Monday, December 28, 2009

So Insane - The Musical Year in Review 2009

"Swing High" Photo from Charles Haynie - personal collection

Welcome to my 2009 playlist. It starts with my favorite concert of the year - The Avett Brothers at the Cuban Club. If you didn't make it, well I'm so so sorry. Look up their dates and do yourself a favor when they're close. I've heard all the discussion, they sold out, they moved on from their roots, they got families and babies. Well, life is about change. If the Beatles kept playing like they did on Help! then where the heck would Revolver or Sgt. Pepper's be? I say, let them grow for better or worse and in this fan's estimation, this record gets better every time it spins in my player. Listen to "And It Spread" and try to fight it, I dare you.

My friend Nicole, elawgrrl is an amazing photographer of music acts and a seriously dedicated fan of Lucero. She honestly won't stop talking about them so eventually I had to give in and give these guys a chance. I caught up with them on this album when they are catching a lot of flack for the same things that the Avetts heard about this year, namely losing their hard edge and adding things like horns to their music. So what!? This album is great and the song I chose "Hey Darlin, Do You Gamble?" is everything that whiskey marinated growling alt-country rock should be. This song will make you want to pack up your black t-shirt, your boots, and your cooler and follow these guys from dive bar to rock bar for weeks on end.

Grizzly Bear has been in the top 5 of Hype Machine for most of the year and the song "Two Weeks" is unavoidable in blog circles. I swear I heard it in Lowe's this weekend. Rather than get bored with a band so obviously blowing up, I can't help but fall for the layers in this thing. It's really beautiful and addicting. This is indie pop at it's best.

Amanda Blank's "Something Bigger, Something Better" has this sound effect that makes it sound a little too much like a knock off Paper Planes. That being said, I f$%^*(ng love Paper Planes still. So I don't really care, and this song is a classic floorfiller as far as I'm concerned. I found it in an uncharacteristically upbeat review from Nine Bullets - one of the best blogs going especially for fans like my buddy Nicole of hard-edged alt-country like Lucero and Jason Isbell.

N.A.S.A. was a massive album undertaking of rap superstars that mixed North American and South American styles and sounds. I made up my mind that I would find some rap I like this year as I am such an old school rap fan that I sound like I am 90 years old when I talk about today's rap music. This song Spacious Thoughts", is bada$$ and explodes at the chorus, Tom Waits anyone?! This is the year of Tom Waits if nobody told you yet. He's been all over and released an amazing live album called Glitter and Doom right before Christmas. I know what our boy Ernie from Nervous Turkey got in his stocking! (if you want to see how the harmonica was meant to be played - take that link to see Ernie at work)

A band that includes members of other bands including Vampire Weekend, Discovery blew me away with this little indie number called "So Insane". I don't need to say much about it because I just really love this sound. Indie and electronic and pop with some really nice beat and mood changes that echo that feeling of really not being able to control how you feel about somebody. This is definitely at the very top of the list this year.

There are two tracks from the XX on the cd. The first "Intro" is a really awesome moody instrumental in a world that doesn't make instrumental tracks anymore and that's all it took. By the time I made it to "Islands" I was hooked. This whole album is awesome. This is a young Brit band and I heard it described as makeout music for cool kids. I can't verify that, but maybe I'll have to try it out in the near future. Put it on and let me know how that goes...

"In My Dreams" from the Eels is a great track from an underrated songwriter E. Again, a great album, but I really liked this gentle and spacey sort of music when they get it right. This is what is affectionately called Nerd Rock like Weezer and many other bands I love. It's just a little introspective quiet tune but it gets stuck in my head a lot.

MGMT technically released this album last year, but I really didn't get into it until this year so I'm going to use a little flexibility and include it. Both "Time to Pretend" and "Kids" are great tracks, but I just had this one on repeat a little too much this year. I couldn't get away from it in all it's fuzzy electronic glory.

The next song from Metric is "Sick Muse" which falls into the classic unrequited love chick rock category and although classifying often takes away some of the fun of this, I love these kind of bands. I donated some of my hearing to an Elastica show in Dublin and don't regret it a bit. I hope you fall in love with her voice as quickly as I did.

The Low Anthem have managed to make a song in "Charlie Darwin" with all of the beauty and sadness of life and make it amazingly attractive. We realize that it all ends and yet songs like this make life worth the pain and heartache. It is the most beautiful song I have heard all year and it gets me choked up every time I listen. That's all I have to say about that.

To rescue us from the water that surrounded us in the last track I included "Pursuit of Happiness" from newcomer rap star Kid Cudi. This is a really awesome track with all of the attitude of a streetwise rapper and yet the intelligence of a good songwriter. This is the type of rap that I knew still existed yet it took my college-age nephew Kyle to educate me on it. It doesn't hurt that this remix includes MGMT and Ratatat.

Elvis Perkins brings out a track that is everything I love about great alt-country. This is what has me listening to the ND hour on wmnf on Mondays. The instrumentation of bluegrass and country with rock style and attitude. Angst and grit with excellent musicianship.

I finish up with one of my favorite bands, Wilco, who enjoy the notoriety of the "Saving Private Ryan Award 2009" which I give out to a great album that came out so early in the year that it gets ignored on most "Best Of" lists much like SPR that lost to "Shakespeare in Love" that came out later in the year. (My theory is that after that year, no "Oscar" movies are released before the fall according to Hollywood superstitions). Wilco makes great music and keeps adding new layers without changing too much. They might be a little stuck in a rut at times, but songs like "You Never Know" just get stuck in my Ipod and refuse to leave.

Thanks for indulging me!

The cd of the year as it stands right now

1. and it spreads - avett brothers
2. hey darlin do you gamble? - lucero
3. two weeks - grizzly bear
4. something bigger, something better - amanda blank
5. spacious thoughts (feat. Tom Waits) - n.a.s.a.
6. so insane - discovery
7. intro - the xx
8. islands - the xx
9. in my dreams - eels
10. time to pretend - mgmt
11. sick muse - metric
12. charlie darwin - the low anthem
13. pursuit of happiness - kid cudi with mgmt
14. shampoo - elvis perkins
15. you never know - wilco

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tomorrow Night Cider and Cookies at TSM!

Calling All Last Minute Shoppers and Holiday Revelers.........
Tampa Street Market is throwing a last minute holiday party and sale. Tuesday 12/22 we will be open late (at least 9:00!) to entertain and accommodate all you holiday procrastinators. There will be holiday treats and cider as well as 20-75% off all items in the shop!

There is plenty of stock left in Green Guru messenger ad bags, Earthlust stainless steel bottles, Made By Survivors recycled rice bags, and we've just re-stocked Nested Yellow jewelry!

Come by to shop or just to help us celebrate the season!

-Amy and Charles

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How Christmas feels different this year

Once a guy in the shop (more of a skeptic than a customer) asked me if what we were doing was just adding to the problem of stuff. "Stuff" is officially the root of all evil in some greenies eyes. If you don't believe in stuff at all then you eventually will find yourself living in a thatched hut made from roadside trash and eating the berries you collect and other food you can gather from the countryside. I am not that extreme, but I get their point. When you ask me what "stuff" I couldn't live without, I might say music, or my clothes, but yeah, can I live without my Ipod or a table for my porch? I guess so. I don't need a bunch of new stuff.

