Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review- Scotch Brite Greener Clean Sponges

When Hubby worked for Cogent Systems, the company was bought by 3M.  As a result of that, he was suddenly a 3M employee, and as such, 3M sent a gift box.  Right?  A gift box.  Absolutely packed FULL of 3M products to try and love.  Glue, Post-Its, Markers, Pens, Labels, Tape, Sanding blocks, and Sponges.  In the very bottom of the box, I found these....
 There are three sponges in a package, and they are hard and about 1/8" thick.  That is, until they get wet.  Once you run water over them, this is what happens....

This photo just shows the starting size on the left hand side of the sponge, and the expansion on the right. 

I know what some of you are thinking:  "Sponges are so germ-riddled and horrible!"  Yes, they do harbor germs and bacteria if they sit too long, but I've always liked sponges as opposed to dish rags for certain jobs, and I will continue to do so.  These sponges just give the option of a recycled and bio-degradable sponge. 


Monday, May 28, 2012

Garden Update

Got the tomatoes planted.  In right right planter is an early girl.  In the tomato tree I have a sugar sweet cherry and a roma.  In the planter below....not sure.  It was a volunteer tomato and we decided to let it ride and see what it turns out to be.  On the top of the tomato tree is a pepper....which just doesn't have a planter yet. 

Lets see...the container to the left of the tree is also a pepper.  I believe its a green bell.



Here's the Pea TeePee.  I'm really pleased with how they are growing.  One of the plants is up to the third ladder already, the other two are on the second.  They get noticeably taller every day!  I also chucked another couple of seeds in the planter because I only had three plants for a four sided planter, and it is a couple inches tall, but not tall enough to reach the first ladder yet.  Probably in a few days!












Over on the other side, next to the oh so lovely AC unit, is the zucchini.  Last year I had no manner of luck with the zucchini.  It grew and grew, but as soon as it flowered and a fruit started, it would blossom end rot.  The thing in the black planter is the cucumber.  Our cucumber plant did really well last year and we got some great vegetables from it, so I hope it does as well this year.  
And here is just an update shot of the bush beans.  They don't look like much, but they have a ton of little beans on them1

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A little gardening.

We live in a condo, therefore we have to garden in containers.  Last year we didn't do too bad with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and strawberries.  This year we're switching things up a bit and adding beans, peas, onions, and potatoes.  Here is what we have done so far:

These planters are actually empty Tidy Cat's buckets.  Hubs painted them green to match our existing planters, and then drilled some holes in the bottoms for drainage.  We use Miracle Grow Organic garden soil. 

The plants are Kentucky Bush beans that I started in starter pots in my bedroom window.  I kinda waited too long and their roots went all crazy, but I think they will be just fine in these super awesome upcycled planters. 



And this is my "Pea TeePee".  So proud of this.  I just used some bamboo stakes and tied them with some waxed hemp twine.  I made the ladders for the sugar snap peas to grow up on out of the same twine.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Little Garden Update

Just thought I would post a little update as to how my garden is doing. These are the lettuce boxes, nine days after planting. They seem to have almost doubled in size and are almost ready for a little cutting for some baby green salads.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

SodaStream

My hubs likes soda.  A lot.  On average, we go through 7-8 2 liter bottles of soda a week, which is costly and wasteful.  Yes, I recycle the bottles, but that is still a ton of plastic per week!  So last weekend he attempted to make his own ginger ale in a re-used bottle.  It tasted good, but the yeast carbonation was a total fail.  He went to Best Buy the next day and purchased a SodaStream soda machine. 

So here it is.  We've had it for a few days and have been making sodas with the samples that came with it.  I think we have decided to make our own syrups and cut out the fake stuff.  The syrups are made with Splenda, but I can taste the difference from something made with natural cane sugar. 

I stopped at Bed, Bath, and Beyond this morning and got two extra bottles for making sodas, and the Raspberry MyWater Essence Flavors so that I could try some "seltzer" style water. 

So it's pretty easy to make the soda.  Fill the bottles to the water line and chill for an hour or two.  Apparently the machine works better if the water is chilled.  I use water that I have filtered through my Brita pitcher, just to get some of the chemicals and guck out of our gross tasting city water.  Put the bottle into the SodaStream and make sure it is screwed on securely.  Then you push the button on the top of the machine until it makes a buzzing sound.  Do that 3-4 times and the water is carbonated. 

