I'm on a journey to find health and happiness through a more holistic and green lifestyle.

I find the world to be abrasive. =) That is to say, I feel the need to armor myself, physically and emotionally, in order to face life. Don't we all? Maybe. For whatever reason, it has become a priority in my life to rid my immediate environment of irritating things. And I'm sensitive! So there is much work to be done. But. I have thought for a long time that the things I come in contact with every day, and the stuff used to clean and maintain these things, need to be gentle and non-toxic. I have had eczema my entire life. For a long time I just dealt with it, and accepted that sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's not, and that it will fluctuate a lot. Gradually over time I have come to find that certain things, fabrics, cleansers, materials, are more irritating to my skin than others. Stress can exacerbate it. In more recent times, I have realized that every aspect of my life improves when I improve conditions for my skin. Hah! What a concept! Thus my (long time) interest in going green, and my more recent desire to live a more holistic lifestyle. (I think I've felt a desire for a long time to live in a harmonious way with myself, my surroundings, and nature, but didn't have a name for it.) Anyhow, this blog is a journal of my trials and errors, and basic crooked path to find a balanced and peaceful existence for myself and my family. Thanks for your interest! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 - January Plan


Green Plan (from easy green LIVING by Renee Loux):

1. Clean kindly: 

*Use plant-based, biodegradable soaps and detergents
*Use all-purpose and surface cleaners that contain plant-based solvents, and use ammonia-free glass cleaners
*Lose cleaners that contain chlorine
*If the ingredients are not fully disclosed on a product label (or you can't pronounce them,) choose a product you can trust

2. Be wise with laundry

*Wash full loads to get the most out of water and energy use
*Rinse laundry with cold water. 85-90% of the energy used to wash clothes goes to heat the water
*Use plant-based, biodegradable detergents that don't have chemical fragrances or dyes
*Opt out of using chlorine bleach. Choose oxygen bleach instead-it's color safe, fabric friendly, and eco-brilliant
*Line dry when you can. It saves energy and money and extends the life of your clothes

Purge Plan:

1. Get rid of all reading material that is not currently loved

I would love to have company in my efforts! If you decide to make any of this part of your plan for this or any month, let me know how it's going! We could support and encourage each other. =) I will post my progress throughout the month.

Messy Me

I'm messy. That's not an apology. I don't feel it is my fault. Entirely. Yes, I make the mess, yes I have trouble throwing things away. I make piles. And piles and piles! I lose things. Why is this not my fault? Well, when my son came along, he started to show signs of neatness. In inherent orderliness that he positively did not get from me. Weird! So it is my conclusion that orderliness and disorderliness, at least to some degree, in inborn. Therefore and thus, I can't help it! Though I do try. In fact it is a struggle for me day after day after mess-filled day. I hate it. But while I'm cleaning and organizing one area, another is getting messier. Shoot. My kind peers say it is because I have children. Really, what's that got to do with it? Do they encourage me to pile random pieces of paper and mail around the house? It's all me. So...what's my point? I guess just to say that. I know this about myself. It's upsetting when we plan to have people over. Then I need to crisis clean and organize, and that's not fun. It's upsetting when hubby complains about the house. That sucks. But is it that I never do any housework or organizing? Quite the contrary! I feel that I never stop! So how come nothing seems to change? I don't know! I guess I really need to purge. For example, when I ask my kids to clean up the playroom and they can't -( and I really mean they can't. They become paralyzed, as I do, but the task awaiting them, as I do, they try. They pick up a couple of things, then do something else. I understand that! I can't expect them to do more than they understand and can make sense of. DING! There's my lightbulb flashing so bright it makes a sound. Hello????!!!! REDUCE. Make it doable by taking away the vastness of the task. OK! SO! That's the place to start. Phew. So! As I like lists, I shall make a list for myself. Every month for the new year, I will add a task. While attempting to continue the task of the former month. Wow. Ok. So, task one, make a list of tasks!

I want to add something quickly here. I think people SHOULD make a mess. I think we should clean it up afterwards, but it's FUN to make a mess, and really, what harm is done? So GET MESSY! Then clean it up. Do it! ;)

My month-by-month REDUCE plan for 2010!

1. Get rid of all reading material that is not currently loved.
2. Kitchen purge #1 Get rid of all cooking items that aren't currently being used (pots/pans/small appliances).
3. Linen purge
4. Kitchen purge #2 Glass purge
5. kitchen purge #3 mugs and silverware
6. Cabinet cleansing (I'll pick a really messy one when the time comes)
7. CDs and videos
8. One-a-day plan (get one unused item OUT of the house per day, all month)
9. Clothes
10. Cabinet cleansing #2
11. Toys
12. One-a-day plan

So there it is. I'll post each month with the task of the month, and with the green task for the month. Let's see if I can do this!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"No waste bird feeder" and "Do play with your food!"

My kids and I were watching Oobi this morning. (I'll comment on Oobi another time....) The characters were making a city out of boxes, paint, paper and other crafty items. My daughter and I got to talking, and decided it would be fun to build a city ourselves. Somehow the project morphed into making a no-waste bird feeder, using food and other all-natural ingredients. We are about to start... I am going to chronicle the process.

It's now day's end. My plan was to photo journal the entire process, but our day suddenly got very busy.  Due to time constraints, darling daughter quickly put together a flat "house" made with bread, peanut butter, cereal and nuts. The critters must have felt lucky today! For dinner, we kept on this theme, and put together a house made with bread and hummus, a carrot chimney, broccoli and cauliflower trees, olive mushrooms and celery grass! Everyone ate heartily. It was fun! I told dear daughter that I look forward to doing more projects like that in the near future. =) I mean really, who says you shouldn't play with your food!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Scary foods article

A friend shared this on Facebook. 7 foods to avoid in the New Year:


The more ya know.....


I'm feeling calm. The house is trashed. I mean beyond the norm trashed. Christmas trashed. And it's been sitting there while we've been away and back. But I'm calmly moving around and picking things up. This, by default, becomes my job. But I'm calm! Weird. Both kids are home all day, every day, for the entire week. Still, I'm calm. I've simply decided to be. Subject to change! But I believe we create our own peace, and I'm looking for mine. My satellite radio couldn't be connected yesterday because I couldn't find the right ID number to sign up for service. So I'm listening to commercials. Which I loathe. But yet....you got it. I'm calm Weird. Hope it lasts. =)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cans are lined with PBAs

My brother gave me an assignment today after hubby suggested he save time while cooking by using canned tomatoes instead of fresh. He suggested I look into the safety of cans used for food storage. This link was my first stop:


It's not too long, and it's interesting. And a little unsettling. Sighs. =)

Tea Tree Oil

I have seen tea tree oil mentioned a lot while searching the internet for websites dedicated to green and holistic living. I didn't research it but got the idea that it was pretty popular among essential oils. I had the opportunity, while traveling this weekend, to go to a Whole Foods market. (Oh I am in love with Whole Foods markets!) While there I saw, and spontaneously bought, a 5 ml bottle of tea tree oil. I have been very excited about this. I've been thinking about it for some time.

So this afternoon I did some basic google searching, and in a few minutes I found out that tea tree oil has antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Cool! I also found out that it has been linked to hormonal changes in people, and in some instances has been linked to breast enlargement in boys! Yipes!! I read that it should not be used by pregnant or nursing women (I am nursing) and that it can cause varying degrees of rash on the skin, even when diluted. Well! One site suggested using tea tree in the laundry, another said to never use it in the wash. Ug!

