Page 1


Please take this issue with you!

The Green Living Guide Generate your own energy • page 6 Plant a green garden • page 14 Take the kids camping • page 30

Publisher’s Letter Welcome to Nesting’s 2011 Green Living Guide. “Living green” is becoming more mainstream than ever before, with most everyone trying to find innovative ways to save money, conserve energy and create a more sustainable local community. This issue of Nesting features useful information for living green. Local writer Nina Fisher provides detailed, practical advice on renewable energy options for our homes. Professional organizer Terry Cooch suggests ways to get organized, and get your garden started. Avid gardener Kathryn Hope shares seven tips that are sure to make your green thumb greener. And, in closing our issue, junior writer Lucy O’Brien recommends her favorite camping destinations for families. Live green, be well. Kim O’Brien


Nesting • Spring 2011

Contents 6 14 20 25 30

Get off the Grid with Homemade Energy


Generate power in your backyard

publisher Kim O’Brien

Create a Green Garden

Creative director Molly Zlokovitz Design

Being environmentally-friendly is easier than you think

Your Gardening Camp You’re the camper and camp director

Nesting Support

Featuring the Holistic Moms Network

Feet on the Street Take the kids camping


Contributors Terry Cooch, Nina Fisher Kathryn Hope account executive Cassandra Alls Stephanie Nevin distribution manager Kernan Bussiere editorial Consultant Cory Place Communications advertising design Consultant Jennifer Goodman, JGoGraphics Published quarterly by Feather Publishing P.O. Box 613, Crownsville, MD 21302 Phone: 410.923.2310 E-mail: Website: The acceptance of advertising does not constitute an endorsement by Nesting of products or services. The publisher reserves the right to reject any advertisement or listing that is not in keeping with the policies or standards of this publication. Feather Publishing assumes no financial responsibility for errors in advertisements. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any part of Nesting by any means without permission is strictly prohibited.

Cover Photograph by Catherine Pelura Josephine Alls, age 3, and her mom, Cassandra, at Homestead Gardens in Severna Park. Nesting is a registered trademark of Feather Publishing


Nesting • Spring 2011

Get Off the Grid with

Like baking your own bread, or brewing your own beer, there’s something intrinsically satisfying about “making” your own energy. It feels earthy, and somehow right, to use the sun to heat your water, the earth to warm your home, or the wind to power your appliances. Using renewable energy sounds

Nesting • Spring 2011

inspiring, and a bit daunting, but it’s doable. Here’s how to get started.

Homemade Energy gy


By nina fisher

Conserve Before You Spend It may seem counterintuitive, but before investing any time or money into renewable energy, cut down on the amount of conventional energy you’re using right now. That’s instant savings in your pocket, immediate benefits to the environment, and less strain on any renewable energy system you end up installing. To lower your energy use it’s useful to conduct a home energy audit, either by learning how to do one yourself (go to the U.S. Department of Energy’s website, or by hiring a professional to identify the energy problems in your home. BGE offers a program in which a certified contractor completes a comprehensive energy efficiency audit and identifies the places where your home is wasting energy, losing heat, or working inefficiently. (Depending on the size of your home, the audit typically costs between $200 and $400.) The contractor will recommend improvements — some simple and cheap, others more complicated and expensive — to minimize your energy use and waste. Customers can receive rebates of up to $2,450 through BGE for the audit and implemented improvements, which might include sealing drafts, installing insulation, and upgrading water heating or HVAC units. Here Comes the Sun Solar is the option many people think of when contemplating renewable energy. In recent years, solar has leapt from the granola crowd into the mainstream. Although Maryland doesn’t have the level of consistently strong sunshine that’s common in the southwest United States, we have enough sunshine Continued on the next page

