:) On Vacation :)

Posted by organicneedle in Uncategorized





Posted by organicneedle in CSA/ Local Food, random rants

Cost of 1 pint organic strawberries $4.99
Cost of 8 organic apricots $5.99
Cost of 4 organic peaches $4.20
Cost of 4 organic bananas $3.99

Explaining to my husband how 2 little people each weighing about 30lbs can eat $20 in fruit each day….priceless.

Also priceless…people “casually” mentioning that my little family couldn’t possibly eat an entire fruit and vegetable share from our CSA. orang(Seriously…the only thing that separates my boys from orangutans is the lack of body hair. Considering their father is Italian that shan’t be a distinction for long.) Hmmmm….do you think they may be on the CSA waiting list? My shares…back off you veggie jackals!



Keeping My Face Out of the Big Book of British Smiles

Posted by organicneedle in family, green cleaning

british smiles

Still working on updating that ol’ medicine cabinet. We, well I, switched to Preserve toothbrushes awhile back. (The hubby has since gone back to Oral B. I am waaaaaay to much of a lady to make any Freudian connections there…but you feel free.) We have yet to address the toothpaste..until now. So here is what we have tried so far….

Tom’s of Maine Natural Activity Fluoride Toothpaste For Kids Orange Mango 4oz 3.59… Recommend…Three big positives for this product are taste, lack of saccharine, and packaging. My kids both really like the taste. I have seen a new zeal for brushing. I’ve actually been using it too when my little ones aren’t looking. Price is on par with others. The packaging is also better than conventional toothpaste, aluminum recyclable tube. There is the plastic cap, but since it takes my kids about 6 months to a year to use one up, it is livable. The only down side is the husband. He seems to think there is something inherently unholy about non-minty paste.

I also tried the Lavender Mint, also by Tom’s, which came as a free sample. To be kind to Tom’s, if it got you all hot and bothered as a kid when your mama shoved a bar of soap in your mouth…well then run don’t walk to get this fine product. If you don’t happen to a sick bastard,…stick with the mango.

So unless you want your picture The Big Book of British Smiles…go brush your teeth!chimp



Tie Me Up…But Skip the Peanuts

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, organicneedle, organicneedle bags, sewing

homerropeI warn you now that this post is entirely about green cording. If you are expecting circus clowns or hot male models…not going to happen. Homer is as close as you’re going to get today. (For those of you drama-fiends, there may be a mini rant half way through if you pay close attention.) If you are still here than you are probably a little geeky too and thrilled when you find a product that does a job AND isn’t going to make the planet implode. Up until now, I have been hand braiding bamboo yarn for my bags’ drawstrings. It was the only eco-thing I could find that was strong and flexible enough for tying and untying. The problem? Extremely time consuming. The final blow? A health food store contacted me and started throwing out 3 digit numbers for bag requests. Little ol’ Needle can’t braid all that people. So I sent out a little green sewer’s SOS here on the site and to some possible suppliers. Here’s what I found.

First Up...Waxed Natural Hemp Twine. This twine is made by Ecolution. It is 100% hemp, which by nature is a more environmentally friendly crop than most conventional fibers. A solid green choice. It is made, however, in Romania. Not sure if that is a deal breaker, but something to consider. It is strong, flexible, and easily unties. It has a unique smell…kinda sweet and earthy…like a horse. horse Not sure if I dig it. [Okay…here is the mini rant as promised…the distributor who sent this to me, who will remain nameless, sent it packed in Styrofoam peanuts!!!!!!!! Now…in his defense I did not request it to NOT be packed in peanuts. I also didn’t request for it to NOT be packed in a gerbil’s rump….but details, details. It never even crossed my mind that it would need such protection. It is basically rope- it could have been mailed in a paper bag. So…the “ecological solution” arrived here in a cushy little sea of waste.] Now I haven’t completely ruled this out for other things. I suppose if someone is a die-hard hemp or horse-ass fan I could use it upon request.

