Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Recycle your Christmas tree and lights

Want a greener option for your Christmas tree once its lifecycle in your home is over? Neither the City of Noblesville or the Parks Department have a Christmas Tree Recycling program, so residents should be aware that discarded Christmas trees placed at the curb will be picked up by trash trucks and go to the landfill.

However, there are plenty of places to recycle your tree in and around Noblesville. GreenCycle Landscape will be collecting Christmas trees beginning Monday, January 3 and continuing through February. It’s free, and residents can simply bring their tree to GreenCycle during business hours (Monday through Friday 9AM-4PM) and drop it off. GreenCycle will then chip the trees into mulch. Please be sure that trees are stripped of all lights, wire, ornaments, garland and tinsel.

GreenCycle is located at 2695 Cicero Road (State Road 19), halfway between 196th and 206th St. Visit www.greencycle.net or call 773.3350 for more information.

The Fishers Parks Department is also collecting Christmas trees for recycling. Trees can be brought to one of three parks: Cumberland Park, 10580 Cumberland Road, Roy G.Holland Park, One Park Drive, or Brooks School Park, 11780 Brooks School Road, beginning December 26 and continuing through January. Be sure trees are stripped of all lights, wire, ornaments, garland, and tinsel. Visit www.fishers.in.us/parks or call 595.3150 for more information.

If you have strands of broken Christmas light sets, don’t pitch them, because those can be recycled too. Residents can simply take them to the Hamilton County Hazardous Waste Center, where they will be taken to a facility that will grind them up and separate and recycle the compounds. The Center is located at 1717 Pleasant Street, just west of the 4-H Fairgrounds, from 8AM-5PM Tuesday –Friday and Saturday 8AM-1:30PM. Call 776.4005 with questions.
My random thoughts as we wrap up the year

I’ve got these random thoughts and questions in my brain, some of which seem like they would be obvious common sense things, but aren’t really. You’ll see what I mean. So, I thought I’d compile a few. Here goes:

*We buy quite a bit of non-dairy milk, but I’ve only ever seen it in half gallon cartons. Why can’t one buy soy, almond, or rice milk in gallon jugs?

*Why are the above milks only packaged in non-recyclable packages? That seems extra incongruous, since you buy them in the natural foods section of the store, yet can’t be recycled? I feel SO guilty throwing them away.

*Why are our trash bins twice as large as our recycling bins? No one thought to reverse it and make the trash bins smaller than the recycling bins? No one should be throwing away that much on a regular basis, and having a gigantic bin kind of makes it seem ok. I’ve never come close to filling my trash bin even halfway, but my recycling bin is always stuffed. Hello!

*After being repeatedly asked if I ‘tweet’ or ‘twitter,’ I finally stopped being a twitter snob and signed up for an account. Now what? I’m a little confused, but am assured by fellow twitter-ers that I’ll get the hang of it.

*Why do some people get so up-in-arms this time of year about the word ‘holidays,’ as though to merely use the word ‘holiday’ somehow detracts from Christmas? In reality, the word ‘holiday’ isn’t a euphemism for Christmas, but encompasses all the holidays that occur in December, which also includes Hanukkah, Solstice, and New Year’s Eve, right?

I’ll be back in 2011 with more random ponderings. Speaking of which, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Just Delicate Needles

Just Delicate Needles

It's so delicate, the light.
And there's so little of it. The dark
is huge.
Just delicate needles, the light,
in an endless night.
And it has such a long way to go
through such desolate space.
So let's be gentle with it.
Cherish it.
So it will come again in the morning.
We hope.

--by Rolf Jacobsen
Translated by Robert Hedin

Winter officially begins today, which means that we’re celebrating Winter Solstice around this house. Winter Solstice is one of my favorite Earth and seasonal celebrations because of the very reason it exists—it’s so connected to the Earth, the seasons, and the sun.

The history of Winter Solstice celebrations is pretty interesting, dating back thousands of years before people understood the cycles of the Earth. Our far back ancestors feared that the Sun would not return and they would be left in darkness, so they held elaborate ceremonies to coax the Sun back. Solstice, which literally translates to ‘Sun stops moving,’ usually occurs on December 21, but sometimes occurs a day on either side.

