Adventures in Greening: Way to Go, California

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By Catherine Moran

Almost two weeks ago, California became the first state to ban plastic bags. Starting next summer, single-use bags will no longer be offered in large summer markets and grocery stores. However, according to this Huffington Post article, bags at other retailers and bags used for vegetables, fruits, meats, and do not fall under this law. Convenience stores, pharmacies, and liquor stores in CA will have until 2016 before the law takes effect for them.

Grocers will be able to charge a 10 cent fee for paper bags, although this fee will be waived for those on public assistance. And, of course, you can always spend the money one time on a reusable canvas tote, which can be washed to keep away the germs. I know I’m biased, but this news makes me very excited. What doesn’t excite me is that plastic bag manufacturers are pushing back on the law, and they’ve already amassed some support.

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Another article caught my eye this week, coming from CA, about washing out recyclables. I always do what I can to wash out my containers, but the person posing the question in this Q&A raises a good point: washing out containers is a waste of water. The respondent provides some good advice for making sure your containers are clean without wasting water: use leftover dish-washing water, use a dry paper towel (which you can compost), or use a spatula to scrap containers clean.

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My personal recommendation, however, especially during pumpkin season, is to lick the containers clean. Have a great week, greenies!

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Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Adventures in Greening: Home Printing in the Future

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By Catherine Moran

I stumbled upon this Kickstarter project too late to be a backer, but that won’t stop me from actively seeking out this printer once it’s hit the market. But, you think, printers aren’t the most eco-friendly product on the market; if you don’t recycle the cartridges (which you can with HP printer models, either by returning them to a store or mailing them back to the company in the pre-addressed envelope that comes with each cartridge) they become trash. And they’re so big, and are made of so much plastic…

Well, the future of printing is here. Designed to appeal to those who want to print on the go, the ZUtA Labs mobile Pocket Printer also appeals to those of us looking to reduce the amount of plastic in our lives, as well as the amount of Stuff that occupies our Space. The printer has a rechargeable battery (via USB), so it doesn’t need to be plugged in to print, and it can print from smartphones, tablets, or computers; anywhere, anytime.

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The printer is still in the early stages, only able to print at grayscale at the moment, and at a lower resolution than it will ultimately. The cartridge will most likely be something easily found in your local store, so it wouldn’t be an exclusive purchase from Zuta.

While it won’t hit the market until 2015 (with a price tag around $250), this is a product I am keeping my eye on. I’d love to pass along my clunky printer that only sometimes works and takes up an excessive amount of space in my New York apartment.

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Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Kate’s Book Club: Review of Jane Feather’s Trapped at the Altar

In this first day of October 2014, I hereby call to order the 34th meeting of Kate’s Book Club. Every meeting, we shall be reading a tome either (a) penned by an author named Kate or (b) that includes a character named Kate or (c) that this Kate liked a whole lot and thinks you will too. If you missed our last meeting, you want to get caught up.

This week we review Jane Feather’s Trapped at the Altar. (No there is no Kate author or character here, but this Kate read the book and felt the need to put in her two cents.)

Kate’s Book Report:

Star crossed lovers or simply a silly young maiden? When Ariadne falls for poet Gabriel Fawcett she knows the relationship is destined for a bitter end. Ariadne, heiress to the ill-gotten Catholic Fairfax fortune, and Ivan, a distant cousin and heir to the Protestant Chalfont fortune, are fated to be married—much to Ariadne’s dismay. The grandparents of the two decide to heal the religious rift in the family and finagle a better political position in the royal court, taking the choice out of both their hands. But Ari holds out hope that she will be able to decide her life for herself, and define a love of her own. Continue reading

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Kate’s Book Club: A Review of Kate Robbins’ Promised to the Highlander

In this fourth week of September 2014, I hereby call to order the 33rd meeting of Kate’s Book Club (Yes, I know we haven’t convened in a while). Every meeting, we shall be reading a tome either (a) penned by an author named Kate or (b) that includes a character named Kate or (c) that this Kate liked a whole lot and thinks you will too. If you missed our last meeting, you want to get caught up.

This week we review Kate Robbins new Highland Chiefs book, Promised to the Highlander.

Kate’s Book Report:

When the dark Sutherland clan leader declares open hostility on the MacKays and all of their supporters, Nessia Stephenson finds herself in grave danger. Her father brokers a marriage that will protect her from the marauders with the MacKay himself. But when Nessia comes into his household as his brother’s wife, the MacKay is faced with a force unlike any he’s ever experienced. Nessia is his dream woman come to life, and Nessia seems as much a slave to the erotic force that pulls them together as he. Continue reading

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Kathleen’s Kitchen: Non-traditionally speaking

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By:  Kathleen Neafsey

Oh yes, it’s that time of year!  Yesterday was the first official day of Fall (and my birthday!) My daughters and I try to go apple picking every year, and it has grown exponentially into a family event; there were nine of us this past weekend.  So now the search is on for the many uses of apples.