Then you have to put the syrup in.  If you're using the SodaStream brand syrups, then just follow the directions as to how much you put it.  A little tip....tilt the bottle to the side and pour the syrup in slowly.  I used the MyWater Essence, which only requires a half teaspoon of the syrup.  I poured it in slowly, and then screwed the cap on tightly before gently tilting the bottle back and forth to mix the flavor in.  Tasty!  and environmentally friendly!




Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cold Crop planting

Since we live in a condo, we really have no choice aside from doing container gardening.  Last year we bought a Topsy Turvey Tomato tree, two City Pickers planter boxes, and a Topsy Turvey tiered planter to start.  I also had a few plastic pots that had been given to me to use as well.  It was a kinda successful year, for the first, but this year I intend on doing better!

Today, hubs went to Dill's Greenhouse and picked out some 'cold crop' lettuces for me to start planting.  On his way home he picked up another planter box and a bag of organic Miracle grow potting mix from Home Depot because he decided he bought too many plants for just one planter.  Turned out, he was right...

Here are my lovely plants.  He bought arugula, radicchio, summertime lettuce, and simpson elite lettuce.  I believe he said that the packs were $3.69 for a pack of six plants.  So he spent $14.76 total for 24 plants that, in theory, will give us baby greens for salads all summer long...according to the container gardening information I have read.

So when I got home from work, hubs filled the new box (the one on the right, obviously) with the new dirt, and I got to planting.  It didn't take too long, as the soil was soft and slightly damp, so all I had to do was wedge the spade in to make the hole, break up the roots a bit, and press each plant in.  I put twelve plants in each box, each a few inches apart.  According to the container gardening site I read, it's ok to plant them closer together, especially when I am going to be constantly cutting them and letting them re-grow for baby greens.

Here they are all planted!  The great thing about the City Pickers boxes is that they have a reservoir in the bottom that you can fill up so that the boxes are self-watering.  That is what the little tube sticking up out of the corner of the box is for.  I filled the reservoirs, but I still watered the plants thoroughly from the top, careful to avoid the leaves as much as possible.  I didn't want to drag the hose out, so I up-cycled a watering can!


 An empty gallon milk jug with holes poked in the lid!  It lets out a gentle stream of water and doesn't completely drown the plants. 

We have a frost advisory for the night, so I covered my new babies up with a flannel sheet, to keep their little leaves from getting all frosty and cold!  I read somewhere that a sheet was better than plastic, because plastic can damage the plants.  

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Let's Not Neglect the Kitchen Sink

Often times a kitchen sink and garbage disposal are ignored in the household cleaning process.  I mean, what the heck?  Hot water and soap run through them both on a regular basis, so why do they need cleaned?  Unfortunately, bits of food get stuck in the rubber part of the drain, then in the disposal and grow bacteria.  Then a stench starts to develop.  Yuck-o! 

You should never, ever, ever,ever (!) put a chemical down this drain.  It's not only not healthy, but it's not safe as the chemical could splash back up on you when you run the water or start the disposal.  So how does one clean the sink and garbage disposal?  Simply and naturally, of course!

I start by cutting a lemon in half.  In this case, my husband had squeezed a tablespoon of juice from a half of a lemon in order to make some home made ginger ale (tutorial to come...if it turns out!), so I just took the "gently used" lemon to clean with. 

I sprinkled the lemon with a tablespoon or so of sea salt and just used it to scrub out the sink.  It easily scrubs off any stains or caked on guk (technical term) that is in the sink.  Afterwards I just rinsed with hot water and had a sparkly clean sink! 

To clean the garbage disposal, cut the lemon you used to scrub with into smaller chunks.  Push the chunks down into the disposal and toss in a half cup of baking soda and a handful of ice.  Let the ice melt a little and then run the garbage disposal with cold water running until the lemon and ice are completely ground up and gone.  The ice and lemon rind helps to clean and sharpen the blades, while the baking soda cleans the actual housing of any grossness that is lingering there.  Not to mention the sink smells lemony fresh afterwards!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Natural Ant Solution

I admit it. We have ants in our house. It's only in the spring and fall, it seems, but these tiny little grease ants invade and seem to be everywhere. Its gross, not to mention unsanitary.

