make an AWESOME lawn that has plans that don't need as much water and even think about a rock garden or an edible garden. A truly green lawn is one that doesn't require a ton of chemicals and wasted water (see what I did there? turned that word 'green' right on it's head)
For the auto:
  • Go to a car wash that recycles its water or use an waterless home car cleaning like EcoTouch, which is likely cheaper than whatever you're currently using
If you've paid close attention, these tips provide many good excuses to get some more house plants-- although I would be aware of what's in the water you're putting into any edible house plants: I wouldn't rinse veggies and then dump that water into a pot of basil, for example.

There are even more tips here. Incidentally, there are also many things you shouldn't flush, including tissues, hair, condoms, and floss! Hmm!

Greening my Kitty and your Car!

In honor of... me being a doting Kitty-Mama... I have decided to green my little Annabel. I wrote before about planning to potty-train her-- but I realized that, for now,t his may be somewhat unreasonable. This is primarily because Annabel regularly visits her granddad's house, where other cat's and their litter boxes live-- so I feel like I would have to retrain her multiple times in a year, which would not work very well. Ditto for if I had to board her at a vet or kennel. Thus, for now, I am going to use one of the most environmentally friendly kitty litters: Swheat Scoop, which is made of (unsurprisingly) wheat. It has really low dust and has no clay (which is mined: clearly bad for the environment). Plus, it clumps naturally and is biodegradable. I'd like to flush it, but have been told that flushing it can still be bad for my pipes and eventually cause back ups. I think, however, that this might not be true for wheat based (rather than clay based) litter-- so I'm going to contact the poor folks at Durham's Water Quality Division yet again and see what they think.

If you're a dog owner and not dealing with the joy of cat litter, I hope you are doing your eco-conscious dog owner part. You should ALWAYS pick up your dog's poo (yes, even in your own back yard, Matthew), because pet feces is actually one of the major pollutants in streams. Streams that I'm wading around in. Please keep me poop free by cleaning up dog doo.

In regards to both dog and cat poo, I am still unsure about one aspect: what bags to use. On the one hand, using biodegradable bags is great, because it ... biodegrades. On the other hand, using random plastic bags from packaging means that no production goes into the bags-- and you're going to toss those bags anyways. My main worry is that the plastic will take so long to break down (give or take FOREVER) that the stuff inside won't be able to biodegrade... Any thoughts, people??? For now I'm sticking with use what you have-- that just makes more sense to me. But I'd love to hear why I'm right-- or wrong :)

SO, the point of me discussing the greening of Annabel is that I'm going to start paying for the more expensive, but vastly better for the environment and for my kitty, cat food. Many cat and dog foods contain an ambiguous ingredient known as "meat by-products": dead, dying, diseased, and disabled animals-- including euthanized shelter animals. Because Annabel is not a canna-bel (get it???), I have decided to stop feeding her anything with such euphemistic terms on the bag. I have decided, I think, to go with the expensive but worthwhile Newman's Own brand (shown here in comparison with other organic and green pet foods). The website where that's located, The Green Guide, is an excellent guide for making smarter choices as a consumer. So, poke around there for some eco-good-times.

On another side note, I know that everyone out there in this economic environment are just aching to buy a car... If you are interested in looking at your green options (or just interested in general), check out this informative site about hybrids, diesels, high-mileage, and E-85 (to which I say meh) cars! The cars are, I imagine, often more expensive-- but they will save you gas AND there are currently some tax incentives and such out there... Save both kinds of green, yeah?

Vinegar, like Jesus, is Magic!

The title refers to this humorous and heretical clip of Sarah Silverman. Enjoy, or not, as your morals allow.

Yesterday I woke up to a scene that I lovingly refer to as "Death House". For those faint of heart, stop reading now. My house mate's sweet, but very elderly feline, was apparently a bit constipated in the night. And the poor thing strained so hard that the house... yes, the house, was covered in drops of blood-poop. The poor thing was clearly not a happy kitty, and of course this happened when his mommy (that is, my housemate) was dog sitting and so not home for the night. After moving the poor dear into my house mate's room and giving him some fresh food, I was faced with the prospect of needing to clean the house. And I thought... PERFECT TRIAL FOR MY NEW HOMEMADE GREEN CLEANING PRODUCTS!!! I will be putting up the recipes I have some time in the future... Currently they are a secret, for reasons that shall be revealed in a month or so. However, I CAN report that they were "shit-tested and Kayleigh-approved," as Matt said. They worked to easily get up the messes. Further, for areas that had any extra pungency, I just sprayed on some vinegar and kapow! scent begone! After cleaning up all of that, I was in quite a cleaning mood. So, with a glass of wine in hand, I swept the entire house (movin' furniture and everything) AND cleaned the bathroom decently. In the toilet and shower, I also used vinegar! It worked decently. Again, more specifics on eco homemade cleanin' products to come.