Next up…and the winner I hope….Organic Cotton Cording made by On the Surface. I would have never found this company if it weren’t for a suggestion by Jabster, a brilliant reader. The rep sent me samples right away and I LOVE them. They have the perfect shade of olive. They are incrediblly strong and still small enough to easily feed through the tops of the bags. 100% organic cotton. Sweeeeeeeeeeeet. Just put in a big ol’ order and can’t wait to kick back and NOT braid. (Really hard to drink wine when you’re twisting yarn.) They are also sending me some dyed nuts…more on that later. A lady can’t reveal ALL her secrets in one post.

For those of you who REALLY like the smell of horse plop when you shop, put a little note in your order and I will gladly give you hemp cording instead. I am that good. I also promise you that even if you do not explicitly tell me to NOT pack in a gerbil’s butt, I will still choose a recycled paper envelope. I am committed to 100% gerbil-free packaging.gerbil

Gervis the Gerbil says say no to unnecessary gerbil packaging!




Posted by organicneedle in random rants

Slightly serious mood today. Over the weekend I was chatting with a friend and found myself commenting on how a teacher at my son’s school who lives about two blocks from the school always gets a ride home from another teacher. I may or may not have used the term dumplin’ in my description. My friend, who is a much better person than I, pointed out that I had no idea why she might do that. Maybe she has a medical issue or a reason to be home 15 minutes faster. She was right. I had no idea what the woman’s circumstances were. I was simply being a bitch. The ironic thing is a few months ago I had an issue with a friend who was giving me the poop about having a car in the city. I was pissed and all…you shouldn’t judge me…blah blah blah. Wow…I am a big ol’ eco-hypocrite AND an eco-bitch. How often have I looked at all the shoppers who don’t reuse bags and felt all superior? Hellloooooo Needle….that was you a year ago. Seriously, people, I need a reality check and some humbling. I would love to vow to never think evil thoughts about the person taking a bag for a pack of gum, or throwing out a glass bottle, or even…wearing a fur coat, but I am only human, a seriously flawed, slightly, although for no apparent reason, arrogant human. I, however, am going to try to not allow my meager attempts for greater eco-consciousness to become an excuse for being an eco-bitch. Now as for regular bitchiness…….no promises…no one told you to wear those shoes with those pants.



How the Challanged Mind Designs

Posted by organicneedle in organicneedle, sewing

  1. See something really wasteful
  2. Complain endlessly about it until no one wants to be near you
  3. Continue whining on your blog where no one can really shut you up
  4. Get 4 glorious minutes alone to create a thought…yes you are probably peeing at the time
  5. Sketch the perfect design
  6. Misplace perfect design
  7. Create decent, but not perfect design
  8. Choose and order the perfect material
  9. Get notified that said perfect material is out of stock
  10. Wait 3 months for restocking
  11. Receive notice that perfect material has been discontinued
  12. Pick new “perfect” material at 2x the price
  13. Create pattern
  14. Chase toddlers around for 45 minutes trying to retrieve pattern
  15. Catch toddlers and retrieve pattern
  16. Chase toddlers for measuring tape
  17. Console toddlers for stealing “the magic lasso” and make amends by playing magic burrito for 45 minutes
  18. Cut fabric incorrectly
  19. Cut fabric correctly
  20. Sew sample
  21. Chase toddlers who are now wearing samples
  22. Convince toddlers to play hide and seek
  23. Cut a new sample minus jelly stains while said toddlers are hiding
  24. Take 437 bad photos and 1 okay photo of sample
  25. List sample…

Oh…eventually find toddlers.



Thanks Worm Man

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, projects, recycling, worms

Having worms isn’t as glamorous as they make it out to be people! It turns out my worms are a liiiiiiiiittle on the lazy side. My bin started growing a lot of white fluffy mold and I wasn’t seeing a whole lot of the food magically turning into worm poop. I guess my expectations were a bit high. So…worried that my little Eeeeeeedooooos were in peril I contacted the worm superhero Bentley at Redwormcoposting.com and he in no time at all reassured me that my little guys were probably just fine. Here is my letter and his very fast, very helpful response which he posted on his blog earlier this week.

This question comes from a vermicomposting beginner, wondering how best to deal with an overfed bin.

I am a newbie and way overfed my worms. Can I just leave
them alone for a few weeks and let them work it out or do I need to
clean out their whole bin and start over? They seem to be enjoying
themselves, but I am worried about the white fuzzy mold growing on the
food they haven’t gotten to yet. It is only slightly musky
smelling…for now.