I’m not such a huge fan of apple pie.  Let me rephrase that, I’m not a huge fan of pie crust.  I know there are people that are all about the crust, and on a never ending quest for the perfect crust.  Quite frankly, I’m more about the apples, or any other filling for that matter.  Instead of opting for the traditional apple pie, my go-to is for an apple crumble.  Warm sweet and tart apples topped with yummy, buttery crumbs!  So here you have it: my basic apple crumble recipe – feel free to tweak it as you go – a little more of this, a little less of that.

Here’s what you’ll need for the filling:

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* Five or six large apples – for this one I used two Granny Smith and three Red Delicious for a mix of tart and sweet

* 1/4 cup of white sugar

* One lemon, juiced (please forgive my juice from a plastic lemon, it was all I had on hand)

* One tablespoon of Minute tapioca (this is used to bind the filling so it doesn’t become a runny mess, and can usually be found near the pudding in the grocery store)

* 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Here’s what you’ll need for the crumbs:

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* One cup of chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

* One cup of all-purpose flour

* One and 1/4 cups of rolled oats

* 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)

* One teaspoon of ground cinnamon

* dash of salt

* one stick (1/2 cup) of cold butter

And we’re off:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel, core, and slice the apples.  Again, non-traditionally, my apples are sliced in all shapes and sizes.  Uniformity is not my fortè.

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Place the apples in a large mixing bowl, and add the sugar, tapioca, cinnamon, and lemon juice.  Toss until the apples are coated.  Pour into a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside.

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Then:

In a large mixing bowl (I actually use the same one that I just used for the apples), mix together the nuts, flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Using a pastry cutter, your hands, or two forks work the cold butter into the flour mixture until crumbs are formed.

DSCF4544Now:

Top the apples evenly with the crumb mixture, and bake for about 45 minutes – until the apples are bubbly and the crumbs are golden brown.

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Now for my favorite part:

DSCF4582Serve warm and top with your favorite ice cream! This can be stored in the fridge and you can just cut what you want and pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds to one minute to heat.

That’s it for this week.  I’m looking forward to enjoying my favorite season of the year, boots and sweaters, and the annual hunt for new apple recipes.  Happy Fall to you and yours!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

 

 

 

Adventures in Greening: Pit Stop

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By Catherine Moran

I fell pretty behind in checking email this summer, which means I’m seeing a lot of great emails about many upcoming events that would have been right up my alley…if I’d seen the email two months ago.

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However, all was not lost, because I received this email from Brooklyn Based just in time for the early September heatwave. The link takes you to their review of six different natural deodorants. It’s a pretty thorough review of the six brands, and includes the Environmental Working Group cosmetic database’s toxicity rating, as well as a quick pro/con list for each. My favorite brand, Soapwalla, is featured here, and I’m not budging, but this is a good start for anyone looking for some guidance before experimenting with a more natural deodorant.

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True, it may be mid-September, but with the weather we’ve been having, it probably wouldn’t hurt to watch your deodorant game in case we have another uptick in the temperature before the month is through. Or, you know, if you tend to sometimes get sweaty.

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Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Adventures in Greening: Send Me Mail

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By Catherine Moran

It’s been an all-over-the-place sort of summer for me, so these posts have been a bit research-lite. So, I’m reaching out to ask: as the cooler months approach, and we’re all a bit more connected to our computers as we spend more time indoors, what would you like to see more of here? Product/book reviews? More adventures in cooking? I’ll be trying to include more global news about the environment, as well as more of the good stuff I’ve been including here. But I would love to hear what interests you. So, sign off in the comments, and enjoy these last few weeks of summer!

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Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Kathleen’s kitchen: Easy-peasy stove top dinner

DSCF3405By:  Kathleen Neafsey

As the dog-days of August are winding down – although to be truthful, we’ve had some pretty glorious days for late August on the East coast  – we’re beginning to tire of salads and dinners on the grill.  Personally, there are days when I just want some really hearty comfort food despite the heat. Alas, I don’t want to turn on the oven and heat up the house.  This dish is one that I’ve been throwing together for awhile now; it’s hearty and delicious without heating up the kitchen.