Christmas seems to have this mythology of stuff wrapped up in it. When I scan my memory banks for Christmas images, I think of trees and a stack of presents, and big buffets of food and friends and drinks and singing. That stack of presents though, shiny and imposing, is stuck there in my brain. Do kids really need a huge stack of presents to open to be happy on Christmas? I remember the excitement of Christmas morning. I remember sneaking in to see if the massive Hot Wheels set was ready for my racing skills at 4 am. I also remember opening presents that were just filler. They were like Cheetos, all puffy and air, wrapped in slick paper with little to offer. I remember toys that broke the same day. I remember the smell of the electric cars arcing on the track. I remember toys buried in my closet and never played with again.

Last year, the economy was tanking and people wanted to believe they could still give the Christmas they always had. People came out and bought presents and charged those cards and said "Dang it we will have a stack of presents!" This year is different though. We've been beat up all year with layoffs, paycuts, and credit card rate increases. People are searching for meaningful presents and (gasp!) buying less presents. Some folks have even made... their... own! I know, it is an interesting time. Christmas can change, and I hope it will change. People may buy less, but hopefully they will channel their spending to meaningful gifts. When I think of what I would trade the stack of gifts for, I think of time. I don't remember very many gifts I've received, but I remember playing with my brothers that morning in pajamas on a cold floor. I remember long rides in the car to grandparents' lunches on Christmas day. I challenge us all to make a few presents count and to really show that we know what our loved ones need. I hope we take the time to show them we care whether we can afford a present or not.

I love obscure Christmas music and the other day I received a cd from a friend in a handmade cd protector made from an old t-shirt sleeve. The first track was a Raveonettes Christmas song I had heard earlier that week. That is exactly how Christmas gifts should feel - handmade and thoughtful.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Bazaar this weekend Sat. Dec.12th

WMNF Holiday Bazaar this Saturday Dec. 12th 10-5 at the Cuban Club in Ybor City

This weekend brings one of our favorite events of the year. It gives us a chance to support WMNF and expose the listeners to our market offerings at a great venue. We always manage to find amazing stuff for Christmas (we love our 60's music posters from last year that are now displayed beautifully in our house). Also this is the absolute best time to round out our vinyl collection! Starting a vinyl record collection is a great green way to re-use existing recordings and stop buying classics on cd from those Big Box stores. Besides the un-matched sound quality, the art on vinyl covers just can't be appreciated the same in CD sized format. How would you begin to identify all of these people on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band?

"Find great used books, cds, movies and audio equipment at WMNF's Annual Holiday Bazaar, plus works by some of the area's best artists and craftspeople, and entertainment from some great local musicians. "

Live Music
9:45 AM -- Almost Parker
10:30 AM -- Kelly Neff
11:15 AM -- Punctual Hippies
12:00 PM -- Rebekah Pulley (yeah!)
12:45 PM -- Parson Brown
1:30 PM -- Shana Banana
2:15 PM -- Juniper
3:00 PM -- Dean Johanson
3:45 PM -- Prince Emmanuel Abiodun Aderele

Need more info or want to volunteer?
Call Carrie Core at 813-238-8001 Ext 134 or email carriec@

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Windows Shopping - Core77 Gift Guide

Even though we will be spending less this year and trying to save our hard-earned cash, we all still enjoy window shopping or rather "Windows shopping" (chortle, snicker) on the web. Today I came across the Core77 gift guide. Core 77 has a design blog that lists products and topics that run the gamut from super sweet to ridiculously impractical. It's a fun guide to check out though with a few familiar faces like Green Toys and books like Design Revolution.

They also interspersed some pretty funny cartoons about inspirational gift ideas in the guide that poke fun at our own design and eco-snobbery. Here's a favorite:
Here's the link- enjoy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Avoiding Black Friday and New Product - Vers IPhone Cases

Well we managed to survive Black Friday unscathed at the Market. It sounds like people were buying more online and avoiding the craziness that big retailers encourage. We had a nice gathering in the shop with cookies and some awesome cider. We even sold some things, but the best part was the relief and happiness on people's faces that comes from having a relaxing shopping experience.

In our run-up to Christmas, we wanted to make sure everyone knows about the new products we have in the shop. Today I'll talk about a cool company called Vers Audio.

Vers Audio ( started out with one simple product - an IPod music player. Most of the plastic players that are on the market have poor sound quality and really aren't very nice looking. These cheap devices will be filling a space in our landfills soon enough as manufacturers refuse to build products that are durable. Vers has used an environmentally friendly MDF in the thick speaker-box type cases on their 2X and 1.5R players. Also, they use a different type of low energy amplifier so that they aren't wasting energy when on or off. They actually use 90% less energy when powered off and 30% less draw when powered on as compared to other similar players.

The new product in the shop is a new product for Vers as well - an Ipod shell case made from sustainably harvested wood. They actually harvest most of the wood near their plant and restore trees through a 100 to 1 return program with the U.S. Forestry Service. On top of their green cred, these cases are absolutely beautiful in walnut, cherry, and bamboo finishes. We have the open front IPhone cases in the shop now. We are also considering an order of the 1.5R alarm clock radio style stereos pictured at the top of this post - let us know if you are interested and we'll add you to the list.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Black Friday? Seriously?

I don't like crowds. Ask Amy, I avoid dinners that involve more than 8 people. 15 people at my table in a restaurant and I want to crawl under it. The only crowds I ever want to get packed in involve loud, live music pouring out of huge speakers. I just don't get it. So I really, really don't get Black Friday.

Please someone help me understand how I'm going to head to Old Navy at 3 AM on Friday when I usually leave that same store frustrated without finding anything I like a couple of times during the year? Or Best Buy? Do I really need a huge flat screen TV? Maybe this is weird but we actually size our TV around the room and the furniture in it. We went without a TV at all downstairs for months and it was great. Anyway, Black Friday is a scam as far as I'm concerned and I'm apparently not the only person that believes it.

According to an article on CNN Money this morning, most of these deals are pretty impossible to come by based on some shady retail practices. There is fine print that says "minimum 3 per store." That means that they might only have 3 of the flat screen that you and 1000 of your closest friends are pressing your faces against the glass for at 3 am outside Sears. Also, they have some items called "derivatives" of popular products. So... maybe the TV doesn't have quite the resolution of the standard product, but they assure us "most consumers can't tell." I guess we're pretty dumb as far as they are concerned.

Do yourselves a favor and skip the whole ridiculous thing. Buy Nothing if you want. If you need to get out of the house, go for a bike ride or a walk to unload some of those pumpkin pie pounds. If you want to get a jump on the shopping list then visit an independent shop far far from the mall. We'll be having a little gathering at our shop involving some tasty cookies and cider. Come on down if you're in the 'hood and leave that stressful mall to the crazies.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ybor on a Wednesday night?