Basically I've concluded, based on this quick and non-thorough research, that tea tree oil is not something I want to get involved in at the moment. The bottle will be sold (hopefully.) Just out of interest I might do some research on other essential oils, and perhaps I'll even try some out sometime, but for now I shall remain scentless. =)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Green Plan for 2010

Ok, so I wanted to mention this in my last post, but it went in a different direction. So.. I got this groovy new "green" book for Christmas. (Thank you, sister dear!) It's called easy green LIVING by Renee Loux. What I like about it is it has numbered lists. I like lists. The first is a list of 25 easy ways to go green. Many of these are sort of standard "go green" steps, and I've done many of them already. But I've decided to use it as a sort of a guide for myself in the new year. I plan to implement two steps from the list each month. For the steps I've taken already, I will reassess my progress and stick-to-it-iveness in that area, and adjust as needed. Below is the basic list. I will post each month as I move on to the next two suggestions. I'd love to have anyone join me in my efforts, and if you do, I'd love to hear how it all goes! (you can comment here for all to see or message me privately) So here's the list. I'll go more into each as I focus on them.

1. Clean kindly
2. Be wise with laundry
3. Choose natural personal care products and cosmetics
4. Go for recycled, naturally bleached toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues
5. Use unbleached coffee filters for a dioxin-free cup o' joe
6. Install a water filter
7. Get a low-flow toilet, or make your existing toilet low flow
8. Don't be drip-fix leaky faucets and toilets
9. Kick off your shoes
10. Bring in houseplants
11. Plant a tree every year
12. Opt out of getting junk mail
13. Go veggie 1 day a week
14. Energy-efficient lightbulbs save energy, money, and emissions
15. Turn the thermostat down 2*F
16. Set your water heater at 120*F (49c)
17. Smarten your fridge and freezer
18. Use power strips and unplug appliances
19. Choose green residual energy service options
20. Buy local
21. Go organic
22. Take a cloth bag or basket to the store
23. Inflate your car's tires to their proper pressure to save gas and money
24. Get a travel mug
25. Recycle your cell phone

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2010 - A plan

It's funny how we tend to look at each new year as an opportunity to do things differently. To improve our lives or change our less than perfect life choices. I guess it helps to feel as if we can always start again. Sure! Who doesn't want a second chance at stuff?

For me, it means putting things into a better perspective. A better balance. Simply put, I need to make my needs a priority. I have sacrificed myself for my children, my husband, my father. And I did it with love and willingness. But it has worn me completely out. I became a me I no longer recognized. I have been too tired to even want more from life than to meet the needs of the ones I love. But I became a mom who yelled. And too frequently. I became a person who felt frustration more than joy. Resentment more than pleasure. Not good.

This is what made me realize that change is needed in ME, and how I became so focused on becoming more balanced. The arrival of the new year in a few days just gives a good starting point for more of what I've been working on all along, just in a sort of random and unfocused way. The fact is, I am enjoying myself. I am enjoying the purpose that this journey has given me, for me! I am also doing so for the ones I love. Afterall, how am I any good for them if I'm depleted and angry? I model what I feel every day, and children are very receptive. And frankly, I became sick and tired of feeling like crap.

So! I started this blog to help me to have a place to chronicle my efforts. It motivates me. And I have found I really enjoy writing. My blog is scattered and disorganized, much like my mind and environment, but perhaps that will change as I find ways to bring myself and my environment to a more peaceful, less cluttered and generally happier place.

So. The plan. To continue what I am doing, and feel good about it. To give myself a break once in while. To get involved with others who feel the way I do about holistic living and finding balance. To help myself find peace even in the face of disquiet. To accept myself even when it feels like others don't get me and/or don't want to. To find a way to return to enjoying life. I am 40, and I'm beginning to get ME. And....I like me. You don't have to. I am finally ok with that. Sort of. =) I keep my children close. Really close. I define attachment parenting. I think that green is the way to be. I really, really do. I am very excited to be getting involved with the Holistic Moms Network, and am beyond psyched that a chapter is forming near me. I think community supported agriculture is great. I like to be around positive, supportive people, and really get down when I'm around people who sap me of my strength. I am lonely, and don't understand why it's been so hard to make friends as an adult. I think I might be socially odd. So there it is. There's more, but that's good for now. Thanks for reading this.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Earlier this week, dear daughter and I brought some treats to school to share with the teachers and staff. DD and I cut out circles of fabric that I had on hand to use as goodie bags (my attempt at reducing waste and cost) and filled each of 18 bags with chocolates, mint pillows and butter crunch peanuts. The bags were small-just the right size for one person. I could have gotten a larger or more involved or expensive gift for her primary teacher, however DD has many other teachers as well, and I wanted to thank them all for what they do. So .... each person, primary teacher included, got a small home made bag of goodies.

So this morning, the last day of school before winter break, I take DD to school. Not surprisingly, many, most, of the other kids in the class brought gifts in for the primary teacher. Some brought gifts for some of the other teachers as well. I started to worry. Did I do enough? Should I have gotten something for the primary teacher in addition to the treats? Shoot. I started to plan out my morning around getting her something else. But sighs. I really didn't want to stand on a long line with a 2-year-old........blah. In the parking lot, I saw a friend, the mother of one of DD's classmates, walking to her car. I motioned her over, and brought the whole thing up with her. We both quickly agreed that the whole thing, the gift giving, is too much and dominates what should be the focus of today, as any day, which is learning. What are we/they teaching the kids by all of this? As we left the classroom, the teacher was sitting on the floor surrounded by the kids, opening gifts. It just didn't seem right. Yes, of course, it's important, and it's tradition, to give the teacher a small gift. But should they be opened in school? Then, whether it's meant to or not, it becomes a contest. And thus adds to the stress that is the holiday season. After talking with my friend, I felt much better. We, DD and I, had done enough. I had gotten caught up in the moment, allowed myself to become part of the contest. Shoot! And whether or not I like it, I have been worried about whether or not I've gotten enough *stuff* for people for Christmas. AGH. I have. I HAVE! So why do I continue to worry?

Ohhhm. =)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I will if you will! AKA No pressure!

I've been wondering when our packages were going to arrive. That is to say, the packages others are sending to us. For Christmas. The most stressful event of the entire year, in my opinion. Today, the 22nd of December, we received 3 packages. One for hubby, who has been waiting for some of his orders to arrive. Two are from loving family members who live far away. Every year we exchange gifts with two families, so now I am conditioned to expect to receive packages from them. And I look for them. It's part of the deal. Part of the expectation that is Christmas. And to make it all fit, they have to arrive before December 25th. No pressure, right? Ugh! Wrong! Many folks are working full time, and have to fit their shopping in after work, before work, on the weekends...... and let's face it. As a society, as a species, we are procrastinators. Which only adds to the pressure and the stress. And the closer we get to the day, the more of us there are out there. At the stores, at the gas stations, on the roads, at the post office........everywhere! But we do it anyway. Why? Because it is expected! If we don't, we fail! We will disappoint people and feel bad! So why do we wait? Because we are predictable critters, and we are very routine.

So. Today, just now, I watched as the mail carrier zoomed around the neighborhood. I collected the mail, which was placed by the door, because it included hubby's package. (I adore my mail carrier, who always leaves the mail with the package, right by the door!) I wondered, again, why we have NO Christmas cards in the mail. We've had so few this year! However I mailed far fewer than usual. I am working on reducing stress in my life, so I did as many as I felt like doing, and no more. I'll worry later about who I've left out! (ugh) Then I noticed a different mail truck, parked in front of the house. Along came package #1 from far away. A glance at the cost on the shipping label put me right into this whole thought journey. $43.20. FORTY-THREE DOLLARS to send this package, of average size, from one part of this country to another. Why? Because it HAD to get here by December 25th. A minute or so later, my usual mail carrier was back, parked in the driveway, with package #2 from far away, this one to the tune of $11.37. Still a ridiculous amount of money to send someone a package, IMHO. Sheesh! I sent 3 packages this year, to those two far away places and one other, to the tune of $20.50. It would be an interesting study to find out just how much is spent each December just mailing things from one place to another. Wow! How many people, animals, small countries, could be fed/clothed/educated with that money? Hey, now that's an idea.......

