Mar 26, 2011

Earth Hour Project

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change. Only a year later and Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries/territories participating. Global landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, CN Tower in Toronto, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Rome’s Colosseum, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

In March 2009, hundreds of millions of people took part in the third Earth Hour. Over 4000 cities in 88 countries/territories officially switched off to pledge their support for the planet, making Earth Hour 2009 the world’s largest global climate change initiative.

On Saturday 27 March, Earth Hour 2010 became the biggest Earth Hour ever. A record 128 countries and territories joined the global display of climate action. Iconic buildings and landmarks from Asia Pacific to Europe and Africa to the Americas switched off. People across the world from all walks of life turned off their lights and came together in celebration and contemplation of the one thing we all have in common – our planet.

Earth Hour 2011 will take place on Saturday 26 March at 8.30PM (local time). This Earth Hour we want you to go beyond the hour, so after the lights go back on think about what else you can do to make a difference. Together our actions add up.

Visit the Beyond the Hour platform to share your stories and to get inspiration from the actions our supporters have shared with us already.

At least I get the chance to try out another idea for recycling all those empty Baby Food jars I have lying around.

Mar 25, 2011

Chalkboard Table Project

Over at ReadyMade there is a great little project to keep the kids entertained.

1. Chalkboard Paint - you should be able to pick up a small tin in your local DIY store, Homebase or Woodies
2. A small table - IKEA have the SVALA Children's table for €14.99
3. (Optional) Latex paint in one or more colors (for borders)
4. Ruler
5. Masking tape
6. Paintbrush

Cost: Should cost no more than €20.
Which - lets face it, is cheap when you think your kid could be scribbling on your 'new' retro style sofa or scratching marks into your grandmothers antique sideboard.

Time: This is a weekend job as you need to let 2 coats of paint dry over night.

Step 1: Tape a 1" border around each of the four sides of the surface of the table, then apply chalkboard paint inside the remaining square.

Step 2: Let it dry overnight, then add a second coat.

Step 3: (This part is optional) After giving the paint another day to dry, carefully peel off the masking tape. Use another round of tape and paint to create a colorful border, if you like.

Step 4: Give your kid some age-appropriate chalk, unveil the table, and let the scribbling begin.

Safety First: Play it safe and keep an eye on your little draftsman to ensure that the chalk stays in the hands and out of the mouth.

Mar 23, 2011

Into Eternity


Into Eternity is a documentary film directed by Michael Madsen. (No - not THAT Michael Madsen!)

It follows the digging and pre-implementation of the Onkalo nuclear waste repository in Olkiluoto, Finland.

Here is a synopsis  taken from their website

Every day, the world over, large amounts of high-level radioactive waste created by nuclear power plants is placed in interim storages, which are vulnerable to natural disasters, man-made disasters, and to societal changes. In Finland the world's first permanent repository is being hewn out of solid rock - a huge system of underground tunnels - that must last 100,000 years as this is how long the waste remains hazardous.

Once the waste has been deposited and the repository is full, the facility is to be sealed off and never opened again. Or so we hope, but can we ensure that? And how is it possible to warn our descendants of the deadly waste we left behind? How do we prevent them from thinking they have found the pyramids of our time, mystical burial grounds, hidden treasures? Which languages and signs will they understand? And if they understand, will they respect our instructions? While gigantic monster machines dig deeper and deeper into the dark, experts above ground strive to find solutions to this crucially important radioactive waste issue to secure mankind and all species on planet Earth now and in the near and very distant future.

Over at International Film Circuit, Inc  you can find a list of  screening dates but they seem to be all in America.

I'm not finding any European dates anywhere. So, in that case click here to watch the Full Documentary on YouTube.

Mar 17, 2011

'Go Green' for St. Patrick's Day Project

We're all relatively food literate these days thanks to the Jamie's, Gordon's & Nigella's of the World.

Every week, each magazine has so many recipe pages you'd be forgiven for asking "where have all the adverts gone?"

It's no longer a simple case of Roast Chicken or Fish and Chips for Dinner. Now it's 'Roast Garlic and Mint Crusted Lamb with Mint and Tarragon Jersey Royals' or 'Hazelnut and Pecan Nut Roast with a Chive, Thyme and Parmesan Sauce'.

Do these recipe writers get paid by the word?

It does sound nice though.