Need a reason to go to Ybor on a Wednesday? How about a little solar presentation followed up with a cool little band from Boston? Well here's your chance... Tomorrow night the Sierra Club is hosting local solar company Hotwire Enterprises from Tarpon Springs. It will be at the Hilton Garden Inn within walking distance of our favorite local watering hole, the New World Brewery.

photo from
After the meeting, you can head over to hear Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade at New World. I've never seen them, but according to the wonderful magic of google "Miss Tess is a Boston-based songwriter, whose "Modern Vintage" sound bridges eras and genres. Since moving to Boston in late 2005, Miss Tess formed her own band, The Bon Ton Parade, a dynamic combo comprised of saxophone, clarinet, upright bass, brushes on drums, and backing harmonies."
And here's the details on the meeting from the Sierra Club website:
This month's program will enlighten us on the various uses of solar power, the types of panels, the cost and basic requirements needed to convert.
Speaker: John Gambill, President of Hotwire Enterprises
5:30 pm - Conservation Committee Meets
6:30 pm - Social time and new member orientation
7:00 pm - Presentation begins

Meeting Location:Hilton Garden Inn 1700 E. 9th Ave.Ybor City (769-9267)Map
Anyone who owns a home or business knows the high cost of conventional energy. Many consumers are unhappy with not only the increasing costs, but increased reliance on dirty coal to supply electricity. Here in the Sunshine State, there are many advantages to seeking out solar power as an alternative form of energy. For grid-tied home-owners, it is possible for a solar electric installation to pay for itself within a few years, and future electrical power is free from the sun for the next 40 years or so.
John Gambill and his wife and business partner Libbie Ellis are the owners of Hotwire Enterprises, their home-based business in Tarpon Springs. They became involved in alternative energy when they spent four years sailing the Caribbean, powering their 36-foot boat with the help of a wind generator and solar panel. In 1998, they returned to the States to work full-time in the alternative energy business designing and installing power-related systems that harness wind and sun for use in boats, RVs, residential, businesses, agriculture and public safety. This month's program will enlighten us on the various uses of solar power, the types of panels, the cost and basic requirements needed to convert. Most states have incentives available to cover part of the cost of solar installation, and there are other federal programs as well, which John will tell us about.
Some of the projects he has designed include solar electric homes, solar battery charging for ambulances, solar powered street lights on the Hillsborough Community College campus in Ybor City, solar water pumping for a remote pasture on a cattle ranch, GPS battery charging for kayaks, electric gate opening devices, laptop battery charger, and solar sign lighting.Pretty much everything that can be done with electricity can be done with solar power, says John.
Don't miss this interesting presentation!
Sierra Club meetings are free and open to the general public.
For more information, contact Marcia Biggs at 727-797-6261 or

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Video Has Landed!

I did a rough walk-around through the shop with our little camera this last week. It's a little jerky in spots, but all in all I'm pretty happy with my first draft at video in quite a few years. At least it should be a lot easier to have people get a feel for the shop. Hope you like it...

Does green always mean more green?

To put it another way, does it always cost more for the green option?

If it does, does that hurt the ability to sell a green product?

First off, it doesn't always cost more for a green product. I have found some things that are less - check out Marcal toilet paper. I know everybody says that recycled toilet paper is not comfortable (including Amy) but you should try it first. What about something not so basic though... like FSC certified flooring or organic clothing. Expensive right?

We had a funny question from a shopper this week. After a few minutes in the store, the young female asked "Is that why everything is so expensive?" Now first off, I don't think you can describe our furniture as expensive - especially if you've ever visited a furniture store in NYC or one of the green furniture design websites (try However, if she had mistaken our little shop for a thrift store or a typical antique store (which happens more often than I care to mention) I suppose it could seem like $300 is a lot for a table. Unfortunately she got away before we had time to reflect on her question and really delve into what she was looking for.

The article from Terracycle talked about how when things are priced differently but are basically the same product, 95% of people won't pay the premium for green items. That's why we at TSM price our stuff the same as if you had to buy a table or shelf from a big box competitor like Crate and Barrel or Target. We use their prices as a guide and expect people to understand that is what a table costs everywhere. We do price some of our one of a kind pieces a little more, but that is the only way to recover the cost of making rare items which take more time and thought.

We believe, just like the Terracycle research, that the flipside is true as well. If two items are priced the same and one is better for the environment then 95% will choose it. The biggest hurdle I believe is getting people to understand that not all green items are more expensive. When people see the organic label, they automatically think expensive and the same goes for the green label.

Those high priced sellers that ask for a premium from the 5% that will pay more are making it hard for the other 95% to believe they can actually get a good deal on green stuff!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dobler on Consumerism

Photo from Pop Candy blog

"I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that." - Lloyd Dobler

One of the other blogs I read* had a post about the 20th anniversary of Say Anything which involved a "mobler" (mob of Lloyd Dobblers) in NYC this week. Lloyd Dobler is credited with one of the best anti-stuff quotes of all time (at least in an 80's movie).

Thanks Lloyd for reminding me of where my anti-consumerism beliefs came from. I was only 14 when he said this and I still feel like he's talking for me. I often wonder where all my influences came together, but I know this great 80's movie stuck with me through good and bad.

I especially hate the idea of processed things. Processed foods and processed plastics are just not the answer that our big companies would like us to believe they are. I'm sure Lloyd had never even heard of genetically modified corn or cotton, but he's against it and I'm right there with him.

As far as selling things, I would update that to say "I don't want to sell anything that I didn't make or that was made unfairly."

Thanks Lloyd, now let's get a little Peter Gabriel music on for the trip down memory lane...


*Steve Spears "Stuck in the 80's Blog"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

US Chamber wants climate bill after all! Who's having the best hoax day ever?

Who doesn't love a good fake press conference?! Apparently the US Chamber of Commerce, especially when the joke is on them... Reading up on Grist this morning I found this hysterical post where a fake Yes Man (a NYC team of professional hoaxers) caused a stir and even managed to get a real PR guy from "The Real" Chamber pretty bent out of shape.

These guys agree with a lot of the folks that are jumping ship from the Chamber that has turned into one huge climate change denier network. It's okay though, it's mostly just small companies like PG&E, Exelon, and a tiny IT biz called Apple. The Chamber seems to think that cap and trade is bad business, but some folks seem to think that extinction and climate calamity is possibly worse for the bottom line.

All that being said - it sure is hysterical to see a group that can get under their corporate skins.

- Charles

Here's the link to the Grist article--->

Monday, October 19, 2009

Green Lightning?

Re-used ice? Not sure. Recycled pucks or FSC certified hockey sticks? Maybe not.

However, this Thursday is Go Green Night at the St. Pete Times Forum for our Tampa Bay Lightning. Here's what I like - ride your bike and get in free... Yep, that's right Alan Snel! Oil the chain and grab a helmet and lock! How's about a few thousand bikes around the old ice palace parking lot? Everybody is still pumped from the Bicycle Bash by the Bay so why not channel that energy? (Shameless plug courtesy of our guilt at not being able to make it to what looked like an awesome event).

This is part of Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful's recycling awareness and they will have volunteers helping people recycle at the game. Don't feel like biking after a long day at the office? Bring that ridiculous yellow book that got dropped off on your doorstep and get in for $5.

P.S. Does anybody even use the yellow pages anymore? C'mon, just google it and get on with it. You don't want to sit home and flip through to the pizza delivery page, dial em up on your rotary phone, and watch Seinfeld re-runs again do you? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Going Green Expo Follow Up

Well I didn't get a photo with Ed, but I did see him. He's tall! He walked right by me as I was chatting with Jennifer from Why Not Boutique. She had scored an indoor spot which was nice considering how hot it was outside.

TSM was out in the heat, but under a tree which did a nice job of keeping us cool. We handed out lots of cards and got a lot of people to hear of our little shop that had never even heard of us (amazing right?!). We even made some sales and shared some knowledge with anyone who would listen. We like to go on and on about composting, furniture design, and recycled materials. We did meet some great folks like Keep Hillsborough Beautiful and I got an in depth tour of a plug in Mazda Protege. We also got to debut the Tweeprints that our new friend Thuy brought by the week prior. They are really cool and clean designs with the bonus that they are printed on recycled paper with soy inks from a local designer. We even sold a few sets of the limited edition versions that feature local and international artists, yeah! Proceeds from those go to Habitat for Humanity and they are very unique Thank You cards.