Anyhow, the point of my blabberations this afternoon are simply that in my attempt to reduce stress in my life, and hopefully the chronic ache that has settled into my neck, I am focusing on external sources of stress, and this is one. Expectation, pressure, hurry, presidence (sp??). And what is it for? Regardless, we have to do it, right? And the money. And the things we buy that no one realized he/she needed (!)

So how do we make it less stressful and time consuming and stress-producing? Ah.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Last year for Christmas I bought my daughter a book about the environment, and ways to be kind to it. I've since decided it's too preachy for young kids, but from time to time I pick it up and flip through it. Today I picked it up, and read a brief section on noise. About how noise can cause all sorts of physical problems including hearing loss and stress, and can cause disruption in our being able to pay attention and learn. And so forth. I thought it was interesting, and made sense. It got me thinking about the whole concept of what it means to find balance and peace in our lives. I believe whole-heartedly that noise can cause stress. And I believe that noise comes in different forms. There is the obvious - the noises we hear around us. The book focused on traffic noise. I think also of television, music, people. People! This weekend I found myself feeling anxious, in part because the people in my immediate environment were being noisy. Now there is soothing noise and very un-soothing noise. I had people conflicting in what they wanted to do over the weekend, so the "soothing" noise of one person conflicting with the "soothing" noise of another resulted in very un-soothing noise - conflict. Oh..... Not soothing at all. As I've mentioned in the past, I am a person who finds the world to be an abrasive place, and I have trouble filtering things out, so I hear it all, I feel it all. Ouch. It makes my spine hurt! (That's where I carry my tension - neck, shoulders, head...) I think it is a priority in my life to find some quiet every day. Not easy! Even when I'm upstairs enjoying some "peaceful" sewing time (hubby and I switch breaks every day) I can hear conflict downstairs. And it's very hard to turn the noise off in my own head. (Another form of noise!) How I admire those who can! I am always processing. Always. Even when I do yoga I worry about my son, who seems concerned that I'm upside down and stretching myself out in strange ways! Perhaps a study of meditation would bring some quiet. But until then, I think we all could benefit from taking ourselves away from the noise of our lives and place ourselves in a quiet environment. Hm. As I write this I am sitting in my home, and the only sound I hear other than my own typing is the sound of the refrigerator motor. What a rare calm. Nice! Of course I can imagine that there can be too much quiet, too. My father lives alone, and has company once in a while. For me, that would be entirely too much quiet, and I would seek noise out! So like everything in life, there is a balance. And it's up to us to find that balance for ourselves. And I've noticed that as I've gotten older that "noise balance" has changed a LOT. When I was a kid, I created a very noisy environment around myself. I did it on purpose. I think I depended on external noise to drown out the internal noise. Now it is quite the opposite. I seek quiet to allow some internal calm. Hm.

An interesting thought keeps coming to my mind as I blog. The people in my immediate environment seem to need some guidance with finding balance for themselves and finding harmony with each other. I find this to be especially true with hubby and dear daughter. They have a somewhat turbulent relationship, and bicker frequently. It is a loving relationship, to be sure, but a sort of a bumper car existence. (It's the best way I could come up with to describe their relationship.) I'm not saying that I can or want to tell anyone what they need to be happy, but I see that on the weekends, everyone (noisily!) makes it clear what he or she wants to do, but nobody gets anywhere until I step in and help everyone to come to an agreement about what we're doing that day. (And if I don't, both come to me and push me in the middle anyway) It's an interesting dynamic. So instead of waiting to be thrust in the middle of all that again and again, I plan to pacify everyone by gently assisting them to meet their own needs. Which ultimately reduces the noise around me! Serenity now! (wink)


A while back I learned about the Preserve company from a book I was reading called Gorgeously Green, by Sophie Uliano. She spoke specifically about the fact that this company produces toothbrushes which they make from recycled yogurt cups. Cool, what? So I checked into it. Once the toothbrushes have done their duty, they can then be returned to the Preserve company, and recycled again into other plastic products. Wow! So I bought some. They're ok. I find that the bristles bend quickly, but whatever. I got them for the kids and for hubby and me. I haven't tried mine yet, even though I've had it for some time, simply because I had more than one to begin with. But I'll get to it. Today I went back to the Preserve website in anticipation of blogging about it today. I found a cool new thing (new to me, anyhow) they've added. Brita water filters can now be recycled and the plastic repurposed. This was great news for me personally, as I happen to use Brita pitcher filters. The only thing is that there are drop-off sites for the fitlers (and other items) but of course there are none that are within a reasonable driving distance from me. There is one, however, within a short distance from my father's house, which I frequent. That means being really on top of things. Collecting the used filters in the house, remembering to bring them to his house, then getting them to the drop-off site. That's a lot for my poor tired brain. But it could happen. ... .... Anyhow, the company is worth taking a look at. http://www.PreserveProducts.com.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Too much plastic! Interesting links.

Here are a couple of links I've just found, for those interested in reducing the plastic in our lives!



Soap nuts trial 2 - Liquid Form - Update

This photo goes with my most recent post.

Here's a picture of the soap nut ice cubes I made using the crock pot and using the stove top. Wow! What a difference!

Both of these were made using soap nuts that had already been used in the laundry.

Soap nuts trial 2 - Liquid Form - Update

The first time I made soap nuts liquid, I used a lot of water, a hand full of soap nuts, and the crock pot. The result was some light tea colored liquid, which I froze. They are, as I suspected, on the weak side. Quite weak, as I came to find out. Yesterday I decided to try making the liquid on the stove top. I put much less water, maybe a cup or two, in the pot, and threw in any soap nuts that had been used before in the laundry but still looked shiny. It was maybe 8 or 10 broken up soap nuts. (at the most) I brought the water to a boil and turned it down to simmer. The water quickly boiled down to a much richer, darker liquid. I poured this into an ice cube tray, then added more water to the pot. The water suds up a lot. I boiled the water down again, poured it into the ice cube tray, and added even more water. I could see at this point that the saponin in the soap nuts was finally running low. I boiled them down and threw the resulting liquid, along with the nuts, into the dishwasher. As we've had questionable results so far, (and hubby's patience with having dishes that aren't Cascade shiny is starting to run low to run low) I figure this is my last chance to make this work. I wanted to give this wash the best possible chance to come clean. I filled the soap dispenser and the pre-wash thingies. =) It's runnung now----we'll see. I also plan to do a load of cloth diapers and cloth wipes today using one of my super concentrated soap nut cubes. The cubes are shaped like stars. Let's hope they are!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Peaceful Saturdays? Not so much. - update

I suggested to hubby tonight that we consider swapping one-hour breaks on Saturday mornings. He told me he was thinking the same thing. Then he can go out in the morning and do his thing while the kids and I have a lazy morning. Then later I can take an hour to do whatever I want to do. Sounds like a dream. I think if we can make it work, it will make Saturdays, and the rest of the weekend, much less hectic and stressful. Worth a shot, anyhow.

Peaceful Saturdays? Not so much.

It's Saturday again, a day of rest. A day of unwinding from a highly structured, tiring week. I look forward to the weekend every week, all week long. But the fact is, Saturdays are anything but relaxing. As I find little ways here and there every day to become more balanced and content, areas needing improvement and change find their ways to the top of the priority list. Saturdays, especially Saturday mornings, have topped the list at the moment. Ok. So.

They say that the first step to healing is to identify the problem. (Who "they" is I don't know, but "they" know a lot about a lot it seems...)

