December 2013 - Our Daily Green

Monday, December 30, 2013

Power washing wood surfaces without harsh chemicals

image courtesy of: wikimedia commons
(this post has been brought to you by a sponsor)

Power washing is something that any homeowner can do. That doesn't mean it is the optimal way to approach it. While anyone can buy a power washer and use it properly, there are distinct advantages to professional techniques that may not be immediately obvious. Here are three of the top advantages to having professionals handle your power washing.

The first is that professionals can safely power wash a bigger variety of surfaces. Power washing well is about material sciences. There are many surfaces that simply aren't safe for power washing by default unless you know exactly how the material will respond to the pressure. Renew Crew is a company that boasts being able to power wash wood, for instance. Ordinarily wood is too soft and would be damaged by power washing. This improved versatility means that hiring a power washing team just once can cover a lot more ground than individually utilizing different cleaning processes on different surfaces. If they can handle the whole thing, they will.

The next reason is precision. There are circumstances under which you simply can't afford to have the pressure of the power washer hit certain surfaces. Professionals are well-trained in cleaning with precision. It allows them to clean tighter spaces than an amateur safely. In many cases they are also willing to guarantee the safety of their power washing and take care of any damage that might result from error on their part. There is no such guarantee for those that simply purchase a power washer.

Finally, professionals are capable of power washing with much more powerful tools. The power washers that are available in hardware stores are effective for rudimentary tasks but aren't capable of standing up to the deeper cleaning professionals can offer. This is because professionals can afford the outlay required for top-end equipment that uses and can safely maintain higher pressures. This often requires the use of expensive air compressors or high-pressure tools that can be very dangerous to handle without training.

These are just a few of the advantages that professionals have. In large part this simply indicates the advantages that can come from better training, practice and equipment and the depth of power washing as a task to perform. It's more complex than simply spraying down a surface with high-pressure water. It takes care and awareness of what different pressures can do, the appropriate angles to spray at, and so forth. Hiring professionals is therefore more than just a matter of convenience; it's a matter of quality as well.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Utility company expands past fossil fuels to solar energy

solar panels to lease
photo courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons
The future of energy for both commercial and residential use is the area of sustainable energy solutions. This simply refers to the use of energy that can be renewed as well as used cleanly. Fossil fuels are not clean to use, and the supply is limited. This presents a problem for energy providers who want to continue to supply their customers with adequate power, but recognize the growing problem with reliance on fossil fuels. Innovative suppliers are exploring their options beyond heating oil and coal.

Plymouth Rock Energy is one such company. After 60 years of servicing the Northeast with heating oil and coal, now they are leading their customers into the future with renewable energy, including increased development of solar energy. They delivered 38 megawatts of solar energy to their residential sector in the third quarter alone in 2013. Families are now able to save money on their electric bills while at the same time reducing their carbon footprint.

For qualified families, Plymouth Rock Energy will install solar panels free of charge. They also offer customers the option to lease the panels instead of buying them. The electricity generated by the panels will not only supply the home with power, but eventually pays for the cost of leasing of the panels. It is not uncommon for customers to save as much as 50 percent on a utility bill.

Plymouth Rock Energy continues to deliver natural gas to its customers in both the residential and commercial sectors. Natural gas represents a 50 percent reduction in carbon versus what is seen with traditional fossil fuels such as heating oils. Plymouth Rock Energy figures to continue with its growth in the year 2014.
This post has been sponsored by Plymouth Rock Energy, providing sustainable energy solutions to customers in MD, NY, NJ, PA, IL, and OH. 

Eco-friendly beanie from REPREVE

As prevalent as plastic bottles have become, unfortunately, over two-thirds of them wind up in landfills. But the ones that are recycled, become amazing products, many are already probably familiar to you. In fact, when I was invited to write about REPREVE recycled fibers, I remembered a swimsuit I reviewed last year that was made from REPREVE, so I was very excited to participate in this campaign.

Some of your favorite brands already use REPREVE fibers, including popular companies such as Patagonia, Haggar, and The North Face. A Patagonia fleece jacket, for example, uses 40 recycled plastic bottles. Haggar Life Khaki pants use 7 recycled bottles, and REPREVE sent us two beanie hats, which we promptly chose to share with the youngest member of our family and his father. We care about the future we leave for the next generation and want to inspired them to keep plastic out of landfills.

recycled fiber beanies
While we may not be able to eliminate plastic use, we can reduce it, and what we don't reduce, we should recycle. Our Daily Green's brother and his son agree, as this photo clearly shows. They love being green! (the shirts were coincidence, but one we couldn't resist snapping a photo) 

Stay tuned for some of the ways our family tries to be green and some tips you can incorporate into your daily choices to live more in harmony with our planet for a cleaner, greener tomorrow.

Today's post has been brought to you by our friends at REPREVE, but we are always thrilled to share new and innovative ways to green your life. Please visit their site to learn more about the fantastic things they are doing with plastic bottles and fiber! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Introducing Causora: get rewards for charitable contributions

Our Daily Green is a tremendous advocate for charitable giving. One of our most popular seasonal columns is the 12 Days of Green Giving, where we encourage our readers to donate to worthy causes represented by the traditional song the 12 Days of Christmas. Several of the charities that are listed on Causora, are charities we've already supported in the past, including, and Donors Choose. Other green minded charities include As You Sow, California Wilderness Coalition, and Coalition for Clean are to name a few.
Charity rewards

Our new affiliation with Causora is even more inspiring. For every $20 donated to one of over 150 charities, they will match with a thank you reward good at several different retailers.