So where do I come in? Well, I may not be able to help you successfully rear a sheep or a flock of chickens in your back garden or apartment (which ever may be the case) but I can help with the planting of Herbs.

It may not be quite warm enough yet to start planting outdoors but you can always grow a few herbs indoors until the frost begins to thaw.

Many herb plants grow easily in containers and require only minimal care.

All you need can be found in Homebase for a minimal cost. Around 10 - 15 Euro
Herb Plants
Pots or containers
Potting Mix

Time: About half an hour

Step 1: Make sure you have a sunny windowsill where your herbs will survive. A south or southeast window would be perfect if it gets at least 5 hours of sun per day and is away from drafts.

Step 2: Get a container that is at least 6-12 inches deep. You can plant multiple herbs in a wide or long container or use at least a 6" pot for individual plants.

Step 3: Use a potting mix to avoid soil born diseases.

Step 4: Put a 2-3 inch layer of potting mix into the bottom of your container and position your herb plants in the container.

Step 5: Finish filling in with the potting mix, firming gently around the plants. Leave about an inch at the top of the container for watering.

Some Handy Tips:
1. Water sparingly. Herbs don't like to sit in wet soil.
2. Feed once a month with a fertilizer labeled for use on edibles.
3. Allow the plants some time to acclimate. Once you see new growth, you can start using your herbs.
4. Choose herbs that don't grow too wide or tall. Chives, basil, lavender, parsley, mint and thyme are good choices.
5. Snip and use your plants often to encourage them to grow full and bushy.
6. Never trim more than 1/3 of the plants foliage.

Mar 11, 2011

What a Dummy Project

I hate buying something and then within a short space of time it breaks.

Let me repeat that. Just to be clear.

I HATE buying something and then within a short space of time it breaks.

Now some of you may not agree with the Dummy, Binkie, Soother, Pacifier, Beebee, Binko, Bobber, Sucker, Plugger, Nibbler or Doodle but my God we like them in our house.

The day my son was able to pick up his own dummy was a glorious day in our household. Until then ...well, let me paint a picture.

Drifting off to sleep for the umpteenth time on any given night, we would be woken up by the sound of our son crying. Once again he could not reach the dummy that had fallen out of his mouth and that now rests behind his head. We would go back in to him, pop it in his mouth, get back in to bed. A mere 30 secs later we would hear what became the most hated sound in our home. The sound of that small plastic dummy falling out of his mouth, AGAIN. We would look at one another. "Maybe he's drifted off" our eyes would say to each other for fear that actually whispering might send microscopic airwaves that would wake him from his slumber. No chance. The crying would start and the cycle would continue on until all 3 of us would collapse. He, finally surrendering to tiredness. Us, to exhaustion.

Until the Amazing Pacifier clip entered our house.

The nights were transformed. It would fall out of course but now his tiny little hands would find the chain attached to his PJ's and with every neuron firing in his brain he would figure how to pull it back up to his mouth. Our boy. The Genius!

Minutes of sleep turned into a half hours sleep. Half hours of sleep turned into hours and before you know it we were getting a full solid 2 hours sleep.

What did you think I'd say 5 or 6 hours? He was still only 3 months old! We were lucky to get 2.

Within a week the plastic clip broke. Now, either our child is the reincarnation of Superman and has the strength of 100 men or the pacifier clip was badly made. My guess is the clip was badly made and yes I do know that Superman is not real. (as a side note) every time I bath him and wrap him in a blanket I can't help saying "You will travel far, my little Kal-El. All that I have, all that I've learned, everything I feel... all this, and more, I... I bequeath you, my son." and all in my best Marlon Brando accent.

We bought another one. Guess what? It broke.

Is my son Superman?


So I decided to take matters into my own hands.

1: Some pieces of strong ribbon.
(A quarter of a yard should be long enough for each and is the smallest length you can buy)
2: suspender clips
3: Velcro strips. About a quarter of a yard also.
4: Needle and thread.
I got everything I needed at Hickeys

Image: Patent Pending Projects

Cost: About 3 Euro.

Time: Half an hour per clip. (only because of my slow stitching)

Step 1: Attach the Velcro at either ends.
At one end space them 1 inch apart. This is the end for the Dummy.
At the other end space them a few millimeters apart. This is for the suspender clip so needs to be closer together.
Image: Patent Pending Projects

Step 2: The Velcro needs to be stitched to the fabric. Fold the ends of the fabric over before you attach the Velcro for a neat edge. Stitch the Velcro around the edges to secure. I'm not great at sewing but I gave it a good try.

