Friday, August 31, 2012

Second Round - Ridding My House Of Toxic Chemicals

The next day I checked a few more products and found more things that needed to be removed.

I'm planning to re-use the shampoo bottles by filling them with home-made shampoo.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ridding My Home Of Toxic Chemicals

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (examples: DDT, polychlorinated biphynls, BPA, polybrominated diphenly ethers, alkylphenols, perflurooctanoic acid) are absolutely everywhere and going looking for them to rid your life of them only makes it disturbingly apparently how surrounded we are.

I'm the semi-proud owner of a somewhat large train case full of makeup. I filled the train case about six years ago when I was trying to make a greater effort to look nice at all times. My husband doesn't care for the "powdered", "fake", or "made up" look that a full face of makeup leaves it's unwitting victims.

Victims? Don't get me wrong. I love makeup, but because I don't leave the house very often, don't receive visitors, and my husband doesn't care for it - I very rarely wear it any more. Despite the way far too many of us treat it, cosmetic items have shelf lives and we tend to keep them longer than it is best for us to be still using them. In addition to this fact, there are a lot of toxic chemicals that can be found within the things we slather onto and into our faces and our bodies.

Phthalates are one of the EDC's people are becoming increasingly more aware of but it seems parabens are a bit less well-known culprits. Meant to extend shelf-life and increase absorption of the products you're using they're doing more harm than good.

Feeling that enough moons had passed since I last used much of my makeup that I could easily go into my bathroom, go under the sink, get out my train case, and start chucking out makeup containing health damaging chemicals - I headed into the bathroom to do just that. Filled with resolve I sat down on the edge of the toilet and unzipped the train case, but as I looked over all of the goodies I'd spent so much money on I was met with a lot more internal opposition than I'd ever expected. It just seemed so wrong to throw away barely used Clinique, MAC, NARS, Smashbox, Erno Laszlo, or any of my other goodies. I began looking at the backs of my products searching for ingredients that I knew were harmful and more often than not was unable to find the list.

Determined to not leave my seat without accomplishing something non-toilet related I decided to remove opened makeup that was over a year old. Even that proved difficult. Only four items found their way out of the box among these was a MAC spray foundation - this seemed like an easy choice to remove since it came in an aerosol can and all the instructions on it made it sound like you should never spray it on your face.

The next day I made another pass at my makeup and was able to force myself to get rid of a little more.

A few days later I decided our lotions and body washes for synthetic fragrances, parabens, sulfates, and PEG compounds - what I found doing just a quick pass was disturbing.

Better yet I can't tell you just how many of these toxic laden items boast no animal testing and recyclable containers. Some of these even say "organic" or "herbal" while others touted the fact that they contained "shea" or "olive oil."

Related Articles
Pthalate-and Paraben-free Cosmetics List
Pthalates in Cosmetics: "Not Too Pretty"
Breast Cancer Action: Pthalate-Free Cosmetics
Big Green Purse: Shopping List
Cosmetics Calculator
When To Toss Makeup/Cosmetics
When Your Cosmetics Expire
Has Your Makeup Expired?
What Is The Shelf Life of Makeup?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pintesting - Chemical-Free Cleaning - Pans

I'm involved in a constant struggle to keep scorch marks off of three of our pans.

One of these, I've just come to think of as my husbands own personal pan. I insisted he begin using that particular pan years ago when I couldn't stop him from using metal utensils in my expensive, Tupperware, non-stick pans. My desire to die from some sort of heavy metal poisoning as a result of his scraping at burning food isn't what perhaps he thought it was. Since then he's been content to cook using almost exclusively "his pan."

I've posted about this struggled once before on my most recent blog - but this war wages on. No longer feeling the scrubby pads that had been sitting in the sink for months, usually under dirty dishes were still good - I threw them out. My first plan of attack involved elbow grease, baking soda, and one of my UnPaper towels. I made a small amount of progress but nowhere near the amount I needed.