I will say, however, that I also tested out some Trader Joe's kitchen cloths... And, hallelujah, they were fantastic. You can basically use them as paper towels. Except you don't have to throw them out. I used them to scrub at the blood-poo on the floors, the toilet, and the shower (different ones-- I plan to somehow mark them so that one is for super icky stuff, another is for the bathroom, and one more is for the kitchen) and they were all totally fine, looking barely used. They are extremely absorbent-- sucked up the counters-full of liquid. Plus, when I rinsed and wrung them out, they dried rapidly. Also, the initial cloths are very large, so I cut them into fourths, which are about the size that I actually require-- about that of an average kitchen sponge. So, if you want to cut back on your paper towel usage (and the cost associated with them), I'd suggest dropping by your local TJ's (if you have one-- which I hope you do) and picking up a two-pack. If you do, let me know how it goes!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Diva Cup-date 2

Just another side, small note about the Diva Cup... This could be specific to me or totally happenstance, BUT: for me, I feel like I generally have two or three heavy days and then a day or two of light, extra ...gunk... I noticed that, with the Diva Cup, I had three days of fairly heavy stuff, and then: NOTHING! Like I said, I don't know if that was happenstance or because the cup collects menstruation at a higher level or what. But, yet another awesome reason to try it out!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Diva Cup-date

Well, it's that time of the month again. And no, Matt, that does not mean I'm extra-grumpy. However, it DOES mean that I had another chance to use my Diva Cup. And, I gotta say, I'm kind of in love with it. Once I got over the icky factor of putting it in (it is quite like a nightmare of a tampon) and taking it out (see above), it is more than worth it. I put it in the first day thinking, well, I'll take it out if it bugs me-- but it didn't. So I figured, well maybe I'll switch to a pad or something when I empty it next. I took it out around 10 hours to empty it (you're supposed to empty it and clean it with hand soap every 6 to 12 hours) and realized I really didn't want to deal with a pad or a tampon. If put in correctly, you can't feel the cup AT ALL and it doesn't leak AT ALL. It pretty much feels like I'm not even on my period, except for when I empty it. I am absolutely loving the lack of diaper-ness, string-ness, and... bloodiness. Plus, no smell! Hoorah. I've also noticed that it is getting easier and easier to get it in and out-- it still takes 5 or 10 minutes to take it out, clean, and put it back in, but it's not nearly as stressful.

So, if you are interested in the Diva Cup, here are a few tips:
  • Wash using Soft Soap with Aloe Vera
  • You're going to want to boil it once a month (I'm going to buy a little saucer specifically for this), just to get rid of any bacteria-- directions are on the Diva Cup website OR in the box
  • It is a little expensive (about $30), but eventually pays for itself (you can use it for 10 years) and is worth the money
  • You do need to be ready for a difficult insertion the first few times. It just takes a little to get used to and, hey, you'll be a lot more comfortable with down there.
  • If you can feel it, it's in wrong.
  • It won't get stuck up there-- if worse comes to worse, it gradually works its way out via yer handy muscles in there.
  • There are two models-- one for those under 30 and who haven't had babies and one for those above 30 or who have had babies: again, more info on their website.
All in all, TRY IT. It's totally worth it, and great for you and the environment!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Concerts Abound!

Well the past 5 days have been music-filled. I was lucky enough to see The Decemberists in Raleigh, Phillie, and Baltimore, with Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 opening for them at two of those shows. Plus Andrew Bird also opened at the Baltimore show AND we saw RH&V3 at a separate show in Annapolis. All in all, the shows were fantastic.

Before the Raleigh show, I finally made peace with tapas and ate at the wonderful Humble Pie. The Napoleon was simply amazing. The chocolate martini was simply not. The Raleigh show was probably the best, because the audience seemed the most in to the show and people were actually dancing around. Blind Pilot, who I really liked but were a wee bit slow, were a great opening band. It was a bit weird seeing the Decemberists at a seated venue, as I normally spend most of a Decemberists show bouncing up and down and singing loudly. In Raleigh, people actually went up front and danced around-- and two awesome peeps got up on stage and guitar-dueled. If you want to see how inspiring it was, check out their cover of Heart's Crazy on You, noting the fantastic vocals of Becky Stark and Shara Worden, honorary Decemberists.

In Phillie, we tried to get up front for the second half of the show-- and Marlie, Jordan, and I spent five of the best minutes of our lives 3 feet from Colin Meloy. And then the security guards remembered that they hate everyone, joy, and puppies, and made us (and a few dozen other people) sit down. It was worth it, especially because Colin loudly said (twice) that it SUCKED that they made us sit down. I really can't wait til the next tour, when I can dance my way through the show and hopefully get up front.

RH&V3 were awesome all three times. I think we scared people with our enthusiasm for them.

I continue to hate Merriweather. It just has such an anti-rock'n'roll feel to it what with the constant checking of tickets and forced hipness... My grudges run deep, even for music venues.

And thus ends my musical extravaganza. For now...

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Vinegar to the Rescue! and All Cars Hate Me

We have had some mold problems due to previous flooding and whatnot, and we've been meaning to clean it up and hope for the best for a while. So, with my new found eco-lution, I decided to go after it with vinegar. It was pretty amazing. The mold immediately started running down the wall, and I was able to wipe up a lot of it (which I think you're not supposed to do, but I didn't really think I should just let it all run down and soak at the bottom of the wall) and then respray and let it set. We'll see how it works-- hopefully it will keep it from growing back. And hopefully I haven't inhaled a ton of mold spores to my lungs. That would be unfortunate.