Another thing that makes this dish a winner is its versatility.  You can change, or add more vegetables.  I’ve made it with peas instead of green beans; my sister adds celery and carrots when she makes it. You can also cook all the components ahead of time and refrigerate them. After a long day of work, just come home and throw everything together in a large skillet and let them mingle til they’re heated throughout.

Here’s what you’ll need:

One pound sausage, pork or turkey, links or ring, sweet or hot – lots of choices!

Three large potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, and cut into chunks – I prefer red potatoes or Yukon Gold

One large onion, sliced

One can green beans

Salt and pepper to taste

First things first:

Scrub those potatoes, and cut them into -a little bigger than- bite size chunks.  Peel and slice the onion.  Rinse and drain the green beans.  Set everything aside.

Next:

Sprinkle salt in the bottom of a large skillet; add the sausage.  I learned the salt trick from my cooking teacher in high school – shout out to Mrs. Adele Thorjussen – she taught us when cooking meat to sprinkle salt in the bottom of a pan to keep it from sticking, thus avoiding any additional oil.

DSCF3396Then:

Put the potatoes in a large pot, and cover with water.  Place on medium-high heat and parboil for about 15 minutes.  You don’t want them to be cooked completely through because you’re still going to add them to the skillet with all the other ingredients and they will get too mushy.

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You’ll want to use the same method with the green beans; boil them for three to five minutes.

Using a colander, drain the potatoes and green beans together and let them hang out till they’re ready to join the sausage and onion.

When the sausage has been browned on both sides, and cooked slightly through, remove to a cutting board and slice into large chunks.  Return the sliced sausage to the skillet and add the onion.

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When the onion has become translucent, not browned, add the potatoes and green beans to the skillet.  Cover and cook on medium-low heat for another 15-20 minutes.

DSCF3403Once everything is mixed all together, season with salt and pepper to your liking.

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This was borne from not knowing what to have for dinner one day, and checking to see what I had on hand.  It’s one of my all-time favorite dishes, and it’s even better the next day as leftovers!  It’s really easy to make; there’s no added oils or rich sauces, just a wonderful melding of flavors and textures.

Well folks, enjoy the rest of your summer.  Remember your sunblock, stay cool and hydrated.  Before you know it, school bells will be ringing again and it will be time for apple picking, pumpkin picking, and a bevy of new recipes!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate

Adventures in Greening: Cool-Off Throwback

By Catherine Moran

It’s hard to believe, but summer is slipping away, and it’s been an interesting one: really hot and humid for days, and then a bit chilly or pouring rain the next. For those chilly days, bundle up, and anticipate autumn!

For those hot days, take a peek at these tips for keeping cool in an Earth-friendly way.

Have a wonderful week, greenies!

 

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Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Kathleen’s Kitchen: Pretty in pink

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By:  Kathleen Neafsey

If ever there was a cookie that could be considered refreshing, this is it!  Once again, my love for reading has carried over into the kitchen.  As I may have mentioned here before, or in Fabri-Kate, I enjoy mysteries whose main character is a chef, baker, foodie, etc. Some of my personal favorites include Diane Mott Davidson and her Goldie Shultz character, and Joanna Fluke and her Hannah Swensen heroine.  Not only are the books satisfying, but they include some great recipes, as well.
This recipe for Tickled Pink lemonade cookies comes from Red Velvet Cupcake Murder by Joanna Fluke.  When I first read it, I knew I had to try it – and I was not disappointed!  I’ve made these cookies more than once, with few modifications, and everyone that has tried them has raved over them.  They’re the perfect summertime cookie; the lemonade flavor is not overpowering, and it’s just heavenly when your mouth recognizes the flavor. They’re definitely worth turning the oven on for, even on a hot day!
So here goes, let’s get what we need:

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Cookies:

1/2 cup butter, softened (do not substitute)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
*1/3 cup frozen pink  or regular lemonade concentrate, thawed
pink food color ( I prefer gel food color, but liquid works too) – the amount depends on how pink you want your cookies to be
1+3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I always make mine with gluten-free flour, with no modifications, and they’re great every time)

* you may think that the batter needs more lemonade flavor, but I assure you, the frosting will give the cookie the extra spark!

Let’s begin:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

- In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.

- In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Beat until fluffy.

- Mix in the beaten egg, and lemonade concentrate.

Don’t let the picture fool you; I know it doesn’t look very appetizing, but it will get better. I guess the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” applies here.

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- Add food coloring.  When I use the gel color, I dip the handle end of a spoon (Don’t be jealous of my high-tech kitchen gadgets) into the color and then add it to the batter.  I find that end of the spoon works better because it’s flat, and it’s easier to get all the color off.