Thanks to all the folks that came out! We're looking forward to our next day out which just might be the WMNF Holiday Bazaar. Come on by this weekend to see the new and cool furniture pieces we completed this week and to cash in that discount from the show.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Going Green Expo Workshops Fri-Sat Oct.9-10

Should you recycle pizza boxes (cheesy?) or how does micro-irrigation work (extremely tiny tomatoes?) At the USF Going Green Expo Friday and Saturday you can find the answers to these questions and more. Other interesting-sounding talks include a power saving device demo from Virginia Grabowski at Green Earth Group and a presentation from the City of Tampa where we might finally find out what the heck they think a "green" business is in their new designation.

These talks are part of the Expo and are on top of the already exhaustive list of talks and presenters attached to the Sustainability Conference that is running concurrently with the show. If that's not enough to get you to head up and eat lunch at Mel's Hot Dogs (a Tampa institution and absolute must for trips to the USF area) then you can also catch a free shuttle from the Expo to the USF Plant Sale at their Botanical Gardens. Okay!?! Try fitting all this in one day and now you'll see why this baby is a two day affair...

Head out to see these and more.


The complete list of presentations is below the fold...


1:00-2:00 Composting with The Earth Machine!
Learn how to compost using The Earth Machine
Presenter: Adam Schlacter, The Earth Machine
Location: Topiari Bull/Crescent Hill Area (Outdoor)

2:00-2:30 Green Switch Come see a demonstration of the Green Switch,,The product is an idle current and power saving device. The presentation will feature a “mini” home to show how all the power draining components and thermostats can be switched to save energy and money.
Presenter: Virginia Grabowski, Green Earth Group
Location: The Plaza Room (#2708)

2:30-3:30 Organic Certification: The Current Regulatory Environment
What businesses need to know if they are considering the organic marketplace!
Presenter: Rick Martinez, Founder and Executive Director, Sweetwater Organic Community Farm
Location: The Hillsborough Room (#2709)


11:00-11:30 Green with Envy
Learn how to “Green” Your Business
Presenters: Thomas Snelling and Jack Bevilacqua, City of Tampa, Growth Management and Development Services
Location: The Plaza Room (#2708)

11:30-12:00 Residential Recycling in Hillsborough County
This workshop will provide information regarding Hillsborough County’s curbside and drop-off recycling programs including how to get started recycling at home and answers to many frequently asked questions.
Presenter: Katie Brown, Waste Reduction Specialist, Hillsborough County Solid Waste Department
Location: The Hillsborough Room (#2709)
12:00-12:30 Green Switch
Come see a demonstration of the Green Switch,,The product is an idle current and power saving device. The presentation will feature a “mini” home to show how all the power draining components and thermostats can be switched to save energy and money.
Presenter: Virginia Grabowski, Green Earth Group
Location: The Plaza Room (#2708)
12:30-1:00 Chipotle Guacamole Cooking Demonstration Location: Chipotle Booth (see Exhibition Map for specific location)
1:00-2:00 Waterwise
Learn Florida-friendly landscaping principles, water conservation tips, and micro/drip-irrigation. Hillsborough County households will receive a coupon for one free micro-irrigation starter kit (limit one per household and only those that have NOT previously attended a Water-Wise workshop). Coupons can be redeemed for the kit at the Extension office in Seffner, FL.
Presenter: Maria Carver, Water-Wise Program Coordinator, Hillsborough County Extension
Location: The Plaza Room (#2708)

2:00-3:00 Rain Barrels
Learn how Rain Barrels can reduce stormwater runoff and decrease the use of potable water for your landscape! Hillsborough County households attending this workshop will receive a coupon for one free rain barrel (limit one per household and only for those households that have NOT previously attended a Rain Barrel workshop.) Coupons can be redeemed for the rain barrel at the Extension office in Seffner, FL. The 55-gallon barrel includes an installed spigot.
Presenter: Lynn Barber, IFAS, Hillsborough County Extension
Location: The Hillsborough Room (#2709)

3:00-3:30 Green with Envy
Learn how to “Green” Your Business
Presenters: Thomas Snelling and Jack Bevilacqua, City of Tampa, Growth Management and Development ServicesLocation: The Plaza Room (#2708)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ed Begley to visit Tampa (Street Market?) this week

Photo from

If I can get a photo of Ed Begley sitting on the TSM bench we just finished for the shop, I think we might finally crack open that aging bottle of champagne in my fridge door. Here's hoping he gets to see some of what makes Tampa so great while he's spreading the "Green News" at this week's Sustainability Conference at USF.

Also speaking is Bruce Faulmann of Florida Trend and a whole host of professors and experts on eco issues and sustainability. There will be workshops and presentations starting Thursday on Green Building, Legal Issues, Agriculture, and Transportation. Interested in high speed rail? Thinking about water issues in this drought?

Get to and sign up.

Also there will be an Expo where Tampa Street Market will be displaying our recycled designs and sharing the eco-excitement on the grounds of the Marshall Center. (Let's hope for weather like last week!) The Expo runs Friday Oct. 9 from 1-5 pm and Saturday Oct. 10 from 9-4 pm.

The official info lifted From :

The Going Green Tampa Bay EXPO 2009 is designed to focus on sustainability issues and opportunities that face the Tampa Bay area, showing the nation and the world that our region a viable place to grow a sustainable business or industry. The 2009 EXPO will showcase sustainable products and services as well as information about creating a more sustainable Tampa Bay area. The EXPO will also feature ways we all can do our part to live more sustainably and reduce our impact on our environment.

Formal exhibits and workshops will take place inside the Marshall Student Center (left) while a small business Marketplace along with solar exhibits and eco-vehicles can be found around the beautiful Marshall Student Center grounds. Fun for the young and young-at-heart as well as local restaurants will be part of the Expo.

The EXPO will:
Showcase goods, services, information and ideas about renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable design, resource efficient development and green building
Foster growth of local sustainable product lines and services
Stimulate community-wide interest in sustainability, and jump start actions to avert climate change
Highlight sustainability-related career opportunities
Provide family fun and interactive activities to explore
Provide food from local restaurants

This years EXPO is being held in conjunction with the 4th Annual Campus and Community Sustainability Conference. Working together, we are bringing the best and brightest in sustainability to Tampa for this Earth changing event.
Over 3,000 people visited the 2008 EXPO.
Don’t miss this one!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Best Eco-Friendly Store of the Bay?!!

And the winner is... for Best Eco-Friendly Store in the Best of the Bay Reader's Poll... Tampa Street Market!?! You know that little shop on the corner of Florida and Osborne that you keep thinking about checking out and then the light changes and you quickly go back to your dinner planning...? Well obviously not everybody keeps driving and hopefully winning an award will get a few more people to stop. I am so amazed and floored that people voted for us. The contest is a funny mix of Editor's Pics that give out eclectic awards of their choosing and Reader's Poll Awards that involve write-ins that sometimes hit the mark and sometimes go awry. Well we are happy, stoked, pumped, and thrilled that enough people wrote in our name to get us an award!

Congrats to Ernie from Nervous Turkey on winning Best Frontman and Rebekah Pulley (my personal favorite female local singer/songwriter). Also, the oh-so-deserving Cafe Hey (chocolate zucchini bread anyone?) and Cafe Nola (beignets take me back to N'awlins) both won awards and are frequently frequented by the TSM crew.
Some very in tune readers chose Tweeprints as the best recycled product and I am so sorry to say it was the first we had heard of these beautifully designed modern cards from local designer and architect Thuy Ma. Check them out at
Last, shout outs to It's Our Nature and Why Not Boutique, the runners-up in our category. They both are definitely worth checking out with Linda at ION making awesome eco-tees at the Saturday Morning Market and Jennifer at WNB rocking great green fashions in South Tampa.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Park(ing) Day Photos of other Parks

Very cool, and all very different. Way to go Tampa!