In other news, all cars hate me. Yeah. For real. Yesterday, driving from Durham to Baltimore, I parked at a 7-11 to pick up some brand new Dr. Pepper Cherry (mmm so good) and then had a tight spot to back out of-- there was a car at the gas pump directly behind my car. So, being a good and responsible driver, I slowly backed out. Inching closer and closer to the car, staring out my back window calmly. Just as I got close enough to begin point 2 of my three-point turn, I hear a honk. I assumed someone must be trying to come up somewhere and that my next turn would bring me into their path... No. It's the lady in the car that I'm still a good six inches away from, honking and staring at me with abject terror... I just looked at her, thinking, "Really? Am I not backing up slowly enough?" and then pulled out. Honestly, it pissed me off quite a bit. I can understand someone getting nervous if the other driver is moving quickly or if you're not sure that the other driver sees you, but I was clearly moving VERY slowly (as I myself get nervous in tight spots) and STARING out my back window. So it just seemed absolutely unnecessary.

This morning, as Marlie and I went to Starbucks (evil, but I did use a travel mug), I was backing out of a spot with a car in the drive through directly behind me. I started to tell Marlie the story, and right as I said, "And then she honked!" We hear a honk. I laughed, and continued to slowly and carefully back up my car, staring at the car behind me... And then the honk became sustained. I stopped and looked and the lady in the car was staring angrily at me, waving her hand. Again, all I could think was "Really? I am at least six inches from your car and this is the only way to get out of this spot!" I, in fact, was so annoyed that I rolled down my window and said, "Was I REALLY that close to you???" And the lady, without rolling down her window-- because clearly I am an impolite hoodlum of a rascal that would knife her, said, "YES YOU WERE THAT CLOSE!!!" Too which I just shook my head and drove off. Admittedly, I was shaking with anger. But I came up with a plan for if this situation occurs again: I will park my car and go and see how close I actually was... I am pretty sure that, again, I was at least six inches. But this way I can check and show them that they are, in fact, being friggin' absurd.

After all that, I decided to walk up to Walgreens rather than drive (plus it's a nice walk and hurray for not using a car when it's not needed), and crossed oh-so-legally at the crosswalk. Madame le Left Turn decided she didn't really want to watch for pedestrians-- and stopped about 3 feet from me. Didn't say like, "Oh my bad sorry or any such thing-- just stared at me as if I shouldn't be there.

So, dear cars, and more importantly drivers, please stop hating on me and be nice. Please.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Kayleigh the (energy) Vampire Slayer

Hey my Peeps,

What's that? You wanna save some money AND save the Earth? How about unplugging all those cords hanging from your wall? It actually makes a big difference. Further, you can plug everything into a power strip and just unplug that baby when you're not using stuff (although, of course, when it's turned on you should only have stuff plugged in that you're actually using). Those are the basics, and you can also check out some more tips.

Or, be amused by cute children telling you to get with the green. And then do it.

Savin' double the green. Why wouldn't you do it?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


The Jets, as usual, are the best team in the NFL.

Buying Used

Buying used is a cheap way to reduce waste and remove yourself a bit from consumerism. Instead of giving money to big companies, you give money to charities, local businesses, or just local people that are selling their stuff. Plus, if you're like me, you love getting a good deal. In the past few weeks, I've bought:
  • a Samsonite suitcase for $10
  • an awesome steamer trunk for $10
  • a bed desk/tray thingy for $15
  • a pair of jeans, 3 pairs of shorts, and a pair of shoes for about $20
  • a few full dinner sets and silverware and cups, probably all for less than $50
And I love bragging about it.

For those of you out there looking for a good deal, here are some tips:
  • Thrift stores are great! A lot of times, though, there will be a few that are kind of iffy. It takes visiting and asking around to find the good quality ones that have the kind of stuff you're looking for.
  • If you're in a university community, look around for email lists where people sell stuff. Especially international students, because they are often selling everything they don't want to move back with them. It's also a great place to list your own stuff.
  • You can also check your local Freecycle lists, depending on the kind of stuff you're looking for and your patience. Again, this is a great way to get rid of stuff you don't want anymore.
  • Finally, ask friends and family! My housemate regularly offers me clothing that she's going to donate, and I know people are always giving my little sister cloths.
  • You can also get all your friends and family together for a mini-swap-o-rama-rama, where everyone brings cloths (or whatever) they don't want, and everyone can go through each others' stuff and take what they want.
All of these are cheap options that are good for the environment, because you're not supporting the making of a million new things but instead are buying things that are already made.

For other, similar and more crafty ideas, check out the newest series of "Cast-On", a knitting podcast. The new series is called "Make Do and Mend" and focuses on how to... make do with what you have and mend it to improve it. Plus, I adore the host, Brenda Dayne.

A Lovely Weekend

This weekend was filled with two momentous events: my little sister's graduation and my best friend's wedding shower.