For the record, you can tell the difference between grease ants and sugar ants pretty easily. Grease ants tend to go straight for any fatty/greasy thing that may be laying out. Sugar ants only go for sweet things....like your sugar bowl. I found these ants swarming the cat dishes and a greasy plate in the sink, therefore, grease ants.
I did a little research on the best way to get rid of them without using chemicals. I was also concerned about making my cats ill, so I figured I would have to be careful. According to my Green Housekeeping book, borax seemed like the best and least toxic solution.  And its cheap. $4.99 for the 4 lb, 13 oz box at Kroger. I've been using this box for nearly a year now and its not even halfway empty.

I started out by dumping the cat dishes and soaking them in hot, sudsy Blue Dawn water.  I vaccumed the area and sucked up any remaining offensive ants. Then I sprayed the trails and surrounding areas with plain white vinegar. Ants detest the smell and taste of vinegar, so it makes it impossible for them to follow their own scent trails again. And the final step....

I followed the trail to where the ants had been coming in, and poured a handful of borax into it. Borax is very toxic to the ants, but not to the mammals that reside in my house. It destroys an ants digestive system and exoskeleton after the ant carries the borax back to the nest. I know it seems cruel, but to me, its better than poison in my house and unsanitary conditions in my kitchen due to the ant invasion.
I woke up this morning...no ants. Seems to have worked.!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Switching To Cloth

Hubs and I made the decision a while back to make the switch to cloth in our house.  No more paper towels, no more paper napkins...the only thing that is safe is toilet paper....Haha!

About a year ago I stopped buying paper towels for the house.  We used the huge package of rolls that we had, and the gigantic box of shop towels that we had in the garage before we made the full conversion.  Instead of paper I started using microfiber cloths that were bought at Sams Club.  I probably have fifty of them, and I just throw the dirties into a plastic bucket on top of the washing machine when I am done, and wash them once a week. 

Cloth napkins have been a little more difficult.  I bought this fabric out of the clearance bin at Wal-Mart (ugh) about a year ago.  They were fat quarters, and only $0.50 a piece, so there wasn't going to be too much lost if they didn't work out.  I washed and dried the fabric on hot to shrink it since it is 100% cotton, then cut it to size. 

The fabric sat ironed, folded, and ignored in a basket on the kitchen counter for a year!  I dreaded turning those raw edges to stitch, and even more, I dreaded trying to use my roll hem foot on my sewing machine to try and hem them.  I thought about just zig zagging, but the fraying would have driven me insane.

And then today, hubs bought me a serger.  TA DA!  I zipped around those edges in no time while I was watching a DVR'ed episode of Grey's Anatomy...and all of a sudden we have 13 cloth napkins.  I am exceedingly pleased with them!  They're not perfect, by any means, but they are just one more finished step towards a more green life! 

Aren't they pretty?  I decided while making them that some linen napkins and hand made napkin rings would make a great gift, don't you agree?

Monday, March 12, 2012

DIY Non-toxic carpet powder

I like my house smelling fresh and clean.  Who doesn't?  It's hard to do sometimes because of my three cats, despite cleaning the litter box twice a day (and adding a generous shake of baking soda to it each time) and vacuuming regularly.  I had been buying Arm and Hammer Carpet Deodorizer for pets, but its expensive and honestly I didn't really like the way it smelled.  Even when I didn't use it on the carpet, I could still smell it in the vacuum. 

So I decided to make my own carpet powder/deodorizer.  Of course I did!  First, I gathered my ingredients:

Baking soda
Lavender essential oil
A clean, empty, plastic shaker bottle- this one used to be home to Kraft shredded Parmesan cheese

I poured my baking soda into an empty plastic container.  I didn't really measure.  That's a 12 oz container and its mostly full.  This definitely was not an exact science kind of project!

Next, I added about 20 drops of lavender essential oil to the mix.

It's a little hard to see the oil because it's clear and the powder is white, but you get the idea.  I used a fork and mixed the oil into the baking soda, breaking up the lumps the best I could as I stirred.  I took a good whiff of the mix and decided it didn't smell lavender-y enough for me, so I added in another 20 or so drops of essential oil and mixed thoroughly. 

It took a while to break up the lumps, but I got them mixed into the baking soda the best that I could.  It was still a little lumpy, but it still will work.

Here is the finished product.  It filled up the shaker about 3/4 of the way, which gives room to give the powder a good shake to break up any lumps that might form as it settles. 