The problem is that there are four people in this house with four different agendas. My part of this is that after being in the "driver's seat" all week with the kids, I look forward to being able to share the driving. Hubby's home-yahoo! So I go into less of a take-charge mode and into a more of a go with the flow and take turns meeting the children's constant requests mode. I also like the idea of taking the morning nice and slow, since we've been on a schedule all week long. Dear daughter also seems to enjoy a morning at home, after being dashed out the door early each morning for a 6-hour school day. Darling son seems to go with the flow. He's just a happy guy most of the time. Hubby comes home after having been cooped up in his office for five days straight and is anxious to get out. Out means into town and outside playing and anything other than being in the house. So the stress begins. Add to that the fact that certain errands that are difficult to get done during the week, grocery shopping, bottle returns, post office, pharmacy, etc., are left to the weekend when there are two adults. The fact is, not only are the errands NOT easier on the weekends, it really shatters the sought-out peace and relaxation that a weekend should be. Ugh! So we basically spend the morning goofing off at home while hubby paces around trying to convince the kids to go out and do something while dear daughter says over and over that she doesn't want to go anywhere....hubby gets progressively annoyed at everyone's slow pace, and dear daughter gets obnoxious with him, a reaction to his mood, and so on. U.H.G. Basically I end up forcing the kids to get ready to get in the car. We get out for a little while, which is good for all of us. But it doesn't make for a calm, gentle, relaxing start to the day. And by the time we do get out and do a few errands or whatever, half the day is gone. Sometimes I end up telling hubby to go out and do whatever because the kids (dear daughter, typically) refuse to get ready to go. I'm sort of stuck between those two because while I understand hubby's desire to get out, I also understand dear daughter's need to be home and unstructured. This basically defines our every Saturday. Not fulfilling. So. That defines the problem.

The solution? Well, one solution would probably be to get each person, to the degree possible, to define the perfect Saturday. Then try to blend those together to make it the best we can for each person. Of course this becomes my job. Oh well, so be it. I accept that my job doesn't ever stop, which is ok. I have ways of meeting some of my needs. I would like to find ways to meet them in a more fulfilling way, but that's part of the process toward a more holistic lifestyle. I realize that preparing a schedule for Saturdays kind of takes away the go-with-flow unscheduled aspect of the weekend that is so appealing, but I also realize that it could be "built in" to the schedule, which might make it more enjoyable ultimately.

As things are, everyone ends up upset. Everyone. This post has taken me the entire day to write. There is much discord in the house. My neck hurts. This isn't working. Time for a change! We can do this!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Worm composting - update

I emailed my daughter's science teacher about keeping a worm composting box in her science room, and she is all for it! COOL! After the holidays, dear daughter and I will set a box up, introduce the worms, and bring it to school. How fun! Of course I will take pictures throughout the process and share them. The teacher, not surprisingly, has done this in the past, and says the kids enjoy "feeding" the worms. So basically once DD (dear daughter) and I set it up, the teacher and students will maintain it. Perfect! She suggested that DD and I introduce the concept to the kids at school. I'm shy as can be, and DD is too, so I suggested to the teacher that we set up a poster or something with facts, pictures and information. That would be fun for us, too, and would allow DD to feel proud of the project, and not scared. I hope she goes for it (teacher, I mean.) She will.

Worm composting

To my "compost" post, JK replied: "Compost year round! We have tons more scraps in summer, but also more of a fruit fly problem. Bug free now that it is colder, though! You should look into earthworm composting. They teach it in the schools here---very simple and cheap if you have someone to show you, and a certain someone would LOVE it (perhaps too much)!"

I have been reading about this online. In fact there was a cool article about this a few months ago in Family Fun magazine. I think it's cool. Though I've been a little commitment shy with the whole thing. I mean, it does mean feeding and reproducing worms in your house. I'm skeptical, and dear hubby is, plain and simple, not into it. However.....perhaps if my daughter and I put a worm compost box together, her science teacher would be willing to host it in her classroom....hmmmm. Anyhow, if you're interested in reading more about them or watching some videos on it (very interesting!) do a Google search on worm composting. It's really neat! 


Yesterday I finally saved some kitchen scraps for composting. It's one of those ideas that's been rattling around my head for ages. My daughter has a garden in the back yard. What an awesome opportunity to learn, and teach, about composting, recycling, reusing, organic, and on and on! Fun! So while making dinner in the morning (crock pot) I saved potato peels and so forth in a cup. I saved it for my daughter, but funnily (did I make that word up?) it was hubby who took the stuff out. (cool-grin) Anyhow, I've got some reading to do, but I'm excited about it. So off to collect the coffee grounds from today! =)

Anyone already compost? If you've got any advice or ideas, please share them. I know very little about composting other than the obvious.... for example, do people compost all winter? Or just in the warmer seasons?

Soap nuts trial 2 - Liquid Form - Update

I ran the dishwasher overnight using the soap nut liquid I created in the crock pot the other day. The dishes were clean. They were fine! There was one bowl I had to hand wash. But that happens with Cascade, too. There are foods that have to be washed off before a dish can be machine washed. The vinegar added a shine. Which is weird. But true. Sooo.... I guess I'll keep using the soap nut liquid in the dishwasher for a longer term study. But I'd say for the most part, it's pretty successful, which is cool. I'm happy because the dishwasher is a tough place to go green. Detergents claiming to have less impact on the environment that I have tried in the past have just not worked well enough for continued use. Either the dishes weren't clean, or the dishes came out with a film on them.... I'm still a little skeptical on this one, and hubby is very skeptical, but I am hopeful.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The dirt on.....DIRT

I've been thinking about  the word "dirty" and what it means to us as a culture. I think it's safe to say that as a general rule, Americans associate "clean" with better, and "dirty" as not as good. Think about tv commercials you've seen. What percentage of them are ads for household cleaning products, or personal hygiene products such as shampoo? Then think about how these products are marketed. Is it enough to say that the products simply clean? It's not! In order to impress us, the products have to do much more than clean. They need to shine what they clean. Or scour away dirt. And they need to leave our homes/laundry/hair/skin smelling good! They need to make white whiter or colors brighter. Even our air can smell cleaner using air "fresheners." Then there's the spray to make our upholstered furniture smell clean. We are so conditioned to expect the advertisers definition of clean that we are willing to spend a fortune on products that claim to work the best to achieve these results.

I did a google search for this, and the first definition of clean I found is "free from dirt or impurities." I guess all things can be subject to interpretation, including "dirt" and "impurity."But I remember reading on the internet one. Various websites but all about how to be more green, and this really stuck with me. CLEAN HAS NO SMELL. Think about it! It makes sense. We have been taught to think that something with a pleasant scent must be clean. Or cleaner. But it's not true. Now some folks might prefer the scents, but that's another discussion. But you can clean your hands, hair, car interior, carpet, laundry, etc., without it smelling like lavender, roses, vanilla, wildflowers, orange, lemons..... They are still clean.

In fact, in my opinion, they are cleaner without the scents. I mean, isn't it true that in order to make something smell like something, you must add something to it? And wouldn't that, in a sense, be making the product less pure? So wouldn't that, then, qualify the added ingredient as an impurity? And, (work with me here) wouldn't that, by our definition, make the product un-clean? So while using the product to "clean" the dirt from something, aren't we, in a sense, adding more? Is that wacky?

Now more than ever before, people, children, are getting asthma and atopic dermatitis. Why? Could our products have anything to do with that? When we use all of these products in our homes, where is all of it going? I'll tell you where. On our skin, in our lungs, in our food. So? Maybe that's fine. Maybe they have no effects, short or long term. But maybe is not good enough for me. I remember once tossing some carpet freshener powder over a carpet and running the vacuum. The stuff was so thick in the air and in my lungs I had to leave the room. I felt sick to my stomach. Yuck! Then more recently I volunteered to help "clean" my daughter's school in preparation for the school year. I spent about 2 hours washing windows using store-bought window cleaning spray. I had what I termed "Windex heartburn" for hours after that. Not good! Yes, I have eczema and perhaps I'm more sensitive than most. But this stuff cannot be good for us. Anyway, perhaps I'm straying a bit from my original point. Which was, basically, what defines dirty?

So. If clean is sparkling, shiny, scented, scoured, fluffy, colorful, super white, tangle-free...then dirty is, perhaps the opposite of that. Interesting. Truly it must be difficult for us, as Americans, to keep everything in our worlds up to this standard. But we try, don't we? Heck, you can even buy "new car scent." That cracks me up! So we want our cars to smell like plastic and processed leather. Ak! I would love to see a comedian do a skit on this topic. Wouldn't that be a crack-up? And we'd all laugh. Because what's funnier than ourselves? Right?