My little sister graduated fourth (or something absurd like that) in her class (of about 513). We were very proud of her, but all the pomp and busy-ness was a bit silly. I had an elderly lady yell at me to "PLEASE NOT PUSH IN FRONT": I'm pretty sure I was just standing near her. The graduation, as such things go, was pretty quick, and I was able to craft my way through the whole thing. No one was supposed to cheer after each name (513 students means it takes a while, even reading all the names quickly back-to-back), but of course some people did. I would love to graph the relationship between cheer after name in high school graduation to some level of achievement in life. Which is a snippy way to say, SHUT UP AND BE POLITE. Afterwards, though, we all got ice cream. Then we went home and Marlie played on her new MacBook, and Jor played on his iPod touch, and we all watched an awesome zombie movie, "Dance of the Dead." Seriously, it was wonderful and had a similar tone to "Shaun of the Dead". For those of you with FearNet on Demand, you can (and should) watch it for free.

Viki's Bridal Shower was absolutely gorgeous. The weather was lovely, the food was delicious, and the people were great. We played fun games and just had a lovely little shower. Viki, of course, looked wonderful. She was thoroughly bridal-showered.

I've also been crafting A TON, but they are entirely presents for people... SURPRISE PRESENTS. So, alas, I will have to put off posting pictures and their stories until after they've been given... Marlie, you can take some pics of the awesome presents I got you, as I forgot to do that :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Recycling and reusing are awesome, but reducing is the most important R by far. Reusing often ultimately ends up in recycling, and recycling takes energy and materials. Reducing however, gets the problem at the source-- the fish rots from the head, so I say cut off the head. And, hurray, it's not that hard!

One of the top ways to reduce waste is to think about what you're buying. Buy things with less packaging and buy in bulk, bringing your own containers, whenever possible. Places like Whole Foods and Food Co-Ops are very understanding of this. I often use yogurt containers and jars as containers, so I doubly reuse and reduce! Farmer's markets are also a great way to avoid excess packaging (and transport!). Further, farmer's market sellers are often willing to take back used packaging (like egg cartons).

Fast food isn't very good for you to begin with nor is it particularly sustainable, but the huge amount of trash produced by fast food restaurants is yet another reason to avoid them. Get a good sit-down meal, where you eat off of real dishes, or be prepared with your own (way cheaper and healthier) snacks and little meals.

Similarly, I am working on always carrying a mess kit with me. That way, if at a meeting or a picnic, there are only disposable options, I give myself a better one. One of the most important parts of this kit is a travel mug. Because, inevitably, you're going to want some coffee or tea or some such thing-- have a cup ready for it! I've been trying to encourage my behavior by just refusing to get a paper cup. I just won't. The pain from not getting my coffee when I want it is enough to make sure that I'll bring a cup with me.

I also bring my own grocery bags everywhere. I always have at least one in the car. It's not just for groceries-- it's for any store where you might get a bag. Yes, including the mall. If you really don't want to bring your own bag, you can also use one bag for purchases from multiple stores.

Buy less. Buy used. Both of these things reduce waste.

Don't buy a magic doggie bag dispenser thing. Use the plastic bags you're already bringing into your home. It's effectively free and cuts down on a huge amount of waste.

Stop using paper towels. This is something I'll be doing in the next few months. There are a few prongs to accomplishing this goal. First, get some cloths for cleaning in the kitchen and bathroom and such. I've heard good things about Trader Joe's Cleaning Cloths, so I plan to get some of these and try them out. Second, keep some absorbent rags around (old towels or tee shirts perhaps) for big spills. Finally, keep any plastic bags that were just going to be thrown out around to pick up gross stuff. Rags can be washed in the washing machine as usual-- possibly with some extra vinegar or borax to kill any germs.

Similarly, make your own adorable hankies and hankie-holding tub.

Bring your own towel or washcloth to the gym, if they don't already require it. Use that to wipe down machines rather than a disposable tissue.

You need to clean, of course, but how 'bout reusing all your handy cleaning gadgets, especially things like Swiffer mops? As an added bonus, it so darn cute!

Avoid all those little uses of paper. For directions, use a GPS if possible (a great excuse to get a new gadget) otherwise write down short directions on scrap paper. Use scrap paper or cereal boxes to write down grocery lists on rather than buying a special grocery list pad (or at least fully use each piece of paper by re-using it over many weeks). Ditto for little sticky pad notes and memos to yourself.

Buy chop sticks and straws that are re-usable to avoid that constant waste.

For $41, you can get rid of catalogs and junk mail for 5 years-- and about one-third of that fee is donated to environmental agencies. And that's $41 per household, not per person. Besides saving the environment and saving you time, this also cuts down on the potential for identity theft. Did I mention it's really easy to sign up?

Alright, boys, get ready to get over your squeamish sides. You were carried in a womb for roundabouts 9 months, so I'm allowed to talk about menstrual cycles if I want. You don't have to read about it, though. Ladies, I've recently tried the Diva Cup. Basically, it's a silicon cup that you put on up there and it collects all the blood and gunk. You empty it at least every 12 hours (I think they suggest more like every 6 hours), clean it up, and put it back up there. A lot of the EWWW ICKY factor, if you think about it, is probably similar to what you thought when someone first explained tampons to you. This is better, because it can stay in for 12 hours and is (I think) less likely to cause TSS because it holds the gunk inside the cup rather than up against your skin. Further, if inserted correctly, there shouldn't be any leaks. Admittedly, you have to be pretty comfortable with reaching around in there. However, once it was in, I couldn't feel it at all. Sadly, due to my attempts to balance my fear of not getting it in far enough and my fear of getting it stuck (which is actually pretty impossible-- it will gradually works its way out after about 12 hours or you can just squeeze the same muscles as if you're having a poo, and it works its way out), I didn't have it in quite right. Then I had to go tromping about urban streams for two days, so I opted to give up on it for that period. I was also told that, sadly, Castile soap can possibly damage the integrity of it... I found that out after I used Castile soap once, so hopefully that one time won't hurt it too much. Instead, I got some Soft Soap with Aloe Vera, which I was told would work-- the Diva Wash also seems good, but a bit expensive. On that note, to be warned, the Diva Cup is around $30. But I think they say you can use the same one for about 10 years, so it probably pays for itself eventually. Have you tried it? What did you think?