Image: Patent Pending Projects

That's it. Simple really.
Image: Patent Pending Projects

Now, lets see if Superman can break this one!

Mar 10, 2011

Garden Planter Project

It seems to be that everything lately has to come with the prefix 'Rustic'.

From Ikea's glass dishes with tiny bubbles and imperfections, proof they were crafted by the honest, simple, hard-working indigenous peoples of... wherever. .to the latest recipe for warm dairy free, egg free, nut free Tuscan Salad.

It seems the more simple, artless, or unsophisticated something is, the more detailed, artful and cosmopolitan it becomes.

I've been searching online trying to find ideas for recycling the wooden palettes that you see stacked up behind every supermarket or warehouse. Most of the time these palettes are collected by hordes of kids once a year and given a proper viking send off every Halloween. But there's some great ideas online and here's one that i found over at esprit cabane which truly is Rustic and is very simple and artless. Whether it's unsophisticated or cosmopolitan - well that's your choice.

You could use it for plants or why not try grow some of salad leaves, Spring onions or maybe a herb or two?

Here are the instructions:
Step 1: Mark your cutting lines on the pallet before you start sawing.
The boards used in this example are ¾ in (2 cm) thick and cut to lengths of 6 - 1 ft (30 cm) lengths and 7 - 10in (26 cm) lengths.
Use a handsaw or power jigsaw to cut the wood.
Sort the boards by length; 1 ft (30 cm) to one side, 10 in (26 cm) to the other. Smooth the edges with sandpaper.

Step 2: Assemble the 1 ft-long boards to make two planter sides of the same height.
Nail the boards to two battens that are 2 in (5 cm) longer than the height of the planter.
Nail each batten ¾ in (the thickness of the boards) from the end. Once you have assembled the first two sides using the 1 ft-long boards, nail the shorter 10 in-long boards to the battens.

Word of advice: If you are going to grow herbs or vegetables in it, protect the wood and your herbs by lining the planter inside with plastic, fixing it with small nails. Make drainage holes before filling it with compost.

If you're feeling more ambitious though have a look over on the Gardeners' World website where there are some plans to build a bigger planter box.

Mar 3, 2011

Tin Can Lantern Project

Image: Factory Direct Craft

Well I don't know about you but to me if feels like Spring is in the air.

I know this because this morning I heard the distance but unmistakable cry of a hibernating lawn mower splutter into life.

It's such a wonderful feeling when Spring comes around again because not only do you get the initial long forgotten sensation of warmth on your face but also you can feel it in your heart.

The prospect of being able to sit outside enjoying your lunch.

Or maybe take an outside table when having an early evening dinner at a restaurant.

And of course there's always the joy of sitting out in the garden at night, sipping away on a glass of wine and chatting about your plans for the summer - which now falls somewhere between August the 4th and August the 6th.

If this sounds like you maybe you might like to try this little project that I found over on Gardeners'

These funky lanterns are easy to make and won't break the bank. Made from metal food cans, protected from the elements with spray paint, they'll last for years to come brightening up any area of your garden. Spray lots of lanterns all the same colour for a simple look, or go for lots of bright colours to create the party mood.

There are a few different ways you can do this.

You can either punch holes in the can with a Hammer and nail or use a electric drill with a 3.5mm drill bit.

Step 1: Pierce holes in the side of the can randomly or form a pattern.

To form a pattern, draw it out on a piece of paper the same size as the can and stick the page to the can.

Step 2: Leave the tin can unpainted or spray-paint it.
(If you decide to spray paint it work outside and spray the cans with car paint.)

Step 3: To make the handle, punch two holes opposite each other just below the rim of the can at the top and attach a length of wire through the sides.
(optional) attach one side of the wire, then thread with coloured beads and fix to the opposite side.

All you have to do now is pop in some tea-lights and they're ready.

One word of advice though. They can get hot so if they are out in your garden, hang them up high where they will be safe and are away from 'tiny' hands.

Saying that, the young ones should be up in bed while you are out back, sipping wine and dreaming of far flung places where the sun shines long and proud and definitely for longer than a weekend (plus bank holiday if lucky)

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