Sprinkle over your carpets, wait five to ten minutes and the vacuum it up!  Voila!  Non-toxic and fresh smelling....for pennies compared to buying carpet deodorizer at the grocery store. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Update to the Menu/Grocery/Coupon binder

My husband makes fun of me for trying to keep up with this binder.  And I will freely admit that it is difficult, especially with him traveling for work often and being the 'fly by the seat of his pants' kind of guy.  He likes to eat out, and really, so do I, but I am really trying to save us some money...be more environmentally friendly (eating out is horrible for that)....and be healthier.

I took my little binder to work this week to share with one of my girlfriends there because she is interested in doing the same thing.  She fell head over heels in love with it, and ended up giving me a good idea to add to the madness.  I had bought these 4x6 photo sleeves for the binder, but once I started putting it together, I could not figure out what to do with them so I just stuck them in the back to save for later. 

So what am I using them for?  Recipes!  When I plan my menu for the week, I tend to surf Pinterest to find new and different things and healthy recipes.  I write out the meal plan on a notebook sheet (because I haven't found nice, neat printables to use and I have been too lazy to make my own), then write out the recipe on a 4x6 card and stick each one in a sleeve behind the menu.  That way I have the menu, the recipe and then the grocery list all together for easy access and so I can make sure that I did not forget anything at the grocery store!

I found these awesome and free printable recipe cards last night to start using.  I just printed out a handful of them and cut them all out with my paper cutter so I have a stack ready for when I need them.  It's working well so far!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Blanket for Maggie

I had/have a lot of pregnant friends.  It's just the plain and simple truth.  In the past few months alone, I have four friends that have had six babies...that is a lot of baby gifts to buy!  So I got it in my head that I am going to start making stuff.  Handmade gifts are so sweet and personal (even though I do know people who turn their noses up at things that aren't store bought!  Seriously!), and they just seem so much better....that's just my opinion.

Maggie, despite the fact that I haven't met her yet, is my best guy friends little girl... and I love her so so so so sooooooo much.  I had been thinking a while on making her a little carseat blanket or something to keep her warm on the cold days in the car, but daddy and I decided that just a regular play blanket might be much more useful.  So knowing this guy as well as I do, I went on an etsy search for some cotton flannel printed with robots...and then picked up some lime green "minky" at Joann's. 

Here is the fabric, pre-washed, shrunk, and ironed.  Isn't the robot print cute?!  I bought two yards, so I have enough of that leftover for another project.  I have about 1/4 of the yard of minky left. 

And I got to use the walking foot for my sewing machine!  I paid almost $60 for it when I bought it (10 or so years ago), and had only gotten to use it once before today!  Yay!


Pretty easy....put the fabric right sides together and pin.  Seam all the way around the edges and leave a 6" gap in the middle of one side to be able to turn the blanket right side out.  Clip your corners! At this point...I am going to say how much I -hate- this minky fabric.  It fuzzes and stretches and just ugh.  I won't use it again....it's super soft....but no.  Just a personal preference. :)

So once the edges are seamed, turn the whole blanket right side out and press.  Make sure to poke the corners out so they are nice and pointy.  Since the minky is so slippery and stretchy, I made sure to iron and then I also pinned the edges to make sure that they did not slip any further.  then I just ran the whole thing back through the machine with the walking foot to top stitch and close up the turning gap. 

And there you have it!  A simple, rather inexpensive, personal, hand made baby gift for a very special baby!  I'm sure you could also add a layer of batting and do some quilting too if you wanted to! 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Oil Cleansing Method

I first read about the Oil Cleansing Method on this blog a few weeks ago.  I will admit that I was very, very hesitant to try it.  Cleaning your face with oil?  It didn't sound right at all.

Then I got to thinking about it, and realized that my absolute favorite moisturizer is made of organic Argan oil from Everyday Minerals.  So what the heck?  It couldn't hurt to at least give it a try.  So I gathered my ingredients:

Pretty simple ingredients!  Extra virgin olive oil and castor oil.  I think the EVOO cost $8.99 (but I already had it in the pantry because we cook with it all the time!), and the bottle of castor oil was $4.99 at Walgreens.  I had previously seen it cheaper and in a much bigger bottle at Wal-Mart, but I didn't buy it at the time because I generally don't buy things at Wal-Mart because of personal feelings towards the place.  Walgreens just happened to be convenient at the time, and unfortunately, you pay for convenience.  I'm sure it could be found at just any old grocery or health food store at a more reasonable price.  And I found that it is usually sold on the bottom shelf for some reason.... :)

Hubs stopped at Michaels Arts & Crafts for me this evening after dinner and I picked up a package of six plastic squeeze bottles with flip top lids- like the small bottles of acrylic craft paint come in- for $2.99.  I thought these would be good for mixing the oils in and storing them, since I didn't want to make too much in case I either hated it, or didn't want to store it for very long.