This is the shortest day of the year, with only a little over nine hours of daylight for us here, and we celebrate the return of the light as the days gradually stretch out longer now.

If you want to welcome the return of the light too, here are a few ideas for ways to make Solstice special: welcome the rising sun, take a walk outside and enjoy the winter world, eat by candlelight and use as few artificial lights as possible, listen to Wyndham Hill music (I like the Celtic Christmas collection), gather food to donate to a food pantry, string bagels dipped in peanut butter and birdseed on a tree for the birds. We plan to have a bonfire in the backyard and drink hot chocolate, and tonight is even a full moon!

There are a few books on the Winter Solstice at the library that are excellent: The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer, The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer (both kids books), and The Winter Solstice by John Matthews, which is an excellent history of worldwide Solstice and Christmas traditions. Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas!

Historic Homes of Noblesville--1619 Maple Ave.

Location: 1619 Maple Avenue

Owners: Mike and Audrey Shepard, sons Max and Liam and schnoodle Crosley, since 2007

Style & History: This colonial style house was built in 1925. A fascinating fact about this home, owned by William Dietrich, is that it was originally built on the corner of 17th and Clinton Streets and was moved in the early 1970’s to make room the what is now the middle school. State Senator Luke Kenley had it moved to its current location. The home was too wide for its new location and had to be placed sideways.

What are your favorite features? The layout of our house is functional, we like the wood in the entry way and our updated kitchen. We have a lot of space in our backyard and it looks great with Christmas lights!

What work have you done on your house? We recently remodeled our third floor attic into an office space.

What do you like about this area/neighborhood? We love being outside, and we love being able to walk! We can walk both of our boys to school and we can bike to Forest Park.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Dream Fulfilled

Longtime employee Mikki Perrine now owns and operates Ginger's Cafe

Mikki Perrine was one of the first employees of Ginger's Cafe.  Now she's making her mark as the restaurant's new owner. 

The Noblesville native took over Ginger's in September in order to ensure it remained locally owned.  Call it fate, call it serendipity, call it what you will; the events that lead to Mikki Perrine becoming the owner of Ginger’s Café have all added up to the fulfillment of a dream.
Her discovery of the restaurant dates back to two years ago, when the café had just opened. Perrine was next door at the hair salon getting her hair cut when she saw the sign and decided to check it out for lunch.

“I fell in love with the place,” she said.

So Perrine, a mother of two, decided to apply for a job.

“I just came in to help out, the hours were good with my kids,” Perrine said. She has enjoyed working as a waitress at the café ever since.

Earlier this year, Perrine heard rumors that Ginger's previous owners might close or sell the café and said she was heartbroken by the thought of the restaurant closing or losing local ownership. So, Perrine did what she had to do to ensure that wouldn't happen.

“I decided to give it a whirl and put my name in a hat.”

She recalls telling the owners that if they were serious about selling it, she might be serious about buying it. Three days later, while on a business trip to Dallas for her other job as a Homemade Gourmet representative, Perrine got the call.

“I got an offer I just couldn’t refuse,” she said with a smile. After talking it over with her husband, John, she became the new owner of the café she loves.

“I’ve not looked back,” she said. “It’s just been fabulous. This is something I always wanted to do, but never thought I could, financially and otherwise. They (the previous owners) had laid the groundwork for me, and I was able to come in here and do that part that I love to do: take care of the customer.”

Having very limited restaurant experience prior to working at Ginger’s didn’t deter Perrine. She had worked at Jim Dandy’s as a teenager, but that was the extent of it. However, Jackie Bolden, who has been the restaurant’s original and current manager, said Perrine's transition from waitress to owner was seamless.

"It's worked out really well--for our customers, for us as employess,"  Bolden said.  "I'm much more the bookkeeping side, she's the people person....Half the customers didn't know, so we just went around and told thm 'Well, you know, Mikki is the owner now.'"
It’s evident that Perrine loves people and loves what she does.