Spring 2011



Continued from the previous page

for a variety of solar home systems. Many solar users employ a solarthermal system to power their hot water supply, which is one of the largest uses of household energy. Solar-thermal systems can slash water heating bills by more than half, and they can pay for themselves in less than eight years. Some systems use solar to heat water that circulates through radiant flooring to warm the rooms of a home. Homeowners are increasingly tying their photovoltaic-based solar power systems into the electrical-power grid, which means that any extra power generated at the home can be sold back to the electric company for use by other customers. People who have installed such systems can barely suppress their

enthusiasm as they watch their meters go backwards. In a way, selling sunshine is the ultimate nose-thumbing at your utility company. For people who are thinking about building a new house or addition, incorporating passive solar energy design into the plans will pay off for the life of the home. Passive features include the use of specific building materials and strategically placed overhangs and windows. Proper landscaping can also shade homes from strong summer sun while still allowing the sun’s winter rays to warm the house. warmtH from tHe eartH Most of the time, the ground doesn’t feel all that warm. But, just a few feet beneath the surface, the


For people who need a bit more sweetening of the pot, federal and state tax incentives can make the difference between staying conventional and going green.

offers comprehensive information on federal, state, local and utility tax incentives to encourage the use of renewable energy and promote energy efficient options. The website also offers information on Energy Star rebates and energy efficient mortgages and financing.

Since 1995, the U.S. Department of Energy has funded the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) as a joint project of the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. The project’s website (

Regulations and tax incentives are constantly changing, so having the website’s list of current incentives and recent changes helps consumers keep abreast of possible enticements. For example, in 2008 Maryland enacted legislation exempting geothermal and solar

Some people buy into alternative energy because they feel it’s the right thing to do.


Nesting • Spring 2011

energy equipment from the state sales and use tax. By 2009, legislation expanded the sales tax exemption to include residential wind energy equipment and solar structures that provide energy to the grid. Adding to the confused morass of incentives are federal laws that offer bonuses for the installation of solar, geothermal, wind and fuel cell systems. Thirty percent tax credits, for example, were extended until December 31, 2016, and a new credit has been instituted for small wind energy systems and geothermal heat pumps.

temperature becomes fairly constant year-round. By using this constanttemperature soil as the exchange medium (as opposed to using air), geothermal heat pumps efficiently cool the air inside the home in summer and warm it in winter. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that heating and cooling account for about 56 percent of a home’s energy use. Since the efficiency of a geothermal heat pump is much higher than that of standard heat pumps, a geothermal heat pump generally uses 25 to 50 percent less energy to operate. Since geothermal pumps effectively control indoor humidity levels, they are particularly good in humid regions. (Maryland definitely qualifies as being in a humid region!) There are four types of geothermal systems, and which one a homeowner should choose depends on both the site’s considerations and costs. Several local firms now specialize in geothermal systems and can provide information and estimates on installing a geothermal pump. Although more expensive than traditional heat pumps, geothermal units cost less to operate, are smaller and quieter, and last for a long time. Blowing in the Wind The answer, my friend, for some homeowners, is blowing in the wind. Wind power can be a renewable energy answer for certain homeowners who have fairly specific property characteristics, among them: over an acre of rural land with reasonably strong and consistent winds; space enough for a tall tower; favorable zoning; and monthly electric bills exceeding $150. The U.S. Department of Energy offers a downloadable booklet, Small Wind Electric Systems: A Maryland Consumer’s Guide, that helps consumers decide Continued on the next page

Continued from the previous page

whether their properties can accommodate wind power. (To find the booklet, visit For people with properties that meet these specifications, a small wind turbine system can work as a stand-alone unit or be grid-connected, with varying requirements for each. Although initial costs may seem high, operating costs for installed wind turbines are quite low and the “fuel” (wind) is free. Another benefit is that the units produce no greenhouse gas pollutants or emissions. Over the past several years, wind energy has become quite popular and it continues to grow rapidly, although its use in urban and suburban areas remains limited, primarily due to the specific conditions required for wind power success.