Photos from TSM at Park(ing) Day


Thanks for all the hard work from the folks at Supertest and the Tampa Downtown Partnership!

We got plenty of questions and funny looks from our park visitors, but
as long as we can get people talking and interacting we feel it is a good thing for the city!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Park(ing) Day Activism This Friday!

Photo courtesy of Park(ing) Day / Rebar

This week I got an email from Creative Loafing informing me that I was nominated for Best Green Activist in the Best of the Bay competition. After spitting out my morning latte uncontrollably in a fit of surprise, I decided that one of two things had happened. I had been chosen based on our people's confused definitions of activism (which would have been a sad commentary on the understanding of activism) OR there was a horrible mistake! Luckily after a few confirmation emails, I was slightly reassured by the reply of "Sorry that was a typo." I think we were nominated for Green Retail Shop but I'm not sure at this point if the voting process has the surety of a modern day democracy like say... Afghanistan. Anyhow, all joking aside, I guess we are in the running for something. We'll see.

The best irony is that this week we are actually doing something that is sort of activist like. No, we won't be carrying any obnoxious Obama = Dracula signs at a rally, but we will be having a sit in of sorts. We are participating in a mass demonstration / installation called Park(ing) Day. Our part of this involves taking over a parking spot in downtown Tampa for a Friday, paying the meter, and converting it into a miniature park. Ours should be a restful spot with native greenery and benches made in TSM fashion from scrap wood and steel. The idea is to promote a non-commercial agenda of reclaiming our underutilized space from cars and giving it back to the people. If all of these parked car people could get to downtown easily on mass transit then maybe our little 9X20 could be a greenspace in the future! Anyway, there will be about a dozen micro-parks on the Franklin corridor so grab a bike or your walking shoes and help us take back our public areas, one metered space at a time.

P.S. We get plenty of confused looks when we talk about this project to folks, but basically we are optimists and when it comes to activism, we prefer funny, positive, visual, and experimental over screaming fits of rage any day.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Roundup for the week

A couple of quick notes from this week's inbox...

Seminole Heights Community Garden - Big planting weekends coming up! Get your new food in the ground so you can enjoy the big fall harvest! Check out the latest at developments at - You've got to see it to believe it - a pumpkin patch in our hood!

I (Heart) Africa on Thursday! A benefit by One City Ministries for children and families in Uganda. They will have music, art, and some african crafts so have a good time for a great cause. This is at Grace Family Church in Lutz from 7-10 Thursday Aug. 27th.

Going Green Tampa Bay
The USF sustainability conference is holding its green festival on the same weekend at the Marshall Center. It should be a great time with lots of exhibitors and speakers. More details to follow but check it out for yourself at

Last but not least! - Park(ing) Day
September 18th will invite an invasion of miniature parks downtown on the Franklin corridor. Come see what a dozen or so parking space park conversions look like when we pay the meter and sod the street.

One last note,
Many of you know about the TSM crew's big trip to the birthplace of coffee coming up. It starts tomorrow, so go easy on our help in the shop while we are out. Send us emails if you need something. We'll be back after Labor Day so wish us luck!

-Charles and Amy

Monday, August 17, 2009

Eco-Friendly Stores in Tampa Bay

Today's awesome photo from downtown Tampa is brought to you by Elawgrrl via her Flickr site. Check out the rest of her catalogue here:

This morning I sent out a call to all of our customer list asking them to take a few moments and vote for us in Creative Loafing's Best of the Bay. This year they have a category for Best Eco-Friendly Store. Our advertising has always been word of mouth and viral email-forwarding based on people that have seen what we offer and believe it is worth telling others about. To be honest, I don't know of that many stores like ours in the Bay. If we lived in San Diego or Brooklyn, that might be a different story. In Tampa eco-friendly stores are still blazing a trail that feels well-worn in other cities. We have visited places like Good Use in Boulder, Colorado and Sustainable NYC in New York where we love getting ideas and comparing notes with other shops.

In Tampa, you can find eco-chic clothing and gifts at Why Not Boutique on MacDill and in St. Pete you can find greener flooring and paints from Healthy Home for your remodeling and building projects. Tampa Bay Outfitters has some great green options for the outdoors. Finally, just this last week, I made it to Worm's Way Garden Center on 56th St. in Tampa and found an amazing array of organic gardening supplies as well as the natural ant killer, diatomaceous earth, that I'd been hoping to find.

We have also seen stores come and go here in our almost three years in business. We are always on the lookout for places that are doing the right thing. Let us know of other eco-friendly stores in the Bay in the comments and watch, as we will, for the results of the vote. I'm just proud to say that we have enough stores to actually have a category for the first time! Keep supporting all of us little green guys and we'll do all we can to keep you happy with quality products and knowledge. I would hate to see Wal-Mart or Whole Foods win the greenest store in Tampa Bay.

If you still haven't voted, then here's the link:

Vote now at Creative Loafing!


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Here's an Idea - Bikes for Clunkers

Photo from Tour de Fat

Okay okay, I know it's not a fair trade, but just give me a minute to make my case. First off, cash for clunkers is burning through cash like a freshly bailed out Wall Street exec on a trip to the Caymans. The money will only last a few more hours apparently, so why let this help so few people and take in so few clunkers?
Second, the automotive companies are not the only American businesses worthy of saving. How about some of our great biking companies like Trek or Cannondale? These are entrepreneurial and what could be more American than biking? Okay, so maybe the Tour de Fat isn't as big as the Tour de France yet, but it is growing - go ahead look it up when you're done.
So here you go - you bring in your clunker- something horrible with at least 6, hopefully 8 nasty cylinders and a poorly functioning or nonexistent catalytic converter. Free helmet if this is your daily driver. Anyway, so you then get a brand new, CO2 free, commuter bike! At the rate of let's say 400 bucks a piece, we could put 5 million bikes on the road for $2 billion (check my math, but I'm pretty sure on that). So then, you have taken 5 million cars off the road in exchange.
This is a ridiculously green proposal! Now you have to build new bike lanes and bike racks (jobs for americans) and you might even get a shower at work! Productivity bonus! If you think this is crazy, then just go ahead and burn through the rest of that cash, but just think about it... 5 MILLION BIKES. That's something to get stimulated about.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Community Garden Membership Meeting This Week

Photo from Robin Milcowitz

I visited the Seminole Heights community garden last weekend with my nephew to do a little sweaty volunteer work. It actually ended up being one of those extremely sweaty, change your shirt twice kind of days. Kyle was up for helping, so we went down and did some mowing and trimming. We also got to move some huge piles of horse manure for compost creation. We offered to do general labor because we are pretty new to gardening and can't really be trusted with actual edible plants at this point. However, our tomato and pepper plants in our little garden at home are starting to show early signs of food production.

We had a good time at the garden and shot some photos when it was all done. I always come away from the garden with some new knowledge from the seasoned folks that are consistently working there. Thanks Cindy and Piet! The horse manure apparently has lots of nitrogen but needs to be converted to something a little more user-friendly for the plants to accept it (my limited understanding). So they planted a lot of black eyed peas in this manure heavy compost to do the work. They intend to plow under the peas and use that newly bountiful soil to generate a fall harvest. I hate to see some of the sad poolies (what they call the kiddie pool container gardens) in such a poor state, but summer gardening is tough. I've seen plants wilt in one hot day without watering. The poolies with the peas look amazing though! Huge chia pet mounds of green just shooting for the sky! I hope that this meeting can help re-energize us all and get us back in the garden starting with the big Labor Day planting coming up.