This is a great question, and deals with a problem I’m sure MANY worm composting newcomers encounter.
You never mentioned how you knew you had overfed your worms though. The fact that they are still “enjoying themselves” seems to indicate that all is still ok. That being said, it is always much better to err on the side of caution when concerned about the health of the bin.

I will assume that the presence of large amounts of unprocessed (now covered in fungi) food is what tipped you off. Indeed, this is a good indication of an overfed bin. If you see that the worms are not even coming close to processing everything that is being added then it’s definitely time to ease off with the feeding. I’d recommend either adding new wastes to an outdoor composter or some sort of food scrap holder (a bucket with bedding in it works great) in the meantime, if at all possible.

You definitely don’t need to completely start over – especially given the fact that the worms are still happy. I would recommend adding a decent amount of fresh bedding to the bin then simply letting it sit for as long as it takes for the food materials inside to be broken down. Once it looks like the worms have processed most of the wastes you can start adding new materials (slowly) again.

The musty bin odour you described is also another indication that the bin is still in OK shape – if you smelled some really foul odours it would likely be an indication of all the excess waste materials going anaerobic.

Anyway – hope this helps!

It sure does Worm Man! I strongly recommend reading through his site if you are interested in starting your own vermi love affair. He has a lot of great information. Hmmmm. I should ask him about the “hungry robin coming to the door” motivational technique I have been using.robin



Riot Update…Oink

Posted by organicneedle in CSA/ Local Food, projects


Yes. It turns out I am still a consumer piggie. But a cute one, no? About 2 months ago I took the Riot challenge to see where my little family ranked. Beany’s post last week reminded me that it was time for a little checkup. Turns out the consumer snout and curly tail remain, but it is a slightly less electrified and garbage producing snout.

Transportation …about the same. Was…12%. Now 13%. Nothing has changed so I am guessing it is the same. We will fly this summer, which is not included. Plus we will be taking several long car trips which is also not included. Although this could be better, it hasn’t been my primary focus.

Electricity… happy days. Was…50%. Now…29%. Now not only is our usage less than two months ago, we compared it to the same time last year and it was down 25%. Cool beans, no? We made two changes. One was switch to about 70% CFLs. Naked bulbs still get the oldies. We do plan to try, however, some LEDs to see if they aren’t so harsh for the exposed bulbs. The second thing we did was start pulling plugs. We try to pull the plug on anything with a clock, chargers, non-essentials. We are looking to improve this by getting a green switch board with a remote. Fancy, no? I promise to do a review once we have it installed. We also have to consider our building’s electrical use, which is difficult to calculate without access to the bills. We could & should be more active in board meetings to encourage more conservation. Fortunately, since electrical waste translates directly into money waste, this is an area the board actively tries to improve upon.

Heating & Water…????. I am guessing we use less than average but more than desired. These things are all tied into our maintenance so I can’t really give a real number.

Garbage …we’re getting better. Was…31%. Now…22% . For only two months I think that is a notable improvement. Biggest change is simply paying more attention to packaging. We also have been more organized with our reuse of packaging like using tortilla bags for lunches verses taking a new zippy. (I just realized yesterday that we haven’t bought a new box of zippys in months.) The other cool thing here is we JUST STARTED composting, meaning that reduction has yet to be calculated. I am guessing in another two months we will be able to shave a few more pounds of our garbage fat. (The composting is going a little slower than expected. Lazy worms. More on that tom.)

Consumer Goods… can I just say I TOTALLY disagree with this calculation. Was over 100% and still is over 100%. But…I have not separated my business expenses. I pretty much just went by the credit card bill. I have made this point about a 1000 times, but I will rant one more time just for fun. I would argue that we pay more but actually buy LESS stuff than the average family. Calculating your footprint by dollars spent does not work. We try to buy things that are RESPONSIBLY and WELL made. This often means paying more for an item. One organic cotton shirt can cost the same as 5-10 cheap child labor shirts that won’t last a single wash. Which has a bigger foot? Okay…we don’t buy used. That is more of a time issue…but it could be looked at a little more closely. We also don’t do a lot of sacrificing on nonessentials that we enjoy…like wine. Haven’t worked out my take on this one yet.