I used a small funnel and poured three tablespoons of EVOO and one tablespoon of castor oil into the bottle, screwed the lid on nice and tight and shook it really well.  After the oils were poured in, the castor oil just sat on top of the EVOO until I shook it.  It seems to have stayed mixed so far, but if yours does separate, just give the bottle a good shake before using!  So here is my finished cleaner in the bottle.

According to all of the blogs that I have read about the OCM, you're supposed to rub a quarter sized amount of the oil into your skin and let it sit for a few moments before putting a steaming washcloth over your face for a minute.  Then rinse the washcloth and wipe the rest of the oil off.  I've found that I don't need to use ANY make up remover at all with this method.  The oils easily remove any makeup, mascara, eyeliner, etc- without the stingy burning of regular make up remover!  I had absolutely no problem getting all of the mineral make up I wear off of my skin either.  After using the washcloth to remove the rest of the oil, I don't even have to moisturize!  My skin feels soft, and doesn't feel tight, and I absolutely swear by this cleaning method now.  Try it, you'll love it!

Updated to add:  I added a few drops of lavender essential oil and tea tree oil to my mixture mostly to combat the scent of the castor oil...which I promptly decided that I did not like!  Though the lavender and TTO are both great for your skin, so it doesn't hurt!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Homemade Laundry Soap

Since I got my Whirlpool Duet washer and dryer two years ago, I had been using Method Free and Clear laundry detergent.  It is a little on the spendy side, but it does last forever.  The instructions say to use four pumps per load, but I really only used two per load and the clothes were still nice and clean.  It just seemed that four was leaving the clothes a little -too- soapy for me and my sensitive skin.

I have been reading a lot about home made laundry soap in my crafty lady group on Facebook, and also on Pinterest and decided that I wanted to try it.  So after reading many many recipes, I finally decided on the following:

Laundry Soap

Fels Naptha, Ivory, or other bar soap of choice
20 Mule Team Borax
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

First I gathered all of my ingredients.  I got them all at Kroger (our local grocery store) for around $6.00 together.  I actually already had the borax and washing soda, so I only spent $0.99 on the Fels Naptha today.

I grated the bar soap using the small grater holes on my cheese grater.  I only grated about half of the bar, which was about a cup, because I just wanted to make a small batch in case I ended up not liking the soap or had a reaction to it or something.  And as I grated, I realized that I really need a nice box grater, because this little one I have is just a pain in the rear to grate with!

After grating the cup of soap, I poured it into a clean, empty yogurt container.  Added in equal parts borax and washing soda, and then stirred it up with a fork.  It wasn't stirring to my liking, so I just snapped the lid on and shook the heck out of the mixture.

And here is the finished product.  It fills about 3/4 of the yogurt container.  Oh my gosh it smells so good.  I was really hesitant about the scent of the Fels Naptha, but it really grew on me!

I just tossed my first load of laundry in with two tablespoons of the mixture, so I suppose we will see how it turns out in about 40 minutes!  So far, in looking through the window, it doesn't appear to be sudsing too much.  Actually, it doesn't appear to be sudsing at all...but it could also be the glare off of the front of the washer so I can't see it at all.  We'll see how it smells and feels when it comes out!

This soap, on top of the use of the dryer balls, should cut a good deal out of my shopping budget and energy use over time, which is exactly what I was going for!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Let me tell you a little about....

My disease.

I have an auto immune disease called FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis).  It's kind of the reason I started this blog, actually.  And part of the reason I am all about living as green as possible....for better health.

So what is FSGS, anyway?

FSGS is a rare disease that attacks the kidneys filtering system, causing scarring.  This in turn causes Nephrotic Syndrome.  The kidney filters stop working properly and let the protein in the body that is supposed to stay in the blood, to start leaking into the urine.  You can read more about it here.

I started to notice back in September that I was having an unusual amount of swelling in my left leg.  I thought that it was only my left leg, too.  I didn't really think anything of it at the time and just let it go.  Then two days before Thanksgiving, my feet were so swollen that I could barely get my shoes on.  I went to my PCP, and she pretty much told me that she thought I had a blood clot and if I didn't go to the hospital right then, I could die.  Ok, so I went, no blood clot.