Anyhow, I'm just sharing my thoughts from today. So do me a favor. If you want your house to smell like flowers, TRY BUYING SOME FLOWERS. Weird, I know! And try washing your hands with unscented soap. Ew! Who wants to smell like nothing?!

Well....me. (shrug)

PS Because I live in a relatively unscented world (due to eczema primarily) I am REALLY aware of scents around me. Everywhere I go. Funny, that.

Soap nuts trial 2 - Liquid Form - Update

Here is the soap nut liquid I created after 5 hours of boiling in the crock pot. Not as dark as I might have thought, but it was tea colored. From that I made some ice cubes...

I am now doing a load of laundry using three of these cubes. I have read that one will do in a normal sized load of laundry, but I am skeptical. Mine aren't very dark so I figure they're not very concentrated....what do I know. So far I don't see any sudsing in my laundry, but that's ok too.... Anyhow, I'll let you know how/if it works. I also plan to try the liquid (there was a lot, so some became cubes and some stayed in liquid form) in the dishwasher. The results of using the soap nuts in the dishwasher has been so-so. Most of the dishes are cleaned, but some are not, which isn't good enough, is it? So I will try the liquid in the soap holder thingy, with vinegar in the rinse aid thingy, and see how that works. Failing that, it's no more soap nuts in the dishwasher. =)

I'll test the liquid and cubes in other areas of the house and report back.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holistic balance through feng shui? - Update

I am not a neat person. Repeat. It does not come naturally to me to keep things tiny or to get rid of thing. I am terrific at making piles, though! I am fantastic at cluttering every surface! You get the point. So following the idea that a neat space will help create a calm and relaxing environment, I have given myself two tasks to complete today. The first was to neaten up the shelf over the fireplace. I did that one early. The shelf had two ornamental rabbits, a Christmassy moose doll, a stuffed animal frog, some fireplace paperwork, a Precious Moments bride and groom, three framed photos, two unframed photos, and dust. (Am I forgetting anything?!) Now the shelf has the PM bride and groom, two unframed photos, and the fireplace paperwork. Wow! My mother's picture hangs right above the shelf and she is smiling her approval. I am smiling, too. =)

Oh, the other task? To fold and PUT AWAY all of the laundry. I have been trying to follow Flylady (flylady.com) in order to try to get more organized, and she says to do a load of laundry each day. (How awfully UNgreen....babysteps....) So I have been. And the laundry goes from the drier to the couch, to the baskets, upstairs to the bedroom.....and eventually put away. SO, there is laundry on the couch, there are various piles of folded laundry, there's a basket or two of folded laundry in the living room, and there are several in the bedroom. I attempted, at one point, to delegate the putting away task, but that failed. SOOOO.....it is my task today to fold and put it ALL away. Today. We'll see about tomorrow!!

I'm putting this picture in here to embarrass myself into completing this task. (grin)

Soap nuts trial 2 - Liquid Form

Today I am boiling some partly used soap nuts to see what the liquid is like. I am using the crock pot. I didn't follow any recommended water and soap nuts amounts, I just filled the crock pot with water, and tossed in any soap nuts that I had used in either the laundry or in the dishwasher. I plan to reserve some of the liquid to try out today, and freeze the rest in ice cube trays for future use. Stay tuned...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Coffee Filters

Forever and ever I used a plastic, reusable coffee filter. I have felt good about this. No paper waste! It did not occur to me for one second that I have been pouring hot liquid over plastic every morning for years and years. I am a person who never microwaves anything in plastic or with plastic wrap, nor do I put hot food into a plastic storage container. So why have I never thought about the coffee filter? Who knows. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the more I make changes to my lifestyle, the more I become aware of areas that could be changed with good results. Or something. So. I just read this article about coffee filters. It is from http://www.projectgreenify.com/. Basically the writer suggests making cloth coffee filters, using unbleached, tight-weaved fabric. Huh. Where have I been? I see the benefits. No more paper, no more plastic. It will take me a while to get the filters together. It's a trip to the fabric store (once every 2-3 weeks), washing the fabric, and creating. But, when I get to it, I'll post pictures. =)


This is an area of being green and reducing waste that's been a part of my life for quite some time. I thought I'd share my experience with replacing household paper goods with cloth alternatives. Here is a basic run down of what I've tried and what I think:

>>>Cloth napkins: We have used cloth napkins at home for a long, long time.

Pros: No paper waste, reusable, easy to find or make, can be made from recycled cloth

Cons: Adds to laundry and water use, we seem to go through them quickly

>>>Cloth wipes as Kleenex

Pros: Really reduces the red nose that is exacerbated by paper tissues, thicker and softer, reusable, last a long time, easy to find or make, can be made from recycled cloth, reduced paper waste, no chemicals on the skin

Cons: Germy. My daughter leaves them all over the place at home and at school. I hate how they smell when they're full of my boogers. Uk! For me, I don't prefer to use one more than a couple times before I want a clean one.

>>>Cloth diapers

Pros: Reduced waste. There is much information on the internet on how paper diapers pile up in the landfills. Non-toxic, unlike disposables. Reduced diaper rash. Reusable. Reduced cost over all. (They may seem expensive when you look at the unit cost, but if you calculate what you would spend over the years that your child/ren are in diapers, you spend much less with cloth! Especially if you use them for more than one child.) I made my own, which had benefits in many areas.

Cons: Bulky! Need to change them more frequently. They don't wick wetness away (some may argue this point. I always used all-cotton materials. There are synthetics which may wick) More laundry. Storing soiled diapers until wash time.

>>>Cloth wipes for use with cloth diapers

Pros: Stronger than paper wipes, don't need as many, easy to warm up for use, non-toxic, reusable (wash with diapers), easy to find or make, can be made from recycled cloth, gentler on skin

Cons: Laundry, need to be stored until wash time

>>>Feminine hygiene products

Pros: Reduced cost, reduced waste, more comfortable (IMO), non-toxic (do a little research on toxic shock syndrome-yikes!), reusable, easy to find (often called mama cloth, moon cloth)

Cons: Laundry, must store until wash time

All of this is obviously just my opinion and my experience with these things. I enjoy sewing, so much of our cloth collection has been made by me. However, all of the things I listed above are readily available online.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holistic balance through feng shui?

To live in a holistic way is to live in a balanced way. Live your life in balance with nature. Balance all aspects of your life - emotional health, physical health, diet, exercise, non-toxic environment, yadayada. As I head down the path towards a more balanced life and self, I put my focus on one area one day, another area another day.... making small changes here and there. I am finding that as I make adjustments that make me feel good, or better, other areas present themselves and are suddenly so obviously out of balance that I am taken aback. For example, today I visited a home that was so.....orderly....that it was instantly unsettling to me. One of the owners of this home has been to my home, which is, well, DISorderly. I was instantly flooded with several emotions, including awe (her home is lovely), and embarrassment. Basically, in order to feel peaceful in your own environment, the first step is to create a peaceful environment. Having stuff piled everywhere does not create a calm mood. Why are some of us naturals at creating a clutter-free, peaceful space and others (me) are not? I do not know. But this part of my journey will never be easy for me. As with all of this, it's a process. I have no plan for the "perfect" space for us, just one that one that is nice to be in.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Soap nuts in the dishwasher

Tonight I tried using soap nuts and vinegar in the dishwasher. You toss the equivalent of about 4 soap nuts in the silverware holder, and fill the rinse aid compartment with vinegar. The dishes came out surprisingly clean and even shiny. There were three or four things that were heavily soiled and had not been rinsed. They will need to be re-washed. But the reviews I have read about using soap nuts in the dishwasher reported just that. Dishes need to be rinsed or soaked before being put in the dishwasher with soap nuts. This is true with regular detergent, no? So I would say the results of this trial were surprisingly positive. =)

It sudsed!