“I love to eat and I love to cook!” she said with a laugh.

From the mismatched dining table and chairs that span generations, to the Noblesville memorabilia, vintage license plates and quilts that adorn the walls, to the great customer service and food, the café feels warm and comforting.

“I just love the people that come in. I want people to step back in time a little bit, not have to worry about what’s going on their life. Just come in and have a nice meal, visit with friends, and make some new ones.”

Dedicated to Service
For as much fun as she has, Perrine is serious about providing a special dining experience. How far will Perrine go? She related her latest big cooking venture:
“I spent the night here the Sunday before Thanksgiving cooking turkeys. I know there are people that don’t have a whole lot of family here, or who would be traveling, or had family that maybe wouldn’t be here on Thanksgiving.”
Perrine wanted them to be able to experience a homecooked Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, so she served the Thanksgiving meals for the three days before Thanksgiving.
“We have a tiny kitchen, so I had to cook the turkeys at night.”
“But it’s ok,” she added, after revealing that she slept on the floor. “I also got some paperwork done and was lulled to sleep by Karen Carpenter.

Ginger’s Café Info
Open 7AM-2PM seven days a week
Breakfast is served all day
Daily Lunch Specials
Sunday Specials
Breakfast with Santa December 20 from 9-11AM
Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
1804 E. Conner Street (located behind McDonald’s)

Ginger’s Café Trivia
Ginger’s Café is named after the original owners’ best friend, whose name is Virginia, nicknamed Ginger.
Opened two years ago this month
Noblesville paintings and other memorabilia adorn the walls
Mikki Perrine plans to add her extensive cookbook and rolling pin collection to the Café in the new year
The Ginger’s Egg Breakfast (eggs, meat, homefries, homemade biscuit and gravy all for $7.95) is really popular

Current Online

Cloth diapers: worth the hassle

I’m about out of my diapering days now, but I wanted to share a little about why I love cloth diapers and how that came to be.
When I had my daughter in my early twenties, being the earth mother that I was (and am), I told my mother that I wanted to use cloth diapers. She pointed out that I was living in a trailer seven miles from the nearest Laundromat (this is true, I swear) and, as such, using cloth would be too much work.

So, I yielded and used disposables for the next seven months until we moved, then I switched to cloth for the majority of the time and haven’t looked back.

Why cloth diaper? Here are three reasons:

1. Environment: disposables equate to a hefty amount of garbage, usually more than half of the volume of trash a family produces. They require billions of gallons of oil annually to make, and no one alive today has seen disposables break down in landfills (it’s estimated to be 300-500 years).

2. Money: compared to the constant cost of purchasing disposables, cloth diapers are usually a one time investment since they can be used for years and multiple children, and then even be re-sold later.

3. Health: it’s better for babies. The majority of disposable diapers contain dioxin, which is a carcinogen. Many also contain fragrance (as do baby wipes) and super absorbent polymers that become gel-like when wet. What are the effects of these being next to a baby’s skin 24/7 for at least two years?

Curious about cloth? Local diaper company Toasty Baby (www.toastybaby.com or 863.0402) has an array of cute cloth diapering options and a diaper service. They’re offering 10% off your entire order through March 31, 2011. Just enter ToastyBaby10 at checkout. One use per customer.

Bleed Blue Blood Drive

The central Indiana blood supply was called critically low earlier this month by the State Department of Health. Even though the shortage is no longer critical, the holidays are typically a time when donations are low.
To help boost donations, the Indiana Blood Center (www.indianablood.org) is running a promotion that kicks off today, December 14, through January 15, 2011. The Bleed Blue Blood Drive starts at the home of the Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium, and will continue for the month long promotion at the nine donor centers and mobile drives. Additional mobile drives will be announced December 14th.

“We expect to have 2000, potentially 2200 donors at Lucas Oil Stadium,” Wendy Mehringer, Director of PR and Marketing with the Indiana Blood Center said. “We need 500 [units] a day, so that’s about 4 days worth. We hope the donations continue for the month.”