Monday after Thanksgiving, her office called and informed me that I just had a UTI and needed a repeat urinealysis and some anti biotics, but I wasn't sure I believed that.  I've had UTI's and they have never caused leg swelling....so when I brought that up, I was basically told that my leg swelling was not a concern and all they cared about was this UTI.  I got the run around for days by the medical assistants and never heard from the physician herself.  So what did I do?  I got a second opinion from a different PCP.

He looked at my test results and within a week, I was in to see a nephrologist.  A week after that, I had a kidney biopsy.  Two weeks later, I was diagnosed and started treatment.

Right now, I am on a treatment of 60 mg of prednisone per day, among other things to keep my systems working.  The prednisone causes me to not be able to sleep...hence the blog.  I feel awful pretty much all of the time, and I am gaining weight like crazy, but I am optimistic.  And I am positive that this treatment is going to work for me.  So there's my story. :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Grocery Binder

It's not the most 'green' of postings, but saving money is another kind of green, isn't it? Yep, just a different kind of green.

I was perusing Pinterest the other night and was noticing a great deal of posts about home management binders as well as meal planning and grocery binders.  I did a little googling and came across a great deal of websites and blogs that talked about these things.  Most of the women have kids and such, so there were pages for schedules and chores, but since I don't, I wasn't planning on putting those in.

I've started two binders.  One is my "Home Management" binder, which I put pocket tabs in and labeled as electronics, appliances, warranties, etc.  I put all of the paperwork for each in the pocket tabs for easy reference.  And being the silly goose I am, I didn't take a picture!  It's not very exciting, after all.  Just manuals and warranties for all of our appliances and furniture for easy reference!

The second binder, however, I did photograph.  It's not totally together yet because I haven't found printable pages the right size for it, nor have I taken the time to make my own....

Sorry about the glare....I could only get the photo to come out if I had the overhead light on, and we see what that does to plastic.  I found the mini binder and all of the accessories at Staples the other night, and thought that they would make the perfect meal planner/coupon holder/grocery binder.  Small and portable.  Not to mention cute.  Perfect.

I got the binder, two velcro closure gusseted pockets, write on tab dividers, plastic pockets, loose leaf paper, and photo pages.  Oh...and those pens are Pilot Bottle 2 Pen...and are the best pens ever.  Made from recycled water bottles....and they write so so so smooth!

I still haven't figured out how I want to organize this thing exactly, but I am working on it.  More photos to come as the project evolves!

Updated to add:

I put it all together today!  I sat down and planned dinners for us for the next week and while I was doing that, the plan came together in my head....mostly.

This is the front of the binder.  In the front pocket, I decided to keep miscellaneous coupons- the one in there is $15.00 a Southwest flight that hubs got for being a Rapid Rewards member.  The blue pocket has a velcro closure and in that I have the coupons I am going to use for shopping this week and a pen for marking things off of my list or making changes or whatever the case may be. 

These are my tabs.  I have Meal Plans, Shopping lists, Coupons, and Price Lists so far.  I do have another tab for something else, but I have no idea what to use it for yet!  I am sure, however, that I will come up with something.  Since we're just a little family of two adults and three kitties....it will probably have something to do with pet store stuff or *gasp* the craft store.  :)

Lastly, these are the plastic pockets I have put in the coupon section to somewhat organize them.  Craft sores, dry goods, frozen goods, personal care items, and household needs items.  Again, I have a leftover pocket that I will certainly employ at a later date.

In the back of the binder I also have a bunch of 4x6 sleeves that are meant for photos that I can certainly put special coupons or recipe cards in later if need be!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Balls!

For the record, Ashley, did it first.  :)  I saw her tutorial for wool dryer balls several several months back.  I had all of the materials, but apparently none of the motivation or drive to make them. 

When we bought our condo two years ago, Hubs insisted on buying me the Mercedes of HE washers and an eco friendly (as friendly as dryers can be) dryer.  I made the switch to HE detergent, Method Free and Clear, but never got away from the dryer sheets.  My skin is incredibly sensitive, so most of the time when I used the dryer sheets, I wanted to tear my skin off with a cheese grater every time I put clothes on.  I stopped using the dryer sheets completely and our clothes are static-y and cat hair magnets like crazy.  Since we have three cats, that tends to be a problem. 