What are you to do these days in your time of need? I turned to Pintrest.

My "Green" board on Pintrest has been quickly been filling up. For this task I chose to use the info provided by this pin.

It wasn't until I'd already begun cleaning the pans that I realized I should make a post about this and have before and after pictures. However, if you follow the hypertext link to my first post about these pans you will see what his pan regularly looks like.

Here is what the pans looked like after one round of following the directions of that pin to the letter.

Each of the pans had 1 cup of water which was boiled with 1 cup of vinegar. It's at this point that the original poster notes that should already be seeing a positive difference in your pan. This was not the case for me. Perhaps having scorched her pan from leaving it on a hot plate too long left a mess easier to clean the burnt on food residue my husband so dutifully leaves on these pans.

Once the water boiled 2 tablespoons of baking soda was added. The massive fizzing that resulted was incredibly satisfying.

I didn't really like a second round of cleaning left me with anywhere near the result I expected from the first. Would I call this a fail? No, I did make some much needed headway. It's worth a try - everyone's scorched pan story will vary and I should think so would their results.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Paper Towels Of My Un

Stan Smith: I'll give you $48 to assimilate.
Ma Ma: Shoes off in house.
Stan: What are you...? You don't have to wash paper towels. I'll buy more.
Ma Ma: Wasteful! You waste. Every penny counts.

                                                                           - American Dad, "Big Trouble in Little Langley" husbands

UnPaper towels, or as my husbands grandma  said (successfully taking some wind out of my sails) dish towels - another simple solution when it comes to needless waste.

I found out about UnPaper towels one day while wandering around on Pintrest and was pretty much immediately obsessed.

The idea of using shop towels, wash cloths, or other similar items reoccurred to me while I was reading Green Mama: the guilt free guide to helping you and your kids save the planet. Realizing the possible savings I told my husband that from then on, before he reached for a paper towel to think if this was a job that really needed a paper towel or if it could be just as easily taken care of by using a regular towel. Although he's not against using a towel to clean a mess rather than a paper towel, the walk down the hallway to the linen closet trumped ditching paper towels.

This was just the excuse I needed to begin making my own UnPaper towels. Having them in the kitchen and by the sink should be the incentive he needs to help us save pennies. Maybe having the last of the commercial paper towels under the sink will result in the same reaction of doing what's easiest.

Right now they aren't ready to go on a roll yet so I'll just have to make a space next to the sink for now. Hopefully I'll have these finished up very soon.

Lessons learned from this experience:
1) If you're not sure why your rotary cutter isn't getting anywhere - check to make sure the blade is out
2) Terry cloth isn't as easy to cut as you'd think
3) Using a cutting mat that is only 35 x 35 to cut yards and yards of fabric is kind of the suck

Friday, August 24, 2012

Trash Day

In making the choice to increase our greener actions within our household while decreasing our carbon footprint we have managed with little effort to drastically decrease the amount of waste our household produces each week.

Here is an example:
Right now our garbage goes out every Friday (there's an odd rotating schedule of when the garbage is collected here) and a couple of weeks ago I missed trash pick-up. There have been many times where if we missed trash collection we found ourselves drowning in our own garbage by the next week. Well maybe not drowning, but the can would usually be overflowing.

This time, a week's worth of waste only filled the can about a quarter of the way. At that rate we could miss it a few times without having to worry about having missed it.

Next up on the chopping block is excess plastics. Slow and steady wins the race and making too many life-changing alterations could just leave us backsliding into our old wasteful ways.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pintested Pasta Salad

The other day I had a nice picnic with my husbands grandmother. I brought over a little fried chicken, some pulled pork, some Jewish rye (yeah yeah I can just hear the jokes now about pulled pork with Jewish rye), and a pasta salad I saw at the last  minute. I only bought 1/4 pound and really wish I'd bought more because now I'm pretty obsessed with repeating the tastiness.