This month, Causora is featuring the Red Cross's efforts to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

To encourage you to participate, Causora has given Our Daily Green TEN $20 credit codes good toward merchandise through their different retailers. Our Daily Green will send the first 20 folks who donate through Causora and additional $20 credit code. Just leave a comment at the end of this post and you will receive the code by email within 24 hours. Additionally, you receive a $5 credit for signing up for an account. Get rewarded for generosity!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Food politics (repost from GIMBY)

GIMBY (via
There are plenty of different diets out there, and new ones appearing every day — pescetarian, vegetarian, vegan, Kosher, Atkins, paleolithic, Mediterranean, South Beach, and even cabbage soup. There are nutritional experts in abundance, too — eat…
Government in My Backyard (GIMBY) is an interactive digital space where Americans can engage with their government and each other about federal agencies and issues that matter in their daily lives.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mill City Bread Company (review)

Mill City Bread
Rustic Artisan White
One of our family's fondest memories growing up was the continual supply of fresh-baked bread at Grandma's house. She loved to mix up the yeast, knead the dough and shape it into delicious loaves of love.

Bread baking for today's generation is an infrequent occurrence, perhaps for a special occasion. There are several keys to baking bread properly, including measuring the ingredients, correct kneading technique and activating the yeast at an accurate temperature. For a novice cook, this can be an intimidating process.
Mill City Bread
Bauernbrot (German Farmer's Bread)

But what if the ingredients were already measured, the bread didn't require kneading, and water from the tap worked just fine? Mill City Bread Company has developed mixes that take all the guesswork out of baking bread and is bringing back the art of artisan bread baking with their simple mixes and easy to follow instructions.

In 1999, the method was popularized in a cookbook called "No Need to Knead", and Mill City Bread company has taken it one step further by pre-measuring the ingredients. The most difficult of the break baking is the wait time. By using longer fermentation in a moist dough, the gluten strands form, bringing the bread a typical yeast bread texture.

Look how bubbly it is after 12 hours! 
We agreed to review their line of bread mixes because the idea of slow, home baked food, void of chemical preservatives or GMOs is in line with the mission of Our Daily Green. We appreciate this company's commitment to the environment with their minimal packaging, formed with wind energy. Mill City products are packaged by individuals with disabilities at a non-profit empowering nearly 2,000 people a year to achieve greater independence through employment.

So far, we have tested the first two of their five delicious breads, as pictured above:
  • Bauernbrot (German Farmer's Bread)
  • Rustic Artisan White
  • Whole Wheat
  • NY Deli Rye
  • Ciabatta
These breads are as simple to make as stirring water into the mix, letting it rest 12 hours, and following the baking and resting instructions, which come with each package. The results are an old-world flavor, with a new-world convenience. The breads are made from only 4 ingredients, flour, salt, yeast, and water. 
Danish Dough Whisk
Artisan Bread baking kit

The bread can be baked in a clay baker, a Dutch oven, a slow cooker, or a bread machine. Mill City sells the bakers to ensure the best quality bread possible. For a limited time, they are offering a clay baker and dough whisk at a discounted price, lower than if each product was purchased separately. 

Our Daily Green loves the Mill City Bread mixes. Our house smells like an old fashioned bakery and it couldn't be easier. The hardest part is waiting to eat it!

Disclosure: We received a complimentary sample of each type of Mill City bread mix. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Homemade holiday gift: Spiced Nuts

disclosure: this post has been brought to you by our sponsor, McCormick. Our Daily Green is thrilled to bring you a gift idea you can make yourself. 

One of the most stressful parts of the holidays is choosing gifts for people. It's so easy to fall into the trap of an impersonal, overpriced, useless gift. Not to mention the embarrassing moment when someone gives you an unexpected gift and you want something to reciprocate. 

One of our solutions is the gift of non-perishable food. Everyone eats, and during the holidays, it's nice to have something fancier than usual. With busy schedules, not everyone has the time to cook so a gift from the kitchen is sure to be a hit. We love making Spiced Nuts and putting them in pretty jar to have a ready to give gift with a personal touch.

Nuts are healthy. A 30-year Harvard study recently concluded that nuts lower the risks of cancer and heart disease: “... people who ate nuts everyday appeared to be protected from cardiovascular disease. There are good things in nuts – healthy fats, omega 3s, fibre, good plant phenols and health-promoting compounds,” said Dr. Rena Mendelson. (Global News, November 21, 2013). Cinnamon has been shown to improve blood sugar control as well as protect against heart disease.

Sounds like a solid reason to "go nuts" this holiday season. Enjoy!

Thanks, McCormick!

Spiced Nuts

Serves: Makes 3 1/3 cups or 18 (3-tablespoon) servings.
(images are from a doubled recipe)


Spiced Nuts, cinnamon, allspice, seasoned salt, cayenne
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick® Cinnamon, Ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Allspice, Ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lawry's® Seasoned Salt
  • 1 egg white  or *vegan substitute* = 1 Tbsp. plain agar powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water, whipped, chilled, and whipped again
  • 3 cups nuts, such as almonds, cashews, peanuts and pecans (we used walnuts, pecans and almonds)
  • optional: a dash of McCormick® Cayenne Pepper, Ground
Preheat oven to 250°F. 

Beat egg whites until they are frothy, but still liquid. This allows the sugar/spice mixture to stick to the nuts. 

Thoroughly mix sugar with spices. 
The optional cayenne pepper addition is my own, it gives the nuts a spicy, sweet, savory zing.  

Toss nuts with frothy egg whites. 

Add sugar spice mixture and stir to coat evenly. 

Spread in a single layer on a lightly greased cookie sheet. 
Bake for 1 hour, at 250°F, stirring once. 
Let cool & break nuts apart.