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- Briefly beat the batter to be sure the color is evenly distributed.  You can add more color if you want a deeper shade of pink. (Purely a coincidence that my nails match the cookies.)
- Add flour mixture about 1/2 cup at a time, not all at once.

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- Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls onto greased or parchment lined baking sheets.

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-Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, till the cookies are just lightly brown around the edges.
- Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for about two minutes, then remove to a wire rack.

While the cookies are cooling, it’s time to make the frosting!

Frosting:
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
1+1/2 – 2 cups confectioners sugar
4 Tablespoons pink lemonade (to start)
pink food color

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The funny thing about frosting, for me anyway, is that I generally start off using the recipe and then have to keep adding and playing around along the way, to get the right consistency.  This goes for any frosting I make – I rarely just get by with the actual recipe.  That being said, start off with the 1+1/2 cups of sugar, you can always add more if you prefer.  Also, in Ms. Fluke’s book, she mentions adding milk to the recipe if more liquid is needed.  When I read that, I could only think that milk and lemonade may not be the best combination so I opted for just adding more lemonade, and it hasn’t failed me yet.  It gives the cookie that little extra punch.

When the cookies are cool, frost your little heart out.  When you take that first bite you’ll be transported to a refreshing summer day – okay, maybe I’m exaggerating here, but your mouth will definitely be doing its’ own little happy dance.
Wouldn’t these be fun for a baby shower or a gender reveal party? Either way, I’m so happy that I discovered Ms. Fluke’s books, and her recipes!

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Till next time, enjoy the rest of your summer, have fun, stay cool, and remember to hydrate!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

Adventures in Greening: Link Love

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By Catherine Moran

So, I’ve been a bit exhausted the past few weeks, so sleeping has taken priority over researching and writing (sorry, y’all). In lieu of a lot of reading, I’m sharing some favorite links of late. Check them out, and have a great Monday!

I’m helping to #spreadYES because I am a lover and supporter of all things Jason Mraz. Check out this awesome new track, “Back to the Earth,” in which Mraz sings about how getting back to nature helps him deal with life. You go, Jason. Keep spreading the positive, Earth-lovin’ vibes.

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Purusha People is one of my favorite shops to buy yoga clothes. Hayley uses Fair Trade organic cotton in many of her pants. The environmental practices used in producing Fair Trade cotton encourage sustainability, which is, of course, awesome. And Fair Trade is better for those who are producing the cotton, so it’s better for both people and the planet.

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One of my favorite things these days is The Tiny Project, and other projects like it: people living in very small homes or trailers. You can’t have a lot of Stuff when your space is limited. Another blog I very much enjoy that is along those same lines is A Restless Transplant, who takes gorgeous photos of his travels.

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It might not be much, but that’s what I’ve got for you today, greenies. Till next time!

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Adventures in Greening: Of Trash and Ocean Patches

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By Catherine Moran

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a fun and safe holiday weekend. You might have been lucky enough to spend some time at the beach during the long weekend. While there, you were hopefully thinking about snoozing on the sand, listening to tunes, and swimming until your fingers pruned. You hopefully weren’t thinking about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or, if you were, you weren’t letting it bum you out too much. Why do I say that? After all, The Garbage Patch is a major bummer. But it turns out that it’s disappearing. Yay! But, hang on: Is this a good or bad thing?

We might be inclined to say it’s a good thing, because disappearing garbage means the ocean is free of this problem, but that’s not really the case. Where are the microplastics that make up the Patch disappearing to? One possibility is that some marine wildlife are attaching themselves to this trash (think barnacles on the bottom of a boat, only now they’re attaching themselves to, say, plastic bottles). This takes the plastic down to the deep fathoms below, and no one can say what changes it’s creating down there.

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Two other possibilities for what’s become of the plastic: it’s making its way to our shores in smaller pieces, or it’s being broken down by bacteria into extremely small particles.

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If this missing garbage wasn’t causing concern before now, brace yourself: if this plastic is broken down and becoming  teeny tiny, there’s a possibility that it’s being eaten by teeny tiny fish. Teeny tiny fish are eaten by bigger fish, which are in turn eaten by bigger fish, and then, somewhere along the line, people might eat these fish. This is bad news: plastic is not on the food pyramid.

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So, in conclusion, the disappearance of the plastic garbage patch might be worse than its existence in the first place.  Scientists can only speculate as to what is happening to this plastic, and its unclear if they will be able to come to a definitive answer. What’s done is done, but, going forward, we can continue trying to eliminate adding to these collections of trash by reducing our plastic usage and supporting such endeavors as bans on microbeads. For more reading on the disappearance of the The Great Grabage Patch, check out this article, or this one.

 

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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