Trees

Posts about trees, sustainability, gardening and outdoor living.


5 Ways to Green the Holidays Without Being a Grinch

Green Christmas by Of Houses and Trees | Make this year a green Christmas by reusing, recycling and, most importantly, reducing. Here are five ways to do just that!I hate throwing things away. Many times I've caught myself hovering an item over the trash. An item most wouldn't hesitate to call "garbage," but that I can't seem to let go. "Can it be reused? Recycled? Made into a hat?" (I'm convinced that all garbage can somehow be made into a hat.) I've been known to rant for tens of minutes about what is and isn't allowed in our blue bag. "What do you mean you can't recycle pickle jars? What - I'm just supposed to throw them out?"

For me, no time of the year is this more painful than at Christmas. The wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, the live Christmas trees, the tinsel, the plastic and cardboard packaging on gifts, the leftovers we meant to eat, but then we just couldn't stomach mashed potatoes for another day. (Okay, maybe I'm reaching here because, really, who throws out mashed potatoes?) Of course, these things come from a well-meaning place - and only grinches bemoan presents, decorations and feasts, right?

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Eco-Friendly Holiday Gifts

Eco-Friendly Christmas Gifts by Of Houses and Trees | Green the holidays this year with these eco-friendly Christmas gifts - made by awesome, earth-conscious artisans from around the world.What? You're accusing me of creating a holiday gift guide filled with eco-friendly swag I want for myself?! Why I never... Okay. You got me. But just because I'd be super happy to find any of these eco-friendly Christmas gifts under the tree doesn't mean someone on your list won't want them too. (And maybe buy a little something for yourself while you're at it?) The best thing about this gift guide is everything on it is eco-friendly, i.e.: organic, handmade, reusable and so on and so forth!

The second best thing is that I found all of these items on Etsy, meaning made and sold by awesome artisans around the world. Buying from Etsy is the next best thing to buying local, but it also allows for the ease and comfort (and fun!) of shopping from your own home. Plus, some of the below items are even one of a kind. Just like your special friends and family members are.

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Green Your Home AND Save Money

Green Your Home by Of Houses and Trees | Here are five ways you can green your home and save a few dollars all at the same time, including shopping secondhand, cleaning with vinegar and... sharing!
(Image Credit: via Flickr)

Probably the number one obstacle stopping us earthlings from embracing a more sustainable lifestyle is the belief it will cost more. Because sometimes it really does cost more. Organic food is usually more expensive. Locally made clothing is usually more expensive. Handmade home decor is usually more expensive. One can make the argument that the benefits of such items make the extra cost worth it, but even a tree-hugger like me knows that's not always a realistic response.

But do you know what is realistic? The fact that you can green your home AND save money. I mean, what's not to love? Here are five ways you can up the eco-friendliness of your home and save a few dollars - all at the same time.

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5 Amazing Facts About Trees

Amazing Facts About Trees by Of Houses and Trees | Five amazing facts about trees! Did you know a tree can be used as a compass, fight crime and increase bird biodiversity from zero to 80 species?

Happy National Tree Day! Did you know that was even a thing? Since 2011, Canada has celebrated National Tree Day on the Wednesday of National Forest Week every September. Since Of Houses and Trees would be nothing without trees (or just "Of Houses" - how boring) I wanted to celebrate the occasion with five amazing facts about trees. So here they are!

A tree can be used as a compass. If you're ever lost in the woods, look to the trees. In northern temperate climates, moss grows on the north side of a tree where it's shadier. Or, if you come across a tree stump, look at the rings to find your way. In the north they'll be thicker on the southern side of the tree because that side receives more sunlight. In the southern hemisphere the opposite is true - the rings will be thicker on the side facing north.

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5 Quotes About Sustainability

Sustainability Quotes by Of Houses and Trees | Five sustainability quotes superimposed over images of mountains, forests and a child hugging a very large tree. Cheesy? Perhaps. True? Hell yes.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I find those inspirational quotes strategically placed over a picture of a mountain or forest pretty damn cheesy. Am I a cynic? Why yes. Yes I am. But you know what else I am? I'm a dreamer and an optimist. Especially when it comes to saving our planet. Which is why I wanted to share five sustainability quotes superimposed over images of mountains, forests and a child hugging a very large tree. Cheesy? Perhaps. True? Hell yes.

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How to Plant a Tree Sapling

Planting a Sapling by Of Houses and Trees | There's nothing like planting a sapling. They're so tiny, it's almost unimaginable one day they'll be towering trees. But with proper care - they will!

There's nothing like planting a sapling. They're so tiny, it's almost unimaginable one day they'll be towering trees. Trees with the ability to provide shade, a home to insects and animals and in some cases fruit to eat. From something so small to an integral part of our ecosystem, communicating with its kin through underground networks and providing oxygen for us to breath. Which, you know, is kind of important.

Devin and I try to plant a few trees every year out on the land. It's our way of saying thank you to a place that gives us so much joy and doing our part in the battle against deforestation and other unsustainable practices. So, if you've never planted a tree - you really should!