We're not gonna let our first tough summer beat us down! See ya at the garden. Check out the meeting if you're in the hood.


This was sent from Robin, the organizer of our local and new community garden in Seminole Heights. Details from her email follow below.

Hello! We have some new things happening! Be sure to check out all the events and take a gander at the front page too! We're adding gardening tips & Green News & Stuff blog entries daily. C U Soon!

Time: August 5, 2009 from 7pm to 8:30pmLocation: Seminole Heights United Methodist ChurchOrganized By: Robin Milcowitz
Event Description:Our first guest speaker is from the USF Engineering Department and they'll be talking about a program they'reworking on that converts trash to energy.Our second speaker is Willow Lamonte! She'll be giving an in-depth talk about organic gardening and she'llalso be answering your questions and helping you with basic trouble-shooting advice. She'll also be bringingin her books and some additional items to show us that she uses in her own garden.We'll have some drinks available. Please feel free to bring some light snacks to share.We'll have our T-shirts available to purchase and bumper stickers too!Don't miss out on this great event!This meeting is also a way for us to reconnect with people we don't get to see at the garden very much and allow people to come in and let us know how you think we're doing. Things we could do better and even some new things we aren't doing yet. We hope you'll join us.

Thank you!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Beer Summit" leaves out a green beer

Photo by Matthew Levine

It seems like everyone is chiming in with what they would like to see served at the "Beer Summit," as they are calling the upcoming informal meeting at the White House. Apparently the choices of those appearing have left out our local small brews and they have everyone second-guessing Pres. Obama'a choice of a Bud Light. Now that Bud is owned by a non-American company, apparently it is a big deal. Don't get me wrong - I got through college on cheap beer, and Barack is free to keep on drinking that stuff if he likes. A cold light beer on a hot day sure hits the spot. However, I have recently learned some info about one of my favorite "grown-up" beers that I feel makes it a much better choice.

Growing up in Texas has its perks and bordering Louisiana has them as well. Heading down to New Orleans to get some culture, me and my brother discovered a little Louisiana brewery called Abita Beer. They make such brews as the popular Amber, Purple Haze, but my absolute favorite (which just happens to be on tap at New World Brewery) is Turbo Dog. I don't know how they named it, but I like to picture some little cajun kid with a super fast three-legged dog hollerin' "Come on Turbo Dog, less git goin!" as they walk down a railroad track.

Anyway, the point of all this back story... Abita has been quietly working to make beer as green as possible and not just on St. Paddy's day! They have a beer brewing system that captures the steam and reduces the energy used by something like 70%. They also use recycled and reduced packaging sizes and supply the local farmers with leftovers from some of the grains and hops used for feed. They even built their own wastewater treatment plant where they can convert a lot of the waste to bio-gas for their own boilers and reduce the water sent to the local sewer plant by 85%. On top of all that, they added auxilliary power units to their delivery trucks which cut down on idling when the trucks are sitting still!

I'm not sure why I would drink anything else, but just try it for yourself. Maybe you'll even feel a little better about that brew in your glass. You'll not only be supporting an independent brewer, but also a rare green leader in the not-so-eco-friendly world of beer.

By the way, if you see Pres. Obama, why don't you offer him a beer, and maybe something with some flavor?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cinci Goes Green?

Photo courtesy of
(I'm so jealous of this beautiful storefront just so you know.)

Amy calls me and says, "You're not gonna believe this, but I'm standing in a green shop in Cincinnati!" Amy's from Cinci and is up there having a "girl's weekend" as I write this. Although we have seen some suppliers from the Ohio area with cool green stuff, for the most part, I would need some convincing to think Cinci had embraced "enviros." The funny thing is, we were crazy enough to start an eco-friendly store in Tampa which is know for what... cigars? So why not start one in the home of hills and chili on your spaghetti?!

If you get a chance, check out the site at Park and Vine. It looks great and if you're in the neighborhood, show 'em some love. We are already considering adding to our offerings based on her scouting trip. Mix-it-yourself cleaning products, bath and body, and kitchen supplies are just a few of the categories that we are working to flesh out. We'll keep you posted.

Here's the link---->

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'm Just Setting That Monitor By The Road!

So my friend at works says "Do you guys take in things to recycle?" Well, yes and no. We recycle things that we can use, so wood and metal pieces are useful to me when I'm making furniture. What isn't really desirable are things like computers and old monitors or even old cell phones. I must not be alone in feeling that way because these are rapidly becoming a ticking time-bomb in our landfills. We must consider that most of these devices contain heavy metals and batteries when dropping them in the trash or hiding them in a black bag on the curb.

From the EPA's site:

"Of the 2.25 million tons of TVs, cell phones and computer products ready for end-of-life (EOL) management, 18% (414,000 tons) was collected for recycling and 82% (1.84 million tons) was disposed of, primarily in landfills.

A lot of arm-twisting is leading to companies accepting back some of the electronics they sell, such as Best Buy and Dell. The other interesting development is companies that are making money from these castoffs. That same friend sent me a link to a website called that pays you based on a schedule of the type of equipment and condition.

Kind of cool, although we both agreed we can't figure out how these guys make any money because they pay for the shipping as well. So they give you a shipping label and then cut you a check. It doesn't seem like they pay much, but for an old Ipod that just keeps getting moved around the home office maybe it's worth it to get a check for $13. If it would have gotten tossed in the trash instead of in the mail, I'm sure the planet thinks it is worth it.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

2 Weeks Left for Passport to Indies Challenge

Photo courtesy of

There are two weeks left for the Passport to Indies Challenge. Make sure you don't miss this chance to rack up some gift certificates from our local independent businesses. The next time you buy your mom lunch at the Taco Bus, she won't have to know that you paid for it just by visiting places that support the local economy! Talk about a win-win! We have the Passports in our shop or you can download them from Creative Loafing. Click here ---->

Some of the basics about the benefits of buying local from our friends at Vinyl Fever:

"So, use Independents Week (month) to explore your local independent businesses and see how much of your purchasing for that week (month) you can do with them. You'll keep your money circulating in your community three times as long or more than when spent at chains, where it leaves immediately for "the home office". Studies prove that when your money is spent at a locally-owned, independent business, 45 cents of every dollar gets recirculated within the community, vs. just 13 cents from a chain store. This enriches everybody. " - from Vinyl Fever's awesome weekly email -

That's right folks, the money stays right here in the bay area. So get out and discover some of those indies that you have been resisting. Skip your regular Starbucks and go find Cafe Hey this week - we know you've been thinking about it...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What the heck is Cap and Trade anyway?

So we have this huge climate bill going through the Senate right now. I know, hopefully you all know about it, but if you don't, now's the chance to catch up on your reading. So what is this that has our esteemed Sarah Palin writing for the Washington Post? Yep, if you didn't catch that - riveting... in the ghostwriter for a lame duck governor sort of way. Anyhow, she doesn't like it. Pretty much, no republicans like it. The biggest problem people seem to have with this is that energy prices go up. And they might. There's a good chance that the utilities will start charging more for what they have to do to deal with it. Keep in mind that here in Florida, Progress Energy customers have a surcharge on their bills for a nuclear plant that isn't even starting construction yet. But besides pesky little raises like that - they always do the right thing, right?

So...We will build an artificial market with a cap on the total amount of pollution and force companies to trade credits (buy and sell) in order to keep from producing more pollution than the country should on the whole. The money generated, hopefully gets funneled toward energy projects that keep us from generating even more pollution like wind, solar, geothermal, and all that. The arguments against it really don't get into what is the most basic issue - not doing something is not an option when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions. They mostly avoid it and just say something that sounds like - Don't tax us! We'll find some more cheap oil! We promise!