So that's the three basic R's. What's next??? Oh, there's plenty more out there. Don't you worry...

Re-Use Addendums

Some extra thoughts on re-using...

Plastic bags can also be used for dog poo and, generally, picking up any yicky thing that you might ache to use a paper towel for.

Prescription bottles can also be used as a handy change purse in bags. Also, I really love using one as a jewelery holder when I'm on-the-go. I put my favorite necklace in an old, clean sock, wrap it up and put it in the prescription bottle. It keeps it from getting scratched and ensures it won't fall out into the bag somehow. Plus you can decorate them with stickers!

Finally, I rubberband balls aren't exactly reusing anything (unless you use a plastic tab to start it), but it does keep rubberbands together in a simple, organized way that looks neat.

It's been a week... What have YOU found to reuse?

But What is KAYLEIGH Doing???

Hey all,

You're probably wondering what I'm up to... Here 'tis:
  • I've finished finals and did fantastically in my first year.
  • I'm starting my summer research, which means I've been spending a large amount of time both staring at GIS models in the lab and wading through urban streams in the Research Triangle. Both have been a lot of fun...
  • Sadly, many people here graduating or moving to the Duke Marine Lab at Beaufort, NC. It's great that people are moving on to new things, but sad that I won't get to see them as much.
  • I'm currently working on becoming a Girl Scout co-leader and will hopefully find a troop over the summer.
  • Finally, I'm trying to be more health-conscious. Specifically, I've been using two Apple-cations (get it??? like for my iPod Touch...) called "Eat Right" and "Eight Glasses a Day." "Eat Right" is a good way to make sure I'm getting the right servings of vege, fruit, dairy, protein, and grains. Yay me! "Eight Glasses a Day" is, unsurprisingly, a simple way to make sure that I'm getting at least eight glasses of water. I usually shoot for way more than that, though, because my body apparently really enjoys being dehydrated. I'm also trying to get better at putting on moisturizing lotion with sunscreen in it daily and coating myself in sunscreen whenever I'll really be out in the sun for an extended period of time. Even on rainy days. Even in not-summer.
That's pretty much it for now. Lots of fun things coming up and to be posted soon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


One of my favorite parts of reducing my waste is reusing, because it basically gives me a chance to get real crafty- and organized-like. I think the best way to start reusing is to be more aware of what you're throwing away. Whenever you throw something away, think if there is another potential use for it. Sometimes the answer is "no"-- but a lot of times the answer is "hmm... let me go poke around on the interwebs" or "actually, that fits a need of mine"! Those are happy times.