Nesting • Spring 2011

Burn, Baby, Burn Fireplaces and wood stoves were once the mainstays of home heating systems. People stoked the fires before heading off to bed, and counted on the glowing embers to keep the house warm through the night. Nowadays, most fireplaces are more ornamental in nature; they’re used less for heat and more for atmosphere. Our minimal reliance on fireplace heat is actually a good thing since openmasonry fireplaces suck a lot of warm air right out the chimney. Wood and pellet stoves that burn more cleanly, and efficiently minimize the release of harmful emissions, can warm an entire home. Older wood stoves can be upgraded to EPA-certified models that include catalytic combustors that burn fuel more completely and lessen emissions. Inserts for traditional masonry fireplaces can dramatically increase the heating capabilities of these notoriously inefficient structures. A professional should install the

insert since a poorly installed insert won’t work at its optimal level. Pellet stoves have become increasingly popular as an alternate source of heat, in part because they can burn a variety of waste products — such as pelletized wood chips, bark, sawdust, crop waste, and waste papers. Because pellet stoves burn at such high temperatures and are highly efficient, they produce a minimal amount of air pollution. Before purchasing such a stove, however, be sure that a store near your home actually sells pellet fuel. Hydropower Most people considering alternative energy will choose solar, biofuels, wind, or geothermal systems as these are welltested and are becoming increasingly available. Other systems do exist, and they may warrant consideration under special circumstances.

For instance, hydroelectric power is generated by damming large rivers that capture energy as the water moves through the dam. Micro-hydropower works in a similar way, but rather than damming the river, a portion of the water flow is diverted to power a turbine and generate electricity. These types of systems won’t prove useful for most homeowners since they require a lot of land – with a river running through it! Before spending money on any new system, consider the unique properties of your home and land, minimize the amount of energy that you are currently using, and research which system or systems best suit your situation. Alternative energy is likely the wave of the future. You might as well start riding the crest now. N Nina Fisher is an Annapolis-based freelance writer.





Being environmentally-friendly is easier than you think


By Kathryn Hope

’m an avid gardener and plantaholic. I’ve worked in plant nurseries, volunteered at Longwood Gardens and completed a year of service with the Maryland Conservation Corps Watershed Crew. Although I try to incorporate what I’ve learned into my own gardening, I struggle between my desire for an environmentally-friendly garden and wanting to grow every

plant I encounter. (The two needs are frequently at odds with one another.) To resolve my internal conflicts I keep the following strategies in mind: 1) COMPOST KITCHEN SCRAPS AND YARD WASTE Composting is one of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of waste you send to the landfill. Garden centers now carry a Continued on the next page

Spring 2011



Continued from the previous page

variety of compost bins, or contact your county’s department of sanitation and see if it distributes no-cost bins. 2) USE MANUAL LABOR Lawn and garden tools that require “human power” — as opposed to gas or electricity — are a great way to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Among the tools that fit the bill: pruners, hedge trimmers, push mowers and handsaws. 3) GRASSCYCLE Cutting your grass high and “letting it lie” has a number of benefits. When grass decomposes it adds nutrients to the soil, and taller grass makes it harder for weeds to grow, which eliminates the need for herbicides and fertilizers. At my house we keep the grass shorter inside of our garden fence, where the


Nesting • Spring 2011

children play, and longer near the road and in our side and rear yards. (Note: For clippings to effectively decompose into the soil they shouldn’t be longer than an inch.) 4) INSTALL RAIN BARRELS Water from rooftops contribute contaminants into our waterways, but collecting that water in a rain barrel and using it over time both hydrates plants and enables them to filter the water before it reaches local tributaries. The most ascetically pleasing rain barrels I know of are the “retired” oak whiskey barrels sold for about $230 each by Rain Barrels of Annapolis ( The Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center offers plastic rain barrels starting at $80 a piece ( Continued on page 18

Continued from page 16

Advertise your business or service in the next


and reach thousands of Nesting moms! Coming In our summer issue.... • Expanding Your Nest • Making Mom Friends • Au pairs and Nannies

For more information:


Nesting • Spring 2011

5) PLANT NATIVE GREENERY Cultivating native plants that are indigenous to our area helps conserve our region’s native species. And because native plants provide food and shelter for birds and beneficial insects, they eliminate the need for pesticides. Another plus: Since “natives” require less water and fertilizer than many nonnatives, the plants reduce runoff into our waterways. For more information about native plants, visit the Maryland Master Gardeners website at mastergardener. 6) GATHER COMPOSTED MANURE Plants and earthworms love composted manure, which improves soil structure by increasing the water-holding capacity of sandy soil and improving drainage in denser, clay soil. Many farmers will happily give away their animals’ manure for free if you do the hauling. To find a farmer who’s offering free manure, read your local paper’s classified ads or check the bulletin board at a local feed store. 7) SPREAD MULCH Mulch reduces water evaporation from soil by almost 75 percent. The best time to mulch is in the early spring, when the soil is full of water from snow and rain. Mulch also reduces the amount of weeds in a garden, which helps eliminate the need for herbicides. County landfills occasionally offer free mulch on a firstcome-first-served basis. N Kathryn Hope comes from a long line of gardeners. She lives in Crownsville and is always looking for creative, environmentally-friendly ways to expand her garden and eliminate her lawn.



This camp is in your own yard, and you’re the camper and camp director 20 Nesting • Spring 2011


f you enjoy gardening, you deserve the chance to devote an entire week or weekend to something you love. Spend time outdoors, immerse yourself in what you’re doing, and get into the right mindset for organizing and planting your garden. plan strategically: Your time at “Gardening Camp” (yes, you’re in your yard but you can pretend you’re away) should not be interrupted. Don’t run household errands. Don’t catch up on work. Don’t volunteer. Call in the chits so your kids are cared for, carpooled or otherwise entertained in ways that don’t involve you. get yourself ready: After the kids are out the door and the breakfast dishes are done, take a hot shower or bath before you start. Doing so will maximize your output and enjoyment of Gardening Camp. Loosen your muscles. Don’t forget to stretch. there are no rules at gardening Camp: However, it is good to have an idea of what needs to get done and what you want to get done. Start a checklist. Determine how you will use your time, energy, and money. Or, if you want to wing it, just skip this step and pick up a shovel or head to the garden shop. You, at the nursery: Stay comfortable. To have less stuff weighing you down, leave your purse locked and hidden in your car. Carry only your keys and Continued on the next page

Continued from previous page

Start mindlessly. Pick a garden bed or dig up a new one. Remove the ugly things, plant the pretty ones. credit card in your pocket. First, take a stroll around the store to look at all the plants. Linger. Then gather what you love after checking the labels to ensure that you’re buying the right plants for your garden’s location and conditions. Ask questions. Nursery employees like to share their knowledge. Make your purchases and then, if needed, proceed to the next nursery. Dig in! – Option #1: Draw up a plan for where you want to locate your new plants. Remove all the weeds, debris and invasive plants in the area. Set out the new plants in predetermined locations. Gather your tools, and then plant, fertilize and water your plants. Dig in! – Option #2: Start mindlessly. Pick a garden bed or dig up a new one. Remove the ugly things, plant the pretty ones. Cannibalize other garden beds to fill the spaces that result from your lack of planning. If needed, head back to the nurseries for more plants. Realize your joy: Watering your plants daily provides an opportunity to visit your garden. Look at weeding, pruning and dead-heading as a form of exercise. Now you don’t have to go to the gym! N Terry Cooch is a professional organizer and owner of TLC Home (

Spring 2011




COVER CONTEST Are you a Nesting family? If so, we’re looking for

cover models! Send us a great picture of your kids — or the whole family. If selected, you’ll participate in a Nesting photo shoot with Catherine Pelura of KC Photography, and your children or family may be featured on a future cover of Nesting. To apply, visit, click on “Cover Contest” and follow the submission instructions. Be sure to include your name, address, phone number and the names of everyone in the photo and the ages of all children pictured. Please submit only one photograph per family.