So anyhow, to avoid this becoming a rant, I found this video a few months ago and if you can handle this geek's rapid fire delivery, it is a pretty basic explanation of cap and trade. Hope it helps.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Composting stinks!

So we started composting this last year in hopes of doing some real gardening. We do have a small garden (six plants so far) and a pile of compost. We started composting really naively with a pile of leaves in the yard a few years ago. Then I read to mix in compost and manure mix from the garden center. That seemed to help break down the leaves. This year we found a little book called, appropriately, The Little Book of Compost. This book has recipes for compost and lots of help on how to do it right, including what should and should not be composted. Veggies good. Cooked food - not good. Coffee grounds - good. Meat scraps - not good. So at first we just dumped this stuff on the pile. Then came the ants and then the flies. Not so good. I got the feeling we were doing something wrong. Then some veteran composters at the shop suggested I get a bucket to dump the stuff in first and let it break down a little first. So now we have a plastic lidded trash can outside for the compost. We also have a small plastic bin on the counter for scraps when cooking or changing the coffee. That's when it started to stink. The key is, I think, to not let that little bin on the counter sit too long. Dump it more than once a week. We also bought some Bio Bag Composter bins we are going to try. They say it helps evaporate the water and keep the compost from getting sludgy and too wet. We have some in the shop now so if you want to join the experiment, just stop by and pick one up.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Recycling Green Toys

Recycling is synonymous with Tampa Street Market. If I had to explain how we ended up doing what we do now, I could probably boil it down to: we saw a truck carrying off a perfectly good _____ and decided to give it another life. Insert dresser, wood plank, or metal scrap in the blank and you'll get the idea. Furniture reincarnation is alive and well at our house. An antique dresser that is old-fashioned but solid might get a new color. Heart pine beams might become the legs to a beautiful new desk.

Anyway, we love recycling and we're not ashamed of it. So this week I came across some toys from a company called Green Toys. These are bright colored incarnations of some classic toys, such as a gardening set with little yellow pots or a cook set with multicolored plates and tea cups. They use recycled milk jugs (HDPE) to make these and go out of their way to keep them non-toxic. Heck, they're made to California standards in California! Seriously! I especially like the recycled cardboard packaging - no twist ties and no plastic bags needed. According to their website, I guess you can get these at Toys R Us or Learning Express, but I've never seen them there. I have to believe that's because those big chains are just so crowded with junk!

Come see what else is new this week and pick up your Passport to Indies. In addition to whatever Creative Loafing hands out in prizes, we've decided to give a $25 gift certificate to the TSM customer that gets the most stamps by the end of July!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

No bike helmets for Dr. Jones

Okay so bike helmets are dorky, I get it! I hate them too. It's not like when I bike and booze (bike home from a porch party) that I want to muss my hear with one of those futuristic wind tunnel looking guys. Okay, I'll give you that it's pretty difficult to muss my hair anyway, but my buddy Brook is having no part of it. So, I'm saving up for a Yakkay! They apparently don't sell these in the U.S. yet, or I haven't found them yet. Instead of the Hannah Montana nerf ball helmet type that I usually recommend, this one is cool looking. I submit exhibit A - see photo --->
So I'm still working on cool one's we can afford. These go for $150 bucks or more. Considering that less than half of us wear a helmet, I say there is plenty of work to do to get these looking cool. If you want to see the tweed one that Dr. Jones would wear, you'll have to go to the website. These are basically a base helmet with fitted covers. Good for cold weather, I'm guessing. Keep in mind though, you only get one brain and it doesn't heal itself very well. If you're biking in the hood, well, you've seen how people drive.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Independents Week Starts Today!

And you're saying to yourself a) What the heck is independents week and why haven't I heard of it? or hopefully b) How can I help?

First I'll start with "A" for some backstory... Independent businesses caught on that they were being edged out about the time it was too late. Right after I walked out of Wal-mart and wondered, what used to be here? Wasn't there an office supply store and a bike shop and a garden supply in my town? The businesses that weren't obliterated in the first few years and those crazy enough to start new one's like us, started getting together. Independent Business Associations started to crop up with one of the most popular coming out of Austin, Texas. Anybody heard of "Keep Austin Weird"? That's the kind of slogan that Target and Best Buy just can't help with. So anyway, to get the word out, these business groups needed a rallying week and when better than the heat of summer? July 4th - Independents Day was born! Unless we want chain stores from sea to shining sea then we'd better get out and support these guys!

So then question B) How can I help?

TIBA - The Tampa Independent Business Association is running a promotion with the help of Creative Loafing that involves getting stamps on a "passport" this month. If you get the most, then you are entered in a drawing for $500 in gift certificates. One of those will be from Tampa Street Market, so make sure you get this done! Find the "Passport to Indies" in this issue of Creative Loafing.

If that is a little too much structure for your independent self, then just get out and support your favorite indies! Eat at Nicko's, Cappy's, Bungalow Bistro, Taconazo, and Grassroots. Get down to Vinyl Fever and buy Wilco's new album. Head over to Inkwood Books and get an autograph from Carl Hiaasen. Get over to the Old Tampa Book Company and pick out a classic. Get out to Skipper's Smokehouse and catch a band and some fish dip. Or try to do three - at the same time - go to New World Brewery, drink an indie brew, and listen to a local band - all in one night! This is what makes a town worth living in folks! Remember the hardware store that burned down in the Heights last year? Those are the places that make a neighborhood...

Here's the link to get your passport - Don't wait, my little brother started on Saturday!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Update: Tonight on Fox News 13

It sounds like they are going to run our natural cleaners story tonight on Fox 13! Watch for it at either 6:00 or 10:00. If we get a link to it, we'll post it here.

Zero waste furniture - locally designed too?

My buddy Mickey is an architect and I like to rib him about taking real "furniture classes". I build furniture and design things, but most of what I've learned comes from trying things and reading. I am happy to experiment and have had some really great ones and some that never saw the daylight. Mickey has had some really great designs and I still remember when I told him months ago about this contest to make furniture from one sheet of plywood - no glue - no fasteners. We quickly imposed upon ourselves the idea that it should be zero waste. I had heard of other zero waste designs and I believe it is not only a better challenge but also much more responsible to not waste material when making things.

We worked on our own designs, and I had a few I liked, but nothing I was really happy with. Mickey on the other hand, showed up one night to a cookout with an MDF prototype in tow of a child-size chair. I wanted to offer advice, but it was pretty nice the way it was. Time got away from me and as I entered a busy and stressful part of my year, the deadline passed without my entry. Mickey however, entered two and kept it quiet. After seeing the designs and all the other entries, I wish more people could see it. There were all sorts of crazy designs in there with an honorable mention even going to a plywood bird's nest. It looked cool, but come on, seriously? Some of these things look like alien spacecraft not furniture. Anyhow, Mickey's designs didn't win, but he did build them both and photographed the assembly. He even did it with zero waste which I didn't honestly see another design attempt to do. I'll publish his shots here and hopefully we can get them in the shop soon so you can see them in person.

The desk is called Dorma and the table and chairs make up Ella's Party. When you see how cool these are, keep in mind these are one sheet of plywood, no glue, no screws, and built and designed by one guy.
If you want to see the other entries go to

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Home Detox article in UC Tampa Magazine

Here's the text (as printed) from my article this month in UC Tampa. I've been writing a regular Green and Earth article for the last few months for Jay. It's been interesting and publicity is good. I'm still not that used to having my writing edited, but I'm getting over myself. The other good news, besides getting published, is that we are going to be on the news this week because they spotted this article! Fox 13 came by the shop and we did a demo last week that hopefully will be on tomorrow... I will post any details if I get any.