Food… Getting better. Was… 25% local/sustainable, 1% bulk, 75% the rest. Now… 30%/5%/65%. Now here is poop. I am completely guesstimating. During the winter I buy almost nothing local…but a lot of organic which I am guessing counts as sustainable. (I’m not sure where traveling organic fits in. Any thoughts?) I have started baking my own bread and other baked goods which has increased my bulk goods a little. The CSA distribution starts in a couple of weeks which should up the local numbers, but since I am counting organic in with my local already I’m not sure the veggies alone will change my actual food numbers. Expanding the CSA to include CSA Pastured Meat & Poultry would be huge. In all honesty, I really should be seeking out a local dairy, but I haven’t. (Cheap Like Me had a great little milk review link if you are looking to improve your dairy source.) It is on my ever growing little green TO-DO list.

To summarize…electricity and garbage are headed in the right direction and actively moving with current and future projects. Transportation, water, heating, and consumer goods are at a standstill. Now food will be our next main focus. We really have to examine our diet a little more closely,create some actual plans, and make more of an effort to seek out local over convenient. Oh…gotta go. I hear some slacking going on in the worm bin. What guys….is that a hungry robin knocking at the door? Why yes Mr. Robin we do have some rather sluggish worms.



CSA:The Joys of Giving and Greed

Posted by organicneedle in CSA/ Local Food, projects

veggie veggie

Saturday we had our first CSA meeting of the season. Mostly warnings about shift slacking and the hellfire the Core will bring upon you in retaliation. But there were also two really great unexpected things of note. First the joy of giving. An area of concern of mine after reading the article Beany posted on her blog about CSAs and under-incomed families was what exactly we were doing with our “charity” portion. Our CSA has an official policy of offering reduced shares for lower and no income applicants. The problem? There are no lower and no income applicants. Our CSA actually has a waiting list with full paying members. They don’t even have to advertise. So what did the Core decide to do? Instead of handing the money back to us saying, ahhhh skip that whole let everyone eat organic food ambition, they decided to purchase 4 full shares that are donated each week to a choice of shelters and kitchens. They created a list of charitable organizations in the area that feed people and allow whomever happens to be on cleanup duty to choose one for drop off. I thought it was a really good, simple, and wonderful way to share our bounty and support our farmer at the same time.

Now for what is for me, me, me, me, oink. The second wonderful news of the day was that we are expanding to include service from CSA Pastured Meat and Poultry, an organization that delivers farm raised goods to city CSAs. This includes a huge list of upsate New York goods: eggs, honey, maple syrup, cheese, chickens, turkeys, ducks. (They also have beef and lamb, but not really my thing.) Couldn’t be easier. We can individually order what we want on line and CSAPM&P sends a delivery to our CSA’s door on distribution day with little personal bundles of joy. This could totally save my butt on my riot numbers for food! (More on the state of my riot butt tom.)



Why Yes….Yes I Do Make Reusable Organic Cotton Coffee Filters

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, coffee filter, organic cotton, organicneedle, sewing


A few weeks back I received an organic cotton distress call from one Beth Terry….AKA Fake Plastic Fish. (Yes I have a special hot line for just such emergencies.) After I was done squealing in delight that SHE was requesting my little needle’s help, I actually bothered to read what her dilemma was. Her need…an organic cotton reusable coffee filter not packaged in plastic. My solution….well…an organic cotton reusable filter not packaged in plastic. Clever, aren’t I? So I set out to create a cone 4 filter…which was lucky because that is just the size I have too. Using the paper cones for pattern fodder, and my little noodle to figure out how best to keep grounds in the bag without it clogging…I was able to create a few demos…with the help of my assistant of course. Good Help is Hard to Find 1

Using myself and Beth as test piggies…we gave them a few weeks trial and guess what…they are pretty darn good if I do say so myself. So…if you too are in need of an organic cotton reusable coffee filter click your little self over to Etsy and pick yourself up a little reusable joy. Heck buy one for everyone you know. I’m getting slick, aren’t I?

🙂 Thanks Beth for the idea, being a test piggie, and for writing nice things about our little project.