Here are some of the best re-uses I've found:
  • Twisty ties (from bread bags and the like): If you're very adventurous, you could knit yourself a plant cover. Or, more simply, I can vouch for these being really great for identifying keys! I have front and back door keys that look exactly the same, and I'd spent the last eight months or so cursing them every time I had to open my door. This solution is free, good for the environment, won't wear off, and can be felt in the dark. Plus, it looks snazzy:
  • The... uh little square bread tabs (do they have a name???): I've used these to label cords with, rather than wrapping tape around them. Again, free and helpful. And not so sticky:
  • Note: both of the above items also make great stitch counters for you knitters out there!
  • Glass jars: Simply fantastic for organizational purposes. I should have taken a before and after picture of my cabinet, but simply taking things like cotton swabs and bandages out of their original packaging and into cleaned jars has made a huge difference. Plus, since the jar is clear, you can see exactly what's in it.
  • Old prescription bottles: Sadly, these are rarely recyclable (as far as I know). However, there are many options for their reuse. Some of the best ones are as holders: for quarters in cars, small stuff like sewing needles and thumb tacks, an easy jewelery holder, a good way to hold bandages or tampons that preserves their integrity or a teeny first aid kit. I read online the idea of giving them to smokers to drop their butts in to (rather than on the ground), but a smoker friend of mine pointed out that smokers who don't care enough to drop their butts on the ground probably won't care to deal with it anyways. Nonetheless, I plan to harass people I know about it-- cigarette butts cause all kinds of nastiness for wildlife. These can also be great ice packs-- put some water in and stick 'em in the freezer, and they can be used for small boo-boos or for lunches. I wouldn't pull the ice cube out of there to use, just because there may be chemicals from previous RX's or the plastic itself. Finally, if you are not a crafty person, many vets, animal shelters, and homeless shelters will accept them as donations. So see if your local ones do, and you can be both environmentally and morally fantastic.
  • Wine corks: Oh the huge number of these I have hanging around... Again, craft-ibilities abound: cork board, trivet, place holders, and even more!
  • Beer caps: Much like wine corks, there are a lot of options once you start looking: boot scrapers, checkers, table tops, or coasters.
  • Onion and orange bags: These are great to wrap around sponges, tie with a twisty ties, and use as scrubbers.
  • Non-recyclable plastic tubs: Another good organizational holder. I also use some for plant watering and in-kitchen compost collection. However, I would only use them to plant non-edible plants in: I worry about the plastic degrading and getting into the plants.
  • Plastic bags and wrappings of all shapes and sizes: Until I train my kitty to use the toilet (you think I'm joking? oh no, just wait till this fall), I have to toss out her poo every day or two. For that reason, I getting plastic bags now and again when I went to the store. However, I realized that is lame. And then I started noticing how many plastic bags I just toss sans poo: large chip bags, cereal bags, bread bags, the list goes on. I've started saving them, and now it's not a problem. I'm also going to try using the same bag a few nights in a row to fill it up before tossing it-- I'm going to keep the poo in the bag inside of a box some kitty litter came in to avoid the smell getting bad. Updates to come...
  • Food scraps: Compost!!!! More on this to come...
  • Dryer lint: Dryer lint can be used to make papier mache, clay, or paper as a neat craft. It also can make a great fire starter or be added to compost. You can also use it as soft packaging for small fragile things. I would caution against two uses I've seen on the internet: as bird or squirrel nesting or as stuffing for children's toys. Someone pointed out that lint does not dry quickly, so providing it to animals as nesting could get them soaked and potentially kill them due to the cold. Further, lint is extremely flammable so not so great for toys.
A lot of these ideas are fun, but you may be thinking to yourself, "Look, I only have so many needs for prescription bottles." Well, you, that's a good point that I'll be discussing more in my next bloggy entry. However, another good idea (depending on the item) is to re-use something in a way described above, but give it as a gift rather than keeping your eco-genius to yourself. Plus, it might get that person thinking about how they can re-use their own waste.

In some of these ideas, I've written about donating items as re-using them. Don't worry: there will be a whole separate blog entry about how and where to donate unwanted items.

Do you have other ideas? AWESOMER ONES??? Think any of my ideas or opinions were so very clearly absurd? Lemme know. The comment button is for just that...

Monday, May 04, 2009

More Thoughts on Recycling

...because you really can't have enough. Yesterday I tried to post some of the basics. Today, I thought I'd try to point some of the less obvious aspects of recycling.
  • You can't recycle pizza boxes-- At least not most of them Earth911 has explained why, which makes a lot of sense. They point out that, if you can rip out the food- and grease- contaminated parts of the box, you can recycle the rest. However, I'm not convinced that recycling places have the time or manpower to check to see if you've done that or not. It's worth checking with your local recycling center. Myself, I think I'm going to try to see if pizza places might let me bring in my own container. I'll let you know how that goes... And I'll be making my own delicious pizza more often.
  • Another side note... you know that handy little recycling triangle of arrows? It doesn't mean that the container is or is not recyclable. It's just a symbol used to say: "I am this type of plastic!"
  • I also wanted to let people know that, although you should do a quick rinse of recyclables and make sure to get any huge clumps of food out, don't waste water (or your time) getting them perfectly clean. Recycling centers wash everything out with some fantastic high-powered water, so by fully cleaning your own containers, you really are wasting water. Specific for you drinkers: you don't need to get the lime wedge out of the bottle for them to recycle it... Happy day!
  • Yet another reason that green can still mean being lazy: You don't have to take labels off containers! Again, don't waste the water or the time. Just rinse it quick and chuck it in the (recycling) bin!
  • Greasy plastics generally aren't going to get recycled-- so things like peanut butter jars should really just be tossed rather than wasting water on something that will just get thrown out
Even MORE information can be found over at Confessions of a Closet Environmentalist, but it seems like the best thing to do is to contact your local recycling center and ASK, if you are at all unsure.

Don't let all of this overwhelm you. It's good to focus on one aspect every week or two-- like making sure you know the rules for plastics and are following them. The next week or month you can focus on metal containers. Don't get discouraged if you think about how much more there is to learn or do. Instead, stay focused on how much you ARE doing already and the steps you're taking to increase it in the future. Doing anything is better than doing nothing. And, of course, doing nothing is actually doing something huge: throwing away everything is a pretty big action. Recycling even a little and working to something larger is great, compared to the alternative.

I'm sure there will be more recycling tips, but I hope to move on to reusing next...

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The First of Many Green Tips: Recycling

Many green and eco bloggers out there have written about the importance of staying motivated and being aware of how awesome you are for trying to green your life-- basically, making sure you don't become discouraged. Just like exercise and diets and any other semi-daily habits, it's something that you have to work at every day but also be proud of what you have already done every day. That's what I tell myself, anyways.

For that reason, instead of trying to tackle the goal of BEING GREEN, it seems wiser to give yourself a specific goal-- you can feel that you're making a difference in that area rather than feeling the huge amount of stuff you've yet to do.