Ok, when my soap nuts didn't suds at all in the washing machine, I wondered if they really did. I mean, really. A plant? Sudsing? So I did what is recommended to test if soap nuts still have the saponin needed to clean with.... I put a piece of one in a container with a lid, and shook. This photo shows the result. I add that I didn't have to shake for long.

Soap nuts - interesting information

I am really into this soap nut thing. I have been reading and reading about how to care for them, how to use them, how to tell when they are used up....very, very interesting. Here are some things I have learned:

>>>Many people who love using soap nuts will boil them in water and use the resulting liquid for cleaning. 

>>>Because it is organic, soap nut liquid has a relatively short shelf-life, so it is a good idea to make what you will use in a week or less, and use it.

>>>The liquid can be frozen into ice cubes, and used as needed. The liquid lasts much longer this way.

>>>The liquid can be used in the laundry, for household cleaning, for windows (with vinegar added), for washing dishes, and even in the dishwasher (with other items added, which I'll write up if there's interest)

>>>Soap nuts DON'T suds much, according to what I've read. Some places claim they do, but many claim they don't. Mine have NOT been sudsy, which is why I read more about that very thing. Suds, according to one source, are extended chemically in store-bought detergents because people think that means the detergent is working better. (Not true)

>>>When soap nuts have done as much as they can do in the laundry, they can still be boiled down to make a good cleaning liquid. 

>>>LOVE this one! Soap nuts can be used as compost when they're used up!

>>>The soap nut liquid can be made in the crock pot. =)

>>>To test if the saponin (cleaning agent) in the soap nuts is used up or not, put the soap nuts in a sealable jar with some water. Shake it up, and if you gets any "suds," they are still good to go. 

>>>Although heat helps to release saponin from the soap nuts, they can be used in any water temperature. The saponin is simply released more slowly.

>>>The saponin released during the rinse cycle is not a worry. It's gentle and non-irritating (according to what I've read) and shouldn't be a concern. It beats soap residue on clothing!

I am very anxious to try the soap nut liquid around the house. I will post as I experiment.

Plastic Reusable Bottles

Plastic ... I use a water bottle every day. They're all plastic. My children use them, to... Time for a change. Here's one source of information:


Friday, December 11, 2009

Soap nuts, trial 1, continued

I just finished folding the first load of laundry washed with my new soap nuts. They looked, well, NORMAL. Did I expect them to jump out of the drier and hug me and dance around with joy? Sorta. They didn't. But, other than being a little static-y (I haven't used drier sheets in years, but didn't really have a static-producing item in the bunch...) the clothes were clean. Very clean. I had one jacket out of the bunch that had a stain remaining. My daughter had gotten a big, dark pink chalk stain on the sleeve of a white sweat jacket. I figured chalk would come right out, but this was a really dark pink stain, so I'm not quite ready to blame the soap nuts yet. Everything else looked great! Does that sell me on them? Not q.u.i.t.e yet. Now I need to do a "dirty" load. I mean, a more than average dirty load. Oh oh I know! Cloth diapers!! I'll report back. =)


It continues to amaze me how clueless I can be about my own body sometimes. This happens too often! I find that I have a headache. Or I'm feeling really tired for reasons I can't figure out. Or this or that. Sometimes, and only sometimes, it occurs to me that I haven't had any water that day, or for hours. I drink, I feel better. Well DUH! That happened today. It's such an obvious thing, but again and again I forget to drink water, and I end up feeling physically drained in one way or another. Hello?! Funny thing is, I almost always have a bottle of water around in the house. (Getting myself to bring it with me when I'm out is another story.) I guess you can lead a horse to water................

Information and instructions for use of soap nuts from GreenVirginProcducts.com

Ok, since the photos can be enlarged quite a bit, I'm adding this photo of the instructions and information that came with the soap nuts. Let me know if anything is hard to make out.

The soap nuts are here! Trial 1...

The soap nuts I bought arrived today. I couldn't wait to try them, and threw a load of laundry right in, which is now drying. In the meantime, this is what they look like. The little cloth bag is what you put them in when doing a load of laundry. The nuts came with instructions. It says to break the soap nuts, but many of them were already broken up, and I had to kind of guess at how many to use. They didn't suds up right away, but at the end of the cycle I could see that they had suds at least a bit. (I was out during the cycle) I will post again in a bit with results of the first wash. If anyone has used them before, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Progress...feeling good =)

I don't have anything new to add so far today, no new green efforts or discoveries, no new recipes, ..... I simply feel like updating and musing about my progress. I am feeling kind of good today. I am tired. That hasn't changed. But, at least at this moment, I am not grumpy, feeling sorry for myself, cursing anything, or dreaming about going to a spa for the weekend. (well.......) I believe that my efforts toward feeling better are working. I really do. While cooking healthier adds its own stress to the situation (it takes much longer than opening a can and heating something, which throws our eve. schedule off a bit) every other aspect is great. I made the garden salad that I posted yesterday and everyone loved it. I feel good b/c everyone is eating well. I'm not getting outside as much as I feel I should, but I have a reluctant toddler, so there's not much I can do about that during the week. I encourage (but could even do more of that.) I've done yoga twice in the past week, and *my kids did it with me!!* And of course I continue to seek ways to be less toxic and kinder to the environment and ourselves. I am seeing the effects of my efforts on my family right away, as well as interest from those around me. That definitely helps to keep me on the ball and motivated. I am also pleased with my efforts to reduce stress when possible. I have done my Christmas shopping and ordered the cards. (better late...) And so on. It's good to feel good. =)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Garden Pasta Salad

I made this salad tonight and everyone LOVED it. I did not add basil or sugar, as I am not particularly fond of either flavor in a salad, but otherwise I made it as written. Yum! Both kids loved it also, but both picked their favorite ingredients out and ate those. Well worth it. =)


Garden Pasta Salad


1/2 pound (225 g) uncooked small shell macaroni 
1/2 pound (225 g) fresh green beans, cut diagonally into 1-inch lengths 
1 pound (450 g) tomatoes, diced 
1 can (15 ounces - 425 g) red kidney bean, rinsed and drained 
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion 
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves 
3 tablespoons naturally brewed lite soy sauce 
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar 
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon sugar 
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 


1. Cook macaroni according to package directions, omitting salt. Drain and rinse immediately under cold water to cool. Drain well.

2. Cook green beans in steamer basket over boiling water in covered saucepan about 10 minutes, or until tender. Cool beans under cold water. Drain well.

3. Combine macaroni, green beans, tomatoes, kidney beans and onion in large bowl.

4. Add basil, lite soy sauce, vinegar, oil, garlic, sugar and black pepper into a jar with screw-top lid. Cover and shake well. Pour over macaroni mixture. Toss gently to coat all ingredients.

5. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours to blend flavors, tossing occasionally.


Makes 6 to 8 servings.

A fun way to recycle a little paper

Yesterday my daughter and I made some cute Christmas ornaments using scrap paper we had around the house and some markers. =)


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Yummy, healthy bean dip!

Another good recipe from 1stholistic.com!

My son and I just made this, and it's easy, healthy and delicious =)

Bean Dip


1 can white beans (drained and rinsed) *

1 4oz jar of Pimentos *

1 tbsp. Tahini *

1 tsp. Cumin

1 tsp. Lemon Pepper Seasoning

½ tsp. Salt

Mix everything together in a food processor and blend until smooth. It is as easy as that!! Try it with your favorite cracker it’s really yummy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Soap nuts?!

Today someone asked me if I had ever tried soap nuts. While I have seen them mentioned on green websites and seen them listed in recipes for laundry detergent, I have never tried using them. I did some reading, and found loads of information on this website: http://www.greenvirginproducts.com. Below is their description of a soap nut. There is information on how to use them, etc., on that website as well.  You can purchase them there as well. I have to say I am intrigued. Skeptical....but intrigued. No mixing ingredients together, just break the soap nuts and toss them in. And you use them several times before they are used up. Hmmmmm....... 