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Eco-Friendly Gardening Items

Eco-Friendly Garden by Of Houses and Trees | 'Tis the season! For gardening that is. Here are nine eco-friendly garden items - from seeds to shears - that every green thumb needs.

'Tis the season! For gardening that is. There aren't many things in this world better than sticking your hands in freshly turned garden soil. (Except eating it when pregnant - which I did. Don't judge.) Last spring, I wrote a post featuring a Homemade Garden Fertilizer recipe, but I only tried it out once due to the fact that I had a newborn and a two year old at the time.

Now that my kids are one and three I obviously have so much more time on my hands so I'll be dousing my abundant vegetable garden in homemade fertilizer on a weekly basis. Except I don't have a vegetable garden this year because I was being facetious about all the time on my hands. Hello. My kids are one and three! I couldn't even plant runner beans because my eldest kept spilling the seeds between the deck boards while my baby climbed fully-clothed into the kiddie pool.

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Subscribe to My Blog and I'll Plant a Tree!

June 1, 2017

Plant a Tree by Of Houses and Trees | Subscribe to my blog and I'll plant a tree! Because as the proverb goes: "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.""The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now."

This Chinese proverb is one of my favourite quotes of all time as it reminds me that it's never too late to do good. There's something so simple and pure about the act of planting a tree, caring for it and watching it grow. Of course, not everyone has the time, funds or space for a sapling that will one day become a towering version of its former self. To be honest, I don't have a lot of time or funds myself. But something I do have - courtesy of the land - is space.

So here's how it works... For each one of you that subscribes to my blog during the month of June, I will plant a tree out on our land in your honour. I will then name it after you and sing ceremonial songs to encourage its growth. Or at the very least I'll water it.

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Planting a Forest: The Remarkable True Story of Forest Man

May 16, 2017

Planting a Forest | Jadav Payeng has been single-handedly planting a forest for over three decades, proving it takes just one person to do something remarkable.
(Image Credit: Pixabay)

Today I wanted to write a post about a very remarkable person. The other night I stumbled upon a 2013 short documentary on YouTube called Forest Man, directed by William Douglas McMaster. It briefly details a story that spans more than three decades. A story about a man single-handedly planting a forest.

In 1979, then 16 year old Jadav Molai Payeng was hired as a labourer for a tree plantation project initiated by the social forestry division of the Golaghat district in the state of Assam, India. When the five year project ended, Payeng began his own planting project on a barren sandbar next to his home island Majuli.

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5 Facts About Earth Day

April 22, 2017

5 Facts About Earth Day | Here are five facts about Earth Day accompanied by five simple ways to integrate the philosophies of this one day into your daily life.
(Image Credit: Max Pixel)

Happy Earth Day friends! If it feels like we just celebrated Earth Hour it's because... we did. But really - is one hour plus one day enough time to fully acknowledge this planet that gives us so much? I think you know my answer to that question. Which is why I've created an enjoyable - yet informative - post featuring five facts about Earth Day. Just for you!

But first, let me boldly suggest we celebrate Earth Day 365 days a year. If this sounds like a daunting task - relax - it isn't! It really is about the little things we do every day. The things that become so ingrained in our routine they no longer are tasks to put effort into. They're just life. This Earth Day, let's vow to make caring for our planet something we just do. Every day.

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5 Earth Hour Activities

March 25, 2017

Earth Hour Activities by Of Houses and Trees | Earth Hour is only 60 minutes, yet it's the small actions that make a greener world. Here are five Earth Hour activities to do when the lights go out.
(Image Credit: Pexels)

Happy Earth Hour 2017! Are you going to turn off your lights and electrical devices between 8:30 and 9:30 tonight? Devin and I are, which means our daughters will be participating in the event as well except they'll be doing so in their sleep. Well... maybe we'll cheat a little and keep their nightlights and fans on because if we don't they'll wake up and then no Earth Hour activities for us adults. (Keep reading for a few things we - and others - like to do during Earth Hour!)

Earth Hour may be only a 60 minute event, but it's purpose is to prove that even the smallest actions contribute to a more environmentally conscious and sustainable way of living. The idea that each one of us can make a difference with small, every day actions is exactly what Of Houses and Trees stands for and lines up with how I try to live my life. As the Earth Hour website says, "No one causes climate change in isolation and no one can tackle it alone. Changing climate change requires innovation in ambition, vision and collaboration and it starts with each of us."

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How Trees Talk to Each Other

March 19, 2017

How Trees Talk To Each Other by Of Houses and Trees | We all know trees are living organisms, but did you know they can talk? Learn how trees talk to each other and how you can help them continue to do so.We all know trees are living organisms, but did you know they can talk? I read Jane Goodall's Seeds of Hope last year and was absolutely entranced with the chapter on trees (surprise, surprise, given the name of this blog). In my favourite section she talked about the ability trees have to communicate through their underground network of roots. Then, only a few months later, I was YouTubing it up one night and came across a TEDTalks by Suzanne Simard about - you guessed it - the communicative abilities of trees. THEN, a few months after that, I was at the bookstore and the woman in front of me at the cash register was buying a copy of a book called The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. Clearly someone was trying to tell me something. Perhaps it was the trees.