With that in mind, my main goal for right now, until I've feel I've accomplished it is to THROW AWAY AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. Interestingly, as I've learned, this encompasses a huge number of strategies, boiling down to reduce, re-use, and recycle.

In that spirit, I will now begin my eco-tips for reducing your own waste...

First, and foremost, I suggest looking up the recycling tips for your county or city or whatever. To be an honest, as an ecologist and lifelong recycler, I kind of figured, "eh... I already know all that stuff"... Turns out, I... uh... don't. I realized that it makes so much more sense spending energy once or twice to be sure to understand the rules, than to waste time every single week preparing objects that can't actually be recycled. That energy could be spent in so many better and efficient ways... The following are things that I, personally, found out about my LOCAL recycling (it really does differ from place-to-place, so it's worth asking the questions to find out the specifics for you):
  • First, some basics: rinse your containers and flatten plastics and paper as much as possible. Paper products without food on them and metal cans and such are generally fine. Plastics type 1 to 3 (found in the awesome little triangle of arrows somehwere on the container) can typically be recycled. Beyond that, it's good to check with your local recycling.
  • Bottle caps are generally not recycled-- and in fact, as my friend Katie informed me, some places actually do not accept containers that still have their caps on. So be sure to take the caps off
  • If possible call ahead to check and, if they say it's okay, turn the hard plastic caps in to your awesome local Aveda store.
  • Shredded paper, in a paper bag, can be recyled in some areas, but not everywhere-- check with your local recycling unit.
  • Junk mail envelopes-- even those with windows in it-- can often be recycled.
  • It's important to keep your paper and cardboard recycling in a dry area previous to leaving it out on the curb. Many places are unable to recyled previously moist paper products, as far as I can tell.
  • Any paper products with paint or food or any such contaminating-type substances is generally not recyclable. Sadly.
  • Aluminum foil can be recylced, if it doesn't have food or grease on it.
  • There are also a lot of items that can (and SHOULD!) be recycled through local drop-off stations-- printer cartridges, cell phones, BATTERIES, shipping peanuts, plus of course household items that can be donated to places like the Salvation Army and Goodwill.
I'm getting together an email with about a million questions to my local recycling center to ask about a lot of these specifics. Never be afraid to ask such things, via telephone, email, or searching out at a booth at a fair. To be honest, they're usually very excited and encouraged that citizens are interested in their work and regulations-- everyone I've talked to has been about as nice as you can be.

I'd also like to point out that, as I realized what was and was not acceptable for recycling, I changed some of my consumer choices. For example, things that came in cartons, like orange juice, I started buying in jugs, which are recyclable in my area. There's clearly many other aspects involved in such decisions (which I'll get to in future blogs, don't you worry!) , but this is a darn good place to start!

Finally, I really like being able to SEE my differences so easily: the amount of waste going into my trash can has already decreased a lot and I can SEE it. Personally, that is an awesome accomplishment that I feel every day, as I open the trash can less and less.

Hope you enjoyed my first post! Let me know what you think and if you have recycling tips... Coming soon, reducing and reusing and a google-ton of other ideas!


With Earth Day, this year, I did what a lot of people did-- heard the green tips, looked at the green blogs, and rode my bike. But I also searched out green blogs and crafts for fun, and all the sudden I found myself thinking about a million little ways that I could make teeny, tiny changes that would add up to something more.

And, in response to that, I gnawed on my poor boyfriend's ear for a few hours each day, until he finally started reminding me of my long-neglected blog. Unlike Matt, I am not smart enough to write for an awesome online source and get paid for time. Instead, I'll just slave away for fun.

Here's my basic plan, in case you're interested... I really just want to start a blog filled with small tips on 'being green', as the kids say. My goal is to search out different eco-tips, especially those that are TINY changes, and try to be yet another source of such information. I'll, of course, also be linking to awesome blogs I find. And, I hope, you all can comment on my thoughts, and let me know about other blogs or tell me when my tips are not quite right or could be improved. To be honest, the main goal of this blog is going to be to keep me motivated in my green-ness. And it would be nice to have some company...

So it begins.

Previous to now, almost all of my blogs have been focused on just keeping my family and loved ones informed about my banal, but loveable, doings. However, with Earth Day, I've recently been feeling the call to eco-reform and search out simple, easy ways to be more eco-friendly. As a plus, most of these are almost much more economical. In response to those feelings, I'm going to attempt to use my blog as a way to tell my friends and family the neat tips I find-- plus, you poor folks will be forced to listen to fewer eco-rants. Potentially. We'll see.

I'm also hoping, to be honest, that having more of a focus to my blog will encourage me to update it more regularly... you may have noticed I'm not great at that currently. However, I'm constantly finding fantastic eco-ness and wanting to share them with others. Thus, I'm hoping it will come more naturally-- To be sure, talking about myself on the internet does NOT feel normal.

However, I quite understand if you hav eno desire to read my eco-tips. Well, I don't understand, but it is your prerogative. So, I'm going to make sure to label all the posts about me and my life as "kayleigh", and all of the eco-awesome as "eco" -- along with other, more specific tags. So, if you scroll down and look on the right, you can select the tags you like and read any subject you desire. Or, as is hoped, you can read or skim through all of it.

Much love to all. I'm excited and hope you are and hope it keeps up...