Home Detox: Homemade Natural Cleaning Products - Reprinted from UC Tampa Magazine

By Charles Haynie, Columnist

Like many families, during these shaky economic times, my wife (Amy) and I are cutting back on unnecessary spending. Part of our cost-cutting strategy has us hosting dinners at our home for friends and family, instead of meeting them out at restaurants. But while entertaining guests in our home has helped us save a few bucks, it’s also created a problem: Home Cleanliness (or lack there of) Awareness.
Before we decided to be stay-at-home socialites, it was pretty easy for us to casually overlook the breeding dust bunnies and the “Leaning Tower of Dishes.” Instead, we would accept our homeowner guilt; each do five “hail Marthas;” and promise ourselves we’d clean the house soon.But once people began to come over regularly – and we realized Martha Stewart wasn’t one of them – Amy and I developed an instinctual habit to get our hands dirty and keep our house clean. Or so we thought …It didn’t take many cleanings for me to realize the so-called “cleaners” we used, made our grout white and our furniture shiny … AND were being inhaled into our lungs and soaked into the skin of our hands.
It was an alarming revelation that spurred me to find out just what was in those store-bought products. What I discovered was that although they made our house look clean, using them actually made our house – and our bodies – toxic.Worse yet, when certain cleaners are combined they can create super toxins that dramatically increase health risks for those who come in contact with them.
To see how easily these cleaning concoction combos can occur, just watch the many commercials on TV; each pitching a different product for what we used to consider one job – like cleaning a shower for example. Today, pitchmen insist we buy and use shower pre-cleaner, shower grout cleaner, shower drain cleaner, shower tile cleaner and shower head cleaner. (And, of course, they’re all chemical-based.) You get the picture.
The fact is that Mother Nature did a pretty good job at making cleaning products for us; some of which – used alone or in combination – have been proven effective and eco- and health-friendly for hundreds of years. Among the most commonly used is a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar; although you have many options from which to choose, including: borax, salt, lemon juice, tea tree oil, olive oil and more.
The beauty of these is that not only can they probably already be found under your kitchen sink; they’re so safe to use, they can be poured down it.So which ones are used for which jobs? To answer that and to help you actually clean your home, instead of contaminate it, I’ve compiled an abridged list (below) of some of my new favorite homemade formulas.

Make Your Own Cleaners
A mixture of coarse salt and olive oil will help scrub away grill grime, while leaving the seasoning on it. (When done, apply a light coat of oil to the grill – while it’s hot – to keep food from sticking to it.)
Dilute two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar with a gallon of warm water. Pour it into a repurposed spray bottle for ease of use. (Note: You can use old newspapers to wipe glass, instead of paper towels.)
Combine equal parts of borax and baking soda and use it (with water) as a scrubbing powder. For extra cleaning power, dip the moist side of a half of a lemon into the residue and use the fruit as a natural Brillo Pad.
If you have a pan with burnt-on residue, put it on the stove and fill it with white vinegar, baking soda and water. Bring the liquid to a boil, then place the full pan into your kitchen sink. Once it cools, cleaning is a breeze.
When allowed to set and dry, pure distilled white vinegar (applied with a spray bottle) will kill most incidents of mold. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, an effective alternative is a combination of two teaspoons of tea tree oil mixed with two cups of water.
Combine two parts olive oil and one part lemon juice. Apply it with a clean cloth. This formula has a pretty good shelf life and can be stored in repurposed glass receptacles, like spaghetti sauce or pickle jars.

Here's the link to the UC Tampa site -


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Water update

(Photo - stolen outright from Asher Castillo's blog)
While the petition for the Water for the World gets closer to enough signatures, there are projects that continue to move forward with private funding. I said that I would pass along stories from the front lines and this one is very close to home. My cousin, Asher, is heading to El Salvador this year to build wells for churches. The company that he is going with is called Living Water International. I'm not a religious person, but these guys are doing good work around the world and deserve to be commended. 16% of the population in El Salvador has no access to clean drinking water. Asher has recently tossed his old corporate job and is heading out to apply his talents to help people. That takes guts and I'm so proud to know that one of my relatives is out there making a difference for people. If you want to hear about his travels, check out his blog at

Monday, June 22, 2009

Serve Yourself

It's summer time now and to kick it off in style, our new Prez has a little plan he calls United We Serve. Remember that part in the inauguration where he said something about everybody doing their part... If you go to the website you can read all about it. This guy is serious about it too. He's even got our new Energy Secretary Chu out putting together energy efficiency kits in Michigan!

If you're ready to find some way you can help, hit the site and see what is in your skill set and time frame. I checked it out and saw everything from reading to kids (maybe not for me) to replanting natives on spoils islands (that's more like it). There are even volunteer listings for Lowry Park Zoo and the Rays baseball games. I think you'll be surprised by what you can do. Let us know if you get into something and we'll post the stories.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father Earth

It seems we mostly refer to our little blue ball of a planet as Mother Earth. On Father's Day though, I often recall that it was my dad that dragged us out on nature hikes and campouts. Amy's father taught her all about the birds and how to identify them.

Some days it is easy to lose sight of what exactly set us on the path of becoming a nature-loving treehugger. Today I'll thank my dad for introducing me to Mother Earth. Thanks for making me curious and answering all those questions as best you could. Here's a recent shot of my dad doing his best to dazzle me with an explanation of how the weather in Mexico can make a door look like this.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Water for the World

Has it really been a month since I've been on the blog?! Summer is here and we've packed in a lot of activities so far. Hopefully you have too!

One thing that is always associated with summer in my book is water. Water parks, swimming pools, slip and slides, and cold cool clean water to drink. Before you head out to drink out of the hose this summer, please take a minute to check out this short video about the water problems we face. This might help you consider getting involved, as we have, with some of the groups and the legislation that are working to get clean water to everyone in the world.

Statistics from the Water for the World campaign...

"4100 -
The number of children that die every day from diarrheal diseases spread through poor sanitation and hygiene. "

"The benefits of improving access to water and sanitation go beyond any one sector, and it is estimated that every $1 spent on water and sanitation generates returns of $8 in saved time, increased productivity and reduced health costs."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend Roundup

Heatwave was awesome! Hope you got to see some of that...Kinobe and Soul Beat Africa were so worth it. Special thanks go out to John Loscalzo of Loko Cuisine for his amazing food and hard work last Friday night at our in-store event! For those of you that missed out, don't worry, we will definitely do another one soon. We had a great time and got to chat with customers and neighbors alike - all within walking distance of our house!

Anika Easter and family were on hand to release her new SecondLine Frames from salvaged New Orleans wood that really bring a lot of color to the shop. Also, she sold a couple of paintings throughout the evening, and we are happy to see her unique style expand throughout the city.

We will be out of town this weekend trying to relax and get our mind off work a little bit. The shop will be open Friday and Saturday without us thanks to our family and friends who are minding it. We will be closed Sunday as we are travelling to South Carolina to visit friends and test out our new tent! Hopefully our camping will be relaxing and dry.

We instituted Summer Hours this last week to give us some time to finish more furniture and some of our custom projects. (We have been tapped to make tables for Ella's Folk Art Restaurant on Nebraska by the awesome Ernie and Melissa!) This means we are closed Monday to Wednesday for a few months, but on the upside, we can get more furniture done and into the shop. As we continue to build custom projects, we learn and grow our abilities. Thanks so much for all the support. As other places are closing, we are happy to say we are hanging in there.