A few days later I saw this pin on Pintrest and couldn't wait to try it.

I made mine sans Feta, not because I have a problem with Feta but because I was just tired of being at the grocery store by the time I would have had to have gotten it. I also added olives because frankly olives are delicious.

The resulting pasta salad wasn't bad and looked similar to the picture.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Etsy Trade Tuesday - Janine Basil

If you haven't heard of Janine Basil, frankly, I won't be surprised, frequently people don't know the name behind something they may very well have seen out there in cyberspace.

Janine Basil makes "retro and geek style hats, fascinators, headpieces, headbands and hair accessories for women with a twist of glamour and glitz! They are all handmade, by me, in my flat in London, UK."

She was one of those people who had so many goodies in her shop that I could never make up my mind what to buy.

At the beginning of this year I launched, The Dalek Project, which failed miserably. I tried my hardest to round up Etsyians to participate so that I could help not only further the name of Etsy but help out handmade.

Honestly, when you mail people for freebies or trades on Etsy, you can pretty much *expect to be totally ignored and never hear back from the seller. Janine Basil is NOT one of these people. I spoke to her about the specifics of the project and was lucky enough to have her on board.

She made these three "Exterminate" headbands for the project, which I tried to remember often to work into shots of my Dalek of the day.

It's easy to jump on board to something that is a success but it takes a special kind of person to lend a crafty hand when you're trying to build something.

*There are TONS of people just out there to get something for free, or people who genuinely WILL review a product but don't have an audience the size a seller prefers to feel it's a worthwhile trade.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I adore my family but my dog and my daughter tend to move in front of me and then walk reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwlllllllllllllllllllllllllllly.

I need signs posted around my house that say:
Slow Moving Toddler Ahead"

Friday, August 17, 2012

Refashioned Friday - Patchwork Bellbottoms Jeans

I haven't worn jeans in years. The last time I remember wearing any was in 2007.

Since having my daughter an even larger portion of my wardrobe has become unavailable to me. I don't know about you, but having clothes that fit plays a helpful part in making me feel comfortable in my own skin for the day. If I look like crud, I feel like crud.

There's no telling for certain when the last time I tried a pair of my jeans on was - trying on my older clothes to see if they fit and having them not fit is a sure fire way to ruin my morning. So I just avoid it all together.

Early this year I tried to buy some jeans from Old Navy and the short version of this story is that it was a disaster; mostly because when the jeans weren't falling off my butt they were making sure the rest of the world had every chance to get a glimpse of my booty cleavage.

Finally deciding to put on my big girl panties and try on of old jeans I found an old favorite that nearly fit.

Kalloo Kallay
I can pull them up all the way!

But I can't zip and button them.

So I set to work trying to find a way to possibly give me the remaining space I would need to make these jeans something I would be able to wear once again. Following the general premise of how to turn a pair of pants or jeans into a pair of bell bottoms I ripped the outer seam of the jeans as high up as I dared.

As you can see a lot of patchwork sewing went into these.

In fact, it turned out to be a valuable lesson in working with patches. Despite how large your stack of squares is you'd be surprised how quickly you use them up and how small the amount of fabric you have created is.

After my first day at the sewing machine piecing together the scraps of some jeans I could only ever hope to fit again following multiple rounds of P90x, I didn't have enough fabric to begin work on my jeans. That night I came home and pulled out more pairs of those jeans from high school that even Rag-O-Rama wouldn't take because they found the style "high-waisted", way to make me feel even older than I am. This is what I had by the end of the night but I wasn't convinced I had reached the amount I would need; besides, I had already begun ripping up another, darker pair of jeans.

In the end it seems I'd still need at least a little P90x if I want to fit these. I really should have ripped further up the sides that I did. Against my better judgement I let someone talk me into leaving the rip where it was. I'm not really digging most  of the pics my husband took of me in them and am pretty sure that I'm "in hate" with these."