Contest deadline: May 1 Some rules to consider: A few families will be invited to participate in photo shoots at a time and place to be determined by Nesting. Families will be responsible for their own transportation, wardrobe and grooming. In lieu of payment, participating families will receive a souvenir 8” x 10” portrait, to be chosen by Nesting, and have the option to purchase additional images from Catherine Pelura of KC Photography. Participation in a Nesting photo shoot allows Nesting to use the images as it sees fit for editorial or marketing purposes but it does not guarantee that your family’s image will be used by Nesting for its cover, interior pages or in a related capacity. Photography releases will need to be signed prior to participating in a Nesting photo shoot.



Nesting • Spring 2011

Nesting Support

Featured Mother’s Helper Group

The Holistic Moms Network By Cassandra alls


efore becoming a mother, I worked for a specialty fashion retailer and traveled quite a bit. I had a great career and planned on returning to work – but in the middle of my first pregnancy I realized I wanted to start a new career as a stay-at-home mom. As I struggled to find my new identity, I had a hard time finding a support system that fit with my values and lifestyle. I was feeling an overwhelming responsibility to make the world a safe and healthier place for my

new baby, and all children. I looked into several mothers’ groups but always felt like the odd duck. In every conversation Continued on the next page

Spring 2011



Nesting Support Continued from the previous page

I seemed to be Debbie Downer from Saturday Night Live, warning people about toxic plastics, pesticides, and the health risks of chemical cleaning products, processed food and more. If I started talking about herbs or homeopathy, people looked at me as if I was speaking a different language. I was a new mom, a walking public service announcement and, to many women I met, a green Martian from another planet. While reading a magazine I saw an ad for the Holistic Moms Network (HMN), a national non-profit organization that connects parents who are interested in holistic health and green living. I checked out the group online and loved what I saw. With a national network of more than 1,500 members, parents in the network communicate, share stories, resources and experiences that help us on our individual paths. The many moms in the community makes different choices, and I value the unconditional support that’s offered, no matter your choice. I founded the network’s Annapolis chapter, the first launched in Maryland, in 2008. Since then chapters have sprouted up in Baltimore, Bethesda, Rockville, Washington D.C. and in several locations in Virginia. To learn more about the Holistic Moms Network, visit N Cassandra Alls is an Annapolis-based mother of two. She runs the website Holistic Diva ( Do you belong to a local club that’s fun and useful for local moms? If so, tell us about it in 250 words or less. Email Nesting at Submissions may be considered for publication as space allows.

Groups & Clubs Annapolis AP Moms Group

For moms who practice attachment parenting (i.e. co-sleeping, breastfeeding, etc.) Email:

Annapolis Hip Mama Meetup Group


Anne Arundel Moms Group Phone: 410.551.2345

Chesapeake Moms Club

From the Bay Bridge to Centreville Website:

Columbia Area Mothers of Multiples

Serving moms in Howard and Carroll counties and the surrounding Baltimore metro area Location: Christ Episcopal Church, Columbia Website:

DC MetroMommies (Anne Arundel County Chapter) Phone: 410.867.6854, Email:

Isabel’s Gift NICU Support Group

Location: Anne Arundel Medical Center Contact: Kari Barcome, NICU social worker, 443.481.6114

MIS (Miscarriage, Infant Death and Stillbirth) Support Group St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, Edgewater Contact: Ann O’Sullivan, R.N., 443.481.6114

MOMS Club of Annapolis

Website: Email:

Subsequent Pregnancy Support Group

MOMS Club of Pasadena, NW

Location: St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, Edgewater Contact: Ann O’Sullivan, R.N., 443.481.6114

MOMS Club of Severna Park

Parenting Resources

Phone: 410.863.1125 Website:

Support for mothers in Severna Park, Arnold and Millersville Phone: 410.544.9778 Website:

Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) Phone: 410.798.1413 Website:

Professional Moms at Home (PMAH) Serving full- and part-time stay-at-home moms throughout Anne Arundel County Website:

AA County Birthing Circle

Meets the last Tuesday of the month. Baltimore-Washington Medical Center, Tate Center 1st floor conference room. Contact: Cheryl Gilman, 410-353-6834 Website:

Annapolis and Glen Burnie Family Support Center

Free developmental assessments, Continued on the next page

Nesting Support Continued from the previous page

parenting and childbirth classes. Child care is offered for parents attending the programs. Phone: 410.269.4478

Better BedRest, Inc.

