Holiday Gift Wish List: 2010 Edition

There are lots of gift guides out there but there are three holiday wish/ recommendation lists out today that you have to check out Cupcakes and Cutlery, Hank and Hunt, and of course this one.

Our lists are different they blog about how to have awesome parties and fun crafts. This list will give you some green gift ideas… some are for the beginner greenie and other are for those who have been on the green path for a long time, some are things I have while other items are things I want… really want!

The perfect gift for kids: A modern and green Dollhouse. I want to get this dollhouse for my daughter mostly because I love it. This is the Brinca Dada Bennett townhouse. First it is not plastic, that is always great but this is like a LEED certified type of dollhouse The townhouse features a two-story living room, elevator, roof top pool and glass rail balconies in both the master bedroom and children’s bedroom. Solar-powered LED lights make for play by sun or moon. And Bennett House is made of CARB-certified woods and non-toxic, lead-free paints and stains, so it is easy on the environment.

For cooks: the best gift is a gift pack of grass feed beef from LaCense beef and some great barbecue tools. I love LaCense beef, it tastes great and more natural than anything you have ever had before… A true foodie would appreciate it. If you really want to turn up the green meter for a gift for a cook get them a solar oven! I have told my husband that I really want to get one and he laughs at me EVERY time. But think about it in the heat of the summer the last thing you want to do is turn the oven on in your house.

energy-wise landscape design
For the Gardener or New Homeowner: the book Energywise Landscape by Sue Reed is perfect for the experienced gardener and the beginner. It is amazing how many things you can do to make your landscape energy efficient. The book is laid out in a way that explains how things work. The book also offers you many different options to achieve the same thing.
Complimentary gifts: gardening tools, gift certificate to the local nursery, rain barrel (so they can collect the rain water to water their new landscape), or even better some of your time in the early Spring to help them do the work!

For EVERYONE: an iPad. I wrote an entire post on how green the iPad is and I stand by it. Oprah just gave them to everyone too. I have used signficantly less paper by canceling my newspaper subscription, renewing my magazine subscriptions as digital subscriptions, and purchasing my books through the countless e-reader apps you can download including Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and Apple’s iBook (still not sure which one I like the best).
Complementary gifts: an iTunes gift card for apps, a cover (everyone makes them you can find them anywhere but I prefer the Apple cover for mine)

And for my final WISH LIST item… the Chevy Volt!

Really I mean what want to be environmentalist would not want this car. It is cooler looking than the Prius for one and it is the Motor Trend Car of the year (ok, that is not really a reason for me but….) and it completely electric. To be honest I have no idea how I would plug it in, my 120 plus year old house hardly has enough plugs for my computer, blackberry and iPad forget about a CAR but I want one… I really do. They start at $41,000 so I think I will have to be a really good girl for Santa, my husband and everyone I ever met for them to chip in to buy this for me. I wish I had a million readers and Chevy gave me one to drive and blog about my experince. Anyone out there at Chevy reading this contact me.  Complimentary gifts: extension cord and cool bumper stickers.

Bonus: I also created a whole list of awesome Chronicle Book, check out the list and leave a comment for a chance to win every book on the list as part of the Happy Haulidays giveaway.

Hope everyone has a great holiday and that shopping for your gifts are fun… try not to wrap your gifts, put your gifts in a canvas bag your family and friends can re-use… The Volt won’t fit in a bag though?! Hmmm?

Want to follow some cool people on Twitter and Facebook… here are the details on my fellow bloggers:

Cupcakes and Cutlery: @cupcakescutlery and facebook like Cupcakes and Cutlery

Hank and Hunt: @hankandhunt

Green4u: @greenforu and Facebook like me Green4u

Photo credits: Town House from Brinca Dada, Energy Wise Landscaping from Sue Reed, iPad from Apple, Chevy Volt from and Chevy

Should I Buy a Hybrid Car?

My husband and I have been exploring the idea of buying a hybrid car. Last week alone my husband drove enough to put $120 of gas in his PT Cruiser (an above average week of driving but it hit the point home, gas is really expensive). So I started looking at the options.

First, I looked to see what cars come as hybrids. I knew there was not alot but I was suprised how few. Here is what I found when I looked at the  “hybrid cars” section on MSN Autos on

Current Hybrids
Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid
Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
Ford Escape Hybrid Ford Escape Hybrid
GMC Sierra Hybrid GMC Sierra Hybrid
GMC Yukon Hybrid GMC Yukon Hybrid
Honda Accord Hybrid Honda Accord Hybrid
Honda Civic Hybrid Honda Civic Hybrid
Lexus GS 450h Lexus GS 450h
Lexus LS 600h Lexus LS 600h
Lexus RX 400h Lexus RX 400h
Mazda Tribute Hybrid Mazda Tribute Hybrid
Mercury Mariner Hybrid Mercury Mariner Hybrid
Nissan Altima Hybrid Nissan Altima Hybrid
Saturn Aura Green Line Hybrid Saturn Aura Green Line Hybrid
Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid
Toyota Camry Hybrid Toyota Camry Hybrid
Toyota Highlander Hybrid Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Toyota Prius Toyota Prius

Not a huge selection right.  So we looked at the list and decided which ones we thought we liked. Here are the ones we are considering:

  1. Honda Civic
  2. Ford Escape
  3. Toyota Highlander
  4. Tried to talk him into a Prius, he said no way and since he drives ALOT more than I do…

So the Highlander gets 27 mpg and is priced $35,000-$40,000 which is more than we wanted to spend since we are looking to save money because of fuel costs 27 mpgs are not worth our while. So it is basically down to the Ford Escape and Honda Civic.