Trying on these jeans left me with the prolonged annoyance I usually avoid that I get from trying on older clothes to see if they fit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Reusable. Period.

Hayley: Oh, hey, Reggie.  
Reggie: What a beautiful vase.
Hayley: It's a menses pot.
Reggie: Okay, that's cool.
                                                                                        -American Dad, "Bully For Steve"

American Dad is one of those shows I watch when I just need my mind to go as blank as it will allow. This excerpt from the episode, "Bully For Steve", is something I never thought too much about until recently. I never asked, "What is a menses pot?"

A menses pot seems to be a piece of stoneware pottery used to soak soiled re-usable menstrual pads.
Reusable menstrual products don't seem to be common knowledge and the idea, for many, seems disgusting. Like many reusable products these are both wallet and earth friendly. If you're no stranger to cloth diapering adding a few more items to your wet bag, or even a separate one, may not be a big deal for you. One of the most popular reasons a lot of people tend to choose disposable products is for convenience.

One form of menstrual reusable is the cloth pad, which depending on where you get it from will sometimes come with it's own miniature, portable, wet bag. For those that don't, have no fear, with a little creative folding it can be folded into a neat little envelope.

"Now do you roll your own tampons or do you pay someone to roll em' for you?"
                                                                                                     - The Cleveland Show  

Francine Smith: Well, I'm doing my part to save this family some money. Look! I'm rolling my own tampons. I just saved 21 cents!
Stan Smith: That's my girl-- soaking up the savings!
Francine: I'll just shove this in my box.
Steve Smith: Mom, just put your box on the table.
Francine: While we're eating? Oh, okay.
Roger:(Italian accent): A-good a-morning, everybody. Eh... eh...
Francine: Roger, only one scoop of chocolate mix. Everyone has to cut back.
Roger:(grunts) Why should I have to?! Stan spends $400 a week in gas for his SUV!  
Francine: Stan, I can't believe this! I'm shoving recycled couch stuffing up my Jack Johnson while you're burning through cash! You need to get rid of that SUV and get a hybrid right away!
                                                             - American Dad, "Don't Look A Smith Horse In The Mouth"

Another example of episodes I've seen at least three times and never thought much of what was said. Reusable tampons and inter-labial pads aren't made from recycled couch cushions, they're most commonly made using cotton. Disposable tampons pass for appropriate to wear while swimming but it's strongly recommended that you do not wear it's reusable option while swimming.

Still interested in a reusable product but looking for something that might be teetering on the border of a product like a tampon or a pad? Other options include sea sponges (hard to get much more natural than that) and menstrual cups. Sea sponges require moistening before insertion and work similar to a tampon and a menstrual cup is a soft, bell-shaped, cup that is inserted much like a diaphragm.

For more detailed information about the subject check out the incredibly informative site, ecomenses.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gardening With Granny

I've been spending a lot of time with my husbands grandmother lately. Under the carport I saw this:

What a clever idea!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Going Green - How Far Is Too Far?

When it comes to the wide and wonderfully eco-responsible world of the reusable - how far is too far? To me, a reusable diaper wipe doesn't seem too terribly out of school but I can see how for some that may be where they choose to draw the line.

Personally, I think my line is right down my butt crack. That's right, reusable toilet paper isn't causing my little, increasingly greener heart, skip a beat.
Although I and the environment appreciate that there are those out there willing to go the distance that others are willing to make. For now I'm just not ready to make that sort of change.

After discovering The Budget Savvy Diva on Pintrest I went digging through her pins and came across this pin, which is what, in a roundabout way, lead to this post.  

Related articles:
Reusable Toilet Wipes (Poopy Cloth Patrol) (2009)
Eco Etiquette: Reusable Toilet Paper - Too Gross For Comfort? (2010)
Reusable Toilet Paper- Family Cloth (2010)
Reusable toilet paper -- ewww -- on TLC's 'Extreme Cheapskates' (2011)  

Video: TLC's Extreme Cheapskates

Friday, August 10, 2012

I Finally Got To Use My Jersey Mike's Bag!!!