About 75% of the Indiana Blood Center’s donations come from mobile blood drives that are held at places of employment, schools, and churches. Around 5% of the population donates blood, “so it’s not much,” Mehringer stated. “That includes people who have donated just one time in years. Ideally, we’d see people give four times a year, but we know that’s a lot to ask.”

“If we saw everyone twice a year, then we’d never have a critical shortage or low supply,” said Mehringer.

There are two donor centers in Hamilton County, one in Fishers at 7458 E. Fishers Station Dr., (317) 576-9680, and one in Carmel at The Boardwalk Shoppes, 726 Adams Street, Suite 150, (317) 844-0313.

There are three upcoming mobile blood drives in Noblesville: December 16: Taylored Systems, Inc. Bloodmobile 14701 Cumberland Road #100 from 2:30-4:30 PM, December 17: Taylored Systems, Inc. Bloodmobile, 14701 Cumberland Road #100 from 8:30-10:30 AM, and January 4: Riverview Hospital Bloodmobile, 395 Westfield Road from 2-7PM. Additional area bloodmobiles can be found at www.donorpoint.org.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Have yourself an eco-friendly Christmas

I’m looking at the calendar and I see that there are only (gasp!) eighteen shopping days left till Christmas.

I may start to panic at some point, but nah, not yet, because I’m keeping it simple. That is always my goal, but it does take conscious effort to not be swayed by savvy marketing and incessant whispers of more, more, more!

But wait. Doing, buying, and having less is the goal, so that’s what I’m trying to keep in mind. One of the books I read this year was The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard, (www.storyofstuff.com) which breaks down our over consumption and its resulting effect on us and our planet.

Considering that landfill waste increases considerably after Thanksgiving, here are some earth friendly thoughts for a holiday season that treads more lightly on the Earth.

1. How will your consumption affect your enjoyment of the season? Will buying new ornaments/snowman sweaters/reindeer antlers for every family member really enhance your holiday? Can your kids still have a happy Christmas without a Pillow Pet™?

2. When out shopping, bring your own bags. Having reusable bags that you can tuck in your purse or coat pocket makes it easy, and they hold so much more. Take your reusable mug, too, for the inevitable coffee shop stop.

3. Buy green, buy local, buy used, buy handmade, buy sustainable. Check out www.etsy.com for artisan wares.

4. Consider gifting not just ‘stuff’ but experiences. How about music lessons, art lessons, theater tickets, sporting event tickets, museum memberships?

5. Use less wrapping and packaging. Reuse gift wrap, or wrap in kraft paper, which can be reused and then recycled, and reuse those gift bags that we all collect.

6. After the holidays, recycle your real Christmas tree (more on that in another column).

Historic Homes of Noblesville--1408 Logan Street

Location: 1408 Logan Street

Owners: Marty and Cathy Deafenbaugh, since 2006

Style & History: This two-story wood-frame Victorian home was likely built by Charles M. and Mattie Carlin around 1894. A small balcony overlooks a larger, first-floor porch on the front of the home. During the 1930's, the home was subdivided into two apartments, one upstairs and one downstairs. The home was returned to a single-family residence in the early 1970's.

What are your favorite features? Marty's favorite feature is the upstairs sleeping porch with built-in beds, and Cathy’s favorite is the master bath that originally was a kitchen, then a laundry room, and now is a roomy bathroom with an adjoining laundry room.

What work have you done on your house? “We spent 6 months renovating our house before moving in and we were so fortunate to have found a local Noblesville contractor, MacInnis Construction and Design, to help us realize our vision. We took up the carpeting and refinished the original floors which are really beautiful and in great shape, stripped wallpaper and painted the entire house, putting up crown molding in most of the rooms. We added a small back porch and replaced the driveway as our last projects to date, whew! We think we are finished with projects for awhile!”

What do you like about this area/neighborhood? “We love our neighborhood and the proximity to downtown Noblesville with all the great shops and restaurants. We are so happy to have found our historic and beautiful home near downtown Noblesville.”