I called the Honda dealership that I bought my last car from and asked them how long the wait was (I knew there was no way they had any for sale) and they said they would have a shipment in September. He then proceeded to try to talk me out of it. He said that based on average use (I do not know what that means to him but lets assume the national average of 12,000 miles per year) the extra cost of a hybrid Civic from an average Civic is about $5,000.  He said if gas stayed at $4.00 a gallon (which it already is not in most of the country) it would take 8 years to pay off the difference. Is he right? Kinda here is the math

Gas cost on a regular Civic per year: (12000 miles/35 mpg X 4.00) $1371.42

Gas cost on a Hybrid Civic per year: (12000 miles/45 mpg X 4.00) $1066.67

Annual savings of about $304… So yes he is about right it takes a long time to make your money back.

Same scenario more miles and higher gas price:

Gas cost on a regular Civic per year: (16000 miles/35 mpg X 5.50) $2514.28

Gas cost on a Hybrid Civic per year: (16000 miles/45 mpg X 5.50) $1955.56

Annual savings of about $589 and if gas prices soar at the same rate they have been $5.50 could be a very low estimate.

Of course the comparison here is between an already extremely fuel efficient car and hybrid so the difference in minimal.

While the dealer is probably right if you drive 12,000 miles or less and you need a new car anyway a regular Civic is not a bad choice. However, if you want to take into consideration the fact the gas prices can continue to soar the balance of savings starts to diminish.  

I will keep you updated on the research that I do and the comparisons.

Smart Car Test Drive

smart fortwo

I had the opportunity to test drive a Smart Car (made by Mercedes-Benz) over the weekend. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it ran and how comfortable it was. I test drove the Smart ForTwo, which has retail price of $11,000 to $16,500. Currently, in my area there is a 1 year wait for a car and in order to get on the list you need to put a $99 deposit down for the car.

All cars come with automatic and a push button standard (I do not know how to drive a stick so I cannot elaborate on how this is different than other cars other than there was no clutch or pedal on the floor). If you drive the car in standard you get better gas mileage.

This is a gas fueled car that is legal to drive on the highway and to my surprise can go as fast as 90 MPH!! When looking at its size you wonder what it can do on the highway.

Once I got into the car I was surprised to see how big the passenger space was. You feel like you are sitting pretty high in the car and there is a huge sunroof so you feel like you have alot of space. The controls on the car felt like they were in the right place and it was easy to see out of. As I started driving the car it had a good start as you step on the gas, my biggest complaint is when you get to about 15 mph you hesitate as you switch gears and you feel this much more than you would in another car. Overall, the car drove well and handled well.

The cargo space was also larger than I thought it would be, although not cavernous. You could easily fit several full grocery bags in the back. There is also a ton leg room space so if you are traveling alone in the car and you bought more than could fit in the back you could easily fit it in the front. I think the obvious caveat is that I would not recommend this car to make a big trip to Ikea or Home Depot for large items.

The car comes in a limited amount of colors white, grey, black, orange (they say red, I am not so sure though), yellow and blue. They also have a convertible version. There are million features you can add on to the car to like heated seats, 5 cd changer, mp3 plug in jack, bike or ski racks, safety plus package (emergency equipment), and lots of others.

So here is what you have been waiting for it is a gas car so what is its mileage… 33 city 40 highway. It has an 8.7 gallon tank so if gas is $4.00 a gallon it would cost $34.80 to fill up and drive anywhere from 287.1 – 348 miles.


  • 4 Start Crash test rating
  • Tight turning radius of 28.71 ft.
  • Electronic Stability Program
  • Anti-lock Brakes
  • passive safety systems
  • Full-size 2 stage front airbag, head and thorax side airbags, belt tensioners and belt force limiters (the steering column can also retract away when necessary)
  • Hill Start assist (which will be helpful in a car this size)

Who is this car perfect for:The commuter (train or public transportation) who needs a ride to the station, someone who works close to home, a second car, or any single person or couple who just needs a car on occasion.

Cons of this car: It is still a completely gas run car so it does not help you get rid of your dependence on oil or gas. Cars are going to have to have equally competitive gas mileage soon anyway.

Environmental Info:Production of these cars takes place in ‘smartville’ where they use a process of painting the cars that uses 40% less energy than conventional painting methods and solvent emissions are low because they use water based lacquers. Their industrial waste water and sewage is purified which reduces waster water contamination to what a population of 50 people would produce rather than a population of 3,000. Some of the components of the car are also made with 100% recycled plastic. They even went so far as designing the car to be recyclable when you are done with it!!! Talk about innovation!!

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