What is a soap nut?

Soap Nuts are the fruit of the Chinese Soap Berry Tree. These amazing berries are harvested and then dried in the sun. No chemicals of any kind are added to our soap nuts. Laundry detergent with heavy chemicals is replaced with something all natural and totally organic. The soap nut contains a natural soap called saponin. Saponin has cleaning abilities equal to toxic chemical detergents. Soap Nuts are extremely hypo-allergenic and can be used by people who are allergic to all other detergents. They are completely green and don't pollute our planet. Soap Nuts go by many names. These include: soap berries, wash berries, wash nuts, Ritha, Reetha, Aritha, Dodan, Doadni, Doda, Kanma, Thali.

Lentil-Bulgur Salad - victory!

Well I am impressed. For lunch today for my 2-year-old and me, I put out the bulgur salad I made yesterday, and a few much less healthy options. He rejected the unhealthy stuff all together, and went for the healthy salad with gusto! He then started to feed it to me, making engine sounds as we do sometimes when feeding him (train in the tunnel, airplane, etc.) Awesome! =) I also ate it with gusto, supplementing with a little cheese, but only a little! Very cool. 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holistic Moms Network comes to my town!!

This totally feels like fate stepping in here. I've been really interested lately in what it means to be holistic, and I'm trying to make some positive changes in my life to reflect this lifestyle. A friend pointed me in the direction of the Holistic Moms Network. It's an online community, but there are many chapters throughout the country as well. When I first looked at the website, I discovered there were no chapters anywhere near here. Something made me go check again tonight, and lo and behold, a brand new chapter is forming IN MY TOWN right now! The timing is incredible, and I'm really excited. My friend is very enthusiastic about the group, and I am hoping to feel that way about this local group. I am planning to attend the open house in January, and will report back then. In the mean time, I feel inspired. At a time when I'm feeling tired and grumpy and blah a lot of the time, I feel as if this has kind of landed at my feet. That makes me feel good. =)

Lentil-Bulgur Salad

I've been doing some searching on the internet for healthy "holistic" recipes. I found one on (I'm almost positive) 1stHolistic.com that I just made, and am munching away on as I write this. It's very earthy and requires a love for grains, but I like it a lot, and will most likely be eating most of it myself. =) My dear son and daughter both had a bite, but that was it. My hubby wouldn't take a bite, but he doesn't like feta cheese....

Anyhow, if anyone is interested in a recipe for a grainy, herby salad with tomato and onion and pepper and of course, feta cheese, let me know, and I'll type in the recipe here. Other than the feta cheese, which is high in saturated fat, the salad is very healthy!

Laundry Detergent recipe

One of my most tried and true green efforts recently has been with the home-made laundry detergent, so I thought I'd share the recipe. First, a quick pros and cons list:


Reuse containers


Hardens and needs to be broken up
Occasionally lumps of detergent remain in wash after load is done
Recipe makes small amount of detergent


1/4 cup castile soap (I like peppermint)
1 cup baking soda
1 cup washing soda
1 cup white vinegar

Mix the castile soap with the powders. Add vinegar (it will foam up, then settle down, just mix). Stir til completely combined. 

At this point I leave it, and it hardens. If you keep mixing through the hardening process you can break it up right away. It becomes a lumpy powder. I have yet to perfect the process so it all gets crunched up to a thin powder, but honestly, I don't have time at the moment, and it works well anyhow. 1/2 cup in a regular size load does the trick. Makes about 5 loads worth...something like that.

I've been using this detergent for weeks now, with great results.

If you try it, let me know what you think.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A failure and a victory

Well, today I completely fell off the green Christmas card band wagon. I started to make one online, and I'm just not clever enough to make it look cool. And hubby has offered to address all of the envelopes (yeah!!) So, I have chosen a photo card online. Yeah, I feel a bit guilty, but I'm going a little easy on myself. It's December, which is a busy and stressful month, and as an attachment parent to two, I simply don't have time to figure the online thing out in time. Lame? Yeah, maybe, but my path to a more green and more holistic way of life is a PROCESS. So...

I am feeling really good about my meal plan and recent grocery shop. Lots of fruits, veggies, beans, grains and the like. Very little junk (salami and cheese.) I have plans to make lentil-bulgur salad! Sound like cardboard? Nah. It's got lots of yummy stuff in it that will make it palatable. I'll let you know how it is. There are other recipes, too. 

But the kids' program has ended (tv is another topic for another day....) so .... good night, all!

Friday, December 4, 2009

On a better food path.....

...if only in my mind. But I really want to be better. I have been so very lazy when it comes to feeding us. My kids are familiar with fast food, I am loathe to admit. Sometimes it's just so convenient! Is that an ok excuse? No, of course not. But shoot. It's hard! Anyhow...so I am vowing, again, to try. I have read a little about what it means to eat holistically. Wow. No dairy (goat cheese is ok), no beef, no sugar, whole grain everything....my work is cut out for me! My diet, and again I'm embarrassed to share this, includes daily doses of caffeine with sugar and half and half, pasta with store-bought sauce, and other no-nos. So where to begin. Well, I try to make one shopping list each week, along with a plan for all the meals for the week. So that's it, then. I need to make my meal plan healthier. Easy, right? Sighs...... It's a pain in the neck to make a meal list at all. At least for me. I dread the chore, and it takes me forever. However, without a plan, I'm even less happy, as I have two kids here who are hungry all the time, and it's frustrating to try to put something, anything, together on the spur of the moment. (Let alone something healthy and balanced!) So I do it. Every weekend. SO...out come the Moosewood cookbooks and others that have healthier options. It has been proven again and again that if I make something healthy, the kids eat it with gusty. What other motivation do I need? So it's a little more difficult and time consuming in an otherwise busy and hectic evening....it's worth it. So here I go, I'll try again. First meal planned .... tomato curry over (brown!!) rice. Oh, and lentil and bulgur salad (looks better than it sounds...it's like tabouleh salad, which I love) I'll let you know how it goes... Oh, and I vow to have fresh fruit or veggies or both at EVERY meal. I served pasta with sauce and cut apples for lunch. The kids went crazy over the apples, and had a little pasta. Hm!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Giving an experience

Ideal Bite (IdealBite.com) suggested giving an experience for Christmas instead of a thing. They suggested giving someone a gift certificate for a massage. Movie tickets was my favorite. And stuff like that. I like it. =)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Ok I've decided. I'm sending my holiday greetings online. It wasn't just a green thing. It's December 2nd, and I'm starting to sweat the hassle that is getting good photos, ordering cards, ADDRESSING them all, and getting them out. I'm too tired! I'm not even sewing these days, something I love to do. I'm just too tired from the things I must do to deal with too many extras. SO...time to create an online card. And find email addresses.........I can do this.....Less hassle, less paper, less expensive......

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holistic living

I need a change. In a big way. I am feeling unbalanced and unhappy. I know what I need. I have gotten derailed (not that I've ever gotten completely ON the rails...it's a process!) I have believed for a long time that life and happiness is a balance. If something is not right in one area, it tilts the whole scale, and everything is off balance. Once in a while something is put in front of me that helps me to steer back in the right direction. Today that was a person I have known for a very long time, but have only recently gotten reconnected with. This is a person who I knew as a child. In fact, she is the younger sister of a person I spent a lot of time with as a child. So I never knew her personally very well, but saw very often. In any event, because of the phenomenon that is Facebook I have gotten reconnected with this person as an adult, and I'm finding that we have some really neat things in common. While I strive, day to day, to find ways to be more green, she strives, day to day, to live a holistic lifestyle. Because of her, I have done some reading about what this means, and am delighted to discover that it exactly what I am striving for. It is what I feel I need, and my family needs, to get closer to happiness and good health. I am worlds away. As I write this, I am munching on butter flavored popcorn from a bag, and drinking a Mike's Hard Lemonade. Yeah, I know. If I know I would feel better without it, why do I consume it? I don't know. It's a quick fix, at a time when I'm so busy I feel the need for quick fixes. Pathetic. I feel that if I can work hard and get myself to the place I want to be, it will be a system that basically runs itself. If we eat holistically, or as close as I can get us, we can compost our garden with healthful things, and grow healthful things with the rich soil. And so forth. So why is it so hard to get there? I don't know!! To say that life overwhelms me is an understatement. The knowledge that all I need is to rebalance my world is not getting me there. What to do? How to start? It's not hard. Perhaps I just need to make a schedule for myself. I work well with schedules and set plans. Daily tasks. Perhaps that's the place to start. I know that if I lead, my family will follow. I've seen evidence of that again and again. And that's ok, I don't mind leading. But it's good to have my (new?) old friend for support. 

So. Why is it not ok to eat oranges in a holistic diet??? And no coffee? Shoot, just kill me now. Sugar is out, of course. Tell that to my kids! No beef? Yeeks. I guess we all just do the best we can...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Green - Christmas Cards

My daughter and I were talking this morning as we enjoyed a nice morning outside in the yard. I told her I was thinking about ways to be more green this Christmas and asked her if she had any thoughts on what we could do. Her reply: "Paper" Yeah. Wow. Christmas cards, gift wrap, ribbons... I started to brainstorm ways to reduce my personal use of these things. Thing is...I love giving and receiving Christmas cards. There are people I am seldom in contact with, but can rely on Christmas cards every year to get caught up with the. So how do I continue with this tradition while wasting less and reusing more? Well, I could go hard core, and make a card online that I email to everyone. Hm. That would certainly do it. No paper, no mess, no stamps or return address labels...easy to send - no envelopes to address. I could. But I dunno. Somehow it loses something. So. Post cards?? Cards that fold and become their own envelope? I'm liking that idea. How to do that? I would probably have to use heavy paper, so does that defeat the purpose? I want to share photos. That's pretty wasteful too. But I want to be able to do these things. Hmmm..... Post cards, maybe that's the compromise. Create my own with my pictures, and print our greeting. No envelope, less expensive... Recycled/recyclable paper? Maybe next year I'll send them online. Maybe.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Traveling Green

Ok, so ways to be green while on the road. For one thing, I bring cloth wipes everywhere I go. What I need to do is get used to using cloth paper towels. I haven't gotten into that yet. But I do use cloth napkins and wash cloths as a matter of course, and we use cloth wipes for our noses much of the time. I think I ought to start traveling with some castile soap. It's versatility makes this a good idea. I could have cleaned the kitchen with it, then my hands, too. And the kids... I used to travel with cloth diapers, but the storing and cleaning was a bit of a challenge. I should do it still....but I don't. It's a balance, I guess. ... ....

Traveling Green

I'll elaborate on this when time allows (I'm away from home and following a 2-year-old around everywhere...) but I'm thinking about how to be green while away from home. This came to mind while cleaning up my father's kitchen after breakfast this morning. I searched his kitchen for baking soda to clean the counters and sink with, and found none. I wiped the counters with water. I am so used to using natural cleaners that I can't make myself use chemical-filled cleaners which spray into the air as much as land on the surfaces. So. How to be green on the road? Well. I guess there are many ways. But boy is on the move, so more in a bit.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving green thoughts

Just a quick thought as we gear up for the festivities today. The first thought that comes to mind for how to be green today is to use reusable containers for all those leftovers! More work? Yeah. But not much. More water? Yes. But in the end I believe it will result in less waste. Just my thoughts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

All-Purpose Reusable Gift Bags - Photos

Two of my reusable gift bags. I just make them to fit whatever I need to wrap! =)

Unclogging drains naturally

Ok, I mentioned this in another post, but thought I would elaborate. 

We had a very, very clogged drain. I didn't realize just how clogged it was until I attempted to take the plug out, and couldn't! I pulled and tugged and yanked, and finally it came out to reveal the most clogged drain I had ever seen. Yikes. I had decided to use green cleaning methods, but was pretty convinced it wouldn't work. I just wanted to give it a shot so I could give myself credit for having tried. =) Using a method I had read about online, I poured 1/2 cup of baking soda into the drain. On top of that I poured one cup of white vinegar. Here's the trick. I then plugged the drain. You have to close it as tightly as you can. The idea is that when the mixture fizzes and foams up, which it will, the pressure will go DOWN, thus pushing the clog down. I went through the motions, having little hope, and left the room. The next day (I'm a busy person and didn't get to it again until the next day) I remember my futile experiment, and went to check on it. The clog was gone. GONE. The sink ran freely. I was so excited. No harsh chemicals, no fumes, no keeping the kids out of the room. Just a safely unclogged drain that ran clear. Victory! Now to do the tub drain...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

All-purpose reusable gift bags

I'm learning how to post photos. Just practicing. But this is one of my reusable gift bags. I'll post photos of some of the others. I like them. =)

Holiday Green

I started to think about what I could do this holiday season to pursue my dreams of being more green. The first step was so obvious I wondered what took me so long to get here. The paper and trees that are used during the holidays are mind-boggling. So. In the past I have tried having a live tree, but I can never seem to get the thing to last through the winter. I'll keep working on that one. But my main focus this year is the gift wrap phenomenon. Recently, Flylady (flylady.net) posted a message about making and using reusable gift bags. POP! My brain was all over that. I love to sew, and it's a new project, plus it advances my green path. I was hooked. I have been making them like crazy ever since. They're easy to make, and can be made any size/style. Giving them to others is like giving two gifts in one. And you're gently passing on the message to "save a tree." I love it. I also have a bin full of flannel fabric that I collected when I was making cloth diapers, a phase which has passed. (The making of, not the using of-I'm still doing some of that) So I'm happy to have a use for that. They're not so Christmassy, but whaddevah.

Castile Soap

I recently discovered castile soap. I had seen it before, but didn't have a clue about it, and honestly, it wasn't on the top, or near the top, or my priority list until a couple of months ago. Then there is was, and so. Castile soap is oil based, and the purist of the pure is made from olive oil. Essential oils scent it. Its versatility is what really caught my eye. People use it for everything from cleaning themselves, to cleaning their homes, their dishes, their laundry. My thoughts on each (liquid castile): 

Cleaning self: Um, ok. It's so-so. Using the liquid soap on the skin is good. It's gentle and cleans well. I use it in the hand soap dispensers. I'm lazy about using it in the shower. As a shampoo, you really need to mix it so that works for your hair type. Castile alone left my hair very, very soft, but also limp and feeling filmy. I mixed it with baking soda as someone online had suggested. The results were much better...much better. But I have to say I have been quick to grab store bought shampoo instead. I'm working on myself to pursue this more. We'll see.

Cleaning the home: Excellent. I use castile soap, baking soda and vinegar to clean the house. That's it, and it's great. Baking soda and vinegar are excellent at clearing plugged drains, too, and no scary fuming chemicals. Love that.

Dishes: I've read many accounts of castile soap leaving a film on the dishes. I haven't even tried it.

Laundry: My absolute favorite use. I got a recipe (there are many) online for laundry detergent using castile soap, baking soda, washing soda and vinegar. I have used nothing but for weeks now. It cleans at least as well as the store bought laundry detergent (to my surprise!) and it's easy to make. It reduces cost and plastic containers. I reuse a coffee can (plastic) to make and store it. 

Castile soap is completely biodegradable, safe, natural, the works. You can use it on babies! I love it. As I said, I don't love it for everything, but I use it for a lot of things, and feel good about it. 

Green Efforts

I have started this blog to give myself a place to record my "green" efforts. It helps me to keep track of what works and doesn't work for me and the fam, and may give some others some ideas to try. I have always wanted to been more gentle to the earth and to myself, but really started to focus on it when I had my first child. Anyhow, blah de blah, here goes nuthin'