However, to let you all know, and to stop any confusion, I will be tagging things carefully. Those about just me and my life will be tagged "kayleigh", while eco-awesomeness will be under "eco". That way, whether you prefer hearing about me or hearing about being green, you can make your own decision. I certainly hope you want to hear about all of it, but I understand either way.

Let's hope that you're excited and that my momentum keeps going...

Friday, May 01, 2009

The 2008 - 2009 School Year in One Blog!

Hello out there all my fine people! It has been approximately forever since I last wrote on this blog to update all my beloveds (and anyone else out there on the interwebz) about my super exciting life as a graduate student! Well, let me get you up-to-date, and then I have an awesome announcement about the future of this blog (and why I hope to update it more often)....

In order to keep this interesting, I shall utilize the minimalist formatting of "bullets"

September 2008
  • Matthew came down for my birthday, and what a birthday was had
birthday cupcake and coffee-- for breakfast
  • I came up to see the New York Football JETS play an awesome game, back before the horror that was the 2008 season truly began.
  • I looked longingly into Matt's eyes, knowing this he was really going through with this whole 'grad school in England' thing:
October 2008
  • The awesomeness of the Jets continued somewhat unscathed
  • I adopted the cutest kitten ever: Miss Annabel Somers, also called Banabel, Banana, Nanner, Nan, Nannerpuss, and the ever-popular "GET OUT OF THE DRESSER"
  • Halloween came and went-- I actually spent that night watching Goosebumps, building an IKEA dresser, and having a glass of wine. Needless to say, it was lovely.
November 2008
  • I saw a really awesome Decemberists show with Jenna, Jordan, and Marlie. I believe I touched Colin again, which made my oh-so-schoolgirl heart cheer with joy. However, no pictures were to be had due to... us being lame and forgetting our cameras. Also, Jenna and Marlie were found to be very poor at following directions and/or common sense. This was not surprising.
  • Thanksgiving! It was awesome! We ate food! It was awesome!
  • I'm sure something else important happened... What was it... Oh yeah! GOBAMA!!!! I should really type something more thoughtful or thought-provoking, but basically I was just really happy. And still am.
December 2008
  • December was hectic, and not just due to finals (all A's, yay me!) and traveling up and down the eastern seaboard.
  • I also got to see my mother, my baby nephew: Chris, and my nephew's lovely parents (also known as my sister, Antonia, and my brother-in-law, Mark... but let's stay focused on the cute bundle of joy, shall we?)
proud new grandmother and baby

proud new aunty and baby

proud new family with baby (please note Mark's awesome shirt: "The angels have the phone box"-- if you don't know what this is from, your life is sad)

proud new Jets fan...
  • Plus I had about 8 Christmases-- one with Mum, Antonia, Mark, and Chris; one with Dad, Marlie, and Jordan; one with Matt's close family; and multiple with Matt's extended family.
  • Matt's family was especially wonderful and inviting and gave me a chance to see Matt at his best:
January 2009
  • Back to the grind! Three new classes: Biogeochemistry (the science of the entire world in tiny little bits of awesome), Wetlands and Stream Restoration Ecology (all the details of my research), and Spatial Analysis (awesome statistics that could blow your mind)
  • I also got to TA an Intro Environmental course with a ton of wonderful undergrads and a semi-deity of ecology and nicest man ever, Norm Christensen
  • Plus I re-potted my sweet plants
February 2009
  • Matt and my's TWO year anniversary, spent far apart but in love nonetheless
  • Continued the grinding
March 2009
  • We had a gorgeous, and rare snow day down here in NC
  • It was also Jenna's birthday, AND Marlie applied for (and got, of course!) the Humanities Scholarship at UMBC
Jenna, current Humanities Scholar

Marlie, future Humanities Scholar
We are a serious bunch.
  • That strange man, Matt, showed up again. We had an epic Baltimore and Cumberland tour of awesome.
  • A high point was seeing "Tis a Pity She's A Whore" at Center Stage which was so fantastic, and we got to go with Los Humanitios
April 2009
  • Guglhupf, a fantastic bakery in Durham, makes bunnies for Easter WITH SUGAR BUTTS. To be honest, the bunny didn't impress me too much (unlike most of their pastries) but was worth it for the cute-factor

  • Got to see the FANTASTIC AND ORGASMIC (if you don't know who he is, check him out! for your own sake!) Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 in Carrboro, an area that requires more inspection
  • That Matt person showed up AGAIN. This time at my house in Durham.
finally fulfilling one of the promises our relationship is based on, Matt made me an Epic Cheese Plate that I could eat every day (and did for about a week)
  • We also ate multiple awesome meals and went to a few fun bars
  • I ate in the same room as Robert Redford and NEARLY got my pic with him
  • I went to Ben and Jerry's for Free Cone Day and got a card for one year's worth of 10% off at B&J's
  • Attended 3 or 4 end of year / beginning of summer parties that were all fantastic
May 2009
  • I continued the epic end-of-year party crawl
  • With the beginning of summer, I've been able to bike more regularly and go to the famous Durham Farmer's Market, which consists of everything good in the world, including the Scene of the Crime Rovers by far one of the coolest bands ever.

And with that, I have updated you to the present time. The next blog post is going to be legen- wait for it...