I did some research into it and decided that while they were highly recommended by Sopie Uliano of Gorgeously Green, the plastic dryer balls are not for us.  Mainly because of the plastic, which can leach chemicals no matter what, and because of the cost.  Why buy what I can make?

I used a wool belt from my new winter coat as the core for my dryer balls.  I love the coat, hated the belt and never used it anyway, so I removed it and cut the belt into three inch chunks.  The yarn is Patons Classic Wool yarn that I found on clearance at Michaels about 8 months ago....they were clearing out these two colors so I got it for $1.99 / skein.  It's just been sitting in a bag on the craft room floor ever since!

Ashley's tutorial is awesome...follow it and your dryer balls will come out perfect.  Here are a couple of pictures of mine, for posterity.  

This is just after a few wraps with some of the red wool yarn.  I tried to keep the wrapping pretty tight and even, which wasn't to difficult with the thick wool core.  I wrapped until the ball was about the size of a tennis ball, maybe a smidge bigger, then stopped and tucked the ends in and wound it up really well.  I was able to get 4 out of the skein of yarn.

Like the tutorial says,  once the balls are wrapped, put them into the leg of an old pair of pantyhose and tie knots between each one.  Ash used baby shampoo on each of hers before she put them in the washer, but I didn't have any of that so I just used a drop (it only takes one) of Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap on each ball.

They felt down pretty well, and I think that mine ended up being about the size of raquetballs once the felting process was completed. I washed them on the sanitary cycle, which does three really super hot douses and rolls them around in the washer for about an hour in the hot water and soap. 

I threw them in the dryer also, and my dryer only ran for about a half hour before it decided that they were dry enough, and shut off.  That was fine with me, and I just let them air dry the rest of the way. 

The only problem that I ran into was that some of the wool found its way through the pantyhose and felted the nylons to the wool!  It came off pretty easily though, so no big deal.  The second set is in the washer right now, waiting to finish so I can take them and share with my best friend tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Book Review!


Green Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck       

I -heart- this book.  In fact, I am not sure how I started the journey to Simple and Green Living without it.  I've had my copy since October and already it's beat up, dog eared, post it notes sticking out of it, wrinkled pages and all! 

This book goes through the average house, one room at a time, and details the best way to detox and green your home through natural methods and with natural products.  The author also recommends alternatives to household items that are overly toxic.  

Did you know that the average kitchen sponge harbors E. coli, salmonella, pseudomonas, and staphylococcus?  Uh....and you WASH YOUR DISHES WITH THAT?  Those cellulose sponges are the perfect incubators for bacteria because bacteria cannot survive more than a few hours on a dry surface, and sponges rarely dry out.  I know that some think that microwaving the sponge kills the bacteria, but it doesn't, it just splits the colonies into more colonies and well....it goes downhill from there. 

Anyway, I highly recommend this book for anyone who is making the attempt at going green.  I  have used most of the home made cleaning supplies taught in the book and will continue to do so in order to detox my home and improve our health.




Lets begin at the beginning

And so I start in the world of blogging.  I know that I will probably never have followers or minions or whatever it is that they call blog-stalkers, but I really am writing more for me and for posterity than anything else.  Mostly to document my slow progress into more Simple and Green living. 

Some people think that "Going Green" just means throwing your soda can or empty water bottle into a recycling bin, or driving an 'eco' friendly car, carpooling, or switching to "green" cleaning products.  Sure, that's all a part of it, of course, but to me there just seems to be so much more to it than that.

So what am I doing that's so much better?  Probably nothing, but I am doing what is good for me and my little (husband and three kitties) family.  Things to make us healthier, happier and greener.  Here's what I have started:

1.)  Reduce:  How does one do that?  I have been very careful when I am at the grocery or any other store to choose products with either the least amount of packaging, re-useable packaging, or recyclable packaging.   I've noticed that I've gone down to one garbage bag a week by doing this.

2.)  Reuse:  I've been trying really hard to find new uses for old things like pill bottles, empty sprayers, the empty kitty litter buckets, etc.  I'd rather not throw all of that plastic into a landfill if I don't have to.  

3.) Recycle: I have the basic recycle bins set up next to the kitchen garbage can now: paper, plastic, glass, and cans.  There is a local recycling place on Main Street, but I haven't been yet.  When the bins are full, however, off I go!

So cheesy, right?  I don't think so.