Thursday, December 31, 2009
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
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.
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)
10. Cabinet cleansing #2
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
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
It's not too long, and it's interesting. And a little unsettling. Sighs. =)
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
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
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
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?
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
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
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)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
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!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
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
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!
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?
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
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?!
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.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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!!
Monday, December 14, 2009
>>>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.
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
Saturday, December 12, 2009
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.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Garden Pasta Salad
1/2 pound (225 g) uncooked small shell macaroni
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.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
1 can white beans (drained and rinsed) *
1 4oz jar of Pimentos *
1 tbsp. Tahini *
1 tsp. Cumin
½ tsp. Salt
Mix everything together in aand blend until smooth. It is as easy as that!! Try it with your favorite cracker it’s really yummy!
Monday, December 7, 2009
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.