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Homemade Garden Fertilizer

July 18, 2016

Garden Fertilizer by Of Houses and Trees | Banana peels, black tea, molasses and eggshell make up a super easy organic home garden fertilizer. Just add to an empty jug, mix with rainwater and go!I've been trying to learn the ropes of vegetable gardening for about three years now. Before that I was more of a "plant a perennial that my mom gave me and then forget about it" kind of gal. Back then I used Miracle Grow, but when I decided to start growing my own food I got all crunchy and stopped using any commercially made fertilizers or pesticides.

I've dabbled in the realm of homemade bug deterrents. (I'm all for letting bugs be bugs, but when they start decimating my runner beans, well – they gotsta go.) However, I've yet to attempt making my own fertilizer. I know some people just say "dig a hole and throw some vegetable scraps in it," but that just seems... too easy? For some reason, I've always been that person who likes doing things the hard way. Then I see homemade garden fertilizer recipes that call for fish heads and I'm like yeah... no...

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Freewriting... About Trees

January 27, 2016

Freewriting... About Trees
Live trees, dead trees standing, dead trees taking a nap... we've got it all out on our land.

So I just wrapped up rehearsing and performing in a dance piece called DIG by Edmonton-based choreographer Kathy Ochoa in which we explored automatic writing/automatic talking. If you're unfamiliar with the practice, the non-vocal version is usually called freewriting (something I was often required to do when I was working on my degree) and consists of a person writing for a set period of time without stopping to consider what should come next or edit what came before.

It was after the fact that I learned the term automatic writing actually describes messages that pass through a person's hand, but do not necessarily come from the mind of said person.

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2016 Resolution: Save the Planet

January 10, 2016

2016 Resolution: Save the Planet
I mean, who wouldn't want to save something that looks like this?

Much like I was inspired by a few home blogs I follow to do an online Holiday Home Tour, I was almost inspired to do a "Design Resolutions" post. But, you know what? You'll read about my 2016 design ideas and projects if/when I get around to them. For now, let's talk about something a little bit bigger. Something we all should be trying to do – every day – and not just as a New Year's resolution that invariably will fall to the wayside come February. What I'm talking about, my dear friends, is saving the planet.

Can it be done? Some say no. Some say we're in too deep. We've gone too far. To this I say pish posh. Of course, I just so happen to be one of those super annoying idealists who thinks that every little change we make counts and that starting small is the best way to integrate a leaner, meaner and greener way of life into your 2016.

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Mugo Pine (Pinus Mugo)

October 5, 2015

Mugo Pine Facts | Ah, majestic Pinus mugo! Also known as mountain pine, dwarf mountain pine, scrub mountain pine, Swiss mountain pine, creeping pine and mugo pine.
A shrub by any other name would smell, well... like a shrub. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

It's been a long time since I've done a "Tree of the Day" post (the last one was way back in my pre-motherhood days of January 2013), but I've decided to dust this series off because my Google calendar keeps reminding me I have a blog post "due" (because I'm the kind of person who enters every one of their to-dos into an online calendar and then procrastinates on actually doing them).

Ah, majestic Pinus mugo! Also known as mountain pine, dwarf mountain pine, scrub mountain pine, Swiss mountain pine, creeping pine and – the name by which I know it – mugo pine. And, if that isn't enough names for you, it sometimes is referred to as Pinus montana and sometimes spelled "mugho pine," due to a typo in an 18th century encyclopedia.

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Mr Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun

July 20, 2015

Mr Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun
Me and my sibs, being all one with nature and stuff, circa about a million years ago.

I don't remember when I got hooked on being green. I mean, I've always adored nature. Trees. Lakes. Dirt. My family's annual (and sometimes bi or tri-annual) camping trips (usually to the majestic Rockies) led to a love of the great outdoors and all that it represents being wound into the very fabric of my being. But did I always recycle? No. Was I always that person – you know, the one who dies a little inside when someone at a birthday party throws away a paper plate, or licks clean plastic cutlery and puts it in their purse so it can later be reused? No. No, I wasn't.

I'm a firm believer in the fact that green living is about integrating eco-friendly choices into reality. I clearly recall that I didn't start blue-bagging until I lived in my first apartment, which had recycling bins in the parking lot.

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Of House and Trees Blogger Archive

Of Houses and Trees Blogger Archive
(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

If you're looking for my older posts (or just trying to navigate away from this site and over to Pinterest... you know, where the real magic happens) they are currently still hanging out on my old Blogger site. After much trial and error, it turns out the best way to import my previous posts to my new site is to do so manually. As in reconstructing them one at a time. Good thing I wasn't a very prolific poster in those days as it is time consuming work! So the old posts will be gradually moseying their way over to their new home on the new and improved Of Houses and Trees site, but in the meantime try and drop by to say hello – even blog posts get lonely in their old age.

And while you're there don't forget to comment as your lovely and thoughtful words will be imported with each post...

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