Advocacy, public awareness and volunteer driven non-profit providing support, resources and information to pregnant women who have been prescribed bedrest by their physicians or midwives Phone: 410.740.7662

Holistic Moms Network

Resource for holistic parents and individuals interested in becoming one Phone: 877.HOLMOMS Website:

International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN)

Non-profit working to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) Phone: 800.686.ICAN Website:

La Leche League

Serving Maryland, Delaware and the Washington D.C. metro area Website:

Milk Share-Breast Milk Donation Clearinghouse for parents to learn about milk donation and connect with other families Website: N

The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide Field-tested strategies for staying smart, sane, and connected while caring for your kids By Melissa Stanton Seal Press/Perseus Books

“Perfect for ... any mom who has felt she has the best job in the world, and the worst job in the world, all within a two-minute timeframe.” — “A terrific resource [with] plenty of practical advice.” — Washington Parent

Don’t Stay Home Without It!

Featured by the Associated Press, The Baltimore Sun, ABC News, and other media. Available at bookstores and on 28

Nesting • Spring 2011

“The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide speaks volumes without being preachy, overtly tongue-in-cheek or feeding the ‘Mommy Wars’… There’s support throughout the book that is relative to all aspects of motherhood, whether you are a SAHM (stay-at-home mom), WAHM (work-at-home mom), or a mother re-entering the workforce.” — Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine

“Becoming a stay-at-home mother shifts your entire world, and Melissa Stanton gets it. This intelligent, sensible, hands-on guide will help at-home moms navigate the rocky waters of time, money, self-image, self-esteem, sex, friendship, and everything else.” — Ericka Lutz, author of On the Go With Baby

“Thanks to this book [stay-at-home moms] have somewhere to turn whenever [they’re] feeling a little lonely, under-appreciated, or overwhelmed.” —

Feet on the Street

Nesting’s column about fun stuff to do with kids, as recommended by a kid!

Enjoy the Greenery, Go Camping Lucy O’Brien, age 8 “Dad Rules” are easy: no crying, no electronics, no getting hurt, and no one gets left behind. Also, older kids are responsible for younger kids, so ask a big kid if you need help. Pennsylvania’s state parks recently won an award from the National Recreation and Park Association for being the best park system in the country!

Warmer weather is on its way, and that means it’s almost warm enough to go camping. I like visiting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. It’s the perfect place to go for hikes and make yummy s’mores, and it’s only about one movie away from home. Other good things: The park has nice showers and an awesome general store. There are lots of bears, so make sure you follow the rules and don’t leave food or trash – the bears will come looking for you and they aren’t friendly when they’re hungry. My other favorite place for camping is Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Pennsylvania. My dad took me and my brother there last year. We went with a bunch of his friends. (My mom stayed at home.) There were 17 kids and six dads. It was total fun! The 30

Nesting • Spring 2011

Pine Grove Furnace has a lake to swim in and a beach. (Like Shenandoah National Park, Pine Grove has really nice showers and a general store.) You can rent rowboats, go fishing and swimming, have a picnic lunch or buy a cheeseburger and ice cream. You can even hike the Appalachian trail. The park is exactly halfway between Maine and Georgia, and some people walk the whole way! The general store sells quarts of ice cream to long distance hikers. It’s a “thru hiker” tradition to eat the whole thing all at once. There is a log book on the porch at the store, and it’s fun to read the hikers’ stories and see them come through the park after weeks on the trail. Maine to Georgia is a long way to walk. Camping is fun. Pick a weekend. Make a reservation for a good site (close to the showers). Load up with snacks, and take off! N Lucy O’Brien is a local third grader and veteran camper. She was assisted in writing this article by Nesting publisher Kim O’Brien (aka: her mom).

Nesting Magazine  
Nesting Magazine  

A Local Resourse Guide for Moms Green Living Issue