Saturday I was out and about and running around and found myself asking my husband, "Do you want me to bring home food?"


"Anything in particular?"

"How about Jersey Mike's?"

"I was thinking the same thing"

The staff members of Jersey Mikes noticed the coincidence of how my two giant subs neatly, and easily fit into this bag. I told them it was made special for just this case and the girl who was putting them in for me remarked, "I want one."

Once again thank you SO much to Kara of Love For Earth for my very special and completely helpful bag.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I Had A Dream

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had a dream.

I dreamed that my daughter came out with white skin more like her fathers than than that she had my own caramel colored skin, that she had blond, curly hair, and that she was quite the mischievous little person. That dream came true.

The other night I had another dream. I was once again pregnant and I was having my sonogram to find out if my new little lamb to be would be a boy or a girl. "Congratulations! It's a boy! . . . . and three girls."

I woke up right away.

Monday, August 6, 2012

How To Use Up The Yarn You Don't Want Or Use

Recently we got new neighbors, a family of five with one teenage girl, one teenage boy, and one little boy. The father is former military and the mother is a stay-at-home, self-proclaimed, redneck-tomboy. These are not DIY parents.

So when the family saw my house full of crafts it lit a spark in them, each in a different way. The spark was most noticeable in their teenage daughter. A lot of people ask me if I would be willing to teach them to knit, but to date, no one has ever followed up on their request.

A few days later she came to the door, late in the evening; my husband answered the door. She wanted to know if I would teach her to knit. I was busy with laundry at the moment but of course my response was yes. She came back one or two more times while she waited for me to finish putting away clothes. Finally I was finished. I pulled out some pink Red Hart I was letting my daughter play with for a while but that she had lost all interest in and a pair of size 10 straight knitting needles.

She caught on quickly as I suspected she would and I sent her home that evening garter stitching herself her very first hand-knit by herself, for herself scarf. Towards the end of the lesson her mother came over and she excitedly and repeatedly showed her mother her progress.

Before evenings end I had the whole family in my living room. While the adults talked my little student happily clicked away, marveling at her progress and reveling in how relaxing the practice was. Eventually it was time for the family to walk the few feet to their half of the town home, but before leaving I was met with another request. The teenage son asked that I teach him to knit as well. His sister offered to show him what she'd learned that evening. His parents, anxious to get their brood tucked away in bed suggested he come back for yarn and needles rather than send me off into the bowels of my makeshift basement which is actually just our spare room for yarn for him. After they left I did a quick scan on the extra bedroom that I am properly full of southern shame about and found the skein of tan, Red Heart yarn I felt would be best for him. I took the yarn over with the size 10 1/2 straight needles he'd clutched only a short time earlier when he asked for some yarn.

I couldn't think of a better use for a yarn that I'm nearly as ashamed to own as I am of my makeshift basement.

However, the next afternoon my doorbell rang, it was the boy. He handed me the yarn with the needles still poking out as I had them the night before and said, "I'm not allowed." I asked if this was, "Because it's too girly?". Instead of a verbal, "yes", I was met with a forlorn, red-faced, nod of the head and he walked slump-shouldered away.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Refashioned Friday

Recently I mentioned I was obsessively ripping, cutting, and preparing to sew. Here are the results of my refashioning a too large shirt I won years ago. After I had already cut the shirt and sewn the top I started to worry that the shirt was too wide and not long enough to have this work out correctly. My worries turned out to be unfounded because the results were satisfactory. My too large shirt went from this
To this.
This free crafterhours tutorial is one I intend to use again and again.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Play Mat Purse Versions Two & Three

I hit the sewing machine hard again and worked on fixing my design flaws from the previous portable play mat purse